What is Drastic + Dramatic

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Flipping Dating Game

When the thought of marriage intrudes my mind, I usually shrug the idea off with, “eh, that only happens to other people.” So far, in my case, such has been the case. But sometimes a brief blast of clarity makes me stop and ponder what marriage must really be like. 

Sometimes when I pay a bill or wash the dishes or floss my teeth or pick out an outfit for the day or look at my pillow, it hits me what it might be like to have another person always in the mix. How much one person’s presence can change everything!

Sometimes it’s when I see couples riding silently in a car, no smiles, no apparent interaction. I get really curious about what their separate thoughts might be and if they’re truly happy together.

This morning it hit me when I caught my naked reflection in my full body mirror and stopped to consider it for a second. I thought, “Man. That’s the sight he’d be free to see any time. Miles of limbs covered in fair, sun-shunned skin."

It’s in these moments I realize that marriage would change everything in my life and yet so little would change about me. If I married tomorrow I’d have all the same bills, the same dishes to wash, teeth to floss, clothes to wear—but a pillow to share.

photo credit.
Sometimes I look at people who are married and I wonder. I sit in awe that anyone finds anyone else available and willing to pair up with another for life. 

It’s not just beautiful women who marry; I’ve seen rather “unattractive” people enter matrimony.

It’s not just talented artists or great cooks that marry; I’ve heard from the lips of many a married woman that she believes herself void of talent, unless it’s wielding a can opener. 

It’s not just the long-legged or thin-waisted or dainty-handed that get to wed; every sort of shape has found herself left-finger ringed.

If those qualifications were all it took, I’d so be hitched.

(And shoot, it’s not even the married who enjoy marriage, since half end up divorced.)

I haven’t given up yet for my own chance to enter the statistics, but so far marriage only happens to other people. But what all those people have in common is that they found out how to complematch another human and make a lasting partnership.

Complematch is a word I just made up. Let me demonstrate its definition.

Remember Memory, that Milton Bradley matching game we played as kids? Oh, it was one of my faves. It came in every variety of versions, including my preferred “Fronts and Backs” edition. I don’t boast any terrific memory, but I’m incredibly visually observant, so I owned this game.

Why I like using this version of the game as example rather than the original is because Fronts and Backs required matching on a deeper, more interpretive level. There weren’t two of the same; there were two corresponding halves that together completed the whole match.

Easy enough to see where this is going, right? Dating is a matching game. We flip over a lot of opportunities, but ultimately we’re going to find one match that really complements the half of life we’re able to bring to marriage.

Errrk. Stop. Nope, I don’t believe in “the one.” So let’s dive deeper.

magic school bus sub.jpg
Dating is a matching game with no true matches and no exact “one, true other-half” matches. The real life dating game offers a lot more options and interpretation when searching for a complematch (yep, it’s a noun too).

Let’s say the card I flip over shows a strawberry. Okay, I’m a strawberry. I embrace my strawberriness. I go great with tons of things! In all the flipping dating I then proceed to do (dang, flipping dating), I can find a lot of relationships that will utilize what I have to offer and complement me well. I could flip over the “cream” card or the “jam and peanut butter sandwich” card or the “short cake” card or the “pie” card or the “Pop-Tarts” card and all of these would offer me a fine complematch in the end.

In fact, I have already dated the pb sandwich, the cream (it soured after a while), a few Pop Tarts, and I kissed a short cake once. They all taught me valuable things, we had some great times mixing flavors, but I’m still looking for my pie.

em strawberry pie.jpg
I’ve seen complematchary (adjective. boom.) couples in some unexpected pairings, but they’ve interpreted each other so well that I can’t help but stick up my thumbs at a fine match made. With other couples it just seems obvious. Duh—if you’re fries, flip a burger.

Then other couples just did it wrong. First card they flipped they took their chips and cashed in. Or they didn’t even pay attention to the card in their own hands to begin with and just got flip-happy until they found whatever prettiest card they could keep and made the match. That’s a no-no. Can’t play the game until you know the card you were dealt.

But, if you know pretty much what you’re bringing to the table but you aren’t quite sure how to interpret a good complematch for yourself, you just have to just start flipping and find out. Don’t slobber all over the cards or no one will want to play with you. Don’t flip more than one card at a time. Don’t overturn the table in impulsive frustration when it takes a lot of time and effort.

As I’ve played this flipping dating matching game, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I understand and interpret as complematchary for me. I’ve been dating for 14 flipping years and there’s something very valuable that I’ve learned. When a relationship ends and you have convinced yourself that you’ll never find a match that will complete you in quite the same way that peanut butter sandwiched your strawberry spread, life has a way of convincing you of just how wrong you are—if you let it. There’s always crunchy peanut butter, raw ground peanuts, Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan, Reese’s—and don’t forget those surprising generic brands that often become the favorite. And finally, there is always ice cream after peanut butter, my friends.

Sometimes it'll even come with a cone. Bonus!
(That is not to say don’t stick with a good complematch in case there’s the possibility of a better match out there. The game ends eventually, don’t go out without a match.)

Because of this realization, I can look at others’ relationships and not experience jealousy. They made a complematch by being who they are, in the place where they were, and at a time when they were ready. I am not that girl which is why I am not married to that guy. Such logic is handy for quelling frivolous feelings.

I also don’t get offended or depressed when a guy ultimately flips me back over and goes for a better match. One thing I know for sure that I want in my complematch is someone who’s interested in being with me. (I know it’s a lot to ask. I’m getting so picky as the years advance.) We’ve all been on both sides of that coin toss; be patient and open for the next opportunity.

So, to all my single-card-carrying homies out there I say, the day of our complematchation will come. There may be moments when you’ll want to flip out, flip the bird, or just flip over and go back to bed—but hang in there and go at your own honest pace. Just keep flipping.

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