You can’t level up in love

Illustration by Ed Appleby

Why we shouldn’t determine end goals for relationships

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb 3, 2015

When we enter a relationship, it’s easy to start fantasizing about all the possibilities. We all have our own reasons for developing a romantic bond with another person. Perhaps we want to get married, have children, and live a fated life. That has been the traditional route for romance for many generations, but the mentality for many is less about mutual growth and more about levelling up in the game of life.

More and more I’m seeing couples treat their relationship with the same undertone as someone talking about their career. If marriage is simply a promotion, to me, it’s incredibly disturbing. Sure, a wedding is a wonderful party where grandma is invited, but with all respect, it does not symbolize adulthood or ultimate satisfaction.

Relationship milestones should not be determined by a single night of partying, wedding rings, and cheesy vows; it should happen organically. First dates, first kisses, buying new furniture together, and surviving an argument are examples of milestones, but are rarely celebrated because a relationship is exclusive. Only two people would have experienced it. It’s not something to brag about. It’s not something to prove.

If you enter a relationship with the objective of getting married or having children, you’re imposing milestones for your own life and not necessarily for your partner’s. Such behaviour can rather create ultimatums or cause you to live in a dysfunctional partnership.

Sometimes a romantic relationship can feel like a blessing, sometimes it can feel like a compromise, and other times it might even feel like a sacrifice. If you love a person, but you feel as though the relationship needs to move to the next level for some reason—be it moving in, getting married, or having children—then I beg you to reconsider. Although people may look at you as if you are some sort of pariah or failure for not achieving those outcomes, don’t fret because outsiders don’t know shit about your relationship.

Don’t let other people control how you behave with your loved one, because different people have different values. And you and your partner must figure out your values together without the interference of friends, families, co-workers, and even critics like myself. I don’t know how two people behave when they’re alone together; all I know is that if you enter the first date, answer a personal ad, or kiss someone with the intention of achieving some “life goal” you’ll be gravely disappointed. Building a relationship is the goal. There is nothing more but the moments you share together. You will never be able to level up, so feel satisfied in the moment.

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