The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 10 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

I was talking with a friend about striving for bigger and better and how I sometimes don’t feel content. This was in relation to dating and my question was if there was someone better for me than Staci, whom I’m dating now. This is not to say that Staci isn’t awesome, she is. That’s a fact. But could I do better?

I related to my friend that I thought part of my problem is that I spend so much time I work trying to figure out bigger and better ways to do things, that maybe I had a hard time not thinking that way with relationships. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never had a girlfriend longer than Staci and we’re crossed a point where much of how we interact is a new experience for me (in the sense that people who have only been dating for two weeks interact very differently than people who have been dating for two months).

My friend asked if I thought I was missing out by not dating someone else. I really hadn’t separated those ideas: I thought I could be missing out on someone bigger and better. In fact, I didn’t really see a difference.

As we were leaving, my friend turned to me and said, “One is opportunity, the other is fear.”

I have a fear on missing out.

I used to always go to events and parties because I didn’t want to miss out on something fun, even though most of the time I didn’t have fun…there could be that one time when we do the most funnest thing ever! Maybe.

I fear missing important news, so I incessantly scan Twitter and Facebook, always seeing what the latest news is before it scrolls off the screen. Who’s dating whom, what hilarious antics are my friends in Colorado up to now, what new vacation pictures did the Joneses post. Just in case.

I do the same think with email too, although I am getting better.

Skinner was right with his variable ratio scheduling.

All of this plays quite well to the simple fact that humans are notorious for loss aversion and “strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Some studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion, although it’s not clear what studies are being cited))

My “loss aversion” is that I don’t want to lose the chance to be with someone else, someone who I think might be better. I don’t know if there is someone better, it’s just a chance. What’s frustrating about this feeling — this feeling of fear and of potentially being trapped — is that I know it, I can label it, but I can’t do a whole lot about it except talk about it and let it run its course.

Apparently, I’m not the only one that has this fear. Which is good, it means I’m still sane:
From thoughtcatalog.com:

But after some time – perhaps six months, perhaps a year, perhaps, even, two years, the presence of a partner can feel much less exciting than it used to, and the thought of spending time with another person or some fantasy being might become a very compelling one. But being in a long-term monogamous relationship requires a sort of sacrifice and that sacrifice is one of romantic contact with anyone other than your partner. And when your partner feels less exciting, and the thought of one outside the relationship becomes more exciting, what’s left is a feeling of being trapped, indefinitely (as the goal of long-term monogamous relationships is to stay together forever, not some limited time span), in a less than ideal situation that will never be as exciting as you might perceive an encounter with someone else.

I think that it’s easy for me to unsatisfied with and even scared of the parts of dating that are hard. Dating life, much like not-dating life, isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. However, I have only dated, cumulatively, for less than 180 days. Meanwhile, I’ve been struggling with and figuring out this thing called life for almost 9,125 days. So perhaps it’s only natural that I have this fear; I haven’t been in dating life long enough to be able to recognize what it means be in a good relationship and that it will be okay.


2 thoughts on “Fear”

  1. Honestly? I’d be satisfied to even -have- a girlfriend at this point. But I suppose I can understand the want to always have the best in life. That’s how engineers are.

    And yet, we would probably have a lot less accomplishments like going to the moon if the engineers had their way. We have a tendency to go past schedule and over budget because we’re always trying to make something a little better. There is certainly a point where you need to step back and let it run its course. After all, I hear the view of the earth is a beautiful thing . . .

    Just so I’m not coming across arrogant, smug, or preachy (which is not my intention): know that these are normal struggles for many people and they should be used to grow. In fact, they should be used to grow -together-, with what I can see is a pretty great girlfriend.

  2. Read this! http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/08/wedding-undergraduate-on-choosing/

    I’ll just quote my favorite part:
    “I think dating/deciding to marry is something like deciding to buy a house and make it your home. You figure out what’s available in your area, what works for your lifestyle, and what “must-haves” you want, and then you go looking. (note: This is, of course, a somewhat imperfect analogy as some of us aren’t “looking” when the right person comes around. I certainly wasn’t. But bear with me…) But the thing is… there’s not a Platonic conceit of “your house” that you just have to locate in reality. The truth of the matter is that you will see many houses, and most of them will have some aspect of what you want. One will have the gorgeous bay windows and gleaming hardwood floors. Another will have the giant kitchen with the granite countertops. A third will have a turret and built-in shelves. These are all great houses. You can see yourself living in all of them. But the day comes when you decide that one house is the one you’re going to buy. You move in. You clean. You do a bit of painting. You learn to live with the slight incline in the floors and to jump the creaky step in the staircase. You have dinner parties that last until 2am in this house. You host holidays in this house. You bring your babies back to this house. You could’ve had any of the houses you looked at, all those years ago. But you chose this one and it’s now the only home you can imagine having.”

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