Taking down expectations

Joey Garcia

Our new year offers opportunities for radical change in dating, marriage or finding joy in the single life. The focus won’t be on the ever-growing hipster vocabulary list that shaped 2018 (words like dicksand to describe someone so infatuated by a new relationship that she or he loses their identity and friends). This year’s trends are about taking down expectations. Here are my forecasts:

Married men and single women could be a thing: No, I’m not suggesting an uptick in business for Ashley Madison, the dating site for cheaters. This is about choosing the best lifestyle for long-term happiness. Studies on marriage show married men are happier than married women. After marriage, men benefit from being well cared for, while women discover they’re responsible for managing the household and working outside the home—just like when they were single. Gah, it’s no fun being the mash-up of a modern woman and a 1950s housewife. In general, single women are happier than their married counterparts, especially if they have shaken off the social pressure to be wed.

Heyyyy divorce, we’re not that into you: Divorce rates will continue to slow. The latest stats reveal that one in four marriages end in divorce. If singer Jade Bird is right that love is a lottery, those odds are worth the gamble. If you want any long-term relationship to prosper, read on. Researchers John and Julie Gottman, who enjoy a 90 percent accuracy rate in predicting divorce, say contempt is the culprit. If you or your partner has a habit of eye-rolling, using a sarcastic tone of voice, or exhibiting a dismissive attitude toward the other’s concerns, or if you’re arrogant, defensive, critical and tend to stonewall, your relationship will end in divorce.

Online dating isn’t getting us boo’d up: The sport of the swipe continues because it keeps the reward centers of the brain lit. But despite the marketing hype from dating sites—including inflating the numbers of actual matches, not admitting to faux profiles and keeping old profiles active—online dating is just a delivery system for endless texts from people we barely know. In 2019, the backlash begins. Tired of the compulsive time suck that online dating represents, more people will opt for meeting IRL (in real life) and will move on quickly when a potential date delays the face-to-face.

Getting along with an ex is what grown people do: Watch for more exes celebrating holidays together, even after they have remarried or are living with someone new. The extended, blended family is an effort to ease the pain suffered by children of divorced parents. But don’t imagine that someone who is capable of enjoying an ex’s new partner is more evolved than someone who can’t stomach the idea. Keeping an ex in the fam is a lifestyle choice. If your ex was abusive or is an addict, don’t invite her or him back in.

Kindness, mindfulness, respect: Our dating profiles say we highly value these qualities in a partner. Do we mean it? Kindness is choosing to be ethical even when it’s easier not to be. Mindfulness is about being present and self-aware, able to allow experiences to flow through without overreacting or becoming overwhelmed. It’s meeting life as an equal. Respect is esteem for others based on our shared humanity. In 2019, we begin to admit that the only hack to attract the kindness, mindfulness and respect we desire from others is to do the inner work necessary to embody what we seek.

Ultimately, relationship trends are the result of what we choose to create. Want to meet your soul mate? Open to a happier marriage? Give yourself permission to change your expectations. Rather than obsessing about what you imagine is missing in your relationships, appreciate the love you have.

Meditation of the week
“The vestment doesn’t make the monk,” says an old French proverb. Have you trained your eyes to see beyond the surface to the deeper truth?

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