In my last post I compared hesitance to tell others about a relationship to hesitance to tell others about a pregnancy until it’s in a certain stage. This doesn’t actually work as a comparison. First, a pregnancy lasts a finite amount of time. Once, shall we say, the seed has been planted, in about nine months, barring tragic events and assuming you’re human (and not an elephant or a fruit fly), a baby will be born. The first few months are riskier, but the whole thing has been set in motion and there is an expected outcome and a timeline.
Not so in relationships. There is no timeline, no gestation period, nothing biological about us that says we’ve passed the risky part, and nothing societal cuing us on in that way, either. There’s no definite outcome, either, no final “birth” to mark that this stage is over and a new one has begun. I think some people think that marriage is the definite outcome of dating, but I don’t think I agree…
I was talking with a couple of girlfriends tonight over wine about all of this. Why is it that (we) young people tend to see marriage as the culmination of all of our dating efforts, when actually it would make more sense if marriage signified the beginning of your life with someone? I think many of us have short-sighted goals. But then I also think that the “this-could-end-at-any-time” risk involved with dating sucks and makes us want something more stable, something that won’t be as easy to give up on, something to work through if necessary.
And on a related note, I think that we grow into harsh critics with more experience — we know what we think “works” for us, and what doesn’t. I think we try too hard to find people who will fit who we are perfectly — not that it’s such a bad thing — but we’re pretty quick to determine a “bad fit” and move on as we get older. Maybe perfect, lego-like matches do exist, but, as one friend put it (in more eloquent words), “Do you decorate your home perfectly on your own and then look for someone else whose style matches yours? Or do you decorate it with someone, melding styles, mixing colors, until it’s more beautiful than it would have been had you done it yourself?” Of course not everyone is going to appreciate my (decidedly lovely) orange arm chairs, and I don’t have much tolerance for uncomfortable pull-out couches, but it’s all negotiable, and you would just have to like enough of another person’s taste (or personality — remember, this is a metaphor) to work those details out.
Of course there’s chemistry (maybe that equates to an awful/awfully fantastic smell permeating a home in this little metaphor), and of course you can’t just pick up a funky new outlook on life at that new boutique and have Goodwill pick up your old one. You can’t leave your neuroses by the dumpster and hope the city doesn’t fine you. The moral of this metaphor is that relationships are and are not like interior design, choosing a date is at once easier and harder than choosing new curtains and getting rid of old ones.
To discount another metaphor used above (or maybe make it stronger): Legos come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and yet they all fit together. It’s always a perfect fit, but not necessarily a perfect match.