BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

I Prefer Monogamy, But I Don’t Want to Miss Out on Being Single

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(Question has been modified for space and clarity.)

I want to embrace being single, but every girl I’m with, I’m constantly evaluating if there’s the potential for a relationship. I can’t even enjoy a female friendship without analyzing if they’re attracted to me, or if I am to them. I know I prefer monogamy, but I wonder if I’m missing out, and that fear is screwing with my head. Any ideas for how to handle this?
–Rubix 0817; Binghamton, NY

I have always been close with my mom and dad.

We’re not just parent and son; we’re actually friends. And as friends do, we see many things the same way, from the virtue of Baskin Robbins to the awkward brilliance of Larry David.

But one dynamic on which we’ve never seen eye to eye is dating.

In my parents’ day, as they’ve described it, dating was more about the journey than the destination.

Few people had boyfriends or girlfriends, while the majority maintained free agent status, allowing them to go out with one person one night and another person the next.

This wasn’t a big deal, because each date wasn’t a big deal. It was just what you did on a Friday or Saturday, in the same way my generation hung out in big groups.

And a date’s significance seldom extended beyond that evening’s curfew.

Relationships often didn’t get serious, or even exclusive, until a deeper commitment was at stake.

Case in point: My mom was still dating another guy when she got engaged to my dad.

She was “The Bachelorette” before Chris Harrison was ever born.

So when it was my turn to start dating, my parents implored me to not take things so seriously, to keep my options open and meet as many girls as I could.

But I couldn’t do it.

Their advice made sense rationally. But emotionally, I wasn’t built for it.

I was just like you, Rubix.

Whenever I’d meet a girl, no matter what the circumstances were, I’d assess if there could be a future with her. If I thought there might be, I’d do everything possible to pursue it. I couldn’t just cast those feelings aside.

I didn’t want to be with more than one girl at a time, because I wanted nothing more than to fall in love.

And thankfully, I did. Eventually.

You can too.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy or have your head screwed with until you do.

It is possible to make the most of where you are now, while still keeping an eye on where you want to go.

Here’s how…

TREASURE YOUR FREEDOM

Audrey: You make jokes about relationships because you wish you could have one.

Russell: I am a little bit jealous, you’re right. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and do whatever I feel like doing, all the time.

That exchange comes from the underrated sitcom, “Rules of Engagement,” which starred, among others, “Seinfeld’s” David Puddy as a financial manager and David Spade as the aforementioned Russell, the group’s fifth wheel whose romantic conquests mirrored those of the actor who played him.

(Did you know Spade dated the likes of Heather Locklear, Jillian Barberie and Claire from “Modern Family”?)

While you might be wrestling with the jealousy Audrey’s talking about, don’t discount the freedom Russell references.

As a single guy, you are master of your domain.

You can do anything you want. You can go anywhere you want, when you want, with whom you want.

Don’t take that for granted, because when you get what you want — a relationship — you won’t be able to.

Obviously, when you’re committed to someone, you’re not the sole decision-maker.

I’ve been married for two years and in a relationship for nearly nine. And there are times I do things out of obligation/respect for my wife, Emily, just as she does for me.

And I’m happy to do so. My investment’s return far, far exceeds the buy-in.

I do not miss the freedom I had as a single guy. Really, I don’t. (Maybe because I don’t have kids.)

But I’m glad I appreciated it when I had it.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

A different girl every night.

That’s the single guy’s dream, right?

For many, yes.

But for you, it’s not. You’re wired for monogamy. And there’s no need for you to fight that.

I’m wired the same way.

Admittedly, my wiring was likely installed as a defense mechanism. I had enough trouble getting one date a month, much less two in the same weekend.

But even during the one stretch when I dated around, I never felt at ease.

I’d just moved to Washington, DC, meaning I was finally in a city where there were girls who I, a) hadn’t gone out with, and b) hadn’t been rejected by.

I had a clean slate. And for about a month, I tried to make the most of it.

But it wasn’t long until my monogamous mindset was validated.

While there’s something to be said for companionship, I never saw value in going out with someone just to have someone to go out with.

What was the point?

Once I knew I wasn’t ending up with a girl, I had no interest in seeing her again.

And I knew that if I continued seeing her, one of two things would happen:

I’d dump her.

Or…

I’d get dumped by someone I never liked in the first place.

Is that what you’re afraid of missing out on?

EMBRACE THE CHASE

As foreign as my mom and dad’s approach always felt to me, I now question if it also was rooted in genius.

By the time they were 23 and 24, respectively, they were happily married.

Granted, that was how it worked back then. You met someone, you got married and you started a family. Quickly.

There were no gap years, no sabbaticals, no taking time to get to know yourself.

My parents hardly took time to get to know each other.

They’ll tell you that. They’ll tell you they barely knew each other when they got engaged, and that their ensuing 45 years of marriage (and counting) were largely born out of luck.

But I believe it was more than that.

All that dating they did, it paid dividends. It had to. They might not have been aware of it, but it helped dial in their radars. It got their compasses tuned toward true north.

And when they met the right person, they knew it, even if only on a subconscious level.

You have the chance to gain this same expertise.

Instead of viewing the single life as a burden, view it as an opportunity — to experience new people, to figure out what you like and don’t like, to meet the girl you’ve been waiting to meet.

It’s all a process. And with the right attitude, it can be a fun — and fulfilling — one.

The more you’re willing to commit to the present, the more likely you are to find a future worth committing to.

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This originally appeared on the Good Men Project.

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