I am 35 and I have had 5 girlfriends since the age of 20 that each lasted between 2 and 5 years. I fall in love easy and seem to fall out of love instantly.I’m never sure when it’s going to happen or how long it will take but now that it has happened 5 times, I’m beginning to wonder why.Sometimes, they just start to get on my nerves after a period of time, other times, I’ve gone to bed in love, and woke up unable to find the feelings no matter how hard I try. I’ve walked away from some wonderful people (except for maybe 2 of them) and don’t know why.I’ve tried to prolong the breakup by faking it for a while hoping the feelings would come back but that’s really hard to do.I’m considering staying single.Is this common? Why can’t I stay in love?Thanks, Single and Alone in St Clair Shores
PS I know the highs of initial love diminish, but this is something more than that.
Dear Single and Alone,
I wonder what sort of partners you have chosen in your dating life the last 15 years? Are you looking for a particular type of woman, or someone with certain physical characteristics or a certain type of character? Are you dating people thinking in the back of your mind that you want to settle down? If so, then dating is really an extended interview to see who might fit for the role of your lifetime partner. Throughout the centuries, arranged marriages have actually had a better track record for lasting a lifetime than the western ideals of falling in love. Why would that be? Probably because our families have a good idea of who we are and what is important to us and they historically have tried to pick a partner who is from a similar background, religion and values. We in the western societies put a great deal of emphasis on looks and our feelings of attraction, but these are things that can be fleeting. None of us looks quite as hot at 60 as we did at 20! I have a Macedonian friend who immigrated here as a young adult. Her son is an adult and has been dating an African American woman who is divorced and has a couple of children. They get along well, but the relationship hasn’t moved into a serious stage. She finally took him aside and said “why do you continue to date this woman?” He answered “we like each other and we have fun together.” She pointed out that he is not getting any younger as he pushes on 30 years old. She asked if he wants to get married, and he says “of course!” She asks “do you see yourself marrying this woman and her children?” He hemmed and hawed, because he really didn’t see this as a potential marriage. Their cultural differences were large and he wasn’t sure either one of them really were up for that sort of challenge. If you just like dating without a real commitment, then keep doing what you are doing. If you want to settle down and find a life partner, then start looking for someone who has similar goals, values, cultural roots and ideas to you. Then, date for a long enough time to see if you have a deeper friendship than just the hormones and chemistry of “falling in love.” It’s ok to be picky!
It’s important to know yourself and feel comfortable being alone. If you know yourself, you will be much more likely to find a partner who compliments your strengths and who shares your values. If you can be alone, that will give you the confidence to date around but not jump into a relationship too quickly or get too serious too fast. Take your time. Enjoy your time as a single person! And approach dating like you are going to hire someone for the job of becoming your partner. Keep me posted. Christine Cantrell, PhD
Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Category: Featured Column