We have all been there – agonizing over last night’s date, hoping to get a call or a text, a Facebook Message, or a WhatsApp ding. Perhaps he’ll send a pigeon?
Whatever the communication platform, the long wait to see if the other person is interested in the same way you are is the same.
Countless hours are spent with one’s friends analyzing the details of every communication, every sideways glance and every nuanced interaction with someone you like. He flirted with me, that means he’s interested! She returned my call with a brief text message – is it over?
Or worse, he slept with me, that must mean something, even when it doesn’t; she leaned in for that kiss – this relationship is going somewhere.
Perhaps you’ve experienced the heartbreak of rejection; that feeling that makes you want to crawl into bed and never emerge for the shame of it. Perhaps you’ve been used for sex to help the other person feel better, perhaps you’ve been the person doing the using.
There are countless ways we attempt to connect with each other. Often in the search of finding that ‘perfect’ person to share our lives with.
Lots of times, people trivialize these small obsessions. Your girlfriends might roll their eyes when you bring him up again, and again and again. Or your boys just tell you to get over it.
But is it right to dismiss these concerns; to be flippant about the process of finding a partner?
Ultimately, who you choose to spend your life with is possibly the biggest and most profound decision you will ever make.
Who you marry, or partner with determines your daily experience. You bring this person into your life, your family. Perhaps you have children with them – that means you will be co-parenting with them for the rest of your lives.
Even more important, the need for human connection and a social experience is partly what makes us human. In his book “The Social Animal”, David Brooks coins the term “the-urge-to-merge” to depict the universal drive to avoid loneliness and experience a sense of belonging. This is possibly our most human characteristic.
And finding a mate is an important aspect of our social drive. A mate represents the start of a new family, creating a social community outside your family of origin. Your mate determines what kind of life you will live, what kind of experience your children will have growing up and how accepted and loved you feel in your home life.
Some might dismiss this – saying that not everyone chooses to be in partnership. And this is true, some forgo romantic love and settle for plutonic love. The love of friendship or companionship. For these people, there is no agony of finding a partner, no heartbreak and no vulnerability.
But for those who do decide to seek love, don’t make the decision of who you pick lightly. Don’t settle! Go on those dates, and call your friends to obsess over the outcome. This kind of decision shouldn’t be made alone! Life is too long to live it with someone who doesn’t suit your lifestyle or share your values.
And when your girlfriend calls you crying for the umpteenth time to go over, in agonizing details, her latest dating disaster, have compassion. Listen with care, support and nurture her. Don’t underestimate her pain, or dismiss her need for help in figuring it out.
After all – she might be making the most important decision of her life.