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To never expect a romantic relationship to last a lifetime?

(54 Posts)
Zorbathegeek Fri 15-Jan-16 13:48:30

I've lurked on MN a good few years, have posted here and there and now post under a different name since the email problems a while back, but here's my first OP, hope that's OK!

Having read lots and lots of threads here, I'm really interested in the expectations people have when they go into romantic relationships. In particular, it seems to me that after reading others' experiences here, I may be unusual in that I've never had any expectation that a relationship would last for the rest of my life (I've had a number of extremely happy, 'settled', long-term relationships, being rather old now). I don't have children, and this could be the reason, though I must say, if it had happed with any of them, I would have been happy.

Anyway I'm posting because I recently read a thread about people who get married knowing they won't have children, because they know that this is the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. I found this really interesting and it clearly seems the norm, at least here, but for me, it is personally perplexing because it's just not something I have ever felt. I really don't think I could promise to love someone forever.

Am I weird?

Twindroops Fri 15-Jan-16 13:52:49

I think we are all different OP and what works for some won't work for others and its our differences that make life interesting.

Some would say you will know and change your tune when you meet "the one", I myself am approaching 20 years with my husband and wouldn't swap him for the world well sometimes I would trade him in for a regular Green & Blacks delivery but each to their own, I reckon!

I think having children or planning to have children also focuses the mind somewhat. I wouldn't have had planned children without being married first.

MitzyLeFrouf Fri 15-Jan-16 13:53:42

No you're not weird.

Some people find someone that they remain desperately in love with for the rest of their days.

Some people fall desperately in love and then it develops into a lovely warm companionship

Some people want a nice steady life with one person and can't think of anything worse than putting themselves back on 'the scene' so are happy to stay put.

Some people are depressed at the thought of being stuck with one person for the rest of their lives.

Some people want to be alone.

None of it is wrong

Ralph Fiennes feels the same as you. Give him a call, I bet he'd be great fun!

Zorbathegeek Fri 15-Jan-16 14:00:55

Haha, Ralph, yes - particularly in his English Patient days!

I suppose it's just been an eye-opener for me since being here on MN, as it absolutely seems an unusual perspective.

I have had a number of long-term, extremely happy, fulfilling, etc., relationships in my life but with each I just thought this is great right now and then turned around and realised it was 7, 10, 14 years later.

Each split has been amicable, and in at least 2, if external circumstances had been different, I'd probably still be with them 20 years later, but it was never a plan, iyswim.

Anyway, better give RF a call...

Salunabaluna Fri 15-Jan-16 20:48:59

I think it's refreshing to read what you've written, op. I think we are all sort of beguiled into expecting that the last boyfriend we have in our 20s is the one, and that's that- insist on marriage, hope for kids, fingers crossed you can make it work as a family. Personally, the pressure kids put on a romantic relationship which hasn't got much else going for it, is enormous and in my mind, dooms the whole thing to fail.

museumum Fri 15-Jan-16 20:54:04

Warm companionship sounds nice to me. To other people it might sound like a slow death. People are different.
But I do think children change things. I and my dh will be co-parents for the rest of our lives so for me the marriage would have to actually go wrong or dead for me to choose to leave him. Splitting would be A Big Thing. If we hadn't had children then I think there's more chance we would just drift apart and choose to move on for no really serious reason.

cleaty Fri 15-Jan-16 20:56:28

No not weird. But I have lived with my partner happily for a very long time, and I expect to until one of us dies. I see my brothers marriage heading the same way.

Trills Fri 15-Jan-16 21:06:58

I think you are very sensible.

A romantic relationship might last for a few years, or for many years.

During that period one of you might die, or they might not.

There is no "failure" in having had a mutually beneficial and enjoyable relationship for some years, and then deciding that you don't want that any more.

Trills Fri 15-Jan-16 21:09:11

Getting married is rather nice though, all optimistic.

Helmetbymidnight Fri 15-Jan-16 21:13:33

Mm, children changed all that for me.

If it weren't for them, I'd get a new fella every three years, like a leased car.

StellaAlpina Fri 15-Jan-16 21:14:01

I think a lot of it depends on what sort of relationships you see around you growing up. Both sets of grandparents were happily married until my grandpas died, my parents are happily married etc...

Everyone's different but if the romance/passion fizzled out I hope I'd be fine with being friends/companions etc with dh for the rest of my life. He's my family now.

Helmetbymidnight Fri 15-Jan-16 21:15:54

I don't think it's just that Stella. My parents were very happily married.

I just liked the novelty of new!

Tillyscoutsmum Fri 15-Jan-16 21:23:05

First marriage I went into thinking it would be 'forever'.

