We’re subject to our biological drives. You know what I mean.
Unfortunately, biology has as its major interest big picture stuff; continuing the species and…well, that’s about it.
In the meantime, we have to live our lives. That involves working, shopping, cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash, paying tax and repairing the dishwasher.
Note that we have two jobs working simultaneously. One is the long-term family creation and perpetuation position; the other is maintaining the infrastructure. From the first flows the second, but while we have emotional, intellectual and gut investment in the first, the second is often an afterthought.
Maybe we’d choose better if we interviewed for both at the same time.
Dividing dating into two different sub-species would help us see things more clearly.
Dating – the word and the idea – makes more sense as the process of spending time with someone with at least one eye towards creating a union. A formal, public union.
Going out – for which we should coin a new word – is all about being with another person (or a number of other people) with a view to simply being with them. Like being in the moment, we’re going out for entertainment, for the company, for passing time or perhaps we’re just looking for a sex partner.
They’re different behaviors, with an entirely different intent. Calling them both “dating” is confusing, leading nowhere particularly good.
Prioritization and choice define the pathway through life.
Sometimes choices expand, and sometimes they get squeezed. Choices increase or decrease based on prior choices. Equally they can change based on innumerable factors beyond our control.
Our choices will determine the universe of actions from which we must prioritize. First, though, we need to define what that universe is; not what we’d like them to be, but realistically what they are.
Prioritizing based on imagined choices, or choosing based on impractical priorities makes for a disappointing life, because our achievement rate will be lower than if we’re realistic.
One simple example is buying lottery tickets. If we saved the money we might otherwise waste on extreme longshots, we’ll end up decisively better off.
Funny thing about relationships. We think we want the person we see in front of us.
Wrong. What we want is parts of the person we see in front of us, plus some other stuff we’ve always dreamed about and a number of wish-list items that we reckon the other person can implement if they really want to.
Here’s where a deep breath is useful. Singlehood allows time for imaginations to roam free. Imagination is a wonderful resource, but fails us when introduced to the real world. People are flawed and imperfect in a universe of frustrating ways, so the less we dream the better.
Facing the discomfort of real people feels like disappointment until we turn the lens on ourselves. We are not perfect (when we’re being honest, in the dark of the very early morning) so where do we get off expecting others to be better than us?
Here’s a way to think: revel in the flaws. A thicker skin, more acceptance of dopiness, less taking things seriously, and, as I learned at the feet of a very wise man, don’t let anything bother you.
There. A recipe for calm quizzicality, and likely better relationships.
If we think mimicry is a useful shortcut to success, observing successful couples is worth our time.
With the perspective of hindsight, I think I’ve figured out at least one quality that many folks have to keep their relationships moving along nicely. That quality is something akin to collegiality, or camaraderie.
We don’t often talk about the friendship or teamwork part of being with someone. Love – or as I like to call it thesedays “love” – attraction, sex and all those other gooey words take up much of the conversation. However, as two people move from strangers to boyfriend/girlfriend and then marriage, the percentage of time spent on just being together in the daily normalcy of life increases.
What do I mean by camaraderie? Well, it takes has many facets. Sharing the small stuff of life lies at the heart of the matter. Successful couples find a way into a common language. A shared sense of humour. A shortcut way of communicating. Specific signals, such as looks and words. A way to look at it is that they create a room from which they both look out at the world.
I like this way of behaving. Two people coming together to share a life is an entirely unlikely proposition. Until they commit to each other, they have two separate houses, if you like, mental spaces that remain unmeshed. If we want to create a union, manufacturing a space we both inhabit to the exclusion of everyone else is healthy and smart.
Collegiality is also a way of connecting in a way other than sexually. This is the friendship part of a successful relationship, the innocence of which makes it both an antidote to the stresses of being with one person and a simple link to his or her essence.