How much do you really love your partner?

Today is Valentine’s Day and for the past week, I have heard countless stories from people who really want to use this day as a way of expressing their love to that special person in their lives. Many have talked about buying flowers, jewelry or other special gifts. One young man talked about how his fiance means everything in the world to him and he loves her “to the moon and back” A very powerful statement of love indeed! But I want to ask this question to anyway out there who is involved in a relationship; how much do you really love your partner? In other words, how much staying power does that love have?

It is one thing to say that you really love someone to the moon and back, but does that love hold up under the most adverse of conditions that life throws at us? Take for example this scenario; you are a single young man who just met this wonderful young woman and things are going really well. She is everything that you look for in a woman; she has lots of beauty both on the inside and outside. She also has this great sense of humor that you cannot get enough of, and in addition, she comes from a very good family. You are totally convinced that she is the right one for you and someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with. Then suddenly you get a phone call that totally floors you. Your Ms. perfect has just been involved in a serious car accident. She fortunately survived, but her face was really damaged in the accident. She also will be paralyzed for the rest of her life from injuries brought on by the accident. My question to you is this, do you still love her? She will be a totally different person from now on in terms of looks and will probably be dependent on someone 24 hours a day for the rest of her live. What is the temperature of that love right now?

Another less dramatic example is how you view things in life and I can personally say that this has happened to me. Suppose you meet someone and you talk and text really nice things to each other for months. She even sends you the sweetest card for Valentine’s Day with one of the most adorable messages ever. You feel like a million bucks and if she was present, you would give her the biggest hug and kiss ever! Then one day in one of your conversations, you find out that your view on a particular topic or topics is totally different from hers. A rather heated exchange takes place between both of you. Once again, what is the temperature of that love? Do you still love her or him even though they see some things in life completely different from you do?

In my way of thinking, true love is able to endure many shots of adversity and forces that come up. An older couple who talks about their great love for each other after so many years is a prime example of what truly loving your partner is all about. Surely they must have had some moments where that love was severely tested, yet that love was able to stand up. If I ever considered marrying a woman, these crucial scenarios about love would really come up. I would want my wife to really back up her words if she said that she really loves me. That means accepting all sides of me. If she cannot, then those words of love are just meaningless.

 

 

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Those awkward first dates

So you have met that promising prospect on an internet dating site who appears to be everything that you have ever hoped for in a partner. You guys have been exchanging emails frequently in the past few weeks along with a few text messages and phone calls. Now is the time to finally meet face to face. Millions of single people and yes, perhaps some married, have gone through this anticipation of finding out more about this mysterious person. What are they like in person? They sure sound nice based on the text messages you have received or the phone conversations, but in person, are they still that charming or is it just some front that they are putting up? It is a big mystery that makes first dates very fascinating and at times, a little awkward when a couple of strangers meet in person for the first time.

I must confess that being a single person, I have gone on several first dates in my life. I sometimes wonder while driving to our meeting place if this is really worth it. I feel like I am about to go on a job interview. The pressure is on; do my clothes look good? How will I be able to handle some of the questions that may come up? What if she turns out to be totally different from what her profile indicates about her and I find myself greatly disappointed in the first few minutes? Or perhaps the opposite happens, she turns out to be a knockout and I suddenly get extremely nervous and intimidated over her looks. I may try to hard to impress her. The level of uncertainty and the fact that you are trying really hard to make a good first impressions can lead to a lot of awkwardness and nervous moments.

As I have gotten older and just maybe? a little wiser, I have put aside the thought that a first date should be like a job interview. It should be a fun and fascinating experience for both of you. What do you have to lose? If the date does not go well and the hopes that you really built up are suddenly shattered, move on and find someone else! There are plenty of other people out there. Plus you have gained some valuable dating experience by going on this date. The more dates you go on, the more you learn how to handle the awkwardness and nervousness that occurs. Even if the your date does not end up being your type physically, you can still keep in touch and remain good friends. Just go out and have the attitude that you will have a good time and ENJOY YOURSELF!! If your date is a complete loser, find some excuse ahead of time to cut the date short. No need to waste your time. First dates should be short anyways.

