Dating: Express Relationships

July 3, 2008

The roots of all our lives go very, very, deep, and we can’t really understand a person unless we have the chance of knowing who that person has been, and what that person has done and liked and suffered and believed.” -Fred Rogers, Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers

Just as life experience takes time to accumulate, so does a relationship. I like to think of a relationship as something that forms and grows between people. You don’t just meet a person and suddenly have a relationship. We cheat ourselves of the beauty that can come from a well-formed and nurtured relationship when we try to force those things that we want, and need, to come naturally. But those things may not come at all. And somehow I think we convince ourselves that maybe if we hurry and make it “serious” really fast we can stop a relationship from becoming what we don’t want it and need it to be; Like a game of musical chairs where if you get there first, you win. Or maybe we’re just impatient.

You cannot cheat time. It does not matter if you spend every waking moment with a person for the first 6 months that you know them, you still only know 6 months worth of information about them. “Cramming” may have worked for you on exams in school, but the same principle does not apply to getting to know a human being. Spending every waking moment with the person you are dating gives you a skewed vision of who they are as a person. They existed without you by their side before. What kind of person were they then? Because that is the person that it is important for you to know.

With forced and rushed relationships people lose, hard. It’s not that I’m saying that whether you rush or take your time getting to know someone that the outcome will necessarily be different. If the timing is right and you match up with the person in the right places it will work. But if the relationship fails then the speed that you’re traveling and the degree that you and the other person are enmeshed together is going to affect the amount and the severity of the damage done on impact.

I know a man that in the first four months of this year has gotten serious enough with a man to be calling him his “partner” and to say that they are “planning their future together.” I know a woman who met a man last summer and two months later was engaged to him. Four months after their engagement they were married and moving their children in together. All during the craziness of this woman finishing nursing school.

Whoa.

Extreme Home Makeover is a show that I enjoy watching on occasion. And somehow that came up with a man I met while I was in New York. He is an architect, and I remember him saying something to the effect that from an architectural standpoint such a speedy construction brings up a number of questions when it comes to quality and stability. How long does a fresh foundation need before you put the weight of a house or relationship on it?

It’s the complex detail of anything, be it architecture, people, or a relationship, that make them truly beautiful and worthwhile. Detail takes time to form and to appreciate. Something significant is lost when we rush. Great damage can be done when we try to cram another person, and allow ourselves to be pushed, into a space that doesn’t truly fit the intricate details of their, or our, individual humanity.

Take a breath. Recognize that something that is right today will still be right tomorrow, then enjoy today for what it is and where you are. Trying to be where you want to be in the future today will always be a futile effort. You lose the present when you fail to live in it.

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