Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why you should BLOW OFF destiny

Recently, my friend Rob told me that he had been in a three-year relationship that was unfulfilling, led nowhere, and in which he was less of a priority than his girlfriend’s job, school, family, and dog. She had no interest in meeting his friends or family (for three years!?) and, after the initial few months, threw herself into a job that she hated. Sounds like a pretty crappy relationship, right?

When I asked him why he stayed for three years, he said that he thought it was destiny that they should be together, because: (1) they lived in a small city, so he felt there weren’t a lot of other options if it didn’t work out;1 (2) they shared commonalities: similar views on managing finances, his first name was her middle name,2 his master’s thesis was on Dracula and she shared a love for Bram Stoker; and (3) he thought how they met was inimitable: five years after their first two dates, she accidentally texted him (she meant to text someone else named Rob3) and a conversation ensued.4

I find it kind of endearing that he subscribes to this ideal of destiny, because it’s romantic in a sense. But #1 is based on fear. And all I have to say about #2 is that sharing commonalities didn’t mean that they shared common character traits or core values; all it meant was that they had some random stuff in common.

Now for #3: placing weight on the “how-we-met” story can lead to the mistake of believing that the opening scene is what matters most.

Look: we all love a good story. Who doesn’t love the tale of the soundtrack-ready romance in which an annoying delay at O'Hare turns into true love? That’s why we go to movies, where it’s possible (preferable?) to love someone based on a first impression. But my friend made the mistake of confusing his own real life with some romcom-fueled fantasy.

In summer ‘14, I read an article on my commute about some guy who raised funds and awareness for a charity in a unique way. When I realized he lived in my city, I connected with him on Facebook. We got coffee. He invited me as his date to his cousin’s wedding. The bride’s name was Andrea, too. Cool story, right? And to make it even better, we had tons of chemistry and challenged each other in a really positive way.

But he was only looking for a hook up. Rob went speed dating earlier this year and met his current girlfriend. Is speed dating a romcom-worthy “how-we-met” story? No, but she's not going to leave him hanging for three years and they make each other priorities in their lives. If I had gotten hung up on destiny, I may even still be pining for Hook Up Guy: biding my time until he came around to realize that we were meant to be.5

Believing that a relationship will inevitably be successful because it started out strong or because you share some random commonalities or because you have a funny/quirky/magical “how-we-met” story is the stuff of dreams, frankly. To believe that you are destined to be with one person and, once you find them, nothing else matters may be detrimental for your relationship and yourself. How the relationship started doesn’t matter—what does matter is that you met, have compatible relationship goals and values, and that the moments of joy and laughter far outweigh the fights and tension.

Have you ever stayed a relationship because of destiny? Comment below!

1 Admittedly, I take living in a major metropolitan area for granted, because I’ve never felt this way.

2 Rob is short for Robin.

3 This is why I regularly delete old numbers from my phone.

4 It didn’t work five years prior because Rob was starting a business and didn’t have time to commit to a relationship.

5 In reality, he’s probably meeting random girls on Tinder.

1 comment:

  1. I started dating my college boyfriend for dumb reasons, at first I wanted nothing to do with him but he kept showing up at parties I was at and then we started talking about food and we had sausage balls in common (mind out of the gutters it’s a breakfast item, my grandma made them every Christmas and his mom made them too) and I thought that was enough for a first date chance. I tried to break up with him before we left for summer break but he cried on me and I didn’t know what to do so we continued being off and on all through college. I don’t regret it but I do wonder what my college experience would have been like if I had been strong enough to break up with him and stick with it.