On/Off relationship is getting me down. What should I do?


 ThisGuyMr asks:

I (20 yo, male) met this girl (18 yo) in uni class and we hit it off on the last day of classes. We get along really well, kinda surprising to both of us that we got really close really quick. We started liking each other, kissed, but never got to a relationship because she feels unsure and afraid. During May, she was decided that we wouldn’t be a thing, but we ended up kissing again and she warmed up to the idea. Today she came to my house (as usual, she has come before) and after she left she told me she was not so sure about us anymore. I don’t want to lose what we have, so I’ve been telling her to go with the flow, but I don’t pressure her into being my gf.

TL;DR – I hit it off with a girl, we have a lot of chemistry, we love each other and feel its a perfect match, but she is unsure about a relationship (she feels it would unbalance her life), this comes up frequently, and I’m afraid we’re gonna lose what we have.

Demetrius says:

Do you follow American sports at all, specifically the NBA? Do you know how the draft lottery works? Here’s a quick overview: The draft order for the 14 worst NBA teams is not predetermined by how bad those teams are,  it’s actually a weighted lottery where the worst team has the highest odds to get the first pick in the draft, 25% odds for the worst team, 19.9% odds for the second team, and so on.  If your team is perennially bad, like the Philadelphia 76ers, your odds of getting the #1 pick are generally fairly high, but it’s not a guarantee that you’ll actually get the first pick. The 76ers have been the one of, if not the worst team in the NBA for about 4 or 5 years, and they’ve only gotten the #1 pick once in that timeframe. Teams that are bad will try to increase their odds of getting a high lottery pick by building a team that is purposefully not competitive to increase their odds of getting a better pick next year. This involves dumping quality players who aren’t stars/future hall-of-famers, and just generally trying your hardest to just start your team off with a blank slate. This practice is called Tanking. Tanking works (to a point) because it’s actually better to be bad than it is to be mediocre, because the odds are good that you’ll be able to draft a future star next year. You don’t tank when you’ve got LeBron James or Wardell Curry II in their prime, but you might tank if your team’s starting shooting guard is Hollis Thompson. If you’re going to not make the playoffs (only 16 teams do), you might as well be the 30th best/worst team in the NBA, rather than the 17th best.

If it’s unclear why I’m bringing basketball into this, let’s make it crystal: Your relationship is basically the 17th best team in the league. Not good enough to make the post-season, but not bad enough where you’ve got good odds to get the number 1 pick. It’s time to start tanking so you can find a better option.

I understand wanting to stay in a situation that is just good enough. Settling is easy, its low risk, and requires a minimal effort. Sure, you’ll never really be in a position where you think “This relationship is great!” but mediocre can be better than nothing for a lot of people. If someone’s goals in life are “marriage, kids, house” and not  “happiness, joy, affection, good sex, etc.” then you know what, I’m not going to judge you for settling, but I won’t encourage it. I wont try to force my values on a person even if I disagree with what motivates them in relationships. But, let’s just assume that a 20-year-old college kid is not in that sort of position, or at least has dating goals besides “settling for what I can get”. If that assumption is right, you need to tank your on/off relationship so you can potentially find someone better.

It’s clear you’re unhappy with this situation, so why stay in it? Is it the sex? Trust me, you can find that just about anywhere. Is it her company? Eh, it doesn’t really sound like she’s good company if every time you hang out she tells you she’s unsure about being with you. Is it just that you’re comfortable and maybe afraid of change? If that’s the case, which I would assume based on what you’ve said, you’re just going to have to embrace discomfort.Not wanting to lose what you have is a base instinct and I get it, but sometimes a loss is a gain. While you’re doing this off-and-on thing with her, you’re missing out on dating women who are equally as attractive/fun/smart/whatever-floats-your-boat-about-her without the commitment issues. I know it can be hard to imagine a world in which the person you like is not good enough, despite you’re liking them, but trust me on this, you can do better than just-good-enough. I’ve been dating since before your balls dropped and I can tell you, there are many women out there as good or better than your current girlfriend. You just need to be available to date them.

It’s time to tank. Cutting things off might suck in the short-term, but the possibility that you’ll luck into someone amazing in the long-term makes it worthwhile. Do you want to be in a perennially mediocre relationship, or do you want to try to get someone amazing? Would you rather settle for consistently having to draft 15th round picks that go nowhere, or take a shot at getting a lottery pick? You might not immediately meet a someone amazing, maybe not for a while, but you at least have the opportunity to meet someone amazing. No guarantee you’ll find someone amazing, but I can guarantee that if you stick with someone mediocre, your relationship will always be mediocre.

Good Luck Out There.

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