The other day I found myself in a conversation with a dear friend of mine about the idea of changing locales to be closer to someone you want to build a future with. She’d been considering moving in a few years to really try again with her ex, and she mentioned to me that most of her friends would probably think she was crazy to be saying it – but that she’d realized by now that if she really wanted to be with him, and they were really going to make a go at it, at some point someone would have to move.
And time had revealed to her that she was no longer unwilling to be that person.
Funny enough while she slightly lamented her friends not understanding, she wasn’t the only person I’d heard something like that from. In the past, I’d also been told by another friend of how she’d started off so indignant about what she would and wouldn’t do in a relationship, but that when it came down to it, and she had the opportunity to move to the Midwest or stay in DC with a man she was growing ever closer to (and who would eventually become her husband), she made a choice she didn’t think she ever would have – she stayed. She credited being older and wiser with her making that decision.
But lest I act like my friends are the only examples of priorities changing as they got older, I must also speak about my older/wiser revelation.
Do you remember Girlfriends? With Joan Clayton, and Maya, Toni, and Lynn? Of course you do. Well, one of my favorite episode arcs of that show was Joan’s relationship with Malik Yoba’s character. They met under difficult circumstances (he was her current actor boyfriend’s manager – eek!), but very soon realized that they were soul mates. Soul mates!
To my impressionable, 20 year old mind, this was a sign of true love being an option for us all. They were so happy. They were perfect for each other. They were in love. And then, the episode came where Joan realized that as much as she wanted to eventually have children, he didn’t. She tried to will her thoughts into compromise. “Well, maybe he’ll change his mind,” she thought? But when he made it very clear that he wouldn’t, she knew the cold hard truth – you can’t kind of have a baby. If one of you wants children and the other absolutely doesn’t, this here is what we can a deal breaker.
So to my absolute horror, she broke up with him. I was devastated. Sure, it was a TV show, but I just knew they were meant for each other! How could she just end it, I thought. I mean, they were soul mates!!
But here’s the thing, as I got older, I grew to understand exactly why I was so wrong back then. I realized what Joan knew — that they both had different priorities.
So what does this all have to do with the title of this post?
Well, it’s something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. The idea that as we grow older and (hopefully) grow in general, our thinking about relationships also changes. And with that thinking, so do our priorities. I can imagine that a younger Joan Clayton (say one in her mid-20s) would have turned a blind eye to the difference in a family-life between the two of them. But as she grew older, it was more important for her to be with someone who shared her vision. Same with my friends – making decisions they would have scoffed at at 18. I’m not saying that their decisions are wiser because they are older. I’m saying that as they grew, some things became more important for them. Their priorities changed in ways they didn’t foresee as a younger woman. And when your priorities change, I’ve realized, so do your decisions.
What about you all? Are there things that were less of a concern for your younger self or priorities that have changed for you as you’ve gotten older? I know I used to have all these preferences for the men I dated (career, stature, look, demeanor, etc…), but now that I’ve gotten older, while the preferences haven’t necessarily gone away – they’re not as important to me as say, finding someone who makes me laugh uncontrollably. And certainly not as important as being with someone who makes me smile just thinking about him.