When I was 16, there was no doubt about it, I would find someone, fall in love and spend the rest of my life with that person. But what has happened since then? I have had some relationships, some hook-ups and I am not really sure anymore if I should, if it is reasonable to keep up the hope of finding someone. I see many people who get disappointed over and over again by failed relationships and yet they keep trying, but is giving up on that really the answer? After all there are people who found someone to love for a lifetime, even though it has become more exceptional than the norm. In Germany there is the new expression “Lebensabschnittspartner” (something like “life period partner”) that describes the new idea of having a partner for a distinct period of time, being aware that the relationship is likely to end at one point with both people going their own ways. It is no secret that the success of a long-term relationship lives or dies with the wish to commit on both sides. There is a certain number of humans that would be suitable to any one person, the big question is if both are willing to commit at the same level.
Mutual affection is definitely a requirement for a working relationship, but to keep it going, mutual interests and time apart, as all the psychologists give couples as advice is just as important as the willingness to commit. For most people there is a time in their lives when they start to settle down. For some, who then tend to live a more conservative lifestyle, this occurs very early in their 20s and some people still have boyfriends when they are 60 and feel good about it. We all have that wish to find “the one”, some people feel about that stronger than others and yet when we really are ready, we definitely will find that one person out of the people that are compatible with us that is willing to commit to the same extent.
Our ancestors lived in a society where early marriage was necessary for our well-being as the partition of roles was very clear and life was hard. Now that we are living in a world where the essentials of life are handed to us, where we can buy food and commodities, we are safe in a society protected by laws and rather just jurisdiction, we have won the freedom to live other models than that of man and wife each dedicated to the tasks they were born into by definition of gender and social status roles. We still inherited the sociocultural roles from our parents and until about 50 years ago when life started to become easier due to new technologies, this was a justified social construct, but is it not time to overthink our social roles and the sense they make in the world we are living in today?
Maybe we just need to take off the pressure and value the moment. We might find someone to spend the rest of our lives with at any point along the way, the question people should ask is whether they are ready to commit. Many people today are running around with the thought of immediate commitment in their head, placed there by an old cultural status quo. Yet most of them deep inside know that they are not ready and want to gather some more experience, and many of them are torn between those to concepts too much to actual enjoy the ride. To use the much quoted notion of ice cream: How do you know if you don’t like vanilla if you have only had chocolate? And what sensations do all the other flavors hold?