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Some Thoughts on Relationships

(yup, the romantic kind...)

Dating someone exclusively?  In the old days, this was known as “going steady.”  But just how steady is your relationship?  Do you truly love the person you’re going with?  Are you planning on your coupling becoming permanent?

Or are you just sticking with the person out of habit, or until somebody “better” comes along?

We all have motives for doing what we do.  Oftentimes we ease into a friendship or relationship simply because it’s there.  We may be lonely or bored or unfulfilled.  Then somebody materializes, maybe not the person of our dreams, but he or she is available.  And that’s criteria enough for the time being.

And that’s fine.  There’s nothing wrong with dating someone frequently and steadily even if you’re not madly in love.  But what about that someone?  How does he or she feel?  Does he or she share your sentiments?  Is he or she agreeable to just coasting along and enjoying what you have together?  If so, then go for it.

If, however, your partner’s expectations differ from yours, it’s time to reevaluate the situation.

Let’s start with the guys.  How many times have you said things you didn’t really mean in order to keep someone available for you?  Ever say “I love you” to someone simply to keep her from looking elsewhere until you were “finished” with her?

Sure, women do this too, but it’s a lot less cumbersome to make the point using one pronoun rather than two.  We’ll get to women later.

Too many guys do this and think nothing of it.  Is this you?  You meet someone and feel an immediate attraction.  You begin seeing her.  The initial magnetism quickly turns to a stronger feeling you can’t define.  What exactly is it?  Could it be love?

Or is it merely lust?

Well, you won’t worry about it now.  What’s to worry about?  It’s so good.  Here’s this available woman ready, willing and able to have sex with you anytime you feel like it.  You know she’s not going to go anywhere.  Not after all the words of love you’ve whispered in her ear, all the implied promises you’ve made.  Why should you be concerned?  Nothing says you have to live up to your words.  They’re only words.  You’ll worry about later later.
A few months go by and you begin to get restless.  What was new and exciting is now predictable and commonplace.  She’s starting to make noises about a permanent commitment.  She becomes angry when you evade the subject.  Why is she doing this?  Things are fine the way they are.  Why is she pushing?   All you said was that you loved her.  Why is she trying to hold you to some kind of lifetime contract?

Later has come.  It’s time to look elsewhere.  And so you do.  While still continuing to see her and pretend everything’s fine.  After all, it’s not your fault the relationship has turned sour.  She’s the one who changed, not you.  Why should you do without “it” because of her attitude?

Finally the inevitable happens.  You’ve met someone else.  And so, you sit down with your lady and have “the talk.”  Not because you know the relationship has hit a dead end and are concerned that she’s waiting for something you can’t give her, but to free up your own time for that new lady waiting in the wings.  You know what to say.  You’ve said it so many times before.  “My feelings for you have changed.  It’s not you, it’s me.  When I said I loved you, I meant it at the time.”  (Sure you did.)

You know she’ll cry.  Let her cry.  You’ll only have to face it this evening.  After tonight you’ll never have to see her again.  You’ll apologize for hurting her and wish her happiness.  Then you’ll leave, and it will be like you fell off the face of the earth.  She’ll try to telephone you and you’ll duck her calls.  You'll delete her emails.  She’ll become hysterical and force a confrontation.  You’ll get angry.  You're not going together anymore!  It’s over!  Why is she still hanging on?  Finally, disgusted with her attitude, you recite a laundry list of everything she did wrong while you were seeing each other.  Small wonder your feelings for her changed.  What did she expect?

Do you recognize yourself in this scenario?  If so, how can you live with yourself?  Do you think it's funny?  A big joke?  That lady you were playing with, that lady who is now crying over you, is a human being with feelings, not some piece of furniture you had on layaway, some inanimate object you took out of circulation while you decided whether or not you wanted it.  What is wrong with you?  Are you so desperate for sex that you’ll say and do anything to get it?

And now for you women out there.  Yeah, you!  Did you think you were getting off scot free?  Women aren't above a bit of manipulation. A woman meets a guy and figures, hey, it’s not true love, but it’ll do until the real thing comes along.  Why should she stay home alone?  He takes her places, buys her dinner, buys her gifts.  He’s good in bed.  Why shouldn’t she keep seeing him until she meets Mr. Right?
Well, how about because the guy is really stuck on her and she knows it.  How about because the guy is hanging in there hoping she’ll fall madly in love with him, which she knows will never happen. How about because the guy thinks she loves him and that he’s the only one, by her behavior and by what she isn’t saying.

If a woman is dating a man for a period of months without making any commitment to him, she is only biding her time until her dream man arrives.  And just like the guy who uses words of love to hold on to the lady he has no intention of settling down with, she will continue to see this man steadily until somebody else comes along while innocently maintaining, “We never had an understanding.  Can I help it if he thinks I’m in love with him?”, or, “Why should I sit in the house by myself when he’s willing to take me out?”  Well, how about because he’s in love with you and you’re using him?  Is that a good enough reason???

People who mess with others' emotions like that should be ashamed of themselves.

The fact of the matter is, people do stuff like this to one another all the time, regardless of which sex they are.  I broke it down into male versus female behavior simply to make it easier to write and to illustrate the most common scenarios.

I'm not talking about a committed relationship that isn't working out for some reason.  That's another issue entirely.  I'm talking about one party lying to or misleading the other for the sake of keeping him or her on the line.

Speaking of which, if you're in a relationship with someone and feel it's hit a dead end, be honest.  Free up the other person to move on.  Don't wait until YOU'VE met somebody else.  That isn't fair.

DO THE RIGHT THING, folks!  Stop and think about your behavior and the effect it could have on another.  Don't be selfish!  Don’t get into a romantic relationship unless you’re mature enough to handle it.  Which means you don’t lie to the other person, especially about something as serious as love.  Don’t use the “L” word unless you mean it.  Respect the other person’s feelings.  Make sure you have a meeting of the minds before the relationship becomes physical.  Most of the time, one person will care more than the other, and somebody is going to get hurt.  Do you really want to be responsible for devastating somebody?  Unless you’re a coldhearted human being, that’s a heavy burden to carry.

So ... is it love?
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