Sometimes I get the impression that love is like musical chairs. You switch loverkinses until the point when you are ready to settle down and once you reach that age or life-change, that chair better be available or you’re going home without any wedding cake.
I have gotten myself into situations where I’ve stayed in a relationship because I had convinced myself that this has to be it. It’s the right time and he’s right here so this must be it.
As problematic as this thinking is in the midst of a relationship, it can be even worse as you begin a new relationship. I recently spoke with a friend who entered a relationship with that attitude. He had dated multiple people. He was at a point in his life where he was considering marriage and she was right there. She had to be the one. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more disastrous than matrimonious. He wouldn’t have let it go as far as it did, if he hadn’t already convinced himself that she was it.
We go into things with expectations of happy endings before we even get through the beginning. Suddenly red flags are easily dismissed as tiny idiosyncrasies that can be overlooked because this is your One. She/he has to be.
I think our biggest problems in love and marriage can stem from this idea that love, like so many other things in our lives, must fall within this neat little timeline. We go through the beginning of our lives meeting these deadlines with first words, potty training, kindergarten, high school graduation then college. Each step falls in place with the appropriate corresponding age. It only seems right that love, marriage and babies in the baby carriage should follow in kind. For years I was on track with this timeline. I dated in high school and college and as college drew to a close and I entered the workplace, I was engaged, just as should be expected. I would soon begin my career and family simultaneously. Then that came crashing down and I felt like a dateless girl a week before prom.
Now what? I had clearly fallen off the track and set myself back years. At the time, it was among the more devastating realizations that went hand-in-hand with a wedding that never would be. I had to shake this idea that life was a straight path. As a logical human being, I knew this. But I thought I had my path mapped out. Other people’s detours had nothing to do with my neat life blueprint. I was going to get my familial utopian dammit. It was the next thing on the life-fulfillment checklist. Right after get a job and just before become a corporate wonder who balances work and family effortlessly while also writing a short work of fiction on the side.
In the end, I came to love the new direction my life took after I had shrugged the burden of looming romantic deadlines (along with the idea that I had to climb the corporate ladder to be successful). Yet I still struggle with it. There are days when I am thrilled to be unattached. I realize that I won’t always be able to enjoy the freedom that comes with singledom so I should do everything I can to love it while I have it. That feeling would stick with me nearly every day if I could just know when that chapter in my life would be complete. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works (a-duh). This not knowing can be unnerving. And the trap of believing that the next one must be The One can be an easy one to fall into with the uncertain nature of love and all things romantic. Dumping the expectations of happily ever after on each new guy you date isn’t fair to him or you.
Eschewing this pressure of “I need to know when” can be difficult, but lesson number 10 of this post helped put things into perspective for me. I can do very little to control how, when and where I meet the man o’ my dreams. No matter how much I put myself in a position to meet new potentials, I can’t find the one who sticks like it’s some treasure hunt. There are no clues I can follow. I can only be who I am and enjoy my life as it is now (pretty damn great), the rest is up to God. It’s on Him.
I’ve often lamented the fact that it is more difficult for me to find my doodlebug due to the restrictions my faith puts on my romantic expectations. But, if I look at it from Lauren’s angle, it should make it easier in some ways. Because it isn’t in my control. It’s in God’s control. Now granted the girl is getting married at 23, so her experience with singlehood is fairly limited in the grand scheme of things. But she did meet her loverboy on Twitter of all places. From halfway across the country. After a fairly mixed up dating history by her own account. That has to have something to do with grace, though you could give the credit to Jack Dorsey I suppose.
No matter how you look at it, overthinking love takes the romance out of it. Worse yet, putting your life on hold as you wait for your man simply because you have this order of events laid out in your head and the next step is contingent on Prince Charming can waste precious years. Finding your one and only shouldn’t be a square you land on before you can advance to Go and collect the rest of your future. The path along the way can be just as rewarding and is most decidedly different for every person. Some lucky girls will find him early on while others have more time to mature and fly solo before the big I Do. And ultimately some woman may choose (le gasp!) to be happy as a bird on her very own for her whole life.
Wow. That got all touchy feely and positive…next time “Boys Suck and Always Will.”