The other day I was at a party with some Russian friends and I was introduced to my dear friend Olga’s new boyfriend. Olga is her late 50’s and has been married three times, though she’s been single for a long time now. Her boyfriend is attractive with a nice smile and was very attentive to her frail, elderly mother – things seemed promising and a bit exciting. Olga told me, though, that mostly she took care of him and that he had some pretty deep wounds, not to mention the fact that he had recently moved here from Virginia and had no friends or family nearby, if anywhere.
Olga has everything going for her – she is lovely and warm and loving, creative and multi-talented – one of the strongest and wisest women I know and certainly one of the best mothers. She is currently launching her Lithuanian niece off to college, the niece whom she adopted after both her parents died. She is responsible for transforming this once wounded and troubled little girl into a stellar teenager, and also for raising her own daughter who works at one of the best companies in America. (Not to mention taking care of the afore-mentioned elderly mother while working two jobs.)
So I casually said or as casually as I can sound, “Hmmm…maybe you want to go slow here?” (Not sure if I included the “maybe” or even the question mark, knowing me. ) For though I agree with Gram and Walsh in their book “There is no Prince,” it did seem to me that someone should be taking a little bit of care of Olga for a change. But her very quick-witted and bright friend Elena, put me in my place. “Go slowly?” she rebutted. “How much time do you think we have left? She tries it, if it doesn’t work out, she ends it.”
And that certainly is the way they had explained to me years ago that people operated in Russia when they lived there. People got married they way we got boyfriends, they had pronounced, and then they all stayed friends after the divorce. From the little I’ve seen, it seems to be the case: Olga’s ex-husband and his wife who live in the same North Shore town as she does, happily have attended all of Olga’s parties for almost two decades.
Of course for us Americans, serial monogamy also seems to be the new norm, as many of us are clearly rushing into relationship after relationship.
Being put in my place definitely got me thinking. Was I (and most every other dating coach) doling out dated and bad advice? Life is indeed short, why not take chances? What’s the harm? In an ideal world, I suppose, there isn’t much of a downside. Break up, have some appropriate angst and heartache, remain friends and move on. Now you at least have loads of people to attend your parties.
But I suppose that over the last 7 years as a matchmaker and being privileged to hear so many stories of divorces and breakups, it has not seemed that easy or clean. Most often it has taken people a lot longer to get out of things than to get in them and a lot longer than they anticipated. “I should have done it years ago,” is a constant refrain. Abuse and addiction, lost financial resources, infidelity or just plain unhappiness – well it can take a long while to regroup and sometimes to even build back self-esteem, trust and hope.
So here’s the dilemma: life is short. Do we then plunge quickly, knowing how short life is? Or do we take our time, knowing how short life is and we don’t want to waste it with the wrong person?
Each scenario has its own logic for sure.
In the end, of course, hooking up with someone is always going to take a leap of faith. Maybe a little borscht to complement our apple pie?
In our culture, though, it does seem, from hearing all the stories that I do, that playing Russian Roulette most often backfires, and we seem to end up with a big mess and having to make new friends to invite to parties.
←Back to articles