Whilst at a dinner party, a friend of mine directed a question solely towards the single women in the room.
‘If you met Mr Right today do you think it’d work out? Answer honestly!’
Roughly half of us responded with a no, acknowledging that we weren’t ready for ‘Mr Right’.
Sidebar: I think ‘Mr Right’ is a bit like Santa Claus, a mythical social construct that does more harm than good. But that’s another blog post…
She then turned to the women who felt they were ready and made a compelling case as to why their next relationship probably wouldn’t work out. Pleased that for once I wasn’t the most controversial guest at the table, I decided to sit back and listen, rather than be the voice of dissent.
Sidebar: I’m lying. Me + Free Food = Silence.
Despite the intensity of the debate, miraculously we all left the dinner table with our friendships in tact. And since her theory provoked such a reaction, I thought it was only just I shared it on here…
“Meet a guy, fancy the guy, hook up with guy, guy becomes boyfriend, fall in love with the guy…you and the guy eventually split up”
Give or take a few weeks or months between each stage, that’s cycle most women have been engaged in since they were teenagers. According to my friend this viscous cycle could potentially become a virtuous circle that ends with ‘you and the guy live happily ever after’, if women (and men) radically changed their behaviour.
In the time between the ‘fancy the guy’ and ‘hook up with guy’ stages, she advises that women ‘press pause’ and halt the sequence of events. Instead of allowing things to escalate into a relationship, we must make the seemingly counter-intuitive commitment to stay friends.
Why? Apparently we’re doing it all backwards. We’ve amplified living in the moment and relegated gradually getting to know a person. Consequently we’re using the dating and relationship stage as a method of getting to know a man, instead of the more benign framework of friendship.
We misidentify great sex as a great relationship or a great ‘connection’ as a signifier of a great future. Fast forward a few months or years later and according to her ‘we’re in love with men that we don’t really know’. When the inevitable relationship growing pains emerge, we resent a man for ‘changing’ when in fact he’s simply being himself. We just never took the time to discover who he really was.
After using herself as a guinea pig, she’s come to the conclusion being friends for as long as possible is the better option, as relationships underpinned by sound friendships work best.
As I was being unusually quiet (ingesting carbs has that impact on me), my friend decided to divert the debate away from herself...
‘Christiana what do you think? Do you think you’ll try the 'press pause' method? ”
It’s not that I don’t see the benefits of her approach. Observing before you submerge yourself in a situation is the wiser option. The ‘press pause’ method makes sense. However I couldn’t sit there and advocate something that I lack the capacity to carry out.
Firstly, let’s deal with the elephant in the room touching itself. The whole ‘press pause’ thing is a great theory but in the real world, such theories are discarded. The type of men we want drive us in the opposite direction. They make us jump on the relationship rollercoaster even if we’ve just eaten ten red velvets *guilty face* . When you meet a man and you have an electric connection, being ‘just friends’ ceases to be an option.
Perhaps it’s proof that deep inside me lives a romantic, but I believe when it comes to matter of the heart, when you know you know. It doesn't matter if you were friends for 5 minutes or 5 years. You can ‘press pause’ all you like but when that "thing" in you is triggered and you think, "this is it", you’ll feel compelled to follow that feeling. In hindsight it may have been the ‘wrong’ decision but it'll lead you somewhere and that’s what life’s about. Taking chances and exploring the unknown.
Secondly, I’m usually not a fan of labels but in the realm of relationships for the sake of avoiding complications, we need them. What do we call the type of arrangements we’ve ‘pressed pause’ on? ‘We're just getting to know each other, but we’re exclusive, but we’re not really exclusive because we’re really friends but more than friends’ ? Did that make sense or did you have to read it twice? Exactly. (Shoddy) Proof this ‘press pause’ thing can unnecessarily complicate matters that should be simple.
Finally, the theory is based on the faulty assumption that all women seek long-term relationships. As hard as it is to believe, there are countless women in their twenties who aren’t obsessed with marriage or settling down. Many women desire something casual that fits around their lifestyle. For such women there’s no need to use friendship as a guise for an intensive screening process because the men in her life are temporary.
Are some of us trapped in a dating cycle that’s not working? Yes. Does the ‘press pause’ method ensure that we’ll make better choices and things will change? Of course not. I think a gentler application of the ‘press pause’ method is more practical. Instead of accelerating into a relationship or lying stagnant in a pseudo friendship, we should simply take each day at a time and see what happens.
What’s your opinion? Is ‘press pause’ the way forward? Or is it unfeasible? The floor is yours!
Love & Light