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:
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.