The first time’s the charm

I was recently asked the question: "Name a piece of dating advice that you and your friends have." Since my pals and I aren’t currently drafting The Rules: 2.0 nor do we sit around waxing poetic on witty epithets pertaining to the dating world, I had to go out on my own and come up with a "dating theory" that I have. It took me a while – after all, I haven’t had what most people would call a "normal dating history" – but the particular tenet that kept resonating with me was about the proverbial do-over. Namely: Second chances aren’t worth it – they never end well.  "Pretty good," I thought. And then I realized that I’ve come a little ways in the past five years. Let’s review.

A few years back, I found myself again engaged in a relationship that had basically run its course a year or so prior. It was always on-again/off-again, and the gentleman in question lived out of state. Probably goes back more to my commitment phobia than needs to be explained here, but by dating him (or NOT dating him, when that was the case) I maintained my individuality yet also had someone to (sort of) depend on when I needed him. And when he flaked, as he was apt to do, I had a built-in scapegoat. "He doesn’t deserve you," my friends would say, ignoring the all-too evident fact that he and I should have ended it years before. But we didn’t, and my 26-year old self was discontent and pretty vocal about that fact. I chastised myself for giving him not a second chance, but a third, as I still (naively?) believed that everyone at least deserves a second shot.

How things have changed.

I don’t know if it’s the reality of life and the frailty of love but I’ve drastically changed my views on this. I’ve seen people try too hard too many times to make it work once again when, in actuality, it wasn’t really working the first time. "Save yourselves the time and effort and pain!", I want to yell, and – ok I admit it – sometimes I do just that. If you’re spending your time being unhappy to try to coerce yourselves that there’s a slight chance of (perhaps feigned) happiness down the line, how does that make sense? I’m sure there’s an exception now and again to my now-rule, but I just see it as an exercise in futility. Sometimes it IS best to cut & run, or at least sever and allow yourself to heal on cordial terms.

You can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink, and if you don’t succeed the first time, you can try, try again. Except for in love…sometimes it’s better to just let sleeping dogs lie. Or, as I coin my first ever idiom, Second chances don’t end well. Remember that…I’m going to try to myself.

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