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Fred's Blog

Tradeoffs

I must admit that Iím guilty. I hate to compromise!

Iíve been used to going after what I wanted in life, and for the most part Iíve been able to attain almost anything I set my sights on. Part of it has been because of my bulldog, stubborn perseverance. Part of it has to do with my using my wits. And, part of it has just been luckÖperhaps, Iíd like to think, the residue of my hard work.


Settling for less than my lofty goals has never been easy. Sometimes I have had no choice. Other times I simply put off things until I could get what I wanted. And, sometimes, with a bit of wisdom and maturity, I simply accepted situations that were not perfect, but were pretty darn close.

Looking back, Iíve found it ironic that people seem to be able to make compromises in almost all aspects of their lives, but when it comes to romance they are far more resolute or rigid about their desires. Men can make business decisions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars easier than they can make a decision in regards to choosing a mate. Women can pick out a new outfit, hair style or cosmetic quicker than they can decide on whether a man might make a good prospect.

At this stage of life I find people to be more resolute and intransigent. Those who have been divorced before, once, or even multiple times, and those who have just had too many painful breakups tend to shy away from new intimacies. They avoid making commitments and find compromises to be difficult. And, those among us who have had few partnering experiences are even less likely now to change our ways. Itís actually a wonder that people past 50 ever succeed in getting married or living with a significant other.

Why is this true? For most, I just feel that the possibility of future happiness in a coupled relationship is not as important as avoiding the pain and suffering that can come from a failed relationship. Preserving oneís capital, status, stature, and emotional equilibrium appears to take priority.

Consequently, for two people to get together today a minor miracle seems to need to take placeÖÖthe two parties must both want the liaison so badly that they will be willing to subject themselves to all of the risks (real or imagined) inherent in this activity.

It is much easier for people to keep their status quos than to subject their life to potential turmoil or, at the very least, adjustment anxiety. The old phrase, ďthe devil that you know, verse the devil that you donít knowĒ comes to mind. They would rather stay the course because it is comfortable, even though it may be far from fulfilling, than to take risks entering into a relationship where the results are impossible to predict.

I know all kinds of people who have dealt with this dilemma for years. Most are good people, of reasonable emotional stability, who are just plain stuck in the life that they have created. They are unwilling to be patient, understanding, sensitive, accepting and flexible so that they stand a chance to possibly achieve a successful romantic relationship. On the contrary, so many have actually carved out their comfort zones so well, that it is quite easy for them to patently dismiss almost any reasonable prospect that they might meet. Worse yet, some have become so delusional, that they actually still insist that they want a relationship. They may take part in social activities regularly, or they may join and take an active part in Internet singles dating sites, or they may encourage their friends to introduce them to prospects. Yet, consciously or not, they are just not very receptive. No one measures up to their expectations. And, after so many years, these expectations have only grown in significance. Simply stated, they have gotten very good at avoiding relationships.

It seems to me that if we really stop to think about what it takes to develop a long term, satisfying relationship at this stage of life, we would inevitably come to the conclusion that we absolutely must be able to compromise, we must make tradeoffs to get what is most important to us.

This requires a lot of self-awareness. We canít just let things happen like we might have done in our early twenties. We must know what will work for us in a relationship and what will not. We must determine what our drop dead issues are, and no matter what the allure, we canít allow people to get too close that are at opposite ends of the spectrum from us. For example, I can remember two wonderful women in my life during the last 15 years who had great promise. They were bright, charming, very attractive and engaging. Unfortunately, one was an alcoholic, and the other couldnít hold on to a dime. Fortunately, after several months I recognized that my long term prospects were limited with them. Iím only sorry that I waited so long to move on, that I didnít heed my drop dead list sooner.

I think that it is important to not allow this drop dead list to get too long. Itís wise to list major issues, but itís not smart to list so many points that virtually no one might qualify. So, it would nice if a man was a nice dresser, or good dancer, or athletic. But, if he wasnít, yet was attractive, showed sensitivity and caring, and was financially responsible, I hope that most women would not throw him out too quickly. Men often fantasize (perhaps more than women), about finding a woman with a great body and sensual mannerisms. But, if she used drugs, didnít share similar interests, and was a poor communicator, I donít know how far her physical appearance would carry her.

We may not have always recognized this when we were younger, but life has always been a series of tradeoffs in almost everything that we did. More than ever before, it is paramount today that we zone in, like a laser, on the key qualities in another person that might give us the best chance for long term happiness and fulfillment, and ignore all of the other issues that might stop us from reaching this goal. I know from personal experience how difficult this can be, but Iím convinced that this is the only way for one to feel true happiness and peace of mind.

|  Posted on: 2012-06-06 18:23:06  |  0 Comments  

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