For every relationship I have had, I had placed an expiration date on them. Expiration dating is when you enter a relationship that has a defined, predetermined end date. It’s nothing personal to the guy I’m dating. I can usually tell how long a relationship will last. By the time the relationship has reached its expiration date, I’m out of there before it starts to spoil and curdle. It could be out of coincidence or sometimes it just happens that way. It has become a safety net for all my relationships that I’ve learned to be comfortable with. Although my reasons may not seem logical, it works for me.
People have their reasons for expiration dating other than judging their own relationship before they start having it, like I do. Some couples just know that that they can’t beat the inevitable. In the meantime, they enjoy their time together then move on with their separate lives. For example, my friend Cheryl dated her college sweetheart Mark for a year and a half. They were both very much in love and very career driven. Immediately following graduation, Cheryl had plans to move to Washington, D.C. for law school. Mark was going to move back home to Florida to work for his father’s practice. They knew that this day would eventually come. You would think, “If they really loved each other then how come those crazy kids couldn’t work things out?” They discussed different options, alternatives, but nothing that they could conclusively agree on. So they agreed that breaking up was the right decision for both of them.
It started to become a secret game I played with myself called “The Expiration Dating Game” where you guess the magic number on how long this relationship will last.
Relationships are like fresh produce, you have to make good use of them before they go bad. I’m a firm believer of expiration dating. By date two I can tell whether or not this relationship is doomed to hell or meant for great things. Would that make me too presumptuous? Could I possibly be jumping the gun? Maybe, but I’ve always had a gut instinct about these things. So far I’ve been on the money each and every time.
During my first relationship, I predicted that I would be with Luke for 3 ½ years. By the beginning of our third year the relationship started to go sour. We were bickering more often, spent less time with each other, and, sadly, just fell out of love. We were moving in two opposite directions. He wanted to settle down and get married while I was not quite on the same page with him. I was young and there was so much else I wanted to do before I settled down. So we broke up. Same goes for the next relationship. I gambled with a year. I knew it would only be short term. Early on in the relationship I just knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere. I stuck around because we were having fun and we made each other laugh. Eleven months later, kaput! We were done. It was fun while it lasted but it was time to see other people. We both knew that we weren’t in it for the long haul. And we were okay about that. Same goes for the next relationship and then the next. It started to become a secret game I played with myself called “The Expiration Dating Game” where you guess the magic number on how long this relationship will last. If you guess the right expiration date you get a gold star! Maybe I was psyching myself up, playing mind games with myself but it just coincidentally happened that way.
Then I met Eric. When I started dating Eric I had a feeling where things were going to go. I didn’t have an exact road map of our relationship but I had an idea where it would lead to. I knew this by our second date. We were having dinner at Circus, a Brazilian restaurant on the Upper East Side. We were having a good time. We were laughing, flirting, and exchanging witty banter. As I was sipping on my second glass of wine, he reached across the table for my hand and kissed it. It was a simple yet romantic gesture and I was moved by it. That’s when I knew. That’s when I knew that we would be something special. After that, I immediately stamped a 2-year expiration date on him. A pretty decent time frame I would say. Fast forward 23 months later and Eric and I are still together. We were happy but I knew my expiration date was coming up soon. It would be stupid to leave the relationship if we were doing so well. Should I stay past the expiration date or quit while I’m ahead? What if this is as good as it gets and it goes downhill from there?
So we set ourselves an expiration date before we start rotting our lives away waiting for the relationship to magically change overnight. What if there’s a possibility that they will never come? We would forever become slaves to our relationship.
For some reason or another, many of us stay in relationships past their expiration date. I never stayed past my relationship’s expiration date. I thought if I stayed longer than the expiration date then it would just spoil from there. I would imagine we would get green and moldy, and then make each other go crazy. Or what if the relationship was so passionate, so loving that it would eventually burst and fall apart? It’s like blowing up a balloon. The balloon gets bigger and bigger. If you continue to blow, it will eventually expand, finally reach its peak then all of a sudden, POOF! The passion and intensity is gone. So you make sure you don’t blow too hard before it pops. Or what if the relationship was going through a tough time? We may tell ourselves that things will change or even out. And although that may happen, sometimes it doesn’t. So we set ourselves an expiration date before we start rotting our lives away waiting for the relationship to magically change overnight. How long could we wait for those changes to happen? What if there’s a possibility that they will never come? We would forever become slaves to our relationship.
It has been passed two years with my relationship with Eric. And, so far so good. I keep looking for signs or waiting for something to happen. It was the first time I proved myself wrong. Then I realized, maybe I was doing this wrong all along. Instead of escaping each relationship before its expiration date, I should have been making that relationship work past its expiration date. I decided if things can be this good past its expiration date, maybe he is worth sticking around for.