I find the most awkward part of any first date is how to end it and say goodbye. Suppose we both had a great time and things seemed to go fairly well? What about a second date? Unless I am meeting a woman with whom I am totally turned off by, I will usually bring up getting together again. I find that you really need to go out multiple times before getting to know someone. One date is just not enough in my opinion. Maybe the next date can be something like going to a new release movie together or going to a concert.

I certainly want to wish the best of luck to anyone planning on meeting someone new for the first time. In this day and age of internet dating, profiles and the way they are written and presented can tell a lot about a person and who they are. But nothing can replace the actual first face to face meeting between a couple. I certainly know that awkward and nervous feeling that a person goes through during this process because I have been through it several times. But that feeling of awkwardness should disappear during the date and you might end up feeling like you have known your date for several years.

A great test for marriage compatibility

Every so often in this blog, I like to put my Dr. Phil hat on and dive into relationship issues. The great thing about discussing these issues is that many people can relate to these topics and can add their 2 cents to the discussion. One of the biggest relationship topics is the subject of compatibility between couples and whether they are compatible long-term. Obviously there are some very basic factors involved that show whether a couple has the potential to be together for life such as having common values and backgrounds, but those things are only part of the equation. Perhaps that supposedly wonderful person who you are currently dating has a terrible temper that you are not aware of. Just because both of you go to church on Sunday doesn’t mean that you are both right for each other. Maybe one of you is very poor in dealing with money and that has the potential to cause many troubles in a marriage. If I was to ever marry someone, I would really want to really know that person and there is no better way of doing that than going on a nice long road trip across the country with my potential partner, just her and I.

I don’t really believe that hooking up on the weekend to see a movie, sporting event or movie is a true test of compatibility. Sure we may have a great time together, but is there any real stress in doing those things together outside of the fact that parking may be an issue? Both the guy and gal are probably in their own little comfort zones in doing those things. After a few hours, the date is over and quite often, both people go back to their respective homes alone. In fact, some people are actually relieved the date is over for a variety of reasons. Their mate is driving them crazy that evening with constant complaining about work or something of that nature. They just need to escape. Or maybe the guy wants to watch that big ballgame on television and went on the date just to score some brownie points with his gal.

Now imagine going on a nice long road trip via a car? I mean car, not flying somewhere or taking a train. There is plenty of time for long meaningful discussions where you can really get to the know the other person. If the other person dominates the conversations and only talks about themselves, a red flag should immediately put up. That shows that they only care about themselves and are very selfish. On the other hand, showing concern about the other person by getting them to talk and asking questions about themselves is a great sign. I have met a few women in my life who are very poor at this. They blabber and complain about meaningless stupid things and that is a real turnoff to me and many guys.

On long road trips, both people are totally outside their own comfort zones in many ways. The beds are not the same at home, the food can be rather dicey and general fatigue can a huge issue. I know that I speak for a lot of people in saying that long travel makes me very crabby!! In many situations, I can deal with it because I am alone. Now throw in a women who will not stop complaining about that cock roach found in last night’s hotel room and that is a perfect spark to cause me to have a mental breakdown!! If I really love my woman, I will put up with her. The point that I am trying to make is that most long trips involve some or a lot of adversity and how you treat each other in those times of adversity can be a great test of true compatibility. Suppose the car breaks down somewhere in the middle of nowhere. How is this situation being handled? A guy who puts the needs and welfare of his gal first is a total keeper.

When the trip is finally over and both of you are just itching to go on another road trip together, that is a great sign that there is strong marriage potential between both of you. On the other hand, if you feel like you just got out of jail when the trip is over, I question whether there is any true compatibility. Signs of self centeredness and extreme tempers should be deep causes for concern. Being together for so long on a long road trip can really expose your partner for the fraud that they really are. Or it may just reaffirm what a wonderful a person they are. Forget about marriage counseling or filling out some long questionnaire about whether you are compatible with each other. There is no substitute for being together in sometimes less than ideal conditions on a long road trip.

