Monday, June 16, 2008

Jumping the Gun.

Lately I see a lot of carts before horses around me. Usually those are the carts of good-hearted, well-intentioned men (so I like to think).
But why the onslaught of friends calling me to say that they're breaking up with someone before the relationship is even...well...A Relationship?!?

Real conversation:
he: I'm just not sure I want to start a long-distance thing.
me: Have you even gone out with her yet?
he: I just met her yesterday. But she lives out of state. I don't even know if I want to bother putting forth effort into that kind of distance.
me: (laughing) Well...maybe you should call her first to see if there's any reason to keep in touch at all.

Another real conversation:
she: I just got this email from (a guy I went out once with 3 months ago). I think he's breaking up with me.
me: Wait, who? You aren't dating anyone, though, are you?
she: Well...we went out three months ago and I emailed him to tell him I had a good time and it was nice talking to him and then I never heard from him again. And now I just got this email- three months later- where he says that he just didn't want to pursue things with me because he didn't have feelings for me like that, but he would still like to be friends.
me: (stunned silence.) Are you sure he wasn't just kidding?
It seems like lately there's a lot of breaking up with people we haven't even started dating yet. This worries me. Why are we eliminating people from our lives before we even have time to consider them as friends, let alone romantic possibilities? Considering that we only have time and patience for so much shallow conversation, why is it we're limiting ourselves from the only kind of connection that really matters- a genuine one. And even then, why do we rush to the conclusion that a genuine connection must result in a terminal relationship? Whatever happened to all those glorious, fun, enjoyable levels of relationships in-between? Can't we just enjoy being FRIENDS for a while? Especially in a world so lacking in Real, True Friendship and caring, I think there's something to be said for knowing when you have someone in your corner, wanting the best for you- even when that doesn't mean having them.

To all of you who may be jumping the gun on breaking up before you've gotten to know someone, I'm going to share my relationship ladder with you. I hope it will ease your pain and soothe your freaked-out hearts.
Best of luck.

The Relationship Ladder:
What it takes to get to know someone. And then date them. And THEN marry them.
1. Acknowledgement
2. Friendly Conversation
3. Occasional mixed-gatherings
4. Occasional one-on-one conversation
5. Occasional one-on-one quality time
6. Frequent one-on-one time
7. Expected/Assumed one-on-one time
(You may add "with steps 1-3," involving other people to this, too.)
8. One-on-one time with the goal of commitment
9. One-on-one time with the express intent of commitment
10. Exclusive, committed time
11. Engagement
12. Marriage.

If you ask me, that's a lot of steps and a lot to progress through. If at any point in time, you feel burdened, just ask yourself: Do I want to see this person again? If the answer is no- you can stop seeing them. If the answer is yes, you can move forward. It's a fairly simple process, really. If you're still contemplating breaking up with that person, ask yourself: Do I want to see them for the next 2 hours? If the answer is no, go ahead and stop seeing them. But unless the reason you don't want to see someone again is because you just plain don't want them in your life- don't WORRY about it.

Remember, "Cart-Before-the-Horse" friends, there are two sides of every coin to deal with. As much as you might worry they're getting too attached to you, there's a whole other party involved who just might feel like YOU are the one getting way too fond of them.


Kathleen Hennesssey said...

I love your beautiful rationality in this world of backward thinking!

And your 12 step program for Marriage is sure to be an instant hit!

Why is is so difficult for us to remain sane when our brains receive the subtle suggestion of marriage? Well, I'm printing out a wall sized poster of your 12 step program and sharing it with the world!


cropstar said...

Well said sister! I don't understand the tendancy to skip steps 4-11 in the thought process.

f*bomb. said...

Hahaha! Yes- well, I wouldn't want to be presumptuous by saying you should spread the word on the 12-step program, but if it helps someone not have a meltdown and make a complete ass of themselves, I say- PREACH ON!!!

As we all know, I am way over-rational when it comes to romance...but that could also be why I don't flip out. I periodically gauge myself and act accordingly. In fact, for YOU ladies, I'll give you the soundtrack to the Love Movement- a compilation of songs that illustrate the progress of love so you can tell where you're at. Usually I find that I'm around song 5- and as strong as song 5 might be, it's nowhere near song 17 (for example). Send me your address- I'll mail you a copy (Kathleen- maybe I'll just email you the list to Japan- I don't know how reliable sending cds in the mail would be...)

f*bomb. said...

Last night we hiked to the temple as a ward and the bishopric gave a beautiful and very personal testimony of his own experiences podering by just looking down at the temple from the hills. He talked of how it was there that he asked if his sweetheart was the one to marry for time and all eternity.
It was there that I prayed people understood that he did this AFTER they had been dating and it was to the point where he NEEDED to decide if they should marry. NOT after the first few dates and NOT before they even started dating!

j-mo said...

Yeah. THere's this thing called "agency" and I have learned, in my not-very-many-years, that it means more than being able to decide right from wrong. It's being able to make decisions based on our own intelligence, own instinct and past experiences. I think God wants to trust us to do the right thing but for us to also trust ourselves and make our own decisions. So many times there isn't one right thing. If you feel ok, if you're happy, press on. If not, don't. Either way, you'll be ok.

I feel like I've heard so many stories where people end up getting married to someone they "felt they should marry" but are absolutely miserable with. What the? I don't think God intends for us to be unhappy when we do the "right thing." Anyway, good post.

Jenn said...

You forgot to add very opinionated and pushy parents and relatives. That works like a charm.

Salt H2O said...

Well said. I only found this issue with LDS guys- non mormon guys were more than happy to take a girl out just because he liked being with her and wanted to spend some more time getting to know her.

julia said...

you have such good things on your blog. i'm glad i have a horse on my cart. i mean, i'm glad i'm in the cart while my horse..uh husband is pulling it for me while i give myself a manicure. shoot. i don't think that was the point of your story.

people just think too much. i like the rule that if there's some potential for kissing, then continue, if there's not, then discontinue. if there's not and they make you laugh, what's wrong with new friends?

Christa Jeanne said...

Brilliant, girl!