Save The Date…


Time to get back on topic.

I’ve been giving consideration to actually putting myself back out there to date. Living in a country that doesn’t have a strong dating culture makes that enough of a challenge. But having engaged in conversations with others over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that that may be the least of my obstructions. So, I’ve been exploring the various factors that may affect me as I venture out. I’ve been paying keen attention to social media and the opinions and experiences being shared by others and have learned quite a bit about what is happening.

So far, it’s been interesting, until a tweet caught me off guard a few nights ago and slapped me sideways for a few reasons. I’ve somewhat managed to reconcile one of the reasons but it made me think about how dating and relationships often too play out. While it was intended to be facetious (as indicated by the tweeter) it was still quite relevant to the topic at hand. I don’t intend to date casually. I never have and I doubt I ever will. I don’t engage on that level with people in whom I am not interested. It’s a waste of time. This doesn’t negate the need or capacity for casual encounters, but I wouldn’t consider that dating in its truest sense.

So there’s the tweet and my response and it started a serious conversation about preferences and placeholding and how these affect dating. We’re not talking about the straight line comparison of people to inanimate objects (as I said, it was intended to be a flip, throwaway statement), but the fact that as a metaphor, it can be expanded to truly explore this topic. There’s nothing wrong with preferences. When we consider letting people into our lives, into our personal spaces, it only makes sense to identify, acknowledge and respect our preferences. Knowing what we want should ideally allow us to stop entertaining and wasting time with what we don’t. Being clear about what we want should also allow others to not develop feelings and expectations that will never be matched or fulfilled. And most importantly being honest will let others know that we’re in exploration mode and that we won’t be making a commitment until we are sure. This is especially important for persons who are dating for long-term relationship potential.

And that’s where placeholding comes in. Some people refuse to be honest about what they’re actually looking for. Some people don’t take the time to truly understand for themselves what they’re looking for. So, they settle in the moment, while still looking around for someone else or someone better. But, settling opens the other person in the relationship up to the very real possibility of getting hurt. It’s an ugly and most often selfish thing to do and it’s fraught with a number of complications that can cause irreparable damage, especially in cases where the other person becomes attached or committed because they aren’t aware that they’re just filling in until the ideal partner is found.

So you want something specific, but for whatever reason, you’re not in a position to attract (acquire it) just yet. Some people will find a substitute that’s easier to invest in and within their capacity to accommodate. A lot of the responses I got were in reaction to the fact that when this happens, the substitute, not being the preference, doesn’t get care and respect. So you wanted a Benz, expensive to acquire and maintain but couldn’t afford it at the time. So, you settled for a Subaru, (supposedly) easier to care for, needs way less effort. But some still mistreat it because they don’t deem it as valuable as the Benz and therefore, not deserving of the time, effort and resources they would have given otherwise. Some people are honestly not putting in time and effort in their relationship because the person they are with is not who they actually want to be with. They take their partner for granted because they don’t think the person needs, or worse, deserves to be treated well.

I think I was a little taken aback by the tweet because objectively, there are people who would actually prefer a Subaru… I mean. What’s wrong with it? Even if you stick to the straight line comparison, you have to acknowledge that there are people who really will only ever prefer Subarus. We’re not all looking for luxury and opulence or status symbols. There are however, people who will prefer the Subaru but will choose the Benz because it supports an image and lifestyle they’re trying to cultivate. There are people who will choose neither… Relationships are a part of life and our lives are composed of the choices we make.

I will never endorse settling; I’ve done it, more than once I’m sad to say and it invariably ends badly. I believe that we should know exactly what we are looking for and look for the best version of it we can possibly find. But, we should also be honest with our partners. Don’t commit until long-term potential is reasonably certain and let the other person know the status of the relationship at all times. We tend to settle into mediocre relationships simply to pass the time and sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that we’re happy. But it’s unfair to our selves and to those partners to get stuck in a relationship where we know we’re not truly content, especially if that leads to us taking the person for granted or otherwise mistreating them. If a long-term commitment is what we’re after, we should absolutely seek out and select the partner that best suits us and the life we want to live. Not the image, not the status, but the everyday happiness that comes from loving and being loved by the right person, the person who fits into our lives and truly makes us comfortable and content.

We absolutely need to be comfortable with using dating as a means of getting to know someone, even several somoenes, before committing. We shouldn’t feel pressured to quickly select someone to the point of settling for what we know won’t work in the long term, just for the sake of coupling up for temporary appeasement of others or even ourselves. And if we do choose to do this, we should be able to be honest so that the other person is aware that we’ll be looking to “trade up”. Dishonesty has made people hesitant to venture out because too many person refuse to state clearly and unequivocally what they are looking for. Too many persons don’t know what they’re looking for and still go out and lead people on to the inevitable bad conclusion. Too many people try to jump into a commitment before exploring all options and way too many people are keeping their options open while the other party thinks that the relationship status is set and secure. If we want to truly enjoy the benefits of dating, self-awareness, honesty and open communication are the key factors that should guide our actions in order to prevent avoidable misunderstandings and pain.

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