Is it always better to be in a relationship? Sometimes, our happiest times can occur when we are single. Letting go of any expectation for a long-term relationship can lead us to a place of true joy and satisfaction. Read more about navigating the world of human connection in How to Fall in Love with Anyone.
After a winter of disappointing dates, I spent Memorial Day weekend at a friend’s wedding. In an incredibly cliché move, I—a bridesmaid—spent the night after the wedding wandering the city hand in hand with one of the groomsmen. We wound our way through an expansive park, scaling playground equipment, testing swings, climbing a steep embankment in our dress shoes hoping to find the best possible view of the city. He showed me the neighborhood where he used to live, the middle school where he coached basketball. He told me about his family, his ambitions. I told him about life in Vancouver and the kind of writer I wanted to be. Then, sometime before dawn, he walked me back to my hotel room and kissed me good night. He was charming and boyish and came highly recommended by both the bride and the groom. But we lived thousands of miles apart.
I wrote him a note when I got home:
I think I needed a reminder that not only am I surrounded by loving, generous friends close by and far away, but also that there are guys like you out there—fun, joyful, sort of exceptional people. So, I’m glad I met you. It was one of the highlights of my weekend.
If you ever find yourself near Vancouver, you should let me know. I’ll be happy to show you the town.
Thanks for the walk—I only got one blister.
It wasn’t love, but it was the best night out I’d had in months. It was a meaningful romantic experience with no future, no expectation, no trajectory.
Romantic advice always sells us on the story that life is most full, most valuable, most rewarding inside a relationship. But my life got fuller outside of a committed relationship. And dating became a lot more fun once I stopped treating it like a job where wife was the ultimate promotion. If my goal was simply to make a real connection with someone for an hour, no matter what came of that connection, I usually had a good time.
Letting go of expectation is just as important as maintaining your independence while you’re in a relationship.