I’ve been living in the commitment slow lane. I had my first boyfriend sophomore year in college, but I ended the relationship after eight years of cozy couplehood because he wanted marriage and I wanted travel. Two summers ago, I interned in China and had an office fling. We were fond of each other but parted amicably when the summer ended. I have since made my home in Europe, but the fling hasn’t quite flung out. I kept casual email contact with Office Boy and ended up planning a weeklong trip to Southeast Asia with him. We shared hotel rooms (…and beds) but didn’t talk about “us” and “where we’re going.” A year later, I’m embarking on another trip with this endless fling and I’m beginning to have qualms. Where is this going? Am I crazy to be spending time and money for a few fleeting days with someone I probably don’t have a future with? Until now, I’ve been pretty pragmatic about ‘us’, thinking, “Oh well, I want to go on a vacation and it’ll be cheaper if I share the hotel room with someone.” I enjoy the trips and don’t want to broach an uncomfortable subject, since neither of us seems sure of what we want from the other. But at the age of 28, have I lost the right to flightiness? Must I “Define This Relationship”?
Dear Globe Trotter,
Your Endless Fling is that second chocolate chip cookie. You liked the first, you want to have more, but you’re not sure good consequences will come of simply doing what you like. When you were ten you could have as much dessert as you desired, but with age, self-doubt and second guessing have entered the picture. My short answer to you is: Relax, stop pressuring yourself. Having been through 60% of my 28th year, I know how Life suddenly pounces on the single girl still reveling in the “roaring twenties.” You’re probably attending Wave 2 of friend weddings (Wave 1 being those sickening high school or college sweethearts that “always knew”, Wave 2 coming a few years into working life, just watch for Wave 3 and the Baby Wave if think this is bad) and are feeling the unspoken heat to define your life. There are those who lay their lives out like irrigation systems, channeling water to an end destination, and others who simply go with the flow and see what happens. If Office Boy isn’t pressing you for an answer and you’re not turning off any serious boyfriend material by going on these pseudo-love trips, and there are no Chinese grandmothers beating down on you to put your ovaries to use, then just see where this “relationship” takes you. Over time, you two will either commit seriously when you know what you want or grow apart for other romantic interests. Until then, happy tripping and stop sweatin’ it!