Relationships

The Thrill of The Chase

Any athlete who has achieved success will tell you that getting to the top is easy, staying there is the hard part. Human are very goal oriented. Get that job, earn that promotion, run this many miles, jump this high, etc. We like to set goals for ourselves and then check them off. As soon as we achieve them, then it is on to the next set of goals. Life is easier this way. It gives us something to strive for. If we achieve it, then we feel great, but even if we fail, it gives us a sense of determination to improve. However, what happens when there is nothing left to be achieved?

There are always more miles to be run or money to be earned. Bud Fox asked Gordon Gekko, “how many boats does he need to water ski behind?” We like to scold the absurdly rich for their greed when they go after more money, but really the money is of little consequence to them. It is about the pursuit. It is about setting a goal to earn more money and then achieving it. They could care less about the financial gain that the accomplishment brings. An aspect of life that leaves nothing more to be accomplished is a monogamous, faithful relationship. Once that is achieved what else is there? Just putting in the years? Not getting divorced?

There certainly is a lot of work left to do after committing to a person, whether through marriage or not. But there is no easily definable goal. It seems like everything is accomplished, which is why so many people become complacent as relationships progress. This is an issue that affects both sexes in different ways. For men, the goal is to sleep with a woman. All of his efforts are put into this goal. This is why in the beginning of relationships men are so thoughtful, caring, listen to everything that you say, and perform grand romantic gestures. None of that comes natural to men, which is why as the relationship goes on and men fall into their more complacent natural state that women are confused and hurt that they no longer do those things.

It is nothing personal, men were just focused on sleeping with you, a short-term goal. If we thought about the long haul, then we certainly would not set such a high precedent for ourselves. Once we have sex, then we feel accomplished and satisfied. All of that hard work we put in does not seem necessary and in typical male egotism we think that we can have sex with the woman any time we want without putting in the effort. Or we get bored, maybe even a little resentful that we put in so much work for a payoff that was ultimately disappointing. In general a man will never be as sweet, charming, and thoughtful as he was before he had sex with you. There are diminishing returns on each sexual act.

But what about women? What is there chase? It is stereotypical to say that all little girls dream of their wedding day, but I do know for a fact that no boy in the history of earth has ever given a single thought to it. A wedding is the Bride’s day, the Groom is merely a spectator, a necessary participant. This is the goal, the Super Bowl for women. Find a way to get the man that you love to stand in front of family and friends, then say “I do” while putting a ring on it. The problem is that a wedding is not some magical elixir that takes care of everything moving forward. There is sill a hopefully long life to be lived with this person and living together can be quite the challenge for men and women. All of those annoying habits: the messiness, the incessant sports watching, all of it does not magically disappear once he is a married man. Remember, the man has been turning in diminishing returns ever since you guys first had sex, so now that you’ve achieved your goal of walking down the aisle both of you are becoming complacent with one another. The extra motivation that drove the relationship to this point is lost and things start to become toxic.

What’s the best solution? Well it would be to recognize the fact that both of you have lost a little motivation and realize how silly that is to do with a person you love. Then focus on setting new goals for each other and sacrificing to achieve them. What’s the easy solution? Have kids. Children become a never ending series of goals and tasks, which help distract from the fact that you’re slowly drifting apart from the person you’ve given the rest of your miserable life. If you’re lucky, then challenges of child raising will bond you together. But it seems to be a flip of the coin as the divorce rate continues to linger around 50%. Hopefully some day, we can all come to the self realization of this accomplishment problem and realize that a relationship needs to be treated differently than anything else we set out to accomplishment. Until then, just keep popping out those kids.

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Adult Friendships

Weekend Review

Friday

I attended a farewell party for a friend of the Millennial Man, Libby Koerbel, who is, unfortunately, leaving sunny and warm LA for Minneapolis on Thursday. It is sad to see her go, but we know big things are ahead for her and look forward to seeing all her future success.

A big adjustment in the adult world is getting used to how infrequently you see your friends. As kids we spend all day in school with them. Elementary school might as well just be called a camp with a bit of learning, and then we spend more time with them riding bikes and playing games. It is a non-stop friend party.

This continues into high school, though to a lesser extent as we have classes with different people and a variety of structured activities, sports or clubs that keep us apart. But every weekend is spent hanging out with your best friends, so you’re not being cheated on friend time.

And then there is college, oh college. You literally get to live with your best friends and in some cases sleep on top of them, in bunk beds. Clean up your dirty minds. This is the ultimate friend experience, and why we end up getting so close with people in college, we have no choice since there is no escape.

After this overload of friendship comes post-college life and a dearth of friend time. Once college ends the time comes to make decisions for your future. What do you want to do? How do you want to live? What are your passions? We all have our own, unique answers that take us to different places.

It may take us back to our hometown, where we’re comfortable and know a lot of people or it could take us to a new city, country even, where we do not know anyone. As difficult as it may be to adjust to new surroundings, we need to follow the path that is best for us.

Since we all have different goals, the great friends we made in our four years in college, disperse across the country. We start working or go to graduate school, both of which are much more time consuming than college classes. All that free time we had to hang out with our buddies, drinking beer and playing Mario Kart, is gone. It is replaced by the bitter reality of life and the hard work it takes to survive it.

Forget about our friends that live across the country, we don’t have time to hang out with friends that live a mile away from us. We’re busy all week and we come home from work or classes dead tired. All we want to do is zone out for an hour or two before heading to bed, not a very social atmosphere.

Sitcoms make it seem so easy for professional friends to hang out after work at the local bar, but the reality of going to dinner or a bar every night is much more difficult with all our expenses.

Our time with friends becomes limited, so it is important to fully appreciate every moment we have with them.  It is also important to work on friendships. Being friends as kids and in high school or college is easy. They mostly start because people are nearby and as much as the CW tells us otherwise life is not very stressful, which makes it easy to be around others.

Since our free time is now limited, we must be more selective with whom we spend it. It is also important to maintain friendships by finding activities and events to all attend. This may require some long-term planning, like figuring out somewhere to go for Memorial Day weekend or even The Fourth of July, it’s never too early.

It may not be as easy to hang out with friends, but the challenge forms stronger bonds. In my 16 months in LA I’ve formed some wonderful new friendships, while also being lucky to have some old friends too and our relationships have gotten stronger as well. As we get older, life becomes about figuring out what matters to us and cutting out all the other bull shit.