September 14, 2007

Finding the perfect fit

Something Like Life
BusinessMirror, Sept. 14, 2007

IN my 20 or so years of adult life, I’ve realized that there are some people who do well in relationships, and some people who don’t.

Like me, for instance, I did awfully when I was in relationships. I’m just too much of an individual to ease and subsume my own personal wants and needs to another person’s. I remember getting pissed at something as simple as sharing the TV remote with my significant other of the moment to let him watch his ESPN. (Sure, I was staying over at his place and it was his TV, but didn’t that mean that, as a guest, I was supposed to be given the run of the house because that’s what good hosts are supposed to do? When he was over at my place, he was allowed to do anything! Well, okay, except to put his feet up on the coffee table...and watch ESPN.) about trying to get more guys interested in me. After this, I’d be surprised if anyone would still call!

Then, there are some people who find it much easier to meet their beloved, and there are those who sweat it over a few forgettable years (or decades!) trying to find at least someone interesting to know.

My two nieces, for example, are as different as night and day when it comes to relationships. The elder one, now 26, has yet to find real romance with a representative of the male species—you know, a boyfriend? She likes certain men but they’re just interested in her friendship, while those who really like her don’t interest her. It’s crazy I know, but we’ve all been in that situation.

Her sister, on the other hand, just turned 21, has already had three serious relationships with boys that I know of, this while still in college. (I realize that “three” could even be a small number considering this day and age.) By “serious” I just mean there was a meeting of the minds to be mutually exclusive to each other, but not necessarily heading for the altar. It is just so easy for her to meet boys she is attracted to and who feel the same for her.

Then there are those who spend decades looking for the “right” person, our “soul mate,” or one’s “perfect match,” while others seem to have it so easy. They meet, they go on a few dates, they fall in love, and then decide to marry and have kids. And all that even before reaching 25!

Even the statistics bear this out. According to the 2003 data from the National Statistics Office, about 38 percent of married women were between the ages of 20 and 24, the largest among age groups surveyed. This was followed by married women between 25 and 29 who accounted for 25.7 percent of the married couples surveyed.

Then, there are those who just thrive and improve as a person when coupled with someone, while others miserably fail as an individual.

A friend’s cousin, for instance, always sounded boring (and bored) and was rarely an interesting person to talk to. I’d always bump into her during my friend’s birthday parties and aside from the usual hellos, she pretty much kept to herself. She always seemed to have the weight of the world on her shoulders as she was so superserious, it made the term “humorless” actually funny.

And yet after she found a husband (don’t even ask me how that happened!) and then had a baby, she just suddenly blossomed. Last time I saw her, she looked and sounded happier, with her world now revolving around her little family. She was more animated and constantly chattered about what new thing her baby did that day. (Which makes me suspect that she was probably quiet when she was single maybe because she really didn’t have anything to make kwento. There wasn’t much happening in her life to begin with, you know?)

In contrast, I’ve known quite a few people who are just miserable as a wife or a girlfriend and yet choose to stay in the relationship. They’re constantly held back by their men, given all these strict rules to follow (like, one friend said she had a boyfriend who always forbade her to wear skirts), and yet they still cling on in the feeble hope that their man would change and give them a break. I remember being told, for example, that this nice celebrity socialite became a cokehead basically because her partner was her supplier. (Well, at least she can’t complain that they don’t do things together.)

Like looking for the perfect pair of shoes, finding the right relationship will sometimes take more than just one afternoon at the mall. The pair not only has to look fabulous, but feel comfortable as well.

So it has to be with our search for the right partner and the right relationship. It may take a lot of fittings, er dates, to find out if he’s the right one, perhaps several romances more to find the one who is most suitable to us. It can be tiring, yes, and many of us either quit looking, or just settle for certain qualities in a relationship or in a man instead of trying to find the one with the complete package.

One woman actually told me that while she didn’t really love her husband, she knew he loved her immensely. Coupled with the financial security he offered, it made perfect sense to her to settle down with him. She was 26 then, and during her time she was no longer considered a spring chicken. There was immense pressure for women in her generation to settle down. With her four kids now grown, and a grandchild whom she loves dearly, she says she’s in a “good place.” But she admitted to a few affairs all throughout her marriage. One relationship just so consumed her, she said, but she didn’t want to break up her family.

But sucker that I am for the quintessential romance, true love and all that crap, I think that maybe we shouldn’t compromise our idea of what a great relationship is; otherwise, like so many women, we will end up with killer stilettos which look gorgeous, yes, but will cripple our feet. When we compromise the ideal, we will keep meeting those men who may look like a potential life partner but, for some reason, we just can’t feel totally sold. There’s always something just not right.

Like a great pair of shoes, a relationship has got to be the right perfect fit. No excuses.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photos from BusinessMirror)

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