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14 March 2011, 12:00 pm 6 Comments

Advice: Enjoy Time Spent

Submission by K. Kriesel, TNG contributor

“Longevity is not a good criterion by which to judge the success or failure of a relationship.” - The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

After years of doing the lesbian serial monogamy thing, it dawned on me that each successive relationship was far too similar.  With girlfriend after girlfriend, the two choices presented to me were either to work hard on the relationship or to be an independent individual.  And if you weren’t having fun, you weren’t working hard enough on commitment.

Is it just me, or should there be more to a relationship than work?

The most meaningful time I’ve spent with a … hmm, which term to use? … a person of romantic interest was four days.  The only goal was for two people, both of whom had just been run over by exes, to have fun and to get to know each other. And we succeeded! I learned a lot from this person and then we went our separate ways. We both learned over the course of that Easter vacation that the duration of a relationship doesn’t necessarily impact its quality.

At the end of this year, I’m moving to the middle of nowhere across the country. [Thank you, AmeriCorps!] Does this mean that I should refrain from any sort meaningful relationship, knowing that it’ll be temporary? Hell no! In fact, knowing that the time spent with a special someone is limited encourages me to appreciate it all the more. And I probably wouldn’t want to be with someone who wants me to give up my exciting plans or who tries to follow me.

My point is that I’d like you to question your dating and relationship priorities. If longevity is among them, ask yourself why. It’s one thing to want to spend a lot of time with that special someone and it’s quite another to judge “success” or “failure” on duration.

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  • queer dude said:

    I have often, frequently said this very same thing. So many people discount a relationship once it’s failed, leaving behind all the personal growth and fond memories that they feel are colored by failure. What a waste!

    No one every said a perfect relationship had to be eternal.

  • allyson said:


  • scantron said:

    very good point. this is making me think about my previous and current relationships now.

  • Alex said:

    I completely disagree. There ARE meaningful relationships that last way longer than 4 days. And yes, relationships do take a lot of work. The truth is some people are all the time in me-first mode. When you are not willing to sacrifice something for the sake of the relationship, when you always have ‘your’ plans and never ‘our’ plans, then the result is 4-day relationships. Are they worthless? Probably not. Are they as good as it gets? *Definitely* not.

  • Michael said:

    Alex, I think you’re missing the point. The author didn’t say that 4-day relationships are the most meaningful. I think she is saying that being in a relationship for the sake of longevity misses the point. If you try for a lasting relationship, sometimes you simply over-analyze something that might have run its course. Perhaps one needs to be willing to end a relationship when it’s done versus beat the proverbial dead horse for the sake of an LTR. This is especially true when you’re young and queer and trying to figure out who you are, let along how you function in relationships with other people who are also trying to figure out who they are. No one is suggesting that couples break up because they’ve been together too long. Instead, we’re stating that the lack of longevity shouldn’t ruin a relationship.

  • Alex said:


    I completely agree with what you say: ‘beating a dead horse’ is not very useful, and it’s sometimes unhealthy, especially when the relationship is abusive or is based on a power imbalance. So we are on the same page about this. What I meant is that there is (in my opinion!) a fundamentally flawed assumption in the article: that the only options you have when you are in a relationship are to “either work hard on the relationship or to be an independent individual”. First of all, there is NO meaningful human relationship, romantic or otherwise, that is not based on hard work, on negotiation, on an attempt to find common ground between two world views. This takes a lot of time and energy, but I don’t think there is a shortcut around it. Second, any *healthy* relationship needs to allow for a balanced expression of individuality that is respectful of (most of) your needs and wants, but also of your partner’s. This either-or perspective will lead you to think that, when the relationship demands that you re-assess and re-frame your goals and desires to try to make them compatible with those of your partner (which sometimes means that each of you will have to give something up for the sake of the relationship!), or when you need to work on resolving differences and addressing conflict, you are already ‘beating a dead horse’. And you move on to the next person, hoping that one day prince (or princess) charming will knock on your door, and that you will be finally able to be in an LTR that is low maintenance and that requires no personal sacrifices.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be in a LTR. If you are happy with being in a series of short-term relationships, and you find meaning in them, great! But if you feel the need to share your life with someone long-term, and you are moving from relationship to relationship because after the honeymoon phase you realize that they require a lot of work and compromise, then I wonder if it would be useful to question the way you conceptualize LTRs, and what they imply. Taking with someone who is or has been in a healthy LTR might be useful.