Those everlasting marriages and relationships

A local news channel did a very interesting Valentine’s Day story about a couple who just celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary. In case anyone is wondering, both of them are 99 years young. They spoke of their true love and admiration for each other, even mentioning how they love each other’s great sense of humor. They also have a very large family of sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was a very touching story that nearly left tears in my eyes. In the near future, chances are good that one of them will die and the other person will be greatly heartbroken.

Imagine being married to the same person for that long. I often wonder how people stay married that long; what is the key to that kind of longevity? Surely in the case of this couple, there had to be some bumps in the road that threatened their relationship. Perhaps there was another person involved that posed a threat to ending that relationship. Or maybe they had, at one time, a huge dispute about finances or some other problems that normally splits couples apart. If I were the reporter covering this story, I would have dug deeper into what really was the key for keeping them together for that long. It would be interesting to hear what they have to say about how they handled some of their disputes.

Sadly in this day and age, it is totally uncommon for people to stay married that long. Heck, if a couple even stays married for 10 years, that is looked upon as some sort of great achievement. Nobody values longevity in a relationship or marriage anymore; we are a society of rushing into marriage and if it works great, but if it doesn’t, well there is always someone else who I can find to replace my mistake. These type of attitudes are a terrible threat to our society. Broken homes and marriages lead to so many problems in our society, especially when children are involved. More times than not, these marriages can probably be saved if one of the couples involved just learns to quit being so self-centered and stubborn. But it is just far too easy to opt out and get a divorce. After all, why continue when you can go on the internet and find many choices to replace your spouse?

People who stay in long-lasting marriages are to be commended for their loyalty to each other. Ask anyone who has been married for a long time and they will tell you that it takes a lot of work and sacrifice to be in a successful marriage. People in their early 20’s think that marriage is some great thing that will make them happy for the rest of their lives. They are deeply blinded by the love that they have for each other. Before long, one of them might have a temper or some sort of emotional problem that was not known during the courtship. Or maybe one suddenly discover that their spouse is a free spender and financial arguments start to develop. People also tend to change a lot from their early 20’s. Every decade of living poses new changes to a couple. A couple who wants a successful and long-lasting marriage will understand these issues and learn to communicate with each other about them, even before they tie the knot.

The elderly couple that I mentioned is strong example of what marriage should be about in our society. Imagine if more marriages lasted that long? We would be much better off as a society. More children would come from homes where there is a dad and mom to come home to and be a part of their lives. Unfortunately, our society is not like that anymore. We don’t stress the need for families to stick together anymore. Marriage is something that should last a lifetime, not some long-term relationship that only lasts 5-10 years. If a couple does not see themselves being married together for the rest of their lives, then why even get married? When you look up the word marriage online or in a dictionary, a picture or short story of that elderly couple should be included. They define what marriage should be about, everlasting.

The biggest mistakes

We all tend to make numerous mistakes in our lives. Whether is be spending too much money, not saving enough, buying a bad house, not taking of your body properly, the list is endless. If you ask any adult what their worst mistake might have been in their lives, chances are the answer would point towards a past relationship. I tend to fall into that category. Some of my past relationships with members of the opposite sex are among the poorest choices that I have made in my life. Sometimes I think back to several years ago at how stupid and naïve I was! Fortunately, these mistakes have not affected my life in any long-term way. Unfortunately for many, dating or marrying the wrong person can bring about a permanent scar of lifetime anger and bitterness.

When we are young, we don’t really understand the consequences of dating or marrying someone who is clearly not the right person. We are blind to some of their flaws and think nothing of them. For example, a young Christian woman from a good family may fall for some hell raising guy. This guy may have a huge temper but the gal is lonely inside and wants some male companionship. She is in love with him because he is very charming and good-looking. Sure she knows he has a temper, but she feels she can change him. Shortly after they begin dating, she becomes pregnant and they decide to get married right away. She is forced to drop out of the school and the marriage dissolves quickly. He abuses her and eventually they become divorced. Now she is a single mother and might become emotionally damaged for life. She might never trust another guy for the rest of her life. The emotional abuse that she went through might carry over into any future relationships. In addition, chances are the poor child will grow up without a father in his or her life.

