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Yes, Yes, and It All Depends

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When it rains it pours. A new question from Pandabear. Yes, I will answer multiple questions if I get them. His question is simple, but requires a complicated answer. He writes:


Greetings Joe Mama, my questions is … drum roll please …


Is one happier when one is in a relationship or when one is living a solitary existence? And why? I ask because I often find myself longing for alone time …yet, in times of my life when I have it, I feel “too” alone. When I’m in a relationship, it becomes dull and heavy after only a few years. I have often thought I would be happiest living alone, but with a lover who comes over a few times a week. Am I some kind of a weirdo? After all, this isn’t the accepted type of relationship, what with no “lovers a few doors down” tax breaks. Oh, and I’d go straight to hell …oh, that’s right I’m already going there. Never mind that part! —Pandabear


The answer is yes—living with a partner makes you happy and living without a partner makes you happy. It really depends on the person. However, family, friends, and others can pressure us to have partners and make us feel illegitimate if we are solitary or not living with our partner. The first question here is easy to answer: you can be happy either way. The second portion is a different story. You don’t just say that you want to be alone. You say you want a relationship where you live separately and ask if it makes you a weirdo.


Well, no, you are not a weirdo. But in the effort to continue with some advice along with my answers, let me talk about a few things. There are different reasons for a man to seek a partial relationship like this. There are two unhealthy reasons that can cause it. The first is an issue with intimacy and commitment. Any number of things can steer a person away from commitment and intimacy. If this is the case, I would recommend pursuing a solution to the issue rather than seeking a reinforcing situation that will most likely end badly. The second is an issue with compromise. Men and women can have problems with cohabitation because they do not compromise well. Again I would recommend solving the underlying issue to find better relationships.


You give a BIG clue though. You say that when you are in a relationship, “it becomes dull and heavy after only a few years.” This is the core issue. I would guess that you start out happy and after a while she isn’t as attractive to you and you don’t get along. You feel like you can do better and every time she opens her mouth, you silently think of an anvil coming down on her head. You become annoyed and disinterested in her. That is somewhat normal. Everyone gets to a point where they wonder about their partner and compatibility. It’s very natural.


Problems occur when relationships move faster than is appropriate for those two people. So my question is: how long have you stayed in the separate time of your relationship before moving in together? Every relationship starts out in the passionate and exciting phase. Every relationship moves out of that initial excitement and either fails or matures into something stronger. When people go from living separately to moving right in with each other, they skip over the maturation process and ramp up the relationship without the personal growth. They wind up living together and yelling so hard that spittle flies off of their lip and lands on the forehead of the other person. Not fun, not exciting, not healthy, and not what anyone wants. The reality of the world is that everyone will get on your nerves at some point. No matter how smart, sexy, or rich, you will be annoyed with them. A good relationship comes when those times become opportunities for growth understanding.


Do you have any long term friends? People you have known for at least a decade show you how it works. Your lover (and I say that while laughing because it is a funny word) should be the same type of person. A person you grow closer to and like more with each year. Take time and wait on it. Don’t rush into cohabitation. Wait till you find somebody you can stand for more than two years and then move in with them. Find someone who will understand that you need two years to be sure with yourself that it is the right thing to do. Find a partner who becomes your best friend and who you admire. A person who you want to know more, the more you find out about them. Find a person who could get in a horrible accident and you wouldn’t care what they look like; you would still love them. Be patient and realistic. If they start driving you crazy and you find yourself wanting to tell them to shut up every time they open their mouth, then don’t live together. Don’t be railroaded into a situation you are not comfortable with. Wait till YOU are ready. Anyone who loves you for who you are will wait and understand.


As for going to hell, I can only quote Jean Paul Sartre from No Exit in saying, “Hell is other people.” There is a reason he said that. So, as long as you are going to hell, you might as well live up to the idea and find a friend to bring with you. Hope that helps.

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