Why do people stay in relationships with people they're not in love with? A new study explores that question -- and drops the slightly sad (but not so surprising) stat that one out of seven people is in a long-term relationship with someone they don't believe is the "love of their life."
According to the Telegraph, the 2,000-person survey showed that 73 percent of those one in seven "have 'made do' with their partner because their 'true love' slipped through their fingers." Oh, and 46 percent of the people surveyed claimed they would leave their partner or spouse if it were possible to be with their "true love."
The whole story is kind of disheartening, but like I said, I didn't find the results that shocking. I mean, unhappy couples are EVERYWHERE. I see them constantly -- sitting across the restaurant table from each other, poking at their fries as they try to ignore the reality that neither of them has a goddamned thing -- not even a vague HINT of a thing -- to say to one another. I see them at the movies, not touching or looking at each other, instead focusing intently on their cellphones or, worse, staring blankly ahead at the screen -- before the movie's even started.
And those unhappy couples aren't just comprised of older folks who've been together since they were cute little randy teenagers. Nope, they're in their twenties, thirties and forties, too. When I stop to think about it, I'd venture to guess that 70 percent of the couples I know are mainly together because it's comfortable and familiar, not because they're in love, not because there's any real lasting There there. I'm not trying to imply that comfort, ease and familiarity are bad qualities -- they can be great components of a happy relationship -- but I don't often see them coexisting with passion and excitement and spark. If it's an either/or proposition, count me out; I don't want to choose.
And … I can't! Not now! I've been single for a long time -- way too long to just chuck it all for some tepid, half-assed relationship that's either stable and comfortable OR passionate but painful. I realize that there are those (few?) lucky couples out there who manage to have both; I know it's possible, but I just don't see it that often.
That doesn't mean I'm not holding out for it, though. Like I said, I've been single a long time. That's partially because I'm pretty particular about what I'm attracted to, and partially because I don't want to sell myself short -- I want to hold out for something amazing. I want a best friend who gives me butterflies, who I still want to sleep with after watching him pass out on the couch with ice cream dribbled down his shirt.
So I date. I have little flings here and there. Not because I don't want something serious and lasting and real (I do, and always have) -- but BECAUSE I want something serious and lasting and real. The idea of ending up part of one of those unhappy couples makes me feel ill, and it may be cliche, but it's true: I'd rather be lonely than with the wrong person. And when I'm on a date with someone I know or sense is the wrong person, it practically bashes me over the head right away, and I start having a weird, almost visceral reaction, like, "OMFG DYING MUST FLEE GET ME THE EFF OUT OF HERE THIS VERY INSTANT."
Right, so being with the Wrong Romantic Partner sucks, and I'm doing my damnedest to avoid ending up like that, either in the short term or the long run. And yes, sometimes I succumb to feeling like a freak for still being single in my mid-thirties -- because to be female in this country means that we're constantly fed heaping spoonfuls of bullsh*t about how our lives are essentially null and void without a romantic partner. Successful at work, have amazing friends, own a house, live in a place you love? Welp, none of it actually counts, see, if you happen to simultaneously be single.
So yeah, sometimes I get sad about not having someone to come home to, or go out with. But then I remember it could be worse; I could be one of those people admitting to a newspaper that they're "making do" (while pining over someone else) in a flat, inauthentic relationship.
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