Thanks for the subject matter emails - I got a fairly resounding response of "talk about dating and the male/female relationship." Cool - I'm trying to work something out in my head, anyway... so here you go (we'll work it out together):
So, while I was working out this morning, I thought about the guy I had just sent a "let's call a spade a spade and agree this just isn't working out" email to last night. Nice guy, wish him the best and hopefully we can still be friends - just wasn't the right guy for me. Too many compromises I had to make, too many different things to get past, and not enough equitable investment.
Investment. What a funny word to use in conjunction with dating, no? It sounds like something that would come with a mutual fund or later in a relationship. But, the truth of the matter is that there is one; pretty much from day one. I guess it kind of hit me when I went on this lunch date this weekend. The guy I went out with (great guy by the way, whom I'm looking forward to getting to know better) talked about how he reads my blogs. Flattering, to be sure. And, that sounds like a little thing, but it is an investment of time. Probably about 5 minutes a day, but when you add that up over time, it adds up. He invested his time into reading what I wrote to gain insight into me, into my life (though he says he enjoys it, dear guy! LOL) I remember dating this artist a while back. Really intense guy; a little too much so for me, actually. But, art was very important to him, so I made a point of studying it so that I could speak intelligently about it with him. I invested my time to understand his passion and ultimately, understand what drove him.
I guess time is our initial investment. But, is the giving of time in and of itself an emotional investment? Is time itself enough to create an attachment? I don't know, but I don't think so. It seems to me like time is the currency we use to buy shares of the fund. Without it, you can't invest. But, the actual stock comes after the purchase.
So, once we've invested our time... we get beyond the fascia. We bare parts of our souls, typically the parts we feel will be either the best or worst received, depending on your perspective (Some people try to kill the deal up front, some people try to cement it). We buy 100 shares. Then, we do what all good investors do - we think about our purchase. So, even when the person we're dating isn't there, they're on our mind (to a degree). That leads to doing little thoughtful things for them ~ sending a card, calling for no reason other than to say they're on our mind ~ that kind of thing. And they're all good things to do. They drive the stock up to invest further, bare more, create an interest to make each other a priority.
But then what? The deal with mutual funds is that it's an investment intended to be long-term. You buy the stock, it goes up a little, down a little - and you just sit there. You watch it. To an extent, you do the same thing in a relationship: you meet someone, you get to know each other better, you have good times/bad times and you roll with it. But, to really foster a relationship, there has to be this continual investment of time, energy, interest, and commitment.
Commitment. Another word that so many of us single folk view as 'bad.' Feels like a binding agent. And it is, but it isn't. To have a relationship, there has to be a level of commitment to each other. First, it's a commitment to get to know one another. If that goes well, it becomes a commitment to foster a singular relationship. Ultimately, if that goes well, there's the commitment to up the ante (move in, get married, whatever). At that point, there's the commitment to remain continually invested into the emotional well-being of another person. A more permanent commitment. That's the one we're all a little scared of, I think. But, it's a gradual series of commitment. At each level we're given the option of saying, "No, this isn't going to work," sell our stock, and get out. Like I did last night.
But, that brings it back to time. How much time do you need to know these things? I mean, to really give it a fair shot? That's always my concern.. if I just go out on ONE more date, or have ONE more conversation - will I see/hear something that will make it all make sense? I want to be fair to the person that's investing in me.
When does it 'click?' If anyone has the answer, I'd love to know! Because, to me, that's the part that's exhausting - especially when you're getting to know more than one person at a time. I often do (if you read my blogs, you've already gotten my perspective on dating; if you haven't, go back to late July/early August somewhere - it's in there)... and so I have to balance what I'm feeling at the moment emotionally with one person and the other people I'm getting to know. Because if I'm not equally invested in one person, yet I'm spending time with them, it's taking time away from the others. (I'll concede I'm getting a little lost in my own logic at this point, but hopefully you get what I mean) At some point, it feels like noone gets a fair shot. Including me. So, to recap, here are the questions to which I'm trying to find answers:
How invested, emotionally, should we be in someone else?
How soon should we invest or pull out?
Time - who gets it, how much do they get, and how much do you need at each level?
Realistically, I think that answer is probably different for each of us - but, I'd love to hear what your answers are, anyway... ok, it's time to get ready for the day. The munchkins are getting cinnamon rolls this morning!
I think the easy answer is that you invest what feels good to invest. For me, I have a bad habit of continuing to invest even after I get the little warning flags that maybe this fund is tanking - you know, the little signs you get that maybe you two aren't so compatible or on the same wavelength after all? I always tell myself it's just me being distant; I don't like to rush into things, so I often distance myself somewhat in the beginning. Not always, but often. So, I second guess the warning signs. And then I feel like an idiot for not paying attention to them sooner when I'm completely worn out on the relationship! LOL
To Helena's point, there is a balance. It's like the "signs they're not into you" post - if it's all one way, that's not a good thing. And it's not just time and attention. You can get lots of time and attention from someone; but, if you're not emotionally in the same place, it really doesn't matter. Maybe that's why so many of us are still single - it's not easy to find someone charting the same course, on the same kind of vessel that you can sail with! Ok, bad analogy, but you get my point...
Time to go to work.. more later...