Love addicts

Singles who can’t seem to get past the first date may feel jealous of these ‘long-termers,’ but they shouldn’t be. It’s like envying people on drugs.

By TAMAR CASPI
August 27, 2010 17:22
4 minute read.
Dating

dating cartoon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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You know those people who jump from one relationship to another? They go from one long-term connection to another long-termer without taking the time to recover, entering into the new relationship before thinking about what they have learned from the previous one. To try to figure out which relationship is the “rebound” one and which isn’t can sometimes be impossible. Singles who can’t seem to get past the first date may be jealous of these love addicts, but it’s a superficial envy. Just because the love addicts are in a long-term relationship doesn’t mean it’s going to lead to marriage… and wouldn’t you rather know that after one date or after three months, rather than after wasting more than a year with someone?

What I wonder about those who jump from a three-year relationship to a one-year relationship to a two-year relationship and so on, is: Do they have an identity? Do they know who they are and what they want from a mate, or do they judge themselves on being loved and simply having a mate?

Who are you if you are always being identified as someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend? Love is a drug to these people, and they are addicted. Meanwhile, those who haven’t been in a relationship in a while or flit from one short-term relationship to another are at least experiencing opportunities for character-building.

My friend Jordana is a perfect example. She moved seamlessly from her high-school sweetheart of four years to her college sweetheart of three years to her law school sweetheart of three years. (How many sweethearts does one get in a lifetime?) Jordana’s life path took on the life of each boyfriend. She applied to the same universities as her high school sweetheart, but he didn’t get in. She took a leap of faith and went anyway, but it wasn’t her dream she was following.

Next it was her college sweetheart’s dream that they go to law school together, even though she wanted to be a special education teacher. My point: She is living out her respective boyfriend’s dreams and not only sacrificing her own, but getting lost in the mix.

Who is Jordana?

Her law school boyfriend was finally the one who encouraged her to travel alone for a few months after she took the bar exam – so she could explore who she was without anyone’s outside influences – and in discovering her independence, she ended up breaking off the relationship and finally spending time alone.

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Is it bad to be an Ivy League alum with a Juris Doctorate? Of course not, but if she’s not passionate about practicing law, then what’s the point?

Jordana finally figured out a way to mesh her education with her prior career dream. She now works as in-house counsel for a non-profit for children with special needs. She credits her most recent ex (the law school guy who motivated her to travel) for forcing her to see what she was missing and go after her dreams... even though she’s now been single for a few years.

Until I met “S,” I was one of the ones who was in and out of short-term relationships, and going on plenty of dates in between. Some just lasted one date, some I dated for six weeks, some for four months, but none got super-serious.

ALTHOUGH THOSE relationships weren’t successful in and of themselves, they were successful in helping me figure out which traits were “must-haves,” which were “mustnot- haves” and which were neutral to me. These short but sweet relationships led me to who I am and helped me recognize the right man for me when he came along.

When you meet someone new, I don’t think either predicament is ideal. If they’ve been in too many short-term relationships, like my friend Yossi from “Serial Dating,” then your concern is lack of commitment. If they’ve been in too many back-to-back long-term relationships, like Jordana, then your concern is their pattern of jumping quickly into a relationship without recovering from the previous one. Somewhere in between is ideal.

Think back to your dating history, because odds are you will be asked about it on dates. Try not to go into specifics – simply saying “a few long-term relationships and more than enough first dates that led nowhere” – is more than enough information.

But if pressed, you should be able to show that you have both relationship and dating experience. Don’t lie, but letting someone know this is your first date after your 12- year relationship with your 8th-grade crush just ended probably isn’t the best tactic.

Listen – no one wants to know they’re on a first date with a love addict because that will most likely scare them away faster than you can say “psycho.”

Of course, if you’re on JDate, or being set-up by a matchmaker, or meeting people at Jewish singles events, then of course it’s implied that you are looking for something long-term and permanent, so it doesn’t need to be broadcast.

Someone who has been in back-to-back-to-back relationships should just say: “I’ve been in a bunch of serious relationships, and now I’m just looking to have fun.”

Someone with a laid-back approach to dating will end up having more success than someone who takes it too seriously.

And if you are that person who is getting out of a relationship and single for the first time in his or her adult life, just enjoy dating and finding out who you are without identifying as someone else’s plus-one.

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