Shortly after I finished college, I dated a woman who was completely not right for me. We met through mutual friends. Like the example I gave, I was very lonely at the time and wanted a girlfriend in the worst way. My old girlfriend was kind of rubbing me in the face with her new boyfriend. I wanted to get back at her and this was a perfect way of doing so. I knew she had some serious flaws but that didn’t matter to me. I had a hot new girlfriend and life was good again, or was it? She was a totally materialistic type of woman. Our relationship started to sour and we got into some heated arguments which I seldom get into with anybody. She insulted me several times and I did my best to hold back from physically attacking her. She eventually broke off our relationship and starting dating another guy. I felt totally awful inside. Why was I so foolish!! Her new boyfriend started to abuse her and they broke up and guess who she started to pursue again? I told her that we could talk again and be friend but that was it. She wanted more and continued to harass and even stalk me. I eventually moved her and she finally found a new guy. I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth over that experience. I worked hard for my education, had a promising career ahead of me and it could have been all ruined by some crazy woman!

Life is all about making good choices and picking your friends and especially your spouse might be among the biggest choices one can ever make. Making the wrong choices can do irreplaceable harm to anyone’s life. Nowadays, I am still not married but my attitude is completely different. I would love to have a nice, caring woman in my life, but even without one, my life is still very happy and enjoyable. The single life is not so bad! What is bad is getting involved in a relationship with Mr. or Mrs. wrong. Life is way too short to go through that type of hell. Beware of that emotion called loneliness. It can cause wipe out any level of common sense and good judgment in a person.

Age difference in relationships

While attending a baseball game the other night, My focus shifted from the game to a couple sitting in front of me. At first glance, I assumed it was a father and his daughter. The woman was a young, stunningly attractive blonde. I am by no means a good judge at guessing people’s ages, but I figured she was about 25 years old. The man looked to be in his late 50’s. He has a receding hairline and was slightly overweight. I suddenly realized that this was no father, daughter thing going on when the man put his arm around her and they started to cuddle, then they exchanged a few small kisses. My emotions quickly changed from astonishment to pure jealously after seeing that!

It is not uncommon to see huge age gaps in relationships. You see it all the time in Hollywood. Some actor will announce that he marrying a woman who is 20-30 years younger. Even common day folks tend to rob the cradle. I know a 54-year-old guy who recently got engaged to a 27-year-old. The writer of this blog had a relationship with a much younger woman just a few years ago. To be honest with you, I never ever thought of the age difference. She acted much older than her age and I act much younger, so age was not really an issue.

There is kind of an unwritten rule in our society that people should date others who are within 10 years max of their age. I can certainly understand why people think this way. Take for example a young 25-year-old single woman who is actively dating and looking for a life time partner. Ideally, she would probably be looking for some guy who is around her age and relatively at the same stage in life. By that I mean no kids, never been married and just starting a career. If she expanded her search to middle-aged men, she would run into guys with a ton of baggage such as an ex-wife to deal with, kids and so on. Not only that but suppose she found an older guy, say about 20 years older and they fell in love and got married. Flash ahead about 25 years. She runs the risk of being a widow at a very early age. People often do not think about this when they date older people. They only think about the present, not the future. And what about kids?, If you are that many years apart, chances are the older person in the relationship is not really willing to have more children. Not always, but this is an issue that has to be discussed and thought of.

I find it interesting that men are usually the ones robbing the cradle, not the other way around. Very seldom do you see some 27-year-old guy marrying a 54-year-old woman. Why is this? I think a lot of younger women are attracted to an older man’s sensitivity and manners. Men on the other hand are attracted to physical beauty that a younger woman can bring. That combination helps produce those unlikely couples such the one at the baseball game. I am sure that money plays a huge factor too. A guy’s bank account can make him a thousand times more attractive!!

