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In it to win it

Submitted by Liz P. on June 7, 2010 – 2:10 pmComments

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Photo courtesy of SnapKnot.com via Flickr

Photo courtesy of SnapKnot.com via Flickr

My good friend Mary came into my office the other day upset over the state of her love life.  A few months ago her long time, live-in boyfriend abruptly ended their relationship. Instead of drowning her sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, Mary promptly joined the dating website okcupid.com and within a few weeks she met Steve.  Steve is younger than Mary and the personification of a hipster, essentially the polar opposite of her last boyfriend.  Mary and Steve have a perfectly fine relationship; they find all sorts of interesting things to do together, from going to a food cart festival in Brooklyn to spending an impromptu weekend in Mexico.  Everything is fine. But, for Mary, fine is proving not to be enough. While she enjoys spending time with Steve, she admits that they don’t have all that much in common. And, sometimes their interactions skew a little undergrad; he’s big on the three word text, not so into planning dates or inquiring about how her day went.  She knows that “he is not the one.”  The question is what should she do about it?

 We began to tackle the issue, as only two bored twenty some things could at 3pm on a Friday. Our discussion quickly morphed into a philosophical debate; less Aristotle, more Carrie Bradshaw. (I apologize for the SATC reference, after the second movie I had hoped to avoid ever having to utter her name again.) Regardless, once you know that your partner isn’t “the one” is remaining in the relationship a viable option? Do we date to marry? Or, do we simply date to avoid being alone?

Mary and I fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. She always has a guy waiting in the wings while I am definitely single. That is, until I meet someone I really like, throw caution and logic to the wind, and start to secretly plan our wedding. Neither of our situations is without challenges. No matter how independent I profess to be, I don’t particularly enjoy being by myself. And, I probably should give more guys the benefit of the doubt. The quick up or down vote has a place in Congress, not my love life. That said, I do think that being with someone out of convenience can lead to a more permanent state of romantic complacency. It’s something I notice all the time amongst my peers. At first the guy is “OK,” then you’ve been together for 8 months and you don’t feel like getting back “out there” so you stay in the relationship. Then, your lease is up so it just makes sense to move in with him. Next thing you know, two years have passed, and you’re about to marry that guy you weren’t all that into to begin with.  And vice versa, of course; this phenomenon is by no means an isolated challenge for the fairer sex.

My guess is that the right approach, if such a thing exists, lies somewhere between our current modes of operation. It is important to give someone a chance, not all great relationships start with fanfare and fireworks. However, if you do want to get married or find a long-term companion, you should own that decision. If you want to find “the one” and the one your with isn’t it, it’s probably wise to end things sooner rather than later.

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