The dating scene can be exhausting, and sometimes we may need to just opt out for a while when we find ourselves in complete disgust after a series of bad dates, but more often than not, what seems to be a very prevalent practice is to settle for Mr. or Ms. Right Now, just to have some fun with a person that appears decent enough– knowing full well that s/he is never going to go the full distance.
Short-term lease situations do serve a purpose, no doubt, but I think it’s important to recognize your own pattern and establish time-frames for a reality check with the other person. Does that person realize that s/he is nearing the end of the relationship’s shelf life? It’s not fair to string someone along, so honest check-ins are important. Personally, I have found my options for renewal tend to surface after 5, 10, or 15 months. Sadly, in the last 20 years, only one person made it past the 3rd renewal option phase, and ever since our divorce, I’ve often found myself playing the dating game wondering: is this really as good as it gets?
To survive, we all develop different skills, and one of my best is the ability to compartmentalize. What does that mean? It means that with someone that isn’t a father, I don’t talk much about being a parent. With someone that isn’t passionate about his work, we talk about outside interests. With someone that is not well-traveled or well-read, we focus on activities and doing entertaining things together. So by doing this we can find common ground with someone while closing off doors to other parts of our life– but I have to be honest, that can only last for so long.
The reality is that the bar has been set quite high as to what I believe an amazing partnership without limits can look like, because I have lived it, and I’m surrounded by friends that have achieved it. To be able to speak your mind without the need to compartmentalize– to be with someone that isn’t just attractive on the outside, but also has a beautiful mind with depth and an appreciation for life– these are not just fiction stories you read about, it is the benchmark we should all strive for with a life partner.
While waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right to come along, no one should fault you for having some fun as long as you tread lightly with another person’s heart. Do whatever you need to do to feel human, but just don’t try to settle. Hold out for the one that rocks your world. I’m not saying this will be easy, but I am saying it will be worth it.
We will all have moments when we might start to lose faith in love, but don’t despair– it is not you, it’s just part of our human condition. Life, however, has a funny way of making things happen at critical moments. Hopefully, that moment will soon come when you stop wondering “is this as good as it gets?” Instead, someone will come along and inspire you to believe that indeed the best is yet to come.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.