General Question

sgrob's avatar

In relationships, is it better to live in the present or in the future?

Asked by sgrob (90 points ) November 23rd, 2012

Hello! I’m 19 and I’m having a hard time deciding on what to do about my current relationship. First of all, this might become boring because it seems too long and the subject seems to go somewhere else but I just really want to learn wisdom from other people. But thanks in advance! Here’s the situation: I’m currently involved with a very loving girl whom I got to know on text for just two weeks before entering the relationship. She’s the kind of girl who’s very understanding. I know that maybe the majority thinks it’s too fast (well most likely) but here’s what I was thinking back then: even though I’m not fully attracted to her, I think she has the quality of being a great wife: very kind, very understanding, etc; things a man needs in the future. I was also thinking, why go look for someone who makes you feel head over heels in love when in reality, it’s uncertain and might just cause pain not only for her and me but to people we love. And also, in the future, you need a partner in life not a lover as the song in Juno says “part-time lover, full-time friend”. But lately I was thinking “was I thinking too way ahead? Won’t I regret it later?” I mean, who in my age don’t want to be romantically involved with a crush or your dream girl (or maybe it’s just me)? What if in the future I regret missing that part of my life, the feeling of bliss being together with someone you really like. Don’t get me wrong, I like my girlfriend, I want to love her fully. Well to be honest, she has the traits, she just doesn’t have the looks. I know in the future looks won’t matter but it seems like it does for now. When I see a girl who looks like ‘my dream girl’ I think to myself ‘Maybe I should try her, maybe she’s the one; maybe she’s my dream girl’ Looks, wits, passion all in one. I don’t know what to do: should I live in the present and look for someone who makes me feel head over heels in love or should I live in the future and continue this relationship? What are your thoughts? Please help.

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31 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You are way too immature to be thinking in terms of the future.

It is not fair to your girlfriend not to care for her as fully as you might, especially if she cares for you. Tell her the truth and let her go.

Look for women that you are attracted to.

Friendship can be a great basis for a lifetime love relationship, but not with out the love.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I’m going to have to agree with @marinelife here. You’re using this poor girl. You are thinking of “settling” for her even though you’re not attracted to her, just because you think she’s “good wife material.” What if she loves or really likes you? That’s not fair to her.

You’re only 19. You’re thinking like someone who might not have many more opportunities to find that forever kind of love. If you stay with this girl because she has wifely qualities, you aren’t likely to stay with her and be faithful to her. You’re already looking at other girls and considering giving them a go.

Once you mature, thinking about the future is important. Right now, feel free to live in the present. And, please, let your girlfriend go, because she deserves to be with someone that thinks she’s beautiful, not someone that’s going to settle for her.

RandomGirl's avatar

It all comes down to this: Which is more important – the traits of a wife, with whom you’ll spend the rest of your life, or looks that won’t last? (I know, it’s obvious which is more important to me.)
Say you cut off this relationship and stick with gorgeous girls. Could you ever have a real relationship with those girls? Would a girl like that be a good wife? Would you want to spend the rest of your life with a girl like that? Or would you end up getting divorced and hurting her and any children involved?
Now, say you stick with your current girlfriend, who, you say, has all the characteristics of a good wife, but not the looks to make fireworks for you. Or even a different girl with those qualities but still not drop-dead looks. That relationship could grow into a long-lasting, beautiful one. Yes, it may take some work on your part. But things that are worth your time are never easy. I hear this book The Love Dare is really good.
Now… just as a disclaimer, I’m 16. I’m not even in a relationship at the moment. But I can tell you this: you’re not the only one thinking “way ahead”! I’d much rather be with a guy who loves me for my personality rather than my looks. I, personally, could never really love a guy solely for his looks; he needs to be the sort of guy who could be a good husband and father, with whom I could spend the rest of my life.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @livelaughlove21
We should all be living in the present, all the time, relationships or not. The future does not exist aside from some practical planning in terms of ones finances or other goals.
I married at 21 someone I met at 18 and we divorced 22 years later. The hard reality is that very, very, few relationships last “forever” and young marriages almost always fail, even if they last 20+ years.

People grow a lot in the years between 20 and 40 and the odds of a young relationship working out long term are small.
Do not settle on this girl and short change both of you from perhaps finding a better suited match somewhere down the road. Bottom line, most people shouldn’t even think of marriage until they are pushing 30 or more. Hell, your brains are not even fully developed until you are 25. lol

gailcalled's avatar

It is also a very bad idea to design a relationship as thought it were the Mars Rover. You do not need engineering skills but emotional experience.

BosM's avatar

If a romantic spark isn’t there then keep this relationship on a platonic level, it may in time develop into more, but you’re too young to be thinking that you’d be happy in a relationship with someone you have no passion with.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Coloma I’m 23 and I got married this year to someone I’d been with since we were 17, so I’m biased in that I believe that you can find a wonderful life partner at a young age, though it’s rare and most young people don’t have the capacity for such a thing. Of course, no one plans on divorce and who knows what will happen in the future? I think, though, that if I hadn’t married him because the statistics are against us, I’d regret it later. These days, 50% of marriages end in divorce, regardless of age, so I wasn’t interested in “seeing what else was out there” because I know enough men to know that there isn’t much -at least, nothing that comes close to what I’ve got. Single life, dating, heartbreak, drama…no thanks.

BUT, I’ve never looked at my husband and thought, “well, he’s not very attractive, but he’s nice to me, so I’ll marry him” while looking at other guys and wondering what it would be like to be with them. And if he thought that way about me, I wouldn’t be very happy about it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you should be attracted to your partner even if they aren’t drop-dead gorgeous to everyone else. It’s what’s inside that makes them attractive. And while looks aren’t important, attraction is.

And I have to disagree wholeheartedly with @RandomGirl. Yes, relationships take work, but it should not take hard work this soon into the relationship and you shouldn’t have to work to be attracted to someone.

If you did stay with this girl, attraction could grow from whatever feelings you have for her, but I doubt it judging by the original question. I just feel awful for her that she probably has no idea you are thinking these things about her. Put yourself in her shoes – how would you feel if someone you like was thinking this way about you? It’s not fair to her to be strung along while you figure out whether or not she’s too ugly to marry.

Coloma's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Of course, nobody ever thinks their marriage will end in divorce, and you’re right, all marriages have a 50–60% divorce rate as it is, age aside. Sadly though, the younger the people involved the higher the odds are against a “forever” thing. Possibility vs. probability.
I also agree that character and common shared values and goals are more important than sex appeal but there does have to be an attraction value as well.

I hope your marriage defies the statistics of young marriages and you do live happily ever after. I’m just taking the older & wiser approach and honestly, out of about 15 couples I knew that married in the same time frame I did, only 2 are still together after 30 years and those two are not happy unions.
One couple is miserable and have been for years, but are both too codependent to leave.
The other marriage has held on for the wrong reasons as well, inertia and finances.
Neither even remotely model anything I’d consider enviable. lol

bookish1's avatar

You’re a 19 year old guy in a post industrial society and you are thinking about marriage and settling down already?
You got into a committed relationship with someone after “getting to know them” via text messages?
Why, why, why?
I agree with above posters; “living in the future” and staying in a relationship with someone to whom you’re not really attracted is unfair to her, and doing a disservice to both of you.

How do you think she would feel if she knew you had told these things to strangers on the Internet?

Coloma's avatar

@bookish1 Well said, yes, @sgrob ask yourself how this girl would feel if she read this Q.
It seems as of you are also only looking at what SHE can DO for YOU, in terms of being the stereotype of what a wife “should” be. Are you just as prepared to be loving and supportive and caring towards her, or, are you only looking at what she can do for you through a lens of selfishness?

If you want loyal and devoted get a Cocker Spainel and wait another decade to choose a life PARTNER that has more value than carrying you your slippers in her teeth.
A good HUSBAND brings more to the table than simply a need to be cared for by a surrogate mommy.

Shippy's avatar

I think you like the idea of being in love and going steady. But marriage material at 19, no that is something for the future. This is the age to bang your head and fall in love.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Coloma I’m wondering what difference exists between couples marrying at 20 vs. 30 only regarding marriages lasting 30+ years. I’d think the probability of any couple lasting 30 years is pretty slim, and I’m not sure the difference in age would be statistically significant if we’re talking that many years.

That’s just me speaking from my history in psychology and the fact that I’m taking a marriage and family course in college, which I feel should be a prerequisite of marriage. In reality, numbers won’t control my decisions about my life. Even if I knew there was a 90% chance I’ll eventually divorce my husband, I still would’ve married him. I’m not naive enough to believe I’m in the 10%, but waiting until I’m 30 just to have a slightly better shot at lasting forever with another person isn’t a chance I’m willing to take. Even if we divorce, I’d never regret being with him. He’s the best man I know….and he puts up with me, which is a full-time job in itself. And, honestly, if we do divorce, it’ll probably have more to do with me than him.

I’m lucky enough to know a couple who met at 15 that are still in love and happy after 15+ years. I don’t know any couple who met young that have been together 30+ years, but I don’t know ANY couple that’s been together that long. That’s a very long time, and people change in 30 years, young marriage or not. That’s just the chance you take when you get married.

I feel that people divorce way too quickly these days. Marriages have rough patches and people back out without even working to improve the relationship. Divorce has become an easy out, and that’s a shame. I believe people who are unhappy should do whatever it takes to make themselves happy, even divorce, but I see marriages ending over the most stupid, petty issues. Marriage isn’t easy, and if one expects it to be, they shouldn’t get married.

Coloma's avatar

@livelaughlove21

I do agree for the most part, but… while some people do choose divorce hastily, I’d say that staying in unhappy and unhealthy relationships for too long is a far bigger problem for most couplings than throwing in the towel prematurely.
Relationships are supposed to be dynamic, not static and often the way it unfolds is one person experiences a huge growth spurt, becomes self actualized and the other is still stuck in a place of inertia.
I think that the marital mantra of ” until death do us part” should be expanded to also include the death of mental, emotional and spiritual compatibility.

jordym84's avatar

The way I see it, you have one of two choices: 1) Allow yourself to learn to love her for who she is, mind, body, and soul, and stop thinking about and looking at other girls, or, if that can’t be accomplished, 2) Do the honorable thing and let her go. While 19 may not be old or mature enough for a lot of things, you’re never too young to start learning to do the right thing and to stop being selfish. The longer you drag this along, the worse it will be for both of you, especially for her. I’m sure that, in the long-run, she would much rather be hurt with the truth than comforted with a lie.

sgrob's avatar

@marinelife well I care for her the way I know I would care for any other girl, be it my dream girl or whatsoever, I would be involved with. I kind of decided to show only what I would consistently show in the years to come; I don’t want to be great at first and then fade midway through. Is there a difference between attraction and liking? I like her personality…

marinelife's avatar

@sgrob ” even though I’m not fully attracted to her,” Your words. Go for saomeone you are fully attracted to.

sgrob's avatar

@marinelife I’m attracted to her but not completely like a crush. So it’s not enough to be only attracted to her somehow? Do you think its impossible to love someone you’re not fully attracted to?

sgrob's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Well I didn’t say that I’m not attracted to her, it’s just that it’s not like when you have a crush on someone. And I was thinking that If I stayed, it might develop, just like what @BosM said. Although it’s not entirely true that I don’t have passion for her (I’m not sure if we share the same meaning of passion haha).

sgrob's avatar

@RandomGirl We pretty much think the same. Hahaha.

sgrob's avatar

@Coloma @bookish1 She would be really hurt. I am prepared to love, support, and care for her. It’s just that, won’t I have regrets later in life, not experience something as being in a romantic relationship with your, let’s say, crush? Will I not miss a part of my life? It’s kind of what’s hindering me from fully loving her.

bookish1's avatar

@sgrob : Well, I’m glad to hear you realize that. My questions were mostly rhetorical… But seriously, what are you doing looking for wife material at age 19? Is that what you want, or are you meeting familial expectations, or what?

Does she know that you are already thinking about marriage?

Coloma's avatar

@sgrob If this is weighing on your mind so heavily you have answered your own question and it is admirable that you have the self awareness to even entertain this dilemma. Let me just say also that there is a saying that goes like this:

Immature love is hot, mature love is warm.

Younger people most always want “hot”, over warm, but warm is a more real and sustainable form of “love.”
“True” love is always about wanting what is best for the other person.
If you truly feel that your caring and warm feelings of love are going to be overshadowed by your desire for hot attractiveness ( dream girl ) then I think it’s best you take your frisky young colt out for a romp in greener pastures and sew your wild oats before you decide to out on the marriage harness and yoke yourself to someone that doesn’t have the “pull” you’ll need to haul the marriage wagon up all the hills you will encounter.

However, bear in mind that show ponies are more about show than substance.

sgrob's avatar

@bookish1 Well, aside from what I wrote in the details, I thought that it will eventually lead to that; marriage. Why not look for someone who you know will stick around with you through thick and thin, start a good foundation for your future relationship and not waste my time trying on every girl I feel the romantic spark. The time that should’ve been spent looking for the dream girl plus the time when you recover from a heartbreak or the times you quarrel (if there is any) would instead be spent on doing worthwhile things such as… well it’s up to you what that would be. Haha. I think she doesn’t know. Does it make a difference if she knows or not?

sgrob's avatar

@Coloma Thanks for the wonderful saying! I want the best for her but maybe it’s not ‘true’ love… yet. I’m sorry but can you explain what you said after the word ‘dreamgirl’? I have an idea but I’m not sure if I understood it right. I would like to understand it completely

gailcalled's avatar

“Dream girl” is another way of saying a girl in your fantasy. viz; the one you dream about. Pretty straightforward.

jordym84's avatar

Based on your original post and subsequent comments, it seems to me that you’ve put yourself in a “damned if you, damned if you don’t” situation. On the one hand, you’re thinking about a future with this girl as your wife, which would, in your own words, deprive you of all the opportunities with other, more attractive girls. On the other hand, you’re thinking about enjoying your life now with other girls or, as someone else said above, with “hot love” and then, later on, regretting your decision of letting go of your “perfect wife.” At this point, my suggestion is to pick whichever choice you think you’ll be able to live with and stick to it – no flip-flopping because you’ll only end up hurting people. Just make sure that you’re upfront and honest about your intentions with everyone involved, starting with yourself and your girlfriend – the last thing you want is to burn bridges with deceit. Remember: what goes around always comes back around.

jordym84's avatar

“Damned if you do” – just caught my omission…many hours later.

kitszu's avatar

Make it real, or get out of dear. Both of you probably deserve better than either of you will get if you continue this.

Christy_123's avatar

I dnt tink wat u ar doin is ryt 4 nw, all i wil say is dat u shud allow d future 2 decide

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Christy_123 You’re going to have a major issue on Fluther if you insist on typing that way. There are writing standards here – and pretty much every word you typed is misspelled.

Just a heads up.

kitszu's avatar

Can I take back what I said before? Sometimes I’m an idoit. (Which by the way is so much easier {the idoit part}.)

Real relationships, ones that last, take work, (not constant work mind you…to me that is a sign of a “bad relationship”)

I’m qualifying what I’m saying here. I’m married to a good man, who has recently f’d up (hard-core).

You’re a kid, you have your whole like ahead of you but one day, if you’re wise enough, you will understand that “head-over-heels” doesn’t mean shit.

“Time spent” is the only “currency” for this trade.

It’s not you, everyone wants their soul mate. The future does matter and you already know that or you wouldn’t have asked the question. You are already thinking about it sweetheart.

I can’t tell you what you should do, I can only give you the same advice I make myself go through when facing life changing choices.

” Know thy Self” -Socrates

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