“Smashed on sours,
Felt like the man of the hour when we first met
I can’t deny the power,
Could you feel it, feel it in the air
Love is all around, love is everywhere. You said
Who says no to love?”
Don’t throw out the milk carton yet, it’s still good. And while you’re at it… why not just keep the cow?
What is expiration dating? No, I’m not talking about the date on your yogurt. Simply put, it’s a phrase my friend, The Bottom Whisperer (TBW) from the Unicorn Booty blog and I have been using for the last couple of months to describe a situation at the beginning of a romance where the newly star-crossed lovers embark on a relationship whose future is essentially thwarted by outside forces; where they can see or already know the potential end date for their relationship (or at least forced separation). This is to say it would likely end premature before the engagement runs its course where the individuals have a true opportunity to get to know each other. In a sense, the relationship through no fault of either person must terminate due to circumstances that may or may not be in any one person’s control.
Unless… they choose to do the Long Distance Thing.
Imaginably I can think of a circumstance one may find himself in early on in his dating career – college. Maybe you and your boyfriend had been together for several years where you met as sophomores, but upon graduation it was discussed and understood that you were going to part ways because both of you were now entering the real world as grown ups; both having futures as bright and shiny as the gleam reflecting off your Ray Ban aviator sunglasses except his plans involved him returning home to run the family business in Wisconsin and your big plans took you to NYC to take your first job in Corporate America. For both of you – there was a whole world out there to see and experience where being a “grown up” began – earning an adult’s salary, paying adult rent and dealing with adult problems as well as having a plethora of other adult experiences.
In a case like this, love and loss may not be as severe and perhaps more easily accepted due to the promise of an unknown frontier balancing the scales against the idea of separation from your lover who may likely have been your first LTR. It can be a mild case of doldrums to deal with because you are still on your way to whatever life has in store.
Fast forward several years. You’re in the working world with a completely different routine. In terms of relationships, you may have added a few notches on your belt of guys you’ve dated, hooked-up with and perhaps had long-term relationships with. Now, you are a ‘for real’ adult where the future’s promise that you had initially left your university sweetheart for didn’t play out quite as you thought.
The Corporate World maybe even left you a little jaded. And so, in one of those quiet moments of solitude after a soul-crushing workday, you think back to those good times with your boo in college where he was not only your man, but also Property of the Athletic Department being in the peak physical shape of his life with his tight abs, firm, dense thighs and amazingly large arms not to mention the funny little idiosyncrasies you shared as well as the emotional, physical, and sexual connection you had at that maturing stage of life. You dwell on it thinking about whether you’d do it again even though you knew it was going to end… and there’s no question in your mind… of course you would!
Because as the saying goes, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” So what then? What does one do here? Well, I’ve lived this experience. The way I saw it, there were and are three options:
3) Be in the moment
I also asked myself an analogous question:
“How long does it take for the seeds of one’s heart to take root onto soil and become a firm foundation for a relationship built on mutual trust and respect – later to bloom and bear fruit based on the time and season?”
The feeling of being pulled up by the roots involuntarily doesn’t ever feel good. In fact, the idea to some guys may be that the idea of loss may be more painful than that of sticking around. So they withdraw and decide instead to NOT invest in the relationship. This is quite understandable because naturally as humans we seek pleasure and most definitely avoid pain. The question is, what do I tend to be more of in life – a pleasure seeker or pain avoider?
I can recall a former relationship with a guy (former rugby player teammate) who I’d become friends with for nearly a year before we even thought about dating. There was already a fairly good base for us to move forward in a relationship, so naturally with all the testosterone and sexual aggression that came from the sport we ended up becoming boyfriends, not to mention I would hitch rides with him to practice in his jeep and all the talks we had on the drive there. This, however, was short lived as news of his job moving to another state in the middle of the country brought our “relationship rooting” to a halt. After giving me news about this, we weren’t sure what we were going to do. However, this is when he began to withdraw thus bringing our joint venture to a terminus.
Plants need a good balance of sunlight, water, soil and carbon dioxide to grow in optimum conditions. But what if you try to do too much at once? You kill the plant.
What if, knowing you only have two months before they leave on military deployment to Afghanistan you try to spend everyday with them and tell them you love them too soon OR perhaps even popped THE question, which we’ve been fighting for equal rights for in this arena for so long? More than likely expectations can falter from such a time apart without having really gotten to know who this guy is. Maybe, he really wasn’t the man you thought he was after all?
Though this isn’t always the case, many military guys start relationships in the Service all the time and leaving for missions then resuming a relationship can be quite common and successful.
Be In The Moment
Re-potting the plant temporarily while it’s a seedling can allow the plant to grow outside of it’s intended environment as it’s still forming it’s young roots and laying out what it needs down below to flourish above the soil in due time.
Months back I was seeing someone romantically who had mentioned they would be moving to Portland, OR in about a month and a half. Although I could’ve tried to ask them to stay or even see if I could find a job there, I decided instead to just be present. Why? It put too much stress on me to see where this was going and I wanted my time with the dude to be happy, carefree while he was here.
In another story, I have a friend who began dating someone whom he later switched cities with as he met his beau while looking to move to NYC. Though both could have tried to persuade the other to stay in their respective towns, they instead allowed each other to take root in their own little pots to become who they are supposed to be.
And as of this writing, I’m proud to report they’ve made the last five months work doing the Long Distance Thing and will be rejoining each other back in Seattle at the end of the month. As CJ says, “All the cool kids are doing it!”
It almost makes feel like that episode of Friends where Rachel gets off the plane to stay with Ross instead of leaving New York City.
In the end, of the three options, choosing to Be In The Moment, has shown me results that bear fruit when we let the person be who they are going to be without trying to hold too tightly to the outcome. If it’s meant to be (with reciprocal actions on both sides) then it is indeed, meant to be.
So grab that scruffy intern in your office on his summer MBA rotation, kiss that military guy in your unit deeply or even take your camp counselor back in the woods and melt his marshmallow a bit. Because THIS moment is all we really have.
Not tomorrow. Not the next day. THIS moment.