Love Life…Or Lack Thereof

I’m Getting Married

Note: this is a cross-post from:

We’re all here in Bozeman, getting everything ready for tomorrow. The rehearsal is later today, where we can iron out the last kinks before we’re go for launch.

A couple of things to pass along:

See you all tomorrow!



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.” (, 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:

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.



What is discretion, as it relates to cautious reserve in speech? There is this idea of discretion, it’s kind of a tricky I feel — maybe not all the time, just times that it has huge implications.

I see discretion as a continuum, with tight lipped vagaries on the left and loose lips sinking ships1 on the right. Discretion lies somewhere in between, in this hazy fog where it’s hard to navigate.

And even if you think you’re doing a good job of being discrete, someone else always has a different opinion of discretion; a different opinion of what should or shouldn’t be said.

I feel that discretion has a lot to do with expectation and uncertainty. I tend toward full disclosure when I don’t know because, for me, information is a way to reduce uncertainty, and giving more information should help reduce the uncertainty in any given situation. Right?

But is having more information always better? Information can empower, but it can also overwhelm. Take, for example, the paradox of choice:


Current psychological theory and research affirm the positive affective and motivational consequences of having personal choice. These findings have led to the popular notion that more choice is better, that the human ability to desire and manage choice is unlimited. Findings from three studies starkly challenge the implicit assumption that having more choice is necessarily more intrinsically motivating than having fewer options. These three experiments which were conducted in field and laboratory settings show that people are more likely to purchase exotic jams or gourmet chocolates, and undertake optional class essay assignments, when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than an extensive array of 24 or 30 choices. Moreover, participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been restricted rather than expanded.2

While this study doesn’t explicitly deal with truth, I think it’s an interesting corollary: More is not always better and even when we think more should be could, it can actually be bad. Does this hold true for information as well? Maybe I don’t really want-to-want to know the launch codes for the nuclear missiles.

So, what is is threshold on the continuum of truth and disclosure? Where do I find the middle ground? How do I find the middle ground?

Ne quid nimis.

This, like many things, is a continuing process for me, and this is pretty much where I’m at.

  1. “The War Advertising Council’s “Loose Lips Sink Ships” public service ads reminding Americans of the dangers of revealing too much information are still remembered today. This particular campaign encouraged Americans to be discreet in their communication to prevent restricted information from being leaked to the enemy during World War II.” – 

  2. Iyengar, Sheena S. and Lepper, Mark R. When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing? 

Three Ladies Bored on a Sunday Night

About a year and half ago, when I was still in college, I came across the following ad on Craigslist:

Three ladies bored on a Sunday night… – 23 (Denver Metro)

So as we were searching Craigslist for new places to live, we decided to check out the personal ads. After looking at countless ads, we decided to make our own. We are three very different ladies with equally different interests in guys. Please read below and respond with a picture and info about yourself if you’re interested.

Far left, brunette (let’s call her Jayne): Doing a century bike ride in May (100 miles). Loves strawberry patch picking and hot air balloons. Wants to travel to Italy to drink wine and look at great art. Likes to bake. Loves to laugh. Loves to have game night or invite friends over for an evening at home.

Middle, brunette (let’s call her Penny): Likes hammocks. Likes the smell and sound of rain. Wants to travel the world and learn about other cultures. Shamelessly makes funny faces at little kids in restaurants. Should buy stock in Red Box movies. Loves to take long drives with a good playlist.

Far right, blonde (let’s call her Bekah): Favorite food is bacon. Loves anything the color green. Obsessed with baseball and college basketball. Loves the smell of clothes right out of the laundry or fresh cut grass. Hates cake (but loves chocolate chip cookies). Wants a dog more than anything right now. Loves traveling Latin America (speaks Spanish).

At the bottom was a picture and my jaw dropped as soon as I saw it it.

I knew all three girls in the photo, and not just “yea, I met you that one time at that one party” knew them, but “I hang out with you at least once a week” knew them.

They had cleverly used pseudonyms, but it was definitely them. I thought about responding with an email showing three guys we all knew (probably this one) and writing funny anecdotes to go along with it. But then I had another idea, to reference them by their pseudonym the next time I saw them in person, which would be three short days later at The Feed.

So I waited and waited, filled with anticipation for their reaction. Finally Wednesday came and they didn’t show up to The Feed! I couldn’t wait any longer, so I called “Jayne”:

Me: Hey, how’s it going? Are you coming to The Feed?
“Jayne”: It’s going pretty good. I don’t think I’m going to make it tonight.
Me: Oh, what are you up to?
“Jayne”: Hanging out with the roommates.
Me: Ok, well have fun with “Penny” and “Bekah”?

She hung up on me.

I called her back.

