Spring fever raises relationship questions

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April 3, 2007

2:09 PM

So I was watching “The Hills” the other day …
I’m sorry. I promise never to start a column with those words ever again.

p. But I was watch-ing “The Hills” the other day, and Lauren said that she was getting back into the swing of dating and waiting for her prince charming to come. Whether or not this was one of the scripted moments the producers wanted, I began to think about why any of us are in relationships at all. Perhaps it’s best we’re not.

p. Take a look at your relationship for a moment. Chances are you don’t see yourself spending the rest of your life with that person — and if you do … well, you already know my position on crazy-young engagements. But just because you don’t want to marry your beau, is that a reason to break up? What’s the threshold past which relationships have to “go somewhere”?

p. In a generation of hook-ups, talking and dating distinction, who needs the added stress of another set of needs contributing to the stress of being a student? Or is it more stressful being single?
I would have to say no. For all of the griping about wanting to be in a relationship, nobody feels more wanted than a young single student. Every event becomes a prowl, an eye-contact game or just a numbers tally. As someone attached, all of that thrill goes away or at least elicits guilt.

p. Life’s just a little more interesting when everyone is a possibility — whether or not anything comes of it. Every decision is utterly and gloriously selfish, social plans are in your own best interest, summer jobs and locations are based on your individual needs and nobody has to sacrifice anything for the relationship. When so many decisions are made in these formative years, who wants to make a decision based on a potentially transient sweetheart?

p. Then there are those people trapped in relationships because they fear the breakup. Consider your hanger-on barnacle of a not-so-significant other as a splinter. Go ahead and hobble around (it’s a splinter in your foot, let’s say) for a month or so, but eventually you’ve just got to go in, dig around and squeeze that sucker out. Sure, there may be blood, tetanus or a staff infection, but all that might have occurred if you had been passive in the process. You need to consider what would be worse, getting rid of the splinter yourself or letting the splinter decide get rid of you first.

p. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a relationship in which you never meant to be in the first place. Sometimes attachments grow like goiters because of some vitamin deficiency — a vitamin I (for independence). What if your cyst-friend swallows you up, and you didn’t even plan on a relationship of any kind, let alone a dependency. First the goiter holds your hand, introduces you to its friends, prefers cuddling to sex and then, suddenly, when you start to make decisions jointly, the goiter begins to run your life. Can you break up with someone you never intended to be with?

p. This thought brings me back to the way so many of us hold relationships as part of routine, habit, the low-grade annoyance of the quotidian. We are too young and vibrant to be stuck in a rut already. If sitcoms have taught us anything, it is the complacency of middle age.

p. It’s spring; nature is at its most promiscuous. Celebrate the season with a new style, a fresh bounce in your step achieved only from the knowledge of your own reclaimed flirting capabilities. I say it’s time for a little spring cleaning, but don’t throw away a classic piece.

p. Ask yourself if you actively chose the relationship you’re in. Are you giving yourself an expiration date? If you can easily see an endpoint when looking at your dating life, is it worth waiting it out until the bitter end?

p. Going back to that glorious episode of “The Hills,” I leave you with the following proposition: Clean out your emotional fridge. Toss out the moldy and enjoy the delightful possibility of shopping again, but treat yourself to Whole Foods instead of Food Lion. If everyone decides to cut ties at once (much as I imagine Los Angeles did one fateful day and never looked back), the singles pool would be infused with a new life.

p. Enjoy single life and all of the benefits of being selfish. The only rule is, no looking for fairytale romances — those are as stale as last year’s bread ends.

p. __Charlotte Savino is a Confusion Corner columnist for The Flat Hat. She has a boyfriend.__

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