Dating Without Milestones.

We were curled up in bed, wreathed in the happiness that only comes when you’ve lived together for three days and had yet to have an argument. I inhaled the scent of Fox’s skin, getting drunk on their scent, feeling that tipsy love fuzz up my thoughts.

“This is the part where I start making promises about forever,” I told them.

My problem is that I always want forever.

And worse, it draws me to fall deeply in love with the sort of women who make long-term plans. If someone I love starts discussing plans a year out after we’ve been dating for two months, I feel comforted; it means they like me enough to envision me in their future! We discuss what sort of special things we’ll do on our first anniversary, and then what we’ll do five years from now to celebrate getting so far because we’re so rapturously in love.

Things must be going well.

Things never actually go well, with those sorts of women.

What actually happens is that we wind up overengineering our arguments to carry the weighty load of five years’ worth of dating, when what we really need is to get things out of the way for a happy Friday.

When I’m dating Five Years Into The Future, I feel more betrayed when someone’s inevitably careless about my feelings. If they step on a sore spot, hell, we’re practically engaged! Shouldn’t the woman who’s promised herself to me a decade from now know me better than this? How could she make such a stupid, elementary mistake?

Worse, not only am I angrier, making the argument worse, but the nature of the argument itself changes. In a casual relationship, it would be a simple matter: “Don’t poke my ribs.” But in a forever relationship, we can’t risk quick-fixes – we must get into deep psychological engineering to bolster this relationship so it’ll last forever. So it’s not just enough to discuss “Don’t go there,” they must understand all the reasons why going there is bad for me – it’s not the poking, it’s that I hate being tickled anywhere, stay away from tickling as it reminds me of the time I was held down and tickled, I have trauma with that too UNDERSTAND ME AS YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND SOMEONE YOU WANT TO BE WITH FOREVER.

The arguments turn into long slogs. Why didn’t I know her better? Shouldn’t we be in great harmony, if we planned to be with each other for years? I mean, we’re not the sort of people who choose our heart’s mates unwisely, so how can we be this incompatible when we have all these promises?

We spend so much time working towards these distant futures that we churn the present into an unpleasant mire. We give each other tokens to prove that we’re going to hit these big Milestones, sacrificing bits of ourselves that we really can’t afford to so that the other person doesn’t ever have to worry that we’ll always be around, and…

They are never, ever always around after a few months pass.

The sort of person who promises me milestones is always more in love with the idea of the milestone than they are with me.

And I, in turn, am enamored of the idea of a relationship that’s automatically locked into place like a magazine subscription, something guaranteed to last until the subscription runs out, and somehow I am always always surprised to discover that a magazine can stop publishing before the subscription finishes.

And I think of my girlfriend of seven-plus years, holding forth at a table on What It’s Like To Date Ferrett while I stood silent and listened. And I think of her saying, “I never plan on tomorrow with him. Things change. He’s evolving, I’m evolving; any day now he might decide it’s too much trouble to date me, or I might decide he’s too much of a pain. But if that happens, we’ll always be friends, so I’m just going to love this while it’s here.”

That spit-and-duct-tape hope for a mere tomorrow has lasted years when these forever relationships were hard-pressed to last months.

“This is the part where I start making promises about forever,” I’d just said. And Fox waited coolly, wondering what I’d say next.

“…But I’m not going to.”

Fox breathed a sigh of relief.

“We’ve got until the end of this week. Then a visit in a few months. And I’m going to make those as awesome as I can. But… all that matters is these next few days, honestly. Can we make these next few days wonderful?”

“We can try,” Fox said, and hugged me tight.

And those next few days were awesome. I’ll see them again in a month or two, and hopefully that will be awesome.

With a little luck, we’ll skip from awesome to awesome and last for years, the way I’ve done with my longest girlfriend of seven-plus years.

But like my longest girlfriend of seven-plus years, I’m not going to count on it.

1 Comment

  1. f
    Mar 2, 2016

    How do you reconcile this mindset with marriage?

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