Me: Heeeey.
“Jayne”: Andrew, I’m so sorry.
Me: What happened?

“Jayne” went on to describe how her jaw hit the floor when I said “Penny” and “Bekah.” They were, as they described, looking for a new place to live when they decided to make their own posting. However, they had no idea that anyone they knew would find it and was stunned when those words left my mouth, so stunned she hung up in horror.

“Jayne” turned to “Bekah” and “Penny”, who were sitting on the couch next to her, and explained what happened. They immediately pulled the post (but not before I had saved a copy) and we all had a good laugh.

But, let this be a lesson: you never know who’s going to find what on the Internet.

PDF of original: Three Ladies Bored on a Sunday Night


The Blessing

For everyone at The Colorado School of Mines, class starts today. Despite the fact that I’m not in school, I still like to celebrate this day, taking note of its significance. For me, it’s almost like New Years day, being the start of the school year and all.

I’ve been thinking recently a lot about the desires and challenges of life and where they lie. I have fond memories of playing in my backyard with my brother and my neighbors when I was little. During the summer, I would design tree forts and think, “If only I had the money to build this.” I had a desire to have the means necessary to fund my adventure.

Back then, I got something around a $5 allowance/week. And I could earn some extra money by doing some extra chores. But the $250 in materials needed was freaking huge. I dreamt of ways to come up with money so I could build the ultimate tree fort; I mowed lawns through middle and high school and eventually started fixing computers for friends and family who would also pay me. It never seemed like enough and always got spent in other places, mostly LEGOs. But I desired for the day that I would be a grownup and making lots of money; and then I could do anything!

Of course, there’s a certain innocence in being a child. While I wasn’t making any money, I also didn’t have to worry about other adult things, like figuring out living situations, paying for rent and utilities, working a little bit, and being generally responsible.

I had a desire to go to college, learn about engineering and get a job. Maybe I would build airplanes. I knew it would be a challenge, but I was prepared.

I went off to college and learned a lot. I had to deal with finding food on my own. Mom and Dad were no longer there to cook meals and I was 1000 miles from home. I had to do laundry, get up on my own, plan ahead, and keep my grades up; all without anyone else being there. I had several internships where I traded in some more responsibility for some more pay. But it wasn’t enough. I felt restricted in what I could do as an intern and in the limited confines of a classroom. My desire was to be done with school and to grow up; to go out into the world and make a difference. I wanted to make my mark on society and I was going to do this by challenging myself to be the best damn engineer the world has ever known1.

When I graduated, I took on an entirely new set of responsibilities. I had a job — a real, full-time job — and practically all the responsibilities of being grown up2. I had to deal with insurance in all its wonderful forms, making doctors appointments, scheduling vacation, getting enough sleep, budgeting, etc. I was working on integrating myself into society as a contributing member of what makes this world work. I had the desire to grow up more though, to contribute even more to society. My new challenge was to meet a woman, date her, marry her, and start a perfect nuclear family3.

Several months ago, probably starting during my trip to Haiti, I took pause.

At every point in life, I was measuring my level of happiness not by what I had, but by what I desired. It was never enough to have accomplished what I set out to do, because there was always another bigger desire behind it. And each desire became increasingly complex and time consuming. What was I really chasing?

I wanted to be grown up. I think I saw not being grown up as a limitation on what I could accomplish and a limit on what my opportunities were.

I came across this bit from C.S. Lewis4:

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

This was one of those “A ha!” moments for me. Before, being an adult meant being grown up. But now, I can start to see the difference between the two. And so I think about what my desires for life really are; what are the things that I truly could not bare to be without?

So far, I’ve come up with three things:

  1. A loving relationship with my creator.
  2. A loving relationship with the people I care about.
  3. Never to be left unchallenged.

The last one, while it is last for a reason, is also important. As Scott Adams has pointed out, “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”

I love solving things. I love figuring things out. What makes me excited to wake up in the morning is knowing that I have still have so much to figure out. I know I can be a better Christian, a better boyfriend, a better friend, a better engineer, a better coworker, a better person. I know there are so many things left to explore, there are many questions left to ask, and there are many challenges left to solve. I know I won’t be able to accomplish everything, but I that’s not the point. Besides, if I were to accomplish it all, what would I do with myself?

And so I wake up saying, “Today, I will try to be better than I was yesterday.”

Perhaps this is the blessing5 and what makes me so excited: a God who loves me, friends that care about me, and things — such as dating Carly — that challenge me in all the good ways….and vice versa.

Here’s to another successful trip around the sun.

  1. or something like that 

  2. or so I thought 

  3. this is simplified version of a complex challenge, but I think the point still stands 

  4. emphasis mine 

  5. read Hustling God by M. Craig Barnes for background