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With Age Comes Clarity in Relationships

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66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

I asked a room full of women to take out a sheet of paper and fold it in half. On one side of the paper, write down the reason why you stopped talking to, dating, or even being married to every man you’ve ever been with. On the other side of the paper, write down the reasons on the left side of the paper that really matter to you now. Surprisingly, they all noticed how drastically shorter the list was on the right. I told them, as time goes on we realize that the things we were really upset with weren’t all that serious to begin with.

I recently had a conversation with my mother and I don’t typically talk a lot about marriage with her. (Questions man, can’t take too many questions.) When we spoke I told her that I think a lot of the reasons things don’t work out when you’re younger is because of immaturity. However, at my age when I’m doing something wrong, I know. I am fully aware when I’m being an asshole, insensitive or any other generally fucked up thing that people in relationships do.

I also told her that the older I get the more I realize that marriages are about wanting to be married much more than being in love. Love fluctuates throughout your marriage; some days are better than others. (They also say this about terminal illnesses but I digress.) Going back to the opening of this post, the real reason why you broke up with most of those people was because you just didn’t want to be in the relationship. Relationships are strong enough to withstand anything.

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On your sheet of paper might have been infidelity but now you realize that he was a good guy and always made you happy. If he had promised not to cheat again and didn’t you could be happy right now. Instead, you’re single and depressed. I always urge couples when they’re going through a breakup, think about what this situation will look like in 20 years. Will you really be as upset about it as you are right now? The answer is almost always no. When you remove the temporary anguish and embarrassment most times you could have probably stayed together.

(As a reminder about relationships: Stop telling everybody your damn business. Situations that arise in your relationship would be much easier to work through if your friends didn’t know all the details of it.)

On your sheet of paper might have been a list of silly reasons. I was picky when I was young. Now, I want two things: confidence and consistency. (Three things, aesthetics are important if we’re keeping it 100.) A close friend of mine used to joke, “You have to break up with a girl who doesn’t like Chinese food. It’s 200 things on the menu, how can you not like one?!” I once broke up with a girl because I felt like she talks too much. I would later realize that in reality she can talk as much as she wants if she holds me down. And last I recently told a younger friend of mine, “Listen you’ll take crazy over insecure any day of the week, believe me on that.” when he tried to explain to me why he was having second thoughts about getting engaged to his girlfriend.

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I guess the point is, as you get older you don’t lower your standards; you get wiser. You’re more selective but you’re willing to try more. You start to focus on what really is a dealbreaker. What could you simply not live with? What could you simply not live without? You’ll look at that sheet of paper and there’ll be a moment of clarity for each one of those guys who you think did you wrong. Maybe some of those times, you did you wrong.

Comment(12)

  1. Very great article. Although I do believe that once you have found the right person to be with what you are gaining is always going to outweigh what you believe that you lost or are missing out on.

  2. With age also comes urgency. This was a very interesting post, but I’m assuming this activity was done at relationship workshop? Maybe their lists have shortened not because they need less but because they are more willing to settle. Infidelity destroys trust, you thinking a girl “talks too much” can annoy you and prevent you from listening to her, and a guy having second thoughts mean he probably just need to wait a little longer. It’s not crazy or insecure, either or. Maybe this sort of thinking is more applicable to men, because women usually give men too many chances.

    1. Urgency is not a typical response in most people I know. The desperation is usually what younger individuals go through, especially when desiring kids.

      1. Oh, I assume a lot of people get involved in the wrong relationships due to desperation: desperation to be with someone, to have kids, to feel loved, or to validate themselves. Usually, when people get involved in relationships that seemed doomed from the start, I chalk it up to (un)conscious desperation and vulnerability. But yeah, I guess women past child bearing age kinda stop looking.

  3. I totally enjoyed the read and perspective. I agree it takes more than love to sustain any relationship. It takes a true committment and a desire to resolve in order to create the type of devotion necessary for marriage. I do not feel every relationship is meant to or capable of working. I believe experiences of dating (good and bad) are necessary, in order to discern what traits we are more compatible with. We simply need to pay better attention and stop being so desperate for a relationship to start with.

    I am not as eager for a relationship, but I’m more willing to truthfully get to know someone. I know what I want, need and the difference in the two. I am neither desperate or more willing to compromise. With maturity and an open mind comes clarity in the task of relationships. I know some old whores out their age alone did not make them more wise.

  4. “As a reminder about relationships: Stop telling everybody your damn business.”

    That should go for most everything, including relationships. You can’t tell every thing to everybody. What happened to keeping one’s own counsel? I’d say social media, but you can choose what you want to put out there, and what you want to keep to yourself.

    1. Agreed. Social media plays a big part in this. I had a lady posting so many pix of us on Instagram when her bday came and went and she didn’t post a pic of us together people thought we’d broken up. After that she wanted to post even more pix to satisfy their needs. We didn’t make it.

  5. Naw every relationship where I was broken up with or broke up with someone turned out to be the right decision sorry. This condoning cheating thing? Naw I’ll pass.

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