Pregnant Whales, Lasagna, and Dating: How Did I Get here?
(Today's article is a guest post by Jaime Stanny, who specializes in social psychology and relationships.)
Have you ever been on Wikipedia with some sort of vague purpose only to find yourself, hours later, reading how to raise friendly ducks. It makes a girl ask herself, “How did I get here?”
By the way, apparently, most ducks are literally the worst. Raising a friendly one is a sight harder than you'd think.
Okay, maybe the duck example isn't the best, but let’s be honest, we can get on our smartphones on a mission to look up someone's name and end up reading someone's dissertation on the role of automobiles in the life and music of Bob Marley. We tumble down this rabbit hole of links and hyperlinks wonder just what our personal FBI agents must be thinking of our strange browser history.
To my FBI overseer, who I like to think is named Nicholas, I can explain.
There are just so many options, so many shiny links that can catch our eye! Each one wants to lead us in a new direction. We hopped on YouTube to find a lasagna recipe. Come dinnertime, though, we're watching a Nat Geo documentary on pregnant whales. That's an image that stays with you, by the way.
Well, lads and lassies, the same thing happens in dating.
Plot twist of the year, right there.
When we jump into a relationship, most of us are on a mission. Three break-ups later we're dating someone named Al and we can't remember if he's the one who is allergic to chocolate or if that was the last one. If you're like me, this is a problem. I hate options. I don't like menus, I like instructions. That phrase, "plenty of fish in the sea," is hardly a comforting thought to me. I don't like fish. I don't want my boyfriend to be like a fish at all. I want him to be like Czar Nicholas II, except better at not being killed by his own people.
Plenty of fish in the sea. Jeez.
How am I supposed to meet every single fish and spend enough time getting to know them to make an informed decision? Especially when the World Wide Web is just packed with information about what a good partner looks like! We could spend our whole lives dating, browsing for info on dating, or just plain browsing. So, here's the point where I reminisce a bit.
Remember the olden days when you married the people that lived nearby because, uh, they lived nearby. That, and the fact that you didn't know anyone else. Well, frankly, I don't remember those days. I didn’t grow up in that world, but I heard about it. Sounds like it was really simple.
Now we have dating apps and chat rooms and Facebook (oh my!) and every way imaginable to meet new people. That's a lot of opportunities, or distractions, depending on how you look at it. Brace yourself, bucko, moral of the story incoming...
Don’t let your fear of finding something better later ruin your chances to build lasting love now.
Folks, there is no easy love in life. We fall in love pretty easily as humans, but it doesn't last. Sure, you can maintain a fairly strong romantic love throughout life, but love is a choice. If you want a companion who is perfect, who never disagrees with you, and who is a constant fountain of kisses and affection, buy a dog. Just remember, you can't marry your dog.
That's right, weirdo, I said it. I'm more of a cat person anyway.
When times are tough you have to look at the person across from you and choose them again and again. Love is choosing to choose one person for the rest of your life. If love was just a feeling, I would marry food. In particular, I would marry lasagna. But I can’t sacrifice for food. I can’t encourage food to reach for the stars. I can’t reproduce with food (ha, produce, ha, food joke). But seriously.
Love is willing the good of someone else. Sometimes their good is going to take work on your end, so if you are looking for a work-free relationship then you are going to be browsing for an eternity. You will go in looking for someone to share a life with and end up knowing what a pregnant whale looks like. Don’t settle for the whale. Don’t be someone else’s whale.
Yeah, I tied that together. Be impressed.
Maybe when you were googling you lost track of what you wanted in the first place. Things popped up. You were curious. Now you don’t know how you got here. Okay, admitting that is a good first step.
Maybe a link promised to show you something, but it didn't. Maybe a website seemed educational at first, but turned out to be selfish, abusive, or worse. That's not your fault, and you don't need to be doomed to that experience ever again. Remember what you were looking for. You deserve to find that lasagna recipe and after all the work you did to find it, I bet it will taste so good. Alright, I admit, that was gross.
To anyone that is rolling down the rabbit hole, getting frustrated that they haven’t yet found what they were looking for, I will leave you with this: Every link you clicked had something you wanted. It didn't have it all, but it had part of it. Now you know a little bit more of what you want, what you're after.
So, anyone worried that they are wasting their time looking for their recipe or looking for their spouse, consider that. The people you date are clues. They are each an ingredient. If all else failed, you at least figured out that you LOVE Oregano.
And that, buddy boy, is how you got here.
Greatest. Image. Ever.