May 2013 Archives

May 18, 2013

Independent Happiness Makes Happy Relationships

I’ve been on the verge of breaking my blogging hiatus for some time, and Jodi’s entry on settling in relationships was the final motivator needed to get back into action. Oddly enough, I’ve talked about this a lot with female friends who perhaps felt a guy’s perspective to their conundrum was worth hearing. Perhaps this post will allow me to extend this guy’s perspective to a larger audience

My response is simple: You’re only settling if you subscribe to the dream.

Jodi opens with:

From a young age, girls of a certain generation and upbringing have been told from very early on never to settle for anything less than perfect when it comes to dating and marriage. We have been told that we deserve a man who is handsome and smart, who can provide, who treats us with respect and love and who would ultimately give us the world, just like in the Disney movies. Lucky are the women who have found such a man. As for the rest of us, our parents’ best wishes for us as little girls are simply just that - best wishes for us as little girls.

I agree but think she hasn’t taken this reasoning far enough. Women often get disillusioned about Mr. Right, but only after they’ve fatigued of searching for him. Finding the perfect man is wishful thinking, but so are the general notions of dating and marriage. The truth is that the entire dream needs to be evaluated (perhaps worth another post or two).

If you’ve talked to me with any regularity in the last 5 years you’ve likely heard me mention POSIWID—the purpose of a system is what it does (I use it everywhere). And so this is what happens when I introduced it to a friend in distress:

She: All I’m looking for is a (X) guy with (Y) that can love me!

Me: Well, the purpose of a system is what it does.

She: Yeah…

Me: So what is that system—looking for this guy—doing for you?

She: Not finding that guy.

Me: And also filling your life with stress and disappointment.

This wonderful, successful woman was considering expanding her accomplished career with an international opportunity largely in the hope it would bring her closer to a guy she thought could be “the one.” This makes me shudder and cringe with apprehension, but it’s not the first (or last) time I’ve heard of a woman defining life choices by the potential happiness a man could (continue to) provide.

Why would great women in great places look for a guy to make them happy? More specifically, why are they unhappy the great place they’re in doesn’t match a generic, pre-formatted dream?

People: Base happiness upon self and it will attract the right partner.

We often they hear this too late, wasting our lives looking for the one that will make us “happy” by completing the equation. Developing independent, personal happiness redefines what the perfect match is—after all, you can’t be certain a person isn’t the right match if you haven’t confirmed you’re in the right shape. I reinforce this #realtalk with Jodi’s own entry, which includes an example of what’s possible when this happens.

When I met my wife, we were both very young. We also came from very different backgrounds, so we had neither a shared basis or a certainty about our future. I committed to building our relationship based on us rather than the norm: this is how others do it, but what works for she and I? While this means that many things were different than others, they were perfectly functional for us. I think this is what allowed us to grow together and to stay together as long as we have—at this point nearly seventeen years.

Did we settle? Yes. We settled on a pattern that was customized for us and found happiness in it. We didn’t not give up on “happily ever after,” because we never actually expected our happiness to come from something other than our own continual efforts. Our independent approach to happiness and our custom approach to relationships seems to have helped us enjoy where we are and what we have for what it is—which means the purpose of our system does what we hoped.

It is my hope that all people can find the system that helps them in the same way.