Rushing Into a Relationship Leads to Rushing Out of It
When rushing into a relationship, we trade expediency for endurance.
Most of us, if asked, would claim that we eventually want a permanent relationship with someone. We value commitment that endures “until death do us part.” Yet, we betray a disregard for permanence when we rush into relationships.
It’s now a cliché when dating, the question: “What are you looking for?” Wouldn’t it make far more sense to ask, “Who are you looking for?” The former implies that I’m ready to enter, for example, a long-term, committed relationship with the first suitable person I meet. Whereas the latter can be interpreted as: I may form some friendships with people I don’t have an enduring physical attraction to; just as I may find some who my attraction to is purely physical, and they might make for a fun series of romps in the hay but nothing more; and yet others I might really enjoy being around at first, though it may then fade; and, eventually, hopefully, I will find someone who I can be with forever. That last person being the one “who you are looking for.”
There seems to be, however, widespread relationship deprivation, instilling a need for someone, anyone, now — often putting aside quality for immediacy. I envision a person lost in the desert who, in the throes of starvation and acute dehydration, cares little for what type of food or drink they’re offered because anything is better than nothing. As sad as it might be that, instead of Mr. or Ms. Right, we often end up choosing Mr. or Ms. Right Now, there is a deeper problem.
When we rush into a relationship, we act in opposition to permanence on multiple fronts, which is fine, if we acknowledge that permanence isn’t what we’re looking for. But let’s not tell ourselves that we want something and then look for its opposite. If we rush in, this means that we’re taking the decision lightly and haven’t engaged in the proper consideration that should precede a decision the consequences of which will last a lifetime. And, for the most part, instances like this aren’t an example of us impetuously and irresponsibly committing ourselves for life; rather, it is tacit acknowledgement that we don’t view it as a commitment for life. Instead, we rush out just as quickly as we rushed in and on to the next. Likewise, doesn’t the sense of urgency — the idea that we have to formalize this before…before what?…they run off? — indicate that the odds of an enduring relationship are unlikely.
Some may argue that these types of relationships are sort of just trial runs for the real thing. How else will you know if you have the compatibility to be together forever if you don’t try being together for now? The problem is that forever is a mighty long time. If things do have any realistic chance of working out, then you’ve just rolled the dice on an obligation for life — happily obliged (hopefully), but obliged nonetheless. You will, even if only slightly, restrict your freedom to explore the world untethered; if young enough, you will forfeit getting to know yourself as an individual adult; and you will have committed yourself to eternal compromise should your partner’s ambitions or wants in life ever clash with your own.
Some people enter into a relationship and love the other person too dearly to ever end or take a break from it, even if the relationship formed before they ever really got to know themselves as an individual. Others will preclude themselves from meeting a better match cause they committed to the first, potential match. Yet others will find that they gave their best years to someone they quickly outgrew.
Does this mean that you have to resign yourself to shallow relationships until you’ve done all you want in life? Not even close! You might meet the person you’re destined to be with the moment you look up from this article, and, if that’s the case, you should explore each other and love each other with every ounce of intensity your souls possess. But before you make a promise — if you’re truly hoping that promise will be imperishable — be sure that you’ve made it prepared to dedicate your life to it, because, with any luck, that’s exactly what you’ll both end up doing.
Martin Vidal is the author of The Ambition Handbook