Author: Gary D. Grant
Remember when you got your first two-wheel bicycle, and how happy you felt? There it was all bright and shiny, with tassels streaming from the handlebars. You went to share your happiness with your best friend. And then you saw her new bike – a little bit bigger, a little bit shinier. All your joy disappeared; you wanted what she had, not what you had. Love and dating are a lot like that; the grass is always greener elsewhere (for men and women alike). Too often, our joy in relationships is just as fleeting. This Tokii article explores why all too often the grass is greener, and offers advice on conquering this seemingly constant emotion to search elsewhere.
In looking back, I realize my seeking greener pastures was in part the infinite pursuit of perfection. Study after study has been written on this (just check the dating and self-help sections at Barnes &Nobles or Amazon.com), but this longing has been a constant in mankind for eons, as evidenced by “The Dog and Its Reflection” in Aesop’s Fables. In this story, a dog carrying a bone looks down as it is crossing a stream and sees its own reflection in the water. Taking it for another dog carrying something better, it opens its mouth to bark at the ‘other’ and in doing so drops what it was carrying. I too have barked at the other, and lost what I had. How many of us have done this; and how often?
In my journey to a happy and healthy relationship, I realized that I did not always enter into a relationship for the right reasons or allow the relationship to grow and unfold in a timely (i.e., not too quick) manner. I would not want to go so far as Pia Mellody did in her ground breaking books, Facing Codependenceand Facing Love Addiction, wherein she contends “love at first sight” may be part of an addictive cycle of attraction, fantasy, denial, and obsession, and is the result of childhood experiences of abandonment or engulfment, but as much as I hate to admit it, I for one do not like being alone or out of a relationship. Consequently, I entered into couples relationships haphazardly or without investing the time that a relationship warrants.
My last relationship is emblematic of my (past) rush to be in a relationship. I met someone for a date, I did not have anything going on and therefore went out on a second date, which was followed all too quickly by a third date, and then, bam!, she and I were in a relationship. But three dates did not a relationship make, notwithstanding that she moved one-half her stuff into my place (slyly, one article of clothing at a time), her friends became my friends, and I found myself watching Home Improvement and Top Chef rather than hiking, rock climbing, and biking; that is, doing the things I like to do. Yes, relationships are a matter of compromise, but we do not have to lose ourselves in our relationships. As Pia Melody noted, it is not a matter of being codependent or independent, but rather interdependent. In this she is correct, healthy couples are where each person retains his/her friends and interests, and works to integrate the other into that group and those interests.
As I have grown, unfortunately older, but fortunately wiser, I have learned to be content with the person I am with. However, my yearning for someone else never quite seems to fade. When I first started to drive, I bought a $300 clunker. It was fun for awhile, but then I upgraded, and upgraded, and upgraded. I know I can keep on doing that with cars (although that Aston Martin remains elusive), but I also know that it is silly for me to think there is someone sexier, smarter, or richer than the one I currently love and with whom I would forever be content. Instead, I learned that nobody else is going to complete me (sorry Jerry Maguire), and that for me to stop thinking that the grass is always greener by dating someone else/new, I needed to complete myself first. And the only way that works was for me to learn to be as content as a coffee drinker.
I cannot take credit for this last point, I heard it in a Sunday sermon, but it is so relevant because it is so true. Every day, I walk into Starbucks just like thousands upon thousands of others getting their daily caffeine jolt. I do not care that the person on my right orders a tall non-fat double shot latte, or that the person on my left orders a venti mocha, with whip, extra hot. All that matters to me is my grande drip, no room. I take my coffee, sit down at the table, wrap my hands around the cup, hoist it to my lips and take that first sip, and immediately say “aahh.” In that one brief moment of time, I am content, happy, sated. I have learned that dating can be and should be like that cup of coffee. I have learned that the person I am dating is someone I value and treasure; that my focus and attention is on her and her alone, without losing my friends or interests; and that I do not need to look elsewhere, to greener pastures, to be happy and content. Tokii’s articles are written to help us on this path of personal development, and I continue to learn from Tokii’s advice. I hope you do too.