I believe, as we get older, dating becomes a chore, not something we cherish. I’m 40 and HATE dating now. When I was younger, I was quick to go on a date or even, yes, gasp, do the “hook up” with someone. The thrill of getting to know him, the thrill of the anticipation, it was all so much fun. I might have even been a serial dater over the years, if you want to get right down to it. It doesn’t mean I didn’t want the relationship, I did, often it would just be with the wrong guy. Those stories will have to come another day though, trust me, some of them are pretty funny. The thing I find interesting now is how quick people are to just walk away when the person doesn’t seem “perfect” but they can’t seem to understand perfect doesn’t exist because we are humans, we evolve over time, our thinking changes, our priorities change. My “perfect man” in my twenties is no where near who I would consider my “perfect man” now that I am 40. It’s ok! Could you imagine if we never changed? If our thoughts and ideas stayed the same every year. I know I would be a little scared. The thing is, today, it seems like everyone is reluctant to stay in a relationship, they are ready to go out the door, and that is why I say we are our own worst enemies when it comes to dating.
Young love, as in the two people are young, is simple. We aren’t hung up on all the BS we seem to get hung up on as we get earlier. The fighting is because one didn’t call the other enough or they fight over who loves who more, ahhhh to be that simple again.
Young love, as in the relationship is new, when you’re older takes a whole new meaning. We have to juggle our friends, will they like him or not, because, let’s face it, they have been around a lot longer than he has, so they aren’t going anywhere. Not once do we think, hey, they are as old as me, they are single still, is their opinion of him out of love and concern for us or out of jealousy and spite because you met someone and she didn’t? Yes, it does happen. We worry about our family liking him. I know my family is used to my “flavor of the week” from my past, so when they are introduced to a new guy, they don’t really give him much thought right away. Their typical comment is, if you like him, we’ll be nice to him. I love my family for thinking like that, but it also makes me laugh. I haven’t done the “flavor of the week” in over 12 years, but they still think of me like that, so I let them. Honestly, living so far away makes it easier. I try not to talk about any new guy and don’t bring them home to meet them unless something big is going on and I really like him. We have to juggle our work, social life, family, and new relationship. It isn’t as easy when you’re older. You like doing things with your friends or family, so dropping everything to go out with your new guy, especially if you aren’t 100% sure about him, isn’t as enticing to you. When you’re young (in age) you’ll drop everything to go hang out with him. Then there is HIS mentality as well. If he’s been single for a while too, it’s even worse. He doesn’t understand why you want him to forgo hanging out with the guys to spend time with you. Yes, it’s a little hypocritical, because you don’t want to do it either, but we won’t talk about that! How do two people every get together over the age of 35? Add young children, which I don’t have to worry about, into the mix and it gets even tougher I’m sure. Maybe not though, maybe those with children are used to changing their plans on the spur of the moment. Maybe it’s just us single people with no kids who get so set in our ways.
I have watched a show on A&E called Married At First Sight. If you haven’t seen it, I want to give you a little snapshot of the premise. Four experts, a psychologist; Dr. Joseph Cilona, who, for the record is a very attractive man, I think A&E should feature him even more, or just do a show where he does the majority of the talking. I don’t know why, but I love listening and watching him talk. No wonder he’s so successful, his patient’s would keep coming back to listen to his hypnotizing voice! But I digress, back to the show. The other three experts; relationship expert and professor of sociology, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, relationship expert and sexologist, Dr. Logan Levkoff, and religious adviser, Greg Epstein. These four go through a crazy amount of applicants looking for love and choose six people to participate in the show. They pair them up and the three couples have to get legally married to each other without knowing a single thing about their new spouse. They don’t know their name, their likes, their dislikes, any of the information us single people try to get to know before we are even willing to set up a date! Now, one thing I will say is, it doesn’t appear like the experts match them up for television drama like so many reality television shows do. It appears like they give it a lot of thought and truly want the three couples to make the marriage a success. In the first season, the couples met again at the end of 30 days to say whether they want to stay married or get a divorce. It appears the experts learned from a few mistakes and now, the couple gets married, goes on a honeymoon, then comes back and has to live together for four weeks, so in total, it is about six weeks they are together and then meet to say whether they want to stay married or get a divorce. In the second season, the experts also plan time to meet with the couples throughout the time frame, so they aren’t just left alone navigating the marriage waters. GREAT CHANGES in my opinion. It makes sense they want the marriages to be successful. Imagine what it would do to the dating world? What they, as experts in the relationship field, could learn from the social experiment and use in their individual practices could be priceless. In the first season, two couples stayed married and went on to continue filming their first year together. One couple chose to divorce. The second season is still airing, so we don’t know yet who will make it and who won’t, if any. I’ll be sure to post an update when it finishes!
