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Seeking Sensibility: (Long-Term?) Commitment

Morgan Summers |
October 31, 2013 | 3:15 p.m. PDT

Columnist

I have been dating this girl for about eight months now, and I can honestly say that she’s great and that I care about her. However, she clashes with my personality in that she is more committed to the relationship than I am. She speaks of the long-term, while I only think about the now. I don’t see us being together for more than a year or two, but I am happy with our relationship right now and couldn’t see myself with anyone else - I’ve dated a lot of people and I’m very picky. My question: is it wrong to be in a relationship with someone when you know you can't see the two of you together long-term? I plan on continuing to date her for a while, but it seems we are in this relationship with different reasons and expectations.

Not every person you date has to be the person you could see yourself marrying. (Tela Chhe, Creative Commons)
Not every person you date has to be the person you could see yourself marrying. (Tela Chhe, Creative Commons)

A lot of things in relationships aren’t black and white, and feelings are complex (and often disturbing). Sometimes we have to hurt the people we care about, because it’s better for everyone in the end.

I get it. I know that not every person you date has to be the person you could see yourself marrying. That doesn’t make it wrong to date them, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t date just because you’re not ready to settle down. Ideally, both people in the relationship should know what the other person wants from them, and as long as they know that a long-term future isn’t in the cards for the relationship, then that’s totally okay. Casually date away.

But if she speaks of a long-term future, and you ignore it because you don’t feel the same, you are enabling her mistaken fantasies of an unrealistic life together that will only continue to grow the longer you date.

So while there’s no real problem with what you’re doing, it’s completely unfair to the other person. You are setting up your girlfriend (who you claim to deeply care about) for ultimate heartbreak for your own temporary enjoyment.

But it’s all okay, because you both really really care about each other and have fun going on dates and stuff and it’s not like you’re bad guy... right?

Well... not exactly. Personally, I don’t like wasting my time. I don’t enter into committed relationships with people unless I can see that both of us are getting something positive out of the arrangement. So if I date someone, it doesn’t mean I envision us being together forever; but it does mean that for the foreseeable future, we are a good match for each other.

Sure, something might come along in the future that means we are no longer right for each other. But when that happens, hopefully both people will be able to take away a positive learning experience and accept that things ended for the right reasons.

I’m okay with this because I’m not predicting the end of the relationship; I just accept that it can go on for an indefinite amount of time until a breakup or long-term commitment happens (aka marriage, or something equivalent if that's not your thing). I don’t predetermine how long I’m going to date a person until I decide to move onto the next thing, which is exactly what you’re doing.

Ask yourself what you are getting out of the relationship. Because to me, it seems like you are just in it because it’s enjoyable and comfortable. I get it: it’s really hard to break up with someone you enjoy spending time with, and especially if it’s someone you care about. But ignoring personality conflict because you have the mentality that “Hey, it’s not gonna last forever so why fight when we could be having fun?” is just misleading.

The right thing to do is not necessarily to break up with the person you care about; the right thing to do is to be honest with the person you care about. Because if you truly cared about them, you would want what is best for them. And if what’s best for them isn’t you, then you should show them the respect of letting them know where the relationship is heading.

If I were your girlfriend in this situation, I don’t know if I’d rather live in sweet, ignorant bliss until the harsh realities of the eventual breakup finally came around... or accept where the relationship is heading now to decide if I wanted to continue dating this person. Both options suck.

Sensible wisdom doesn’t always have the answers, just the ability to give you some perspective. Good luck.

 

Going through a relationship problem, or have an interesting story to share? Write in to Columnist Morgan Summers at [email protected] and you may be featured in next week's column!



 

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