What to do in the dark

December 17, 2008 at 7:47 pm (in my head, On dating and mating)

I was out to dinner with friends last night when our table of eight (and the rest of the restaurant) was plunged into darkness. Lit only by the decorative votives, we talked over whether to stay or go. Ten minutes later no one had left and the power came back on, but through the time in the dark my mind wandered…to how much more fun the same experience would be if I were huddled in a corner booth with a boyfriend. I’m having these thoughts more and more often lately. When minor things go wrong I think about the story they could be of how we made the best of it – how he made me laugh and I kissed his neck to turn sucky into charming.

After the lights came back on and we’d made our way through two pitchers of sangria, the discussion somehow turned to relationships and age. “I’m just getting more intolerant the older I get,” said the mid-30s guy across from me. “And it’s not that I’m right or any potential girlfriend is wrong, it’s that what’s right to her is not right for me.” Which is the problem I’ve been mulling around in my head for a few weeks now. My parents married at 21 and 24. They were married before they were working full-time, before they had had their own place, before they had made any real decisions about how to spend their own money. They grew up together. And there’s something to be said for that because I will not be growing up with anyone. I’ve done my growing up (no, not all of it certainly, but a lot). I’ve lived alone, I’ve supported myself, I’ve determined how my towels get folded and how my savings gets spent. I’ve been responsible for me for so long that I’m becoming intractable.

I’ve never believed that there is one and only one person out there for each of us, but I’ve settled into too many parts of my life and the men I know are like my friend, settled into theirs. We’ve significantly narrowed the field – perhaps to the point of making it improbable that there is someone out there, even one, who will fit…and that realization has me feeling a little bit lost in the dark.



  1. Nilsa said,

    As someone who didn’t meet her soulmate until her early 30’s and didn’t get married until she was almost 35, I’ve had plenty of time to think about similar topics.

    The thing about life is … it’s FLUID. We’re always changing. If you were 25 and asking yourself the same questions, you’d think you had changed immensely since you were 20.

    But, the nice thing is … as you become more strict about some things, you have probably become more lenient in others. The same things don’t matter to you the same way they once did.

    The idea is to remember how much life is constantly changing and adopt a certain flexibility that allows you to be yourself, but also allows you to incorporate others into your life.

  2. anna said,

    You should look at the positive side of this. You know yourself better; therefore, you will be able to better recognize the right guy when he does come along. And I think it will make your relationship stronger.
    And you will change, and find its easier to change your life with the right person. Not that it is always easy – moving in with R after living totally by myself for almost 6 years was certainly interesting.
    Of course, maybe it doesn’t make dating as much fun… but that’s because you’re probably looking for someone who will actually fit you, not just looking to date, and that’s a good thing 🙂

  3. amber said,

    This is a great post. Again, I can relate – I’m old enough (almost 27) to want things the way I’m used to having them. I think it becomes about learning to make allowances and compromises first, which always happens eventually anyway. So maybe we’re better off.

  4. Jess said,

    I was going to say exactly what Nilsa said. Being married at 24 I can say that in some ways things have been easier for me than they would have been if I’d gotten married, say, 10 years later. And some of the problems that Torsten and I have run into have stemmed from him being 31 and used to things being a certain way.

    But a lot of this stuff just doesn’t matter. It’s easy to get married young to the wrong person because you don’t know yourself that well yet. You might have narrowed the field but isn’t that a good thing? Even if you’d gotten married at 22 you’d still be you now, and it wouldn’t be good if you were married to someone that you wouldn’t look at twice today. You know?

  5. WendyB said,

    I didn’t get married till I was 33…I think it’s just a bad way of thinking about yourself to think that you’ve gotten more inflexible. Maybe you just know yourself better when you’re older and you’re not ready to remake yourself in someone else’s image. At the same time, if you want to stay open to people, you can.

  6. fabulous girl said,

    Here goes: when I was younger, I was still figuring out who I am (completion date unknown). In my case, that sometimes led me to pick every battle with my ex, instead of considering how much I actually cared about the question at hand. It turns out I can hand someone the keys to my kitchen without a backward glance, but I cannot be cold if there is anything at all to be done about it. It’s not as though you’re not going to be with someone you love because s/he folds the towels in half instead of in thirds, are you? Really?

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