I was reading my daily blogroll today when I came upon Dan’s entry about relationships; specifically, the expectations one has upon entering a relationship. Is this my new best friend? Is this a potential mate? Is this a short-term fuck-buddy? And I felt the need to expound on some of his questions and comments…
In my opinion, sexual attraction between men and women is based largely on a few factors, including personality, biology, upbringing, social forces, and choice. Please do not underestimate the power of choice. Best friends on the other hand tend to be people we meet under trying or unique circumstances. They are the ones we build relationships with to improve our lives, to improve theirs, or just because it feels good. They are the people we get to know because we see them regularly and gain trust by familiarity. We don’t meet a person and EXPECT them to become a best friend. We just realize it one day. Expecting a potential lifemate to become a best friend over a lifetime is reasonable, but expecting a man to fall into that role as part of the dating process is not. The roles are completely different.
This kind of hit me on multiple levels. First off, it reminded me of how my relationship with Aaron started out, and how it developed.
Aaron and I met solely for the purpose of dating. My roommate, Mary, set us up. Our first date was a standard Getting To Know You evening at the coffee shop, then talking in the study lounge at the dorm. Our second date started as a trip to Big Boy (I think), and ended as a roving-hands slurpfest in the second-floor TV lounge. Our third date was a triple-date daytrip to Ann Arbor, wherein Aaron ended up paying for much more than he’d planned (like lunch at Amer’s for both of us). The end of our third date was another roving-hands face-sucking extravaganza, this time in the broadcast booth at WXUT, during Aaron’s weekly radio show.
So, yeah, we were horny sumbitches. BUT we also shared interests, and our senses of humor and our personalities complemented one another. We enjoyed being around one another enough that we just sort of… stuck. As our relationship grew, as we grew and matured, we became closer friends. Now, ten years later, I consider Aaron one of my best friends.
On the subject of best friends: Dan said, “We don’t meet a person and EXPECT them to become a best friend. We just realize it one day.” That made me think of my roommate, Amy (the roommate after Mary). I think we had an inkling at the beginning that we’d become close friends, but it wasn’t until we’d roomed together for a full semester that I think we realized how close of friends we truly were, and would be in the future. I think you can see the potential friendship near the beginning, but you can’t be sure where it’s going to go until you see where you and the other person go in your lives, how you mature, how your experiences compare and differ.
I dated other people before Aaron. Not many, but enough to know what I *didn’t* want in a partner, and what was required. A sense of humor that paralleled my own topped the list of requirements, along with a generally laid-back and accepting personality. No more guys telling me that I need to get new shoes to replace my ratty Converse sneakers.
I guess the point is that you should be able to tell where the potential is and isn’t. I wouldn’t have stayed with Aaron after those first several dates, had I not found him funny and witty and smart and much more knowledgeable about alternative music than myself. In contrast, he might not have gone out with me after the second date, had I not worn my “boobie sweater” and revealed the fact that I did indeed have a figure. I forget which of my college cohorts it was who said that guys do like what’s inside, but that you have to be attracted to the outside to get interested in finding out what’s inside in the first place. Something along those lines — he said it better, but that was years ago.
I was eager to throw my emotions into relationships when I was younger, but I’m more reserved now because I’ve dealt with too many women with huge expectations. Women on the other hand, seem to be MORE eager to poor their emotions into EVERY dating relationship as they get older. Does this have to do with the biological clock? Am I being sexist? If I hesitate to commit to a relationship, am I guilty of playing games? If I want to date around, am I a player?
I can’t follow up on each part of this, being that I’ve been in a stable long-term relationship since I was almost 20 years old. (Holy shit.)
However, I can address the aspect of relationship expectations. I’ve been in the situation where the guy said that he wanted an “open relationship,” meaning that he enjoyed my company, but wanted to enjoy other girls’ company, as well. I felt a little miffed, but I agreed, because I didn’t want to be alone. As a result of our “open relationship,” I met another guy who said that the only thing that would seriously piss him off would be cheating. Honestly, I liked guy #2 better; so much for the open relationship with guy #1. But it wasn’t until guy #1 finally decided that he wanted the pleasure of my company again, several weeks later, that I actually told guy #1 that our “open relationship” was off. Such is the nature of such relationships.
I guess what I’m getting at with that one is that you have to make your expectations clear in your initial Getting To Know You first date experience. I’m looking for a [fill in the blank] relationship right now. This is where I stand emotionally. I think mind games [suck / are fun]. Not just the typical “these are my favorite movies and bands and books and TV shows” drivel. We’re thirty years old, for crying out loud; we’re more mature than that.
Honestly, us womenfolk *are* hitting that prime time in our biological thingie that we need to either find Mr. Right and get our kid on, or resign ourselves to the fact that we might have trouble having a family once Mr. Right does finally saunter our way. Or so I’d imagine, anyway. I’m lucky: I’ve got my Mr. Right already, and we’re good to go.
My conclusion is that I need to come up with a contract with myself. In it I’ll write down a list of my expectations, what kind of behavior I expect of myself, and things I will and will not put up with. Anytime I find myself outside of the terms of the contract, I need to re-evaluate myself and my relationship. I think girls should do the same thing, and then every once in a while, we’ll all check-in with it to make sure we’re not deviating from a common-sense approach.
So long as you’re determining your own behaviors and expectations of yourself, I think that’s a grand idea. I did a similar thing when I was a young lass, but in a more Mormon way, to give myself sexual boundaries that I wouldn’t cross before I’d gone on X many dates with a guy. This is different, I know, but it’s still planning ahead so that you’re prepared for situations when they arise.
It’s like my friend Tim said back in college: relationships are supposed to be fun and enjoyable. If at any point in your relationship you discover that you’re miserable with the other person, it’s time to let it go. Life’s too short to be miserable.
Dan — keep me posted.