I’ve been watching this (total train wreck) season of the Bachelorette since it started in May.
I watched on Monday night, cringing, as Kaitlyn ended things with Chris-the-Dentist. She used so many dating buzz words. “You meet my list of criteria”. “It should be you”. “My heart is somewhere else”.
Isn’t that just the way that we millennials do these things?
I don’t know if it is the phenomenon of online dating where you can pick and choose people like you would food at a buffet. If it is scars from our parents, the boomers, having a high divorce rate (divorce rates peaked in Canada around 1987). Were we raised by helicopter parents who left us incapable of making a decision on our own?
(Sometimes I like to blame everything on our parents. It’s fun.)
I suspect the truth is that somehow we got this idea that if we do it right it’s going to be magical. If we choose the right person. Wait until the exact right moment.
We analyze our checklists and compare the person in front of us to the criteria that we think we need to fill.
We wonder if it’s the right moment, the right time. Do we have enough money? Are our careers in the right place to add someone into the mix? What are we going to miss out on?
(A couple of weeks ago I asked my boyfriend if he’d be able to put up with someone who liked to floss their teeth in bed at night in the long term. He looked at me like I had two heads. I think it was partly the question and partly: who the hell does that???)
We somehow got sold the picture that happiness was a destination. It was Jake Ryan, picking you up from your sisters wedding in his red car, kissing you on top of the table with your birthday candles the only light.
(I’ll pause here for all the 80s girls to sigh nostalgically after Mr Ryan. Ungh.)
What Sixteen Candles didn’t show was Jake’s parents arriving home, finding the trashed house, and sending him off to military school. He and Sam tried the long distance thing for awhile but then Farmer Ted filled out a bit and Sam’s attention was redirected.
Life (and love) is complicated.
We want to know that it is going to be sunshine and roses and walks on the beach.
At some point someone is going to lose their job, or you won’t have money for the car repairs. Maybe you will find out that you can’t have children. Maybe it will be illness, or an affair, or constant arguments about whose family you will see at Christmas.
As much as we might want to we cannot guard against these eventualities.
(Maybe The Notebook helped prepare us for this. But there’s something romantic about the dying-in-one-another’s-arms and the message didn’t really sink in.)
Choosing a partner isn’t about finding the person who checks off all of the boxes. It is much more complicated (and much simpler) than that. It is finding a person who fits. Finding that person at the right moment is equally important.
I think we should all stop watching dating shows like The Bachelorette (haha, like that’s going to happen) and just enjoy dating. Finding someone who fits. Stop analyzing and just go with it. The right person is going to come along. Or they won’t and we’ll still have a fabulous life.
What traits does your partner have that you thought were deal-breakers?