In retrospect, my dating history reminds me of nothing as much as a Mad magazine. Instead of the usual bunch of idiots drawing cartoons and creating snark, there’s me, an idiot, blindly bumbling around creating chaos in my life and those of others. It’s a sad tale of immaturity, poor modeling, ego and failure.
There is a feeling I have that I am not alone in making a dog’s breakfast of my dating and relationship life. General practice appears to be parents expecting their urchins to be innately skilled at dealing with their own thinking, and their ability to deal with people as well as two sets of emotions and intellects.
Is that a fair distillation of human relationships? A meeting of two egos and all the accompanying infrastructure?
Even now, looking at that idea, the thought of being turned into the world to cope with making a success of being with yourself and with another looks immensely complicated. And here we are, turfing children into that mixing bowl with fundamentally no instruction.
Perhaps the question to ask is: Is human interaction a learned skill or is it really innate, and is there a way to prepare people to handle relationships with more aplomb than, say, a fool like me?
When someone’s riding high on their success, facing them with awkward truths appears mean. This is not meant to be mean, and in any case he won’t be listening. However, someone you know might be in a similar position, so here’s my advice:
Jordan. Please don’t marry Annie.
Annie, please don’t marry Jordan.
Not yet, at least.
The media are keen to hint that these two are planning marriage, but there’s no official news. That’s good. Maybe these two youngsters – and they are youngsters at age 21 – have the smarts to know that the chances of their marriage succeeding aren’t good.
Here is a good article explaining the statistics surrounding marriages undertaken by folks under age 25.
Until a male (especially) is at least 25, his brain is still developing. That’s point one. Point two is that his character is, as a result, still not complete. Point three is that the twenties should be a time for exploring life, to push boundaries, to discover for yourself where you fit. Marriage is an enterprise best suited for those who have this sense of proportion and place in the universe. And that comes only with experience.
And by the way, since when is the fact of being “high-school sweethearts” a predictor of anything good? What social enterprises of which you partook in high school do you use in adulthood? Do the choices you made then look prescient in hindsight?
No. I didn’t think so. So what makes your choice of boy- or girlfriend any different?
We talk about dating as if it’s a fait accompli, that everyone is looking for someone. Say it is not so, Hortense, because it isn’t; not every singleton out there is on the prowl.
This is another case of the coupled gently pressuring the uncoupled. They, The Togethers, say things like:
So, what are you doing to find someone?
Gosh, I know this person who’d be great for you.
Aren’t you lonely?
Ummmm, nothing, not interested and no, actually. (This being the opposite of that horrid movie “Love Actually” which was nothing about love or actuality.) Sometimes people are content to be unattached, and that’s that.
They’ll emerge in their own good time.
Two bulls were grazing side by side on a hill. Presently, a herd of cows meandered from the milking shed into a paddock some distance below them.
The bulls looked up, checking out the ladies. The younger bull motioned with his head to the older bull, saying…
Hey, look at that hot one with the nice big splotch on her side. He paused. I’m going to run down the hill and see if she’s up for some action. Quickly, come with me. I want to get her before someone else does!
The older bull looked at him and motioned for the younger male not to go.
Son, he said, no need to be so impatient. Let’s both walk slowly down to the ladies and get them all.
This is an ancient joke, told by risqué uncles and family retainers to young and immature men. Consider it one of the very few documented pieces of advice many men ever receive about how to pursue women. Or cows, for that matter.
When you are twenty, you can afford to date without forethought. Having all the time in the world allows you the luxury of asking anyone for any reason to spend a little time together. Because you are new to adult life, stretching your experience with different kinds of people works to help you figure yourself out. We find our life’s envelope by fooling around at the edges.
Logically, there’s no reason not to do the same if you are fifty. You might even want to make the case that being free of youthful responsibilities – and maybe even your own children – means you can return to self-discovery with your dating. Life gave you ups and downs, and now you can use the found knowledge to find someone compatible.
But I don’t think it works that way. Maturity narrows our focus to those elements of life that are important. Casting off that which doesn’t interest us gives us time and (importantly) the energy to pursue what is of value. Discarding choices can be liberating, in the sense that we more clearly define ourselves…both to ourselves and that yet-to-be-found other person.