When we are young there is a tendency to rush into relationships, and yet that is the time when we usually have a whole lifetime ahead of us. There is an urgency, a rush to connect, almost a panicky sense about it. I don't know why this is, but I would speculate that because of the lack of experience in life, we feel we should hurry as this might not last unless we nail it to the floor right NOW. Please forgive my imagery here, but I'm reminded of how male (fill in the blank with whatever critter you like) flock around the females during mating season. Do we humans still have that instinct to mate, to create progeny, to carry forward the genes?
I remember myself from long ago being the same. As a teenager, if a boy paid attention to me and I were attracted to him, it seems that there was a frenzied drive to connect and become a couple. At that age, it wasn't about sex (at least not "out loud") but about belonging to that person and having that person exclusively belong to me. I can't tell you how many times I was part of a couple after one date! Hurry, hurry, tomorrow might be too late, I might lose out, he might move on to someone else, I don't want to be alone! Yikes.
I would say that I became more selective as I aged through the teens, but there was still some of that sense of urgency. As a divorcée in my late 20s and early 30s, it was still present as I dated, although I was a little more sophisticated about it. Of course, at that age the possibility of producing more children was theoretically still present. I'd had my tubes tied by that time, but that doesn't change the internal clockworks, so was I still being driven by some internal instinct? I remarried after a few months, having dated just a handful of men. Why? Oh, of course, I was in love, but I think I didn't give it as much thought as I should. I was in a rush to be in a couple.
There is pressure in our society, particularly for women, to be part of a couple. How many times have you experienced one of your friends, who is half of a couple, trying to pair you up with someone? The intent is probably good, but think about this .... I don't know many "matchmakers" who are single. Do you?
One would think at my age people would have a sense of needing to hurry because time is short. "I need to get on with this, because I may not have a lot of time left to enjoy this person, this feeling, this exhilaration." But rather than feeling that push, I'm inclined to move very slowly, to experience the seasons, to taste all the tastes and smell all the smells that are available before selecting what I want to bring home in my shopping basket. I don't care if my new relationship blossoms tomorrow or in four years! I'm more interested in the unfolding of the blossom than the glory of the fully opened flower. Once again, why? I can't imagine myself saying at age 15 or 29 that it would be alright if a relationship took four years to reach it's height!
I can say that I now relish the journey more than the destination. As long as we are journeying, we are experiencing new things. Once we arrive, it is not a disappointment, but we are settled into a stationery set of sights and events, somewhat anticlimactic, perhaps. And if I made that trip in two hours, I probably missed some scenic things along the way, whereas if I took a week to get there, I might have explored a plethora of vistas.
So .... why? Is it because we've already made enough mistakes and don't want to repeat that? Probably, at least in part. But I think there is something else. I think by a mature age, we have learned several things. There is a lot of life to be experienced. There really is something to be said for the old adage about stopping to smell the roses along they way. What is here today will probably be here tomorrow, too, and if not, it wasn't meant to be. Most importantly, it is OK to be alone, a single, just one, unattached. Sometimes it is even better to be independent.
While I've been an unattached individual I've found time to learn about myself and my world, something I was unable to do while in a relationship. As part of a couple my focus was on the relationship and the other person. That's a good thing, and I don't mean that it should be otherwise. But I was never single long enough, mature enough to learn about me. These past three years have allowed me to do that, and I think that if I ever chose to be part of a couple again I'll be a lot better at it.
I don't say that people shouldn't be coupled. That's not my message, not at all. I just wish somehow that we could understand ourselves better at a younger age so we are better in the couple, and more enduring in the couple. It would be great if we could slow down in our youth, not rush ourselves into these things. Our decisions might be wiser, our relationships more lasting.
But perhaps that is what makes advanced years so sweet, the fact that we .... finally .... get it.
What do you think?
"I have wandered all my life, and I have traveled; the difference between the two is this -- we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment."