A Philosopher's Blog

Foundations

Posted in Relationships/Dating by Michael LaBossiere on September 9, 2007

I was recently discussion relationships with a few different friends and the talk naturally turned to what is needed to make a lasting relationship. There are, of course, many possible answers because no one relationship is quite like another. But, one thing that seemed plausible is that a relationship will endure better if it is built on a foundation of friendship.

One reason that many relationships fail seems to be that people jump right into dating and a relationship before they get to know each other very well. In many cases, the dating timeline is quite a bit quicker than the friendship timeline-I know of many people who will enter into a relationship faster than they will settle into a friendship. In some cases, this works out well. In most cases it does not. One reason is fairly obvious: when people meet and feel a “spark” they are on their best behavior and driven by the excitement of a new relationship. This excitement and emotion tends to blind a person in the sense that what they see is not so much the other person but a fantasy version of the person. Over time, these initial factors begin to fade and one is left with the real person. If there is nothing solid under that initial “emotional rush” then things will not endure.  A second reason is also fairly obvious and can be shown by the following analogy. If a person is interviewed quickly for a complex job and then given the job based on that first impression alone, it is hardly a shock if the person does not quite work out for that job. Similarly, if someone starts a relationship rather quickly, then the person they end up with might not be a person who is actually compatible.

An obvious way to avoid these problems is to take the time to get to know a person first. Learn what they are like and see if there is something substantial, namely the possibility of real friendship, underneath that initial attraction. Although relationships vary, a solid foundation of real friendship seems to be a very important factor in maintaining a good relationship. Of course, real friendships take time to build-you have to get to know the person and build up trust.

Of course, trying to build such a foundation can put a person at a serious disadvantage. Many people seem in a rush to date or to get into a relationship and they lack the patience to work on a friendship. So, if you try to get to know such a person, they will probably perceive this as a lack of interest and move on quickly to jump into their next relationship-which will probably fail. Most relationships do, after all. Of course, this could be seen as a good thing-someone who is in such a hurry might not be an ideal choice.

Another disadvantage is that if you take the time to get to know someone and build up a friendship, someone who is not so burdened might well swoop in and start dating the object of you affection. As with most things, timing is very important. This risk can be mitigated by compromising-get to know the person enough so that you have reasonable idea about them and then, if you have competition, start dating a bit sooner than you might otherwise.

It might be objected that if a person will go with the “competition”, then s/he is not really interested in you and hence is not right for you. This does have some merit, but there is also the fact that most people are not willing to wait and wait for someone to take action. So, someone might be interested in you, but if you wait too long they might take this as evidence of a lack of interest and turn to someone else. As mentioned above, timing is very important.

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One Response

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  1. Eugene said, on March 18, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Hey, i completely agree. I was wondering, how do you deal with the fact that such a small percent of population are philosophers. For me philosophy is such a fundamental trait in a person that i find it hard to imagine being in a relationship with a girl who has no interest in it! I had a lot of problems due to that! I broke up with a few girls after realizing that i just can’t talk to them on philosophical topics(which is important to me). Also a lot of girls tend to reject me as “just a friend” every time i mention philosophy. It seems that the only way i can get women sexually interested is if i act like a monkey and not a philosopher! : (
    (i am 20 years of age)

    email me an answer if you can, thanks!


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