Five years ago I heard some wisdom from a woman in her fifties, and at the time I thought she was crazy.
“Dave, do you know why most people go on second dates?” She asked.
“Because they like each other?” I replied.
“No.” She said. “The reason most people go on second dates is one person asks, and the other person says yes.”
This made no sense to me when I first heard it, but over the years I began to realize the truth in what she said. She was making the point that we continue relationships because it feels good, but we rarely stop to ask ourselves if it would be a good idea. We say yes to another date, then another, and another, and pretty soon we’re attached, in a relationship, meeting the parents and talking about marriage.
Our decision to get involved with that person wasn’t really a decision at all, it was just a series of events that were never a full, enthusiastic “yes”.
We’re human, which means if we spend quality time with someone and have a lot of sex, we will bond. It’s what we do. So if that’s true, shouldn’t we make sure we’re doing that with the right person before we bring our extra toothbrush over?
Maybe the best question to ask on a date would be this.
Is it a good idea for us to fall in love?
But that’s not the question we want to ask, because we might have to give up some short term pleasure if the answer is “no”. However, if we asked this and did the investigation necessary to answer it honestly we may avoid a mess down the road when our love chemicals start kicking in. We may decide that despite what our genitals and our hearts want, bonding with this person may not be the best idea because we wouldn’t make good partners for a long term relationship.
Or we may realize that we’re a great match. We share the same values, we want the same things in life and it would be a good idea to fall in love. That allows us to fall in love more freely, and with less fear of what the consequences might be.
It allows us to fall in love on purpose, and fall in love consciously.
When Did You Know?
Many times when a couple breaks up people will ask one of the partners “when did you know”? As in, “when did you know you weren’t a good match”. Surprisingly (or not), the answer is often that the knowing happened very early on. One woman even told me that she knew on the first date, yet she got married and raised a family with her husband for fifteen years.
She knew this wasn’t going to be a good fit, yet she proceeded anyway. Why? Because she never stopped to ask “would this be a good idea”? Then he asked her on a second date, and she said yes.
The Courage to Leave
People often say that maybe we all need to suffer to learn our love lessons the hard way, but after being on earth for 33 years and meeting a lot of couples, I’d say that whatever we’re doing isn’t working. There are too many unhappy couples in relationships that should have never lasted past the first date.
How is staying in a relationship that isn’t working serving us? How is dragging something out for decades good for our personal growth? How can we justify partnering with someone for our entire life when we know deep down inside that they aren’t a good fit, and that we’d both be happier with other people?
Many of us look at our love life and wish we had more knowledge, more wisdom or more information, but I don’t think that’s true. I think what we really need is more courage, and more specifically the courage to listen to the voice in our head that tells us the truth, even when we don’t want to hear it.
It takes maturity, responsibility and a lot of guts to say no to a relationship that is destined to fail, but it’s our only hope if we want to have the happy, fulfilling relationships that we know are possible.