Reaching Midlife Bachelor Equilibrium
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Possibly Find the Perfect Relationship?
In the Challenges to Being Single at Midlife overview, I discussed a little bit about what the definition of the “perfect relationship” might be. Recall that “perfect” is an extreme word – and that few such extreme words actually hold their definition for any significant length of time. For example, a perfect dinner disappears as soon as it is eaten. A perfect job will only be perfect until you get bored. A woman who is a “perfect 10” won’t be a “perfect 10” in fifteen years. You get the idea. The notion of a “perfect relationship” is often fleeting. It might seem perfect at first … but over time, you realize that it is less than perfect. So even though a “perfect relationship” sounds like something to strive for – the reality is that a tolerable or mutually healthy relationship is really your best bet in the long run.
Here are some examples. Years ago, I dated an Indian woman who gave me the most absolutely perfect blow jobs. There was nothing I would not do in order to please this woman, and keep those BJs coming. She lasted all of maybe two months – because after all the hot sex started to die down, I realized that she was one of those types of women who over-analyzed everything. She basically drove me nuts. Another great example was Becky, the blonde bombshell nymphomaniac who I was having sex with up to five times each day – just a few years ago. The sex we had together was absolutely perfect … to this day there has never in my life been anything equivalent to it. However, once we started dating one another full-time, and I saw how she raised her daughter … and I heard the types of trash that came out of her mouth, I realized that this woman basically turned me off. The perfect sex, and what I thought was going to be the perfect relationship was over and done with after just two months or so.
Not Perfect, but Perfectly Tolerable? I’ve come to believe that what is good for me in terms of a relationship is not one that I’d characterize as “perfect”, but instead maybe “perfectly tolerable”. Tolerance is a great word, and is defined by dictionary.com as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions or practices that differ from one’s own”. When you apply this to a relationship-type situation, it means that you are able to maintain your relationship, and mutually thrive in spite of one another’s differences. Sure – the person still bugs the daylights out of you at times, but whatever level of annoyance they generate doesn’t bother you too terribly much. Each one of us has different acceptable behavioral tolerances we can handle. My buddy, Greg, tolerates his wife, Tiffany – even though she yells at him every day, and makes his life miserable. [He says the sex is what keeps him coming back for more.] As for me - if I had a woman who behaved like Tiffany, I would definitely give her the boot, and never look back … as no amount of great sex is worth trading a happy daily home life for, in my opinion. My buddy, Ronnie, who has the live-in housecat girlfriend named Karen (sometimes called “Scaren”) – she is a nice enough woman, but sometimes the comments that come out of her mouth are absolutely obscene and disgusting. I remember one evening recently, Ronnie and Scaren and I were having dinner – and out of the blue, she asked me how large my penis is. “What the hell kind of question is that?” was more or less my response. I would never personally put up with a girlfriend who said something like that to one of my friends. Plus that is not the first time that Scaren has said something wildly inappropriate in front of me – that type of talk is clearly a behavioral pattern of hers. So why does Ronnie keep Scaren around? Apparently he finds her “perfectly tolerable”. And I don’t want to know why! [Actually, I am afraid to ask.]
Test of Time. The test of time is an often overlooked but critical element of this notion of a relationship being “perfectly tolerable”. You cannot declare any relationship tolerable unless that relationship has persisted for quite some time … like a year or two. Recall that all of the various girlfriends I’ve had in my life all started out GREAT … PERFECT … going one hundred miles per hour … most often characterized by outstanding and frequent sexual activity. But I’ve learned over my forty-two years that the old saying “the hottest fires burn out the quickest” is very true with respect to love and relationships. I’m not saying that hot fires are not important – but I am saying that over time, the significance of the heat diminishes in the shadow of the rest of the components of a relationship.
Another way to think about this is - before you can declare a relationship successful, you have to take the necessary time to allow all of everyone’s various behaviors and issues (good and bad) to come to the surface. For example, how does she behave when she is PMSing? Do you get along with her family? Does she have any skeletons in her closet (like bad credit, or a jealous ex-boyfriend in jail)? Does she go through mood swings? Is her taste in material things significantly different that yours? Does she still have sex periodically with one of her ex-boyfriends? Has she been in jail? How does she treat her family (which might be an early indicator of how she might treat you, over time)? Admittedly, everything I just said has negative connotations. There could just as easily be positive things that surface – like she is a trust fund child with a huge inheritance, or maybe that she will someday soon be a trust fund child? She might turn out to be a good cook? She might turn out to be a genuinely nice and wonderful woman with a good heart, who loves you in spite of your challenges? You get the idea – it takes time for the fire to die down, and for the truth about someone to become known. This is the “true colors” saying – “she is showing her true colors”. And the same can be said for you – you have true colors, too … some are good, and some are not good. As long as everyone is aware of everyone’s “colors”, and can deal with them … then the relationship stands a great chance of succeeding in the long-run.
Do you need to have a perfect (or perfectly tolerable) relationship in order to reach midlife bachelor equilibrium? No – your dating status and your own personal point of equilibrium are independent of one another. Your equilibrium is really defined by your own happiness with yourself, and your situation in life. In other words, if you are truly happy with yourself – you have reached equilibrium. If you are dependent upon someone else to make you happy, then you are still on your journey toward equilibrium.
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