One of the things I noticed while watching the show is, all of them go through a rough patch at one point or another, and ALL of them say (paraphrasing)
If we hadn’t been married, I would have been gone by now. If we had only been dating, it would have been a red flag and I wouldn’t have stayed with him/her.
In less than three weeks, each of them found something in their spouse who, had they not signed up and COMMITTED to sticking in out because they were married AND because they signed a contract to do the show, they would have left. Every one of them, so far, with the exception of one, have been able to get help with COMMUNICATION and were able to sit down to discuss the situation and work it out. It doesn’t mean we didn’t see some anger, passion, fighting, and disagreements come out of some of the couples, but, for the most part, AFTER they were able to calm down and actually TALK about their emotions and feelings, they grew from it. It is just an example of how “knee jerk” we have become as a society. If we don’t like something, we just walk away. It’s like we don’t want to give anything a chance.
Another thing I found interesting about the experiment(s) is that, in each season, at least one person did not find their new spouse attractive. Don’t get me wrong, not a single person featured on the show would be what society would consider unattractive. You never see shows like this with people who are over weight, in their forties, etc. I’ll never be chosen for a reality show about relationships! I don’t think I’m ugly, that isn’t what I’m saying. I’m just saying, I would not be the society pretty reality shows pick for love and romance. We are left to figure it out on our own. Again, sidetracked….back to my point. Both seasons, one of the females did not find her new spouse attractive. To the point they wanted to run away. They didn’t think it would ever work. He didn’t give her butterflies when she saw him. Within two weeks, both of them were changing their opinion. Not only did they no longer want to run, but they talked about how attractive they actually found him. I do think we can sometimes get hung up on looks too much. Yes, there has to be an attraction, don’t get me wrong….but is the attraction all physical or does there have to be a mental attraction as well? I know I personally have changed over the years as to what I find attractive. It doesn’t mean I’m lowering my standards it just means I can appreciate a man’s smile, or his eyes, and find something like that which makes him so attractive in my eyes. I always say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it starts with a mirror”
Sometimes we let society, our friends, and family interfere with our relationships and affect the way we see someone else. In the past, I wrote about loving for love and yourself, no one else and it is so true. In the case of these couples, their spouses personality shone through and made them attractive to the other person. Had they not been doing the show, they would have never met, never taken the time to learn about each other, and see how attracted they really were to this guy they called ugly.
Relationships are not easy. Not the lasting ones anyway. They take work. Today would have been my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. My dad passed away in 2013. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s for ten years before he passed. Their marriage wasn’t perfect. It had it’s ups and downs. I remember listening to my share of arguments between the two of them. Sometimes the storms were rough, but after they made it through them, they came out stronger. That is something I learned from them. Getting through the rough spots doesn’t just get you to the other side, it makes you STRONGER as an individual. My mom had the strength to make it through some really difficult times with a man who could be, at times, a grumpy man, and went on to care for him for five years of his Alzheimer’s keeping him at home until we, her children, stepped in to let her know he needed more care than she could physically give him. He spent his remaining five years in a nursing home, where she went almost every day to see him and feed him his lunch. The only days she didn’t go was if she was out of town or the weather was just too bad for her to get out. She stayed true to him and a wife to him to the very end.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should stay with someone JUST to stay with them. I’m saying we, as a society, are quick to react instead of trying to communicate and fix. I know everyone says they have a list of reasons why they would leave and every thing else is things they would try to work through, but is that really true? Think about reasons why you have left some of your past long term relationships…..was it because of something on your “hard” list or was it really due to poor communication?
Clearly I am not a relationship expert, I am single right now, so I won’t profess to have all of the answers. Sometimes I am guilty of seeing the red flags and making some up if there isn’t really any evident ones. I get not everything is solved with communication if both parties are not committed. This isn’t about people who meet to decide if there is a connection, it is about couples who are ready to SAY they are a couple and be in a committed relationship…..don’t run the minute things make you want to run. Stop. Calm down so your brain is doing the communication, not your emotions. Then COMMUNICATE about what happened about what upset you. It’s amazing how much better communication goes when it’s done in a calm, honest manner, not an emotional, hurtful manner.
In the end, we all have to remember humans are just that; human. We are individuals trying to make it work with another individual. It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. The thing to remember is, it is worth it!