We live in an age where we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. From instant coffee, to instant fast-food, to instant messaging we have become pros at pressing a button or two and having our every wish fulfilled. By the same token, we usually demonstrate loads of impatience with anything, any one or any process that takes longer than five minutes. So how does our propensity for the fast lane factor in our intimate relationships or even in our pursuit of such?
For those not yet in a settled or permanent relationship, viewing life through the lens of the instantaneous can yield a life-time of misery. In the first place, such an individual is likely to feel hard-pressed to make a relationship happen with speed. While looking for ‘the one” or seeking out a potential life-partner may be all well and good, a fast-food view of life could virtually cause us to make a wrong or hurried relationship choice. By the same token, those already in serious relationships or marriage could also be adversely affected if they adopt this “fast-food” approach when dealing with their relationship challenges.
But what exactly is this “fast-food” approach? Maybe we could understand it easily by simply examining the known qualities of fast-food. Everyone who has ever passed by one of those restaurants knows that today’s instant offerings thrive on external things like aroma and presentation. One glance at that large, brightly-lit menu board with its pictures of big, succulent burgers and of brown crispy-fried chicken, is usually enough to convince us that we need it; no matter what the health buffs say. In the same way, many of us can become carried away by the external packaging when making relationship choices, in spite of the fact that this practice has not served us well in the past. Everything we have learned about what we should avoid in toxic relationships can be placed on the back-burner, simply because we want a man and we want him now!
How many women have chosen to be with a guy simply because he fits the bill of her ideal guy which she has carried around in her head since childhood? He may be tall and handsome, in a well-paying job with all the right letters behind his name or he might have the sexy corvette and the mansion on the hill to boot. If, however, he’s also a jerk who does not know how to treat a woman, then in my books, we’re definitely making an inferior, “fast-food” decision. What about those girls who jump into bed with a guy because they presume (having looked at his large hands or feet) that his hardware is in tip-top condition. Major error; when a girl is genuinely looking for permanence and commitment, very often premature sexual involvement can cause interest to wane. This is especially so, when all that the said guy is interested in, is her body.
Finding your dream man, a guy with quality and depth, is unlikely to happen when you’re simply using an external gauge by which to measure his suitability. Of course presentation and packaging are important, I will not deny this, but character must supersede this and of course it takes time to know. No matter how good a guy looks, or how sexy he seems, simple things like how he treats his mother or his sisters can say a lot about how he is likely to treat you. If he has children from a previous relationship, how he cares for them and provides for their needs, also reveals a lot about his over all sense of responsibility.
Making the right relationship decision should also proceed from a place of emotional completeness or wholeness. Understanding what you are truly worth, and knowing that it does not take a man to make you complete, should help you to guard against settling. The last thing you want to do is be with just about anyone, simply because your biological clock is ticking or because all your girlfriends are getting married and you’ve grown tired of being the bridesmaid!
Not to be one-sided in my arguments, even those women in long-term relationships like marriage can be guilty of a “fast-food” relationship approach. This includes not dealing with critical relationship deal-breakers. If you’re married but are afraid to confront your spouse about important issues like infidelity, the setting of appropriate boundaries with other women, finance, greater involvement in housework, greater emotional support and the like, chances are you are doing your relationship a significant disservice. By sweeping critical areas of dissatisfaction under the carpet in order to preserve a semblance of happiness or in order to “keep the peace”, is to really exemplify a lack of relationship integrity.
A strong, well-balanced relationship should be characterized by honesty. This means a willingness to put all cards on the table with respect to both the relationship’s strengths and its weaknesses. Whether your spouse is a lousy lover, needs to practice good hygiene, needs to be more emotionally assertive or needs to help more around the house, there should be a willingness on your part to let him know how you really feel. These same principles of course also apply to men who may be dissatisfied with their partners.
While admittedly none of us is perfect, if we hide or deny relationship challenges out of “love” then this is really not love but fear and cowardice. Love that is perfect actually gets rid of fear and allows the truth to do its work in bringing about change. For those of us who really want a great love, know that it will take time, effort and a willingness to dig beneath the surface where necessary. A great relationship for the long-haul, is one that is groomed over time and like a young plant, takes watering, care, attention and nourishment; definitely not the stuff fast-food is made of.