90 Day Rules - Part II
Just got off the phone with T. Her first question: "Why 90 days?" Excellent question.
During the earlier phases in my life, specifically during my 20s and 30s, and even into my 40s, when I was focused on finding a partner for marriage and building a family, my goal was to avoid having sex with a potential long term partner for 90 days. I believed if I spent a fair amount of time with someone over a three month period, in a variety of settings around a variety of people, I could get a pretty good sense of how they handled the tough stuff.
Since I bonded through sex, and I was self-aware enough to know that was my truth, I wanted to give myself time to make sure I was bonding with someone that was actually, truly, potentially a long-term partner. I believed by waiting to be intimate, I could protect my heart. The theory was, I could reassess the relationship at 90 days (or sooner) and I walk away without having that regret that came from having been sexual too soon, and it wouldn't hurt as bad. Excellent reasoning! Excellent theory! I'm a smart girl, always have been!
The problem was, I'd usually sleep with someone within the first week or two, and after that, those red flags would be popping up all over the place. But because of my attitudes about sex at that time, because I saw sex as commitment, as a opposed to sex as part of a healthy relationship like I do now, I felt obligated to commit to the person simply because we'd had sex. I'd stay with him, and work diligently and tirelessly to create something long-term, knowing all the while we were not at all well suited. And it just so happened the men I chose were content to settle in and let me do the heavy lifting to keep things chugging along as smoothly as I could. And because of how I was raised, that women serve men and exist to make their partner happy and keep the peace, it felt like I was doing the right thing - while all the while my gut was screaming RUN!
It would take me a very long time, often years, to walk away. I compounded my suffering by doing things that went against the truth of who I was and my beliefs about sex at that time in my life. My breakups often near destroyed me, and not from losing the person. They near destroyed me because of the guilt I had around sex. But the biggest reason they near destroyed me came from the realization I had betrayed my own truth.
A lot has changed about my attitudes towards sex now that I'm in my late 50s. I bond through sex, we all bond through sex; I maintain there is no such thing as sex without emotion. However now, since I seek friendship first and always, my relationships are far less frenzied. I don't have this Big Life Phase Agenda hanging over everything, making everything intense and complicated. Now, as my friendships develop, I decide if I want the friendship to have a sexual component.
Regardless of your attitudes about the type of relationship you're seeking,
and regardless of your beliefs about sex, the 90 day concept is a solid one.
When you meet someone after a breakup, you're in a really vulnerable place emotionally. You may be so desperate to get over your pain, you project the characteristics you want in a partner, or you project the characteristics you are missing about your previous partner, on your unwitting Tinder match - and you figure out too late it's all just smoke and mirrors. That's the danger of rebound relationships. I'm not saying rebound relationships are always a crash and burn, they're not. But Think. Just. Think. And repeat after me: NO SUDDEN MOVES.
Ninety days gives you the time necessary to get through that intense initial phase of often overwhelming sexual/intellectual attraction. It is only after the euphoria of what feels like crazy wild mad love lessens a bit, which it inevitably will, that you will begin to relax and rest more easily in the relationship. It is then you are open to seeing those red flags. It is then you stop ignoring those nagging gut feelings things might not quite be right.
There will always be red flags, there will always be things about your partner that are troubling, because people are human and horribly flawed. The important thing about that first 90 days is getting to know your partner and assessing your compatibility.
Most critical, in my opinion, is to determine if you are equally invested in developing whatever type of relationship you want (I vote friendship!). If you're not well matched in the level of time and energy you're investing in one another in terms of what you want, in terms of what you know will fulfill you, walk away!
There's a real key learning here. You may feel you're cut out for long-term romantic relationships and only long-term romantic relationships. I'd really encourage you to change tack, and seek out connections with people of substance with a focus on building friendships. All successful long-term relationships are based on a solid foundation of friendship. Even long-term friendships are based on a solid foundation of friendship!
The best romances, the enduring romances, the deepest and most fulfilling loves always spring from friendship.
Lovers come and go, but friends stay.
I'm kind of all over the place here, not sticking to my 90 Day Rule explanation. But there's some good life wisdom in here, so I'm leaving it. More to come!
(Initial publication date: 3/24/2022)