I was talking to a girlfriend the other day, and we were discussing the difference between a man who knows he wants a relationship, and a man who’s willing to entertain the idea, but isn’t that sold on it.
I tend to be pretty clear on what I want. I also know that things tend to turn out best for me when I’m not attached to how it shows up. (In this instance, the thing that is important to me is the underlying pieces of a relationship – intimacy, connection, agreements, etc – and less about what it actually looks like – how often I see him, what we do, who pays for dinner, etc.)
What this means in real life, is that I don’t always require the people I involve myself with to be as clear as I am. To a certain extent, I’m happy to see what life has in store for me, and to ride the wave for a bit.
So, my friend and I were talking, and I asked her about that. I mean, it’s not like every guy you meet is ready to sign up for a relationship with you on the first date. That’s generally not how men do things. I was asking for my friend’s take on how much/how long you wait and see what develops, as opposed to needing to know at the very beginning.
Her analogy was so good, I couldn’t help but share it here. Thanks, Kianga Ford, for the brilliance! (And duh, I wish I was brilliant enough to make analogies like this!)
Basically, she said:
When you know you want a relationship (and what you want in it), it’s the equivalent of taking a trip to Spain. You have booked your flight, you have packed your bag, and you have arrived at your airport of departure. You are going to Spain regardless of what happens in between now and your flight.
Now, let’s say you’re at the airport, and you meet a fellow traveler (who happens to be very interesting and handsome, to boot). He asks where you’re traveling, to which you reply, “Spain.” He says, “Ah yes, I hear Spain is interesting, but I’m going to Tanzania. Have a wonderful trip.”
And you each go on your merry way (and you definitely check out his butt as he walks away).
This is what it looks like when people are clear about what they want and they OWN IT upfront.
Now, if you met another unbelievably hot and witty traveler, and he had replied that he was heading off to Spain as well, well, now you can perhaps sit next to each other on the flight, get to know one another a bit, and see what else may be in store for you. You may decide to combine itineraries upon arrival; you may not.
This is where two people can see they are aligned enough about where they are going that they can be on a part of the journey together to see if they want to travel together further. They are each on the journey for their own reasons, and can enjoy it as such.
And finally, let’s say that you meet another traveler (more good looking and more compelling than the first two) at the airport who asks where you’re going. (Hopefully you’re one of those people that likes making conversation at the airport!) You reply with your destination and inquire about his. He says, “Hmm, that’s a good question. I haven’t decided yet.”
And while he seems pretty awesome, the truth is that you’ve got plans to go to Spain, and you’re not going to miss your flight.
This is pretty clear, yes? Well, it’s also where some of you (and by you, I mean us) get tripped up. You hang out in the airport for dreadfully long, waiting to see if this amazing man wants to come with you. (You maybe even get a hotel nearby for a few days, delaying your flight, but still knowing full well you are going to Spain eventually.)
You may even spend the time with him trying to convince him to come with you to Spain, because that’s where you’re going, and you know he’d love it there. And besides, he’d have great company. And maybe he says yes, but then you have to spend the rest of your trip to Spain convincing him to do all the activities you want to do, because he never really wanted to do them in the first place.
You’re not happy and he’s not happy. Sure, there are happy moments, but you’re not enjoying yourself because you’re too busy trying to shape your experience with a man who isn’t freely giving the experience you want to have.
Because you didn’t allow him to buy his own damn ticket because that’s where he wanted to go in the first place (and he would have gone to Spain whether you were going or not).
What happens if you don’t do this, and you both get on a plane not knowing where it’s going? Well, I’m pretty sure the FAA requires submission of flight plans in advance, so that’s probably not possible. In the event that it does happen, I’d be willing to bet that your plane uses up all its fuel in mid-air, being pushed and pulled by the co-pilots who couldn’t decide where to go before they got off the ground.
As someone in the middle of this very thing right now (and kicking myself because I know better), please don’t do this. It is so much harder to have the relationship that you want when you have to figure that out with someone you’re already caught up with who might want something different. Even if you already care a lot about him. Even if he gets everything about you. Even if everything else feels really damn close to perfect.
Know your destination. And find a travel partner who wants to go there too.