I tend to date women who are younger than me for a number of reasons. First of all, I am very unique for my age, I have never been married and have no children. I just do not feel comfortable dating a woman who was previously married for 20 years and has several kids. Heavy baggage including emotional baggage from a previous relationship is a huge turnoff for me. The young woman who I dated a few years ago did not have any of those problems and that was very appealing to me. Admittedly, I am like most guys who view a women’s appearance as important. Far too many women my age fail to take of their health and body. They put on way too much weight and stop being active. It is often forgotten that a huge key for looking younger is staying active and fit. Finally, I think I can speak for a lot of people both men and women. When you are dating someone much younger, you feel younger yourself.

Having said those things, most older woman are far more sensitive and appreciative than younger ones. Sure they might not have the same beauty as they did at 25, but what they lose on the outside, they gain on the inside. Unfortunately, some guys neglect this with older women who could make them much happier. Instead they would rather date a younger women who uses them.

The whole idea of dating someone near your age is just some meaningless unwritten society rule. There are many couples who are many years apart in age but very happy in their relationships. My uncle married a woman 15 years older than him and they have been happily married for nearly 40 years. Sure there are many risks involved, but why should someone limit themselves to a certain age range? Branching out might just bring you to that someone special and lifetime happiness.

The joy of being single

Every once in a while, I get asked about my relationship status from family members, relatives, co-workers or buddies of mine. When I explain to them that I am single, no girlfriend and not married, I get a couple of reactions.” Well you are a smart man, Mark”, stay single is one response and the other is “Are you not lonely and yearning for someone special” Typically, the second response is more common. It is like people are feeling sorry for me after learning my status. They seem to think that I am missing out on a very enjoyable piece of life. Perhaps they are right, but I think that is very debatable.

I personally think that way too many people assume that getting married will make their lives so much happier. Many young adults see their friends getting married for the first time and they want the same thing. It is a dream of any young person to find that special person who they can raise a family and spend the rest of their lives with. But how many marriages end up that way? The divorce rate in this country is roughly 50 percent and many couples stay together for reasons totally unrelated to love. Why would anyone want to enter into a contract with those type of odds?

The internet and many media sites like radio and television like to sell dating sites as a great way to meet that “knight in shining armor”. I heard a radio commercial the other day talking about how bad it must be to be single and sitting at home on the weekends, really? These commercials seem to indict single people of a crime for being single. All they really are doing is creating a false perception of what dating is really like. It is nowhere even close to what they make it out to be. The selection of singles on many of sites are not as good as you are lead to believe. Many members have a ton of baggage issues to deal with. Being someone without any kids and never been married, do I want to deal with someone who has several kids and an ex still involved in her life? My life is way too enjoyable to get involved in that type of situation.

Every single person really needs to understand that their lives should not be defined on whether they end up getting happily married or not. If you need to have a man or woman in your life at all times, that is just a sign of insecurity. Think about the many freedoms you have with being single. I love the fact that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want and I don’t have to answer to anybody. If I want to do play golf on Saturday morning, I don’t have to negotiate with my wife for a half hour! I can take a trip somewhere without any hassles or watch whatever I want on television.

I also love having a calm peace of mind. There is nothing worse than going through a break up with someone. It affects every part of your life. Do you really want to experience that kind of pain in your life? Some of the worst mistakes that people make are getting involved with someone who is absolutely NOT right for them. They feel lonely and get involved with the wrong person. Some of my worst mistakes in my life have been with women. During my college days, I broke up with someone and that affected me for a few years; I felt extremely lonely inside and wound up dating someone who was totally not right for me. Instead of accepting my singleness, I let my loneliness get the best of me and that mistake could have affected me for the rest of my life.

Maybe some day, that special woman will come into my life when I least expect it. But if not, I am perfectly content with my life. I am by no means a desperate single. Sure I miss the companionship that a good relationship can bring. It certainly makes life so much more enjoyable when you are in love with someone. But being single has given me opportunities in my life that I would not have had if I had gotten married. I enjoy the freedoms and peace of mind that being single brings. A good woman will only add more happiness to my life, sort of like a cherry on top of a sundae. It is certainly not a crime to be single. You might be surprised at how happy your life becomes.