Second time I knew I couldn't and wouldn't spend the rest of my life with him.

Third; again I thought it would be forever. We had dc's together and I wanted them to have parents who were happy together. That didn't work out and I would never have put up with being unhappy or being treated badly just so that I could fulfil my ideal of being with him forever.

So now I've finally confused realised that perhaps, for me at least, a 'forever' relationship isn't going to happen. I am seeing someone but I have no expectations of it and will remain in it for as long as we are both happy. I also won't marry again. I think my friends would kill me if I did

maras2 Fri 15-Jan-16 21:39:00

I fell deeply in love with my then boyfriend,now husband when I was 15.He apparently felt the same,he was 19.Happy to say that 47 years ( with 2 adult kids and 3 grandkids) later,we are still completely in love.We have just celebrated our Ruby anniversary and at our party there were at least 5 couples who were ' courting ' at the same time as us and they still looked 'loved up' Maybe it was a '70's thing. [Smile].

Helmetbymidnight Fri 15-Jan-16 21:42:46

Mara, I love your posts.

G1veMeStrength Fri 15-Jan-16 21:49:03

I honestly do see me and DH growing old together, we've been through thick and thin together and still laugh and 'get' each other which counts for a lot.

But if we're treating relationships like cars, I'm the type to buy a car and keep it running for as long as possible. I kind of think 'well it may be a bit rickety but I know how it's been treated and what's been replaced' and maybe that applies to DH too wink

maras2 Fri 15-Jan-16 21:53:08

helme Thank you.Sometimes it's hard to post without seeming too smug.We are very lucky.

Goingtobeawesome Fri 15-Jan-16 21:57:02

I have no option but to stay married to DH. Apart from anything else, his mother would pass out if we split up.

KrakenAwakes Fri 15-Jan-16 22:02:42

I thought that my marriage would last forever, ten years in he left me and two young children for a work colleague.

I did think he would be around forever. I've had relationships in the past where I was under no illusion it was companionship but not long term.

thesnailandthewhale Fri 15-Jan-16 22:16:15

I have always been sceptical about life-long love, I think it's lovely but not something I have ever considered would happen to me. I have only once had that feeling that I knew I wanted to stay with them for the rest of my life. Unfortunately he did a runner when ds was a baby sad

Before him and since him all relationships have, as a pp said, been for as long as I feel happy then I'm out. I don't expect them to last forever and that's okay, I'm happy alone. It's actually very liberating when you genuinely feel that way although I do sometimes look at older couples and feel a pang of envy at the shared memories etc but then am quickly grateful for not having a MIL to visit every week grin

PoundingTheStreets Fri 15-Jan-16 23:18:24

I think we'd probably all be a lot better off if we didn't expect a romantic relationship to last a lifetime, even if we hoped it did.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and all that.

IME, the happiest relationships seem to be those where the parties not only love each other but also know that any bad behaviour will result in the other leaving. Relying on your partner is not the same as being dependant on them. I think its equality (and I don't equate financial equity with that necessarily) that allows relationships to last, and i many cases we simply lose that as we go through life because of various life changes and personal growth.

Zorbathegeek Sat 16-Jan-16 11:46:33

Really interesting points.

I can totally see how on the one hand it is wonderful to have stayed in love for a lifetime, shared memories, etc., absolutely, with just one person. I can imagine, that if it hadn't been for certain external circumstances, I would be in that situation with at least 2 of my partners.

But then again, I feel with each of them, I learned so much, and changed a lot. Just a trivial example - even down to the music I listen to now, my tastes have change, broadened over the years, as each brought new music that I wouldn't have necessarily got round to listening to, and this is just one exampe of how each of the relationships have enriched my life, and I am not sure at all that I would have experienced this in just one long-term relationship. Maybe it's breadth rather than depth.

Baronessvontwurzel Sun 17-Jan-16 11:45:28

Such an interesting thread. I used to think a romantic partner should provide unconditional love - and I now realise that's not possible. I think unconditional love will only be for my DC. Big life lesson.

mrsfuzzy Sun 17-Jan-16 11:50:00

i love seeing much older couples holding hands. makes me feel warm and hopeful for when i'm in my 70's and older.

LaContessaDiPlump Sun 17-Jan-16 11:50:41

I never expected lifelong butterflies and will be happy enough with friendly companionship. Apparently divorce (initiated by women) is much more common once the woman passes 50, as menopause dramatically reduces the hormonal impetus to maintain a family home/unit for the children.

So I anticipate the possibility of divorce down the line, which I am sort of comfortable with tbh.

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