Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's Not Having What You Want, It's Wanting What You've Got

Another casualty of the economy - romance. An old friend of mine confided over a beer a little while ago that he's having issues with his significant other. It's best categorized as existential confusion - "do we have to like the exact same things? are we meant to be with each other forever? is something missing?" I was disappointed that they are struggling but not surprised. Given that money is the most frequent subject of arguments, and men's professional self-esteem issues spill over into their dating lives, it's no surprise that many long-term relationships are showing cracks or have ended. To some degree, my last long-standing thing collapsed under the weight of job anxiety, as did those of several friends in the past two years.

It's easy to project frustration onto an SO, in particular if their work situation is better. In tough times it's also natural to navel gaze and consider options in life. In New York City this seems amplified, where the selection is large and everyone seems perpetually on the lookout for a better choice. (digression: could this be symptomatic of our large finance d-bag population where seeking a better trade and bigger deal translates off-hours to acquiring a trophy partner with bigger tits, larger bank account, and better bedroom skills? Discuss.) These two concurrent forces can make for a lethal combination. It may make us feel better in the short term to take out frustrations on someone close to us, it's an easy target, but we need loved ones more than ever to lean on as we limp through a rough patch. Many men especially seem to lose sight of this, as the stress response tends to be curling up into a ball or lashing out on others, including those who may provide relief. Short of severe effed-up-ness (drugs, cheating, abuse), the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. As New York magazine found in their review of the Sex Diaries, the abundance of choice can end up paralyzing and anxiety-inducing. As exciting as it can be to pick partners like chocolates in Dylan's Candy Bar, one may agonize overs the choice and thus end empty-handed (or not, for that matter ;) ).

Believe you me, I have been very much taking advantage of my single status in the past six months ;), so this is not meant to judge anyone who wants to prowl around. It's fun, temporarily exciting, and relieves stress. The attention from multiple people makes a person feel desired, special, appreciated. It counteracts the lack of love felt from layoffs and no raises at the office any day. That rush can be quite tempting for those in a relationship going through hard times. Truth be told, though, I'd much prefer to open my apartment door and find the same person on the other side day in and day out, to enhance experiences from sharing them, and yea, from the regular sexy-time as well. If it ain't broke, don't break it.