If you don't want to read about relationships, communication, and baggage, you will want to skip this post.
When I think about relationships back in my much simpler 20s, I think of how easy they were, and how easy they came to be. It was simple- you met a guy, sparks flew, you went on a few dates, and ta da! you were a couple. You didn't have to worry too much about if they had baggage or issues to deal with. For the most part, the younger you were, the fewer issues people had. But as we got older we all experienced different things. We all started picking up habits, bad experiences, and expectations. We all gained just a few more things to throw into our baggage that we haul around.
Then we reached our 30s and beyond. Where dating is no longer about meeting and sparks flying. If you are so lucky as to have a few sparks fly (I miss that! When did that stop happening?), you don't move straight into dating and coupledom. Now you move into learning about each other's baggage. You may go on a date, you may not. But somehow you still have a "person of interest" in your life, and all you are doing is learning to work with their baggage and issues. You are waiting to see if you can handle this problem, or if they can move past that problem. You start to weigh the pro's and cons from a different angle. You ask yourself if their behaviors are dealbreakers. You wonder if they can handle your baggage and issues. You wonder if you have complementary or clashing baggage.
Then one day you realize you have baggage too, and what is wrong with this person that they are with you when you have such issues? And you wonder why they haven't mentioned your baggage at all- are they too self-absorbed? Clueless? WHY? And then there is the opposite of that- the person who comments constantly on your issues. Are they trying to help? Fix? Or make you feel bad about yourself?
But the worst is when you meet someone who has serious issues, and yet appears to be oblivious to them. You learn to stay far, far away from that type.
Your married since their early 20s and even their teens friends just don't get it. They don't understand what is so complicated about dating. You just meet and there is chemistry, right? Oh how you wish it was still that easy.
And then you have days where you wonder if it can still be that easy? Are those relationships still possible after your 20s? Somewhere there is some naive person saying yes. I'll bet anything that person hasn't been in the dating world in at least a decade. There's also a very hopeful romantic who really wants the answer to be yes, not realizing that his or her baggage includes "impossible expectations."
I'd love to go back to when the hardest part about dating was that a really nice guy had brown eyes but I preferred blue. I'd love it if I didn't have to wonder just how much time I should invest in an emotionally difficult guy, before it is a waste of my time. (Although, I'm starting to think the answer is "all of the time.") More importantly, I wish I could go back in time to where I didn't know emotionally difficult men, and they were all just fun and entertaining. I'd love it if I didn't find myself thinking, "Could I live with this problem for the rest of my life?" every time I meet a guy.
Be patient with your single friends. Dating and relationships are not the fun and games that they used to be. Now you practically need a psychology degree to survive a first date!