Hello everybody, welcome to episode 115 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. How’s everyone doing today? I sincerely hope you’re all fine and that this episode will only build upon the fine. We’ve got a question today pertaining to a unique relationship problem – on relationships failing – a problem that sort of goes a step past how we’ve broken down the initial steps of dating a few times here. So let’s kick back, listen in, and dig a little bit deeper into how we can get into relationships at the right time…
QUESTION: “How do we know when a relationship is right to get into? I’ve been in several that haven’t lasted, and they were all at times when things were going well for me and I was feeling my most independent. I sort of think that’s the best time to date someone, and you’ve mentioned that in some of your episodes too. But why have none of them felt right even then? For the record, I’m the one who has broken them all off. I’m very confused by all of this and would love your feedback.”
The Best Time to Date Someone
Yes…this is a really great question, and you’re right; I’ve totally talked about how you need to fulfill your own needs first before you can give optimally to a partner. That’s very true, but there are extenuating circumstances (what else is new?) that I think need to be covered today.
So just to catch everyone up, yes, you’re doing this right. The best time to date someone is when we’re feeling best about ourselves, confident in ourselves, independent; so fulfilled that we don’t have a void that we’re tempted to use someone else to fill.
The further we are from this headspace when getting into a relationship, the higher the risk is that we latch our identities to someone else, use them as a way to escape our own problems, and inevitably mistreat them in one way or another. But like I mentioned, there’s more to it than that.
When We're Feeling Our Best
Let’s remind ourselves of what life tends to look like when we’re feeling our best, or our most independent.
Typically, it means that we’re trying and succeeding at living by our values. We’ve probably got a good perceived balance of things like family, friends, hobbies, stability, health and other popular values we’re proud to uphold. And having balance in several areas like these means that there’s not much space left over.
After all, the time and space you have is being filled with things that mean a lot to you – it’s already occupied. And if it’s already being occupied and filled to capacity, that means that something would have to be moved out in order for something else to be moved in. In this case, that something else would be a significant other.
It’s pretty hard to argue with the math on that one, so instead, most people don’t bother to do it, or just ignore it completely. I don’t blame them, I’m not a math guy either.
So in order for a relationship to make sense in your scenario (the scenario of someone living their best life, as they say) the significant other needs to outweigh or be more valuable to you than the least fulfilling aspect of all the many fulfilling aspects of your life. They’d need to be more valuable than your Friday night movie nights, or your Thursday night soccer league, or your Sunday lunch with your parents.
And a lot of the times, especially before we know someone fully, they aren’t more fulfilling than these types of things.
The Idea of a Relationship
The problem is when we want them to be and try to trick ourselves into thinking that they are. The problem is that the idea of a relationship takes over. And because most of us enjoy the idea of a relationship much more than the lame-o’s we find ourselves on dates with, we inaccurately gauge how much we actually like them.
It’s especially complicated when those lame-o’s aren’t lame-o’s at all, but actually nice people. Spoiler alert: they can still be nice, but not as meaningful to you as suffocating yourself in microwave popcorn while watching the 86th Marvel installment with the girls each Friday.
Independence and satisfaction means things are good, and sometimes things are so good that a relationship screws them up, as much as we might want to believe that it’s time to settle down with somebody. Settling down is not always the right thing, and as we’re learning, the possibility to do it doesn’t always come at the right time.
The right person is a person (not an idea) that is valuable enough to you to make you want to force something else out of your life. And if you’re in balance, that something else is going to be a good thing. You can’t be using someone to force out something bad, and you can’t be using someone to fill a void. Entering a relationship at the right time with the right person means the someone good will have to be sacrificed.
What Will You Sacrifice?
So like anything else, the question is, what are you going to sacrifice? As you’ve seen in your relationships past, you can’t have it all.
You only have so much time in the day, and if you find yourself dating people when things are going good, then maybe the people you’ve been with just haven’t been quite as good as the other things you’re filling your day with.
Unless you have a deeper attachment issue (which is always possible, but it doesn’t seem like one is jumping out based on your question), you just haven’t met anyone so far that was better than all the things that made you feel independent and well-rounded.
Don’t settle or slip into a relationship at the wrong time just because you’re eager. Instead, be grateful for all the great things you’ve had in your life and continue to harvest them.
Conclusion: Relationships Failing
If you can stay in that independent space, you’ll be good to go.
Should you meet someone along the way, someone special enough to replace at least the least fulfilling use of your time, wonderful. But you can still have a lot of joy and fulfillment should that not happen.
Folks, thanks so much for listening. Asker, thank you so much for sending this question on how you feel about your relationships failing. I hope I was able to help you out today.
I really appreciate this type of question coming in because as our asker mentioned, it had been alluded to before. But there are still always ways to peel another layer of the onion back, so when you find that something I’ve said makes sense but doesn’t quite hit the spot, please don’t hesitate to reach out so I can try to expand upon my ideas in a way that’s reflective of what you’re going through specifically.
You can reach out with those questions at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
We’re done for today, so I’m going to wrap up now. I hope you’ll stop in next time, and until then, take care of yourselves.