Monday, February 15, 2010

Short-term vs. Long-term Dating

I've been thinking about this a lot recently due to the whole Paul situation. When I wrote last week, I said that Paul and I had agreed we were going to be friends due to his inability to commit to a relationship at present. I also thought we were going to see each other this past weekend. It turns out that a) he's too busy to hang out on most weekends and b) he just doesn't want to be in a committed relationship at all at this point in his life. We IMed tonight and, in our honest conversation, he said that he's going to stay on the dating site despite his unwillingness to commit to anyone. His profile says he's looking for short-term as well as long-term dating (clearly that last one doesn't match up with reality).

In the more than two years I've been on the dating site, I've never really been able to determine what's meant by "short-term" dating. Now that I've finally had to think about it, I guess it's whatever is between one-night stands and long-term relationships. I guess I've wanted to "settle down" for a while now—I've always craved stability—so I can't remember a time when I wanted to casually date anyone. I am realizing though, what with Paul and, of course, Henry, that there aren't a lot of guys out there that are ready at this point in their lives (mid- to late-twenties) to settle down. Why is this?

If you have any insight into the short-term/long-term situation, please share.


Dia said...

Affraid of assuming responsibilities...You should be glad he was honest :) Most of them are not and when you expect most of the relationship, they run away.

Katie said...

I'm incredibly glad of his honesty, Dia. He even asked me if I thought he was a 'douche' because of it. I said no, he wasn't, but that he would have been had he strung me along.

Superquail said...

I don't believe that "long-term relationship" and "settle down" are necessarily synonymous. As you know, I have been in a relationship for over 4 years, which I would consider to be long term. It is certainly the longest relationship I've ever had. But I wouldn't consider myself "settled down."

Part of settling down is stability. It means that you know what you're doing and what you're going to be doing indefinitely. A stable job, a stable housing situation, stable relationships both with a romantic partner and family and friends - all of these things go into a sense of being settled. It is also only when conditions are "stable" or "settled" that people are likely to want to produce children. Once children enter into the equation, stability becomes extremely important.

I think you can be in a long-term relationship and still have a life that is otherwise in flux. Maybe that's just me, though. It might be interesting for you to ask various folks when you're on dates or chatting on the site what *they* mean when they think of a short term relationship or a long term relationship.

Superquail said...

People talk about the importance of honesty a lot, but the first step to being honest with others is being honest with yourself. This fellow, Paul, sounds like he has some doubts about himself if he thinks that "not wanting a long-term relationship" could qualify him to be a "douche."

We all get mixed messages when it comes to dating and romance, but in order to not be sending the mixed messages ourselves, you have to have a heart-to-heart with the mirror.

It sounds to me like what you want is a life partner. Someone who will be with you in all the things you dig, and who will want you to be part of all the things he digs. And I think you've been very honest about that, which is good.

Katie said...

You make excellent points as always, SQ. Now that I think about it, I do know a number of people (yourself included) who have been with the same person for a very long time but don't necessarily have the sense of stability or of being "settled down."

Paul definitely has self-confidence issues. He's an interesting guy, in that he floundered for a while after high school, didn't live up to his potential, and is now working very hard to make up for that. As you suggest, I don't think he has entirely figured out what he wants, but I am appreciative that he can at least tell me that.

Finally, when it comes down to it, I do want a life partner. Now, whether that's to do with the extreme loneliness I've felt over the last five months (and for the year preceding Henry) or because I truly am ready to settle down with such a partner, is a mystery.

Lanafactrix said...

I decided after a few experiments in online dating last year that I'm just not cut out for "casual" dating. It's not that I can't go out and have a good time with someone, but I don't really have any interest in short-term romantic relationships. It's not so much that I demand commitment as much as I'm not into casual sex and I'd rather get to know and appreciate someone as a friend before deciding to date them.

I think, as far as men our age go, they're suffering partly from the tyranny of soft expectations. American culture tells them that they shouldn't want a steady girlfriend or a wife or, God forbid, children. Young men in serious relationships are ridiculed constantly by their peers, whereas young women are congratulated by theirs.

Katie said...

You're on to something as far as the culture part goes, I think, Lanafactrix. I read an article about this a few weeks ago and I've been thinking about posting it. Since you mention it, I think I will. Stay tuned.

Anna said...

You know, John broke up with me because he just didn't think it was going to work out in the long-term. We'd been dating a year and a half. Um, isn't that long-term already?

I have no idea what short and long term mean anymore.

Katie said...

Anna, that's why Henry broke up with me. We had agreed very early on in our relationship that if we ever felt like we were going to be forever together, that we should just get married (unlike his brother who waited six or seven years to get married to his girlfriend). So when he broke up with me, he reminded me of this conversation and told me that he felt the reverse was true too: he'd realized that we weren't going to be together forever, so we should break up.

Katie said...

Anna, I forgot to write that I agree with you, one and a half years does seem like "long-term" but as you said, who are we to know the definition of that anymore?

Superquail said...

I didn't know that you and Henry made that agreement. It is interesting, because even though it makes a lot of sense, I think that is actually quite rare.

How do you feel about marriage? Is it something you want for your future?

Katie said...

SQ, Henry and I made that agreement one very emotional night. In that weekend I had: met his parents, met his brother and pregnant sister-in-law, sung at a wedding, and watched Henry interact with small children while we were flying a kite at the park. Weddings and marriage were on the mind and I just asked him to promise me that if he ever felt that I was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, that he'd just ask me to marry him then rather than waiting around for years like his brother had done. He made that promise.

I definitely want to get married and I'd like to have a child/children with my husband. I'm not sure I'd ever be happy in a "common law" marriage situation.