Reflections on Dating and Relationships

Just some frustrated thoughts on dating and relationships:

Dating has been a frustrating experience that I have struggled with for years. Pressured by society, friends, and my social network to settle down, look for a long-term relationship, and, most importantly know what I want. The truth? I am still learning what I want, and more importantly, what I want is changing and evolving with my maturation as a young adult.

For me the question has been, “what is dating?” What do we seek out of relationships? Is there a deeper purpose to our continued adventuring and the emotional rollercoaster known as dating? I just can’t believe that the second idea is true. Throughout our younger years, for those of us who have not been fortunate enough to encounter our life partner on our first date, we have experienced a phenomenal wealth of experience, maturation, and growth. We have learned about dating, relationships, and intimacy. Developed behaviors to sync with social norms, expectations, and we are continuously growing and exploring our own sexuality and the rewards of sharing our lives in an intimate manner with another human being…a partner for the journey through life. Understanding our relationships and how they affect our interaction with the opposite sex/loved ones is an essential skill we learn from our parents, experience and guidance.

We take our three ego states, Parent, Adult and Child: See Diagram below

Ego states diagram from Eric Berne

and use them to interact with each other. Identifying these ego states and learning to use the Adult in a dominant manner in our relationships instead of relying on our Parent or Child states is a skill that can take a lifetime to achieve.

For those of us that are out in the world seeking Mr. or Mrs. Right, just because we haven’t found them yet, does it mean we shouldn’t have relationships or seek companionship from those that can offer us comfort and shelter? I hear from female and male friends consistently that they are so tired of “just messing around.” However, is not all dating considered just messing around unless you plan to get married? Some of these “relationships” last longer than others, but often people who are caught in these situations do so knowing that the person they are with is not necessarily the person they’d like to marry. Is the fear of being alone enough to overpower the fear of not finding the right person? I hope not. I don’t like the idea of living my life in fear, or alone. I think instead that these relationships offer us great experiences, and what is more important for me, these relationships offer lessons and rewards that can be quite satisfying.

Isn’t being in a relationship, serious or casual more about the adventure, self-discovery, and lessons you can learn, from pushing the river and trying to force a series of feelings and actions that may lead to a result to what type of actions are successful and which produce misery and disastrous emotional and mental effects? Lessons about accepting relationships for what they are, and hoping for what they might be, but never trying to force them to be something they aren’t. I am talking here about trying to make someone be the one. Trying to force feelings and emotions that do not come naturally in the relationship.

So, I don’t see us getting married, but I love you as a friend, and more than that as a partner, what’s wrong with that? Why can’t the focus be on sharing time in our lives together, exploring, and adventuring through these years as friends as we mature and figure out what we want? We live in such a curious world; why not explore it while having a companion along for the ride?

Isn’t our experience more about companionship and learning about each other then fitting someone else’s conception of what we should have? To me that is the most important aspect. If your lives diverge from each other, so be it. The time you spent wasn’t a waste, it was a valuable experience that taught you important lessons about yourself and another person, and while your lives were traveling in the same direction, sharing the journey was spectacular.

I think in many ways our generation approaches relationships in the wrong way. A relationship can be anything from professional, to platonic, to romantic. It varies the spectrum. I think those of us that have been caught in situations where we look at the time we’ve spent with a companion as a loss because we aren’t progressing toward marriage have been approaching the issue in the wrong way.

We are seeking companionship and someone who makes us feel special, someone who is whole on their own and makes us stronger by augmenting our weaknesses and helping identify and buttress our faults. A person who is also benefitted by our strengths to counter their weaknesses.

To those of you that say, well I can only be in a relationship that is going somewhere, the relationship you have with another person goes where you and they direct it. For an intimate relationship, it can be very difficult, but in the above mindset, you must decide on the first date that you are going to marry him/her and if you are going to get to know each other and date, it had better have that end goal. Thats a huge assumption about a person you’ve just met and a waste of so much possibility. If that is the case, when it turns out that marriage isn’t an option for the relationship all too often the relationship, emotional connection and development is thrown by the wayside as having been a waste of time. What I’m saying is that it’s not! Doesn’t it seem silly considering how complicated and complex human social behavior is to discard those lessons, experience and the joy and frustration of the relationship?

What if you could be with someone even if you don’t think they’re right to marry because they are interesting as a person, because their friendship, relationship and the intimacy you share with them is valuable and helps you understand yourself and prepare yourself for when the right “fish” comes along. I think that is preferable.
Investing in the relationship on a mutual level, even outside of a traditional boyfriend girlfriend atmosphere can be thoroughly rewarding, if you take the time to invest and reap the benefits of the relationship, intimacy and their companionship. Lets clarify something here, I’m not advocating friends with benefits, or casual encounters. I’m saying that as an evolution of friendship and comfort with each other, intimacy develops and that we shouldn’t be afraid to embrace it. These types of situations only work if you approach the situation with a rational, adult attitude and are frank and honest about it from the beginning.

As long as you feel safe, courageous, and adventurous in each other’s arms and still feel free to seek the one who will be your soul mate, what is so wrong with a mutual relationship that may or may not lead to more, but in the here and now offers you companionship?

In my opinion, it is time to revisit how we approach our relations with the opposite sex. We need to start developing relationships that focus on mutual respect, intimacy, and communication as well as relationships that allow each of us to learn about each other and ourselves.

If we can do that, we might be pleasantly surprised how intense, rewarding and exciting these relationships can become. Specifically when you have Adult-to-Adult interaction based on mutual respect, honesty, and understanding. Your partner does not have to be Mr. or Mrs. Right, because they’re teaching you what you want your Mr. or Mrs. Right to be when that time comes.

Ladies, at the end of the day, you need to understand that you can sate your female desire in a suitable companion, feel rewarded and not guilty and still be on looking for Mr. Right. Men, you can have an emotional connection, learn about women, and express your dominant side and masculine desire without feeling guilt. If you are honest and open with each other and with your own human nature and natural tendencies, your life will be significantly fuller.

Relationships, exploring, and developing companionship between people is more about maturing as an adult and breaking away from perverse social manifests in an effort to better understand yourself, your needs as a man or woman, as well as learning what an adult relationship is like, and how fantastic it can be.

You are not a little child playing in the social hierarchy of high school where gossip and what someone else thinks you should do dominates your every thought. You are an adult, a woman or man responsible for their actions, thoughts, and you must accept the rewards as well as the consequences. Each person has intimate and emotional needs and desires, and you as a responsible adult are free to fulfill them. It is your right.
Still, you need to do so in a way that meets all of your needs as a woman or a man. To be intellectually stimulated, to develop a deeper understanding of you and your partner, to be dominated or to be submissive, to be immersed, emotionally connected, pleasured, and loved. All of these take work, and investment, but the return is always an exponential return on your investment. Even if the relationship is transitory, what you learn and your experiences are beyond value. What you receive from another person can vary, and can be offered in varying amounts by an acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, boyfriend, or husband. What you receive from “just messing around” is what you choose to take away from it and is directly related to what you put into it.

As an adult, it is your responsibility to evaluate possible situations based on their value to you, a full comprehension of the negative and positive aspects. After all, isn’t it all just messing around unless you are in an arranged marriage chosen by an arbitrary third party and have never dated?

Thoughts and comments are welcome!





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