8 min read
The era of instant gratification brought us a new plague – the illusion that one can make choices without experiencing life.
Listening to the people who come to my practice, I realize that there is a great fear of time-wasting.
They start a new hobby or date somebody and after two or three encounters they want to know if this is the right activity or person for them.
Unfortunately, this is not how life works! In order to get attached, to love somebody or something you do, you need to invest some time. Nowadays people feel so exhausted and time becomes such a precious resource that nobody wants to give. Now you understand that foreseeing the future is an impossible task. We aren’t good at predicting the feelings of our future selves, therefore making a decision based only on our faulty predictions without experiencing the reality here and now is nothing but a fantasy based on delusions of what might be.
Esther Perel is a renowned psychotherapist and relationship expert who has written and spoken extensively on the topic of romantic relationships. She, like me, doesn’t necessarily have a prescriptive formula for knowing if someone is “the one,” instead she does have insights and perspectives that can be helpful for those seeking to evaluate the potential of a relationship.
Here are a few key ideas that Esther Perel has shared on this topic:
- It’s less about finding “the one” and more about building a fulfilling relationship. Rather than putting all the focus on finding a soulmate or “the one,” Esther Perel suggests that we should prioritize building solid and meaningful relationships with people we’re attracted to and compatible with. This means investing time and effort in the relationship, being open to growth and change, and actively working to deepen the connection.
- Pay attention to how you feel in their presence. According to the psychologist, one of the best indicators of a strong match is how you feel when you’re around the other person. Do you feel comfortable and at ease? Do you feel a sense of excitement and curiosity? Do you feel challenged and supported? These are all signs that you might be well-matched with someone.
- Look for complementary qualities, not just similarities. While having shared interests and values can be important, Perel suggests that it’s also valuable to look for complementary qualities in a partner. For example, if you tend to be more introverted, you might appreciate someone who is more outgoing and social, as they can help you come out of your shell. Or, if you’re a big dreamer, you might appreciate someone who is more practical and grounded, as they can help keep you focused and balanced.
- Recognize that attraction can change over time. Esther Perel notes that the intensity of attraction and infatuation that often accompanies the early stages of a relationship can shift over time. It’s important to recognize that this is normal and doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship is doomed. Rather, couples who can navigate this shift and continue to prioritize intimacy and connection are more likely to build long-lasting, fulfilling partnerships.
The era of instant gratification is being transformed into an era of instant enlightenment. But it’s just an illusion that many of us share. It is an impossible task and a grave mistake.
Certainly, the reality is more complicated than buying socks online. Something you will have to invest in and something you will have to lose. Dating apps promise endless opportunities and give you the false impression that if only you search a little more you will find the right “product” for you. Nevertheless what most applications do is engage you with themselves, not with the people on them. So in a way, you end up spending your time in a wasteful way, while paradoxically, trying to reach premature certainty.
Of course, you are entitled to having your personal red flags deciding that you will never put up with certain behavior or way of thinking, but if you think about it well, you will probably end up with a very short list of major no-nos. And yet, on every couple of dates, people start questioning “Oh my God, this person likes hockey and I like figure skating, maybe we will end up breaking up anyway”. This is an irony of course but I have heard similar things waaay too much to ignore the issue, and occasionally, I have thought similar thoughts.
We are eager to know as fast as possible as if our whole life depends on it because it does. We can’t afford to lose any time. Paradoxically being so eager to know too fast, we don’t give the person any opportunity to know us to explore us, and to be known.
Instant knowledge on the tip of our fingers is an illusion that we all share. Instant information… maybe yes, but knowledge takes time dedication, and love of the craft. Instead of actually doing and enjoying it or being disappointed, you could end up not experiencing it. Instead, you are caught up in a constant struggle to predict the future. You are never there, in the present moment not for a second!
And the most frightening thing is that not only we are afraid to dedicate our time to people we are afraid to dedicate our time to any activity! I cannot know if I would love to play guitar after five lessons, and I cannot know how long it will take to become good at it if I ever do, but this time is not wasted this time is dedicated to effort and opportunity.
Wasteful is only the time sitting on the couch, wondering if something or someone is right for me or not. Yes, you are wasting your time every second you spend evaluating and trying to predict the future instead of experiencing and being present while you are getting to know someone… or yourself.