Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Dependency Factor

Sometimes, when you least expect it, you just outgrow your relationships. It's not something we're thinking about in the early stages of when we're in them. But it happens. Instead of growing together, you grow apart.

But then the question is, how do you handle it? Do you hold on in the hopes it becomes something... Or, do you let it grow and worry about starting over on your own?

I started thinking about this earlier in the week when my cousin told me about a good friend of hers who's been with a guy since college and has moved out to the city that he lives in to be together... And somehow, seems to have a "crush" on another guy. See, she loves her boyfriend. But somehow, the formula isn't working the way it used to.

The story was further magnified when a friend I'll call Amy (who I actually met through her boyfriend, an old colleague and pal "Charlie") sent me an e-mail to tell me that they had broken up early this year, after several years of being together. However, the thing I found interesting is that this past summer, at her birthday party, they were there -- together -- and other than their usual small bickering, seemed quite cute.

As Amy told me, they were trying their hand to make it work but at the end of the day, couldn't get past the hurdles of their relationship. She's since started seeing someone new, and while she seems happy, she's still reminded of the love and dreams she shared with Charlie.

What these two relationships have in common is that they both tried hard (or are trying hard) to hold on to what they had with the ones they loved - with the goal of saving something that's become a part of them.

Admittedly, when I broke up with my first love, it was something I couldn't let go for a while -- although I acted out by dating and flirting up a storm just to forget my broken heart. But that was me lashing out the only way I knew how. And I knew it was because I felt for him more than he could ever feel for me.

As I thought about it, I realized that I've heard this same story happen with a lot of friends -- and one half of the relationship seems to feel a little stronger about saving it. And I wonder if that's because, in every relationship, one person may love a little more than other. A very good friend -- whose husband spoils her rotten -- told me something like that once, and I'm starting to believe it. I mean, think for a second: Have you ever just been in something that's so much a part of you, you would do anything to keep it?

When it all comes down to it, there's no predicting how we'll handle the changes that happen in a relationship. Do we want to hold on to it? Or do we want to let it go and grow away from it?

Every couple's different. But all we can do is hope that somehow, whatever choice we make, we're making for ourselves and not just to hang on to something. I mean, how healthy is that.

There's a large field out there, and maybe someone new that will suit us. If it's not the one you're with, maybe -- just maybe -- the next one will be waiting.

I mean, moving on can be a lot of fun... If you're ready.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mating Game = Team Sport + Instant Gratification

Some of the most memorable dating experiences have emerged with a little help from a friend acting as a "wingwoman" to help me zoom in on a particular target. I can remember one great summer involving one of my best wingwomen, Natalie, and a pair of hot British soccer players. We looked out for each other and as a result of a few quick tactics, ended up painting the town red for that night. Ah, the good old days.

See, the truth is, it's often a delicate process. It all starts with mapping out signals and codes for what we do when see something we like, or want to avoid someone. Once out, we scope out the scene and identify a target before starting in ever so smoothly until we get that encouraging glance or that drink sent over to us. Then, the rest falls into place.

Anyway, my old dating days came into mind when a friend forwarded me this article based on an MIT study that guys can improve success rates when traveling with a wingman. However, what I did find interesting when reading the press release put out by MIT was the fact that men and women both agree that cooperation is key but for different reasons: females "to create barriers and thresholds for males," while males "cooperate to gain access to females."

Now this made me smile, only because I can think of multiple times where I've been successful with the opposite sex as a result of having a designated wingperson by my side. (See British Boy example above) And, in thinking about it, I am sure that for the guys I've met out with friends, the fact that I'm in a group is major for them as they think about hooking up their friends, at least for the night.

Reading these things makes me quite aware that dating is very much a "team sport," in some fashion, or a form of playing "The Game" to land that cutie (which was the focus of some commentary when I discussed confidence out on the dating scene just recently). But the reward is superficial -- a night, a few dates, whatever. Not often very lasting, but something in the moment. And something I think the male gender may have mastered a little better than most women.

What am I getting at? When you're out on the scene, I am all for playing the game with a couple of good teammates -- it should provide some immediate fun. That is, as long as you're fine with instant gratification and not overthinking the night (which I know I've been guilty of).

Now, all I want is to understand this whole Instant Gratification thing from the male perspective. Just put me in one guy's head on a Saturday night. That should be plenty of education for me.