Where Do They All Belong?

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Photo by Routine @ Morguefile.com

Many days ago, I remember praising SunkenThought’s article in which she described the relationship she had with her husband. That was for a very specific reason, because I was at the end of a long string of lousy dates that never seemed to go anywhere. I was consumed by the cynicism that modern dating, online dating especially, engendered.

My peers have become worn out, and many of them remain single. But not just single, they’re lonely too. Many of them yearn for affection and love, but things just don’t seem to be working out for them. It is not just my male friends who feel this way, as my female friends also feel this crushing sense of loneliness. If there was a theme to the 21st century millennial dating experience, it would be the Beatles’ classic “Eleanor Rigby”.

The circumstances that created this phenomenon are manifold, but the most unique aspect of modern life is the constant state of being busy. My peers are juggling school, work, and occasionally family. Sometimes multiple jobs are part of the equation. The economy that we live in is far less kind to a millennial. Where a boomer could reasonably expect to get a single bedroom apartment with a secure 9-5 job that only requires a high school diploma, this would fail spectacularly in today’s economy.

There is another concern that I have. As I made mention, our sex education is sorely lacking. But there’s another aspect that needs to be addressed as well: My peers don’t get a model of what a healthy, positive, realistic relationship looks like. When I ran Eyes Through the Glass, someone brought this to my attention, asking why we don’t cover that topic in health class. I dismissed this, saying that I liked the idea but that producing curriculum around it was probably going to be difficult. Then again, we kind of had that when I was growing up, but it was so bare bones that I barely remember a thing.

My conception of what a relationship was, how it works, the process of moving through it in stages, and so on was formed over the process of many years. It was mainly because what would happen is that I got to a certain point, screwed up, then tried again. On the plus side it means that every relationship I’ve gotten in is a marked improvement. On the minus side, it usually means that I don’t know that I’ve screwed up until it’s too late to come back from.

As SunkenThought has pointed out, there’s a certain level of unforgivingness in modern dating, relationships have become disposable. To play devil’s advocate, in bygone days some people clearly stayed in relationships that they did not want to be in due to the way society worked back then. But now, we live in a world where you can just swipe to find another potential match. Why bother if they’re not ideal? You can always find another one.

Another problem that this lack of modeling healthy relationships creates is that while some of my peers have trouble due to unrealistic expectations for their partners, others have no way to detect when a relationship is toxic or abusive.

The last thing that I think that my peers have trouble with is understanding what a relationship actually means, specifically in its responsibilities. Some people think that they can have all their problems solved by the right person. That their soulmate is going to come along and save them.

I put myself in this category, which is why I decided to take a temporary hiatus to work on myself before I went searching once more. I began devoting my time to making myself into the best of version of myself, so that when I am ready, I am able to be a capable partner.

I think a little reflection is a good thing, and it’s not a race to get married or anything like that. Hopefully, this will pay off in the long run.

8 thoughts on “Where Do They All Belong?

  1. It isn’t so much about becoming the best you so that you can be a perfect suitable partner. When two people get together who mesh well with one another, it is all about communication. My husband and I have been together nearly 5 years, I honestly must admit we both have grown a lot together since we got together. There isn’t truly an ideal relationship model, as all relationships differ for the individuals in said relationship. Just as we grow and change, so do our desires in a relationship and what we want in a partner. One of the key things that make relationships truly work is communication. Every once in a while my husband and I have a sit down and chat about what one or the other does to drive the other bonkers, even the petty stuff just to get it off our chests. Probably why we rarely ever fight.

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    • In my case,I realized that I had significant self-esteem issues that would have proved a detriment to any relationship that I had. Communication is not an issue for me, but what ended up happening is that I was seeking out partners that were not good matches for me because they fulfilled they negative self-esteem. I must admit I danced around it because I thought it would have been too personal, but I should have been forthcoming. Maybe when I get the time and I’m not bogged down with stuff I can go further into detail.

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  2. Dylan. I have been in good relationships and truly awful ones. The last one is with my husband of over 30 years. And the key to our success? we BOTH tell each other when something annoys us. It’s usually the petty stuff that messes with us. the leaving the toothpaste cap off, or leaving socks on the floor instead of in the hamper. that sort of stuff. We let each other know immediately when something is bothering us, and we each tell the other “don’t try to fix my problem, just listen”. No one but you can fix yourself, or deal with your emotions. There is no “fixing’ another person. We have had four fights in the past 33 years. Each time it was because we failed to communicate with the other. Our expectations were not met because we failed to tell the other just what those expectations were. Realize there is no “perfect match”. We all of us have to work at being good for our partners. To that end, we first need to be good to ourselves. LIKE ourselves. that little self esteem issue we ALL have. Tell yourself each and every day one good thing about yourself. Ten things is great but sometimes impossible to manage. never let a single day go by without telling yourself at least one thing you absolutely adore about yourself. Write post-its to yourself encouraging you to see the good in you. Leave them in various places you go..the bathroom mirror, the fridge. Read them and learn to believe in yourself. After all we believe in you, so why shouldn’t you?

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