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Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

Monogamy is a double-edged sword of comfort and confinement. Committed relationships involving two people and only two people can be a wonderful source of security and happiness, yet inquisitiveness of possibility is inevitable. People who say they no longer find strangers attractive when they’re in a relationship are lying, either to their partners or to themselves. It’s only natural to marvel at what could have been and what still may be, but why do our minds tend to wander from something so fulfilling?

FOMO And Society 

This personal diatribe on romance begins with the PlayStation 5, obviously. If you’ve attempted to purchase one of these highly sought after consoles within months of its release, you’ll know just how frustrating the process is. Supplies are limited, and scalpers are endless. The demand is so much greater than the supply that every time it goes up for sale on a major retailer’s site, it is sold out in mere seconds.

Such a hot product must feature countless industry titles exclusive to it, right? That’s the only possible explanation for such incredulous demand. That conclusion is dead wrong, however. At the time of writing, there are really only two games that can only be played on a PS5 of note, one of which comes free with the console and is only about two hours long, and the other is a remake of a game from 2009. So why are gamers everywhere losing their minds? It’s the fear of missing out.

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FOMO is certainly not a new concept. After all, it does have a widely accepted acronym. Humans have this innate desire to want the latest and greatest of anything. Whether this desire is more a result of biology or marketing is debatable, but the reality is that it is very real. The grass is always greener, and we don’t want to feel left out in the cold. Ever.

It is only natural, then, that we would experience this same phenomenon in our relationships, too. The fear of commitment is the ultimate fear of missing out. How could you pledge the rest of your life to someone when you never know who you’ll meet in the future? Who knows, they might even be almost as good for you as your current partner!  

It’s so laughably human to look at others’ plates with envy when there’s a full one right in front of you. There’s still nothing wrong with the PlayStation 4, but the PlayStation 5 controllers have haptic feedback, a term that you totally had heard of before. You definitely understand what it is, and from deep within your soul, you know you have to have it. From those same depths, you know you need to be with someone better.

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Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

She’s Out Of My League

In an episode of “Parks and Recreation,” chronic over-thinker Leslie Knope creates an amalgam of jealousy called Hot Rebecca in response to the powerful women her partner Ben has been interacting with at work. Not only do we fantasize about what could be for us, we spiral about the inverse as well. It’s so easy to succumb to insecurity and worry about better options for our partners.

To reference yet another beloved sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother” poses the classic reacher versus settler debate. The characters posit that in all relationships, one person is reaching up toward someone who is more desirable, and the other is being pulled down, settling for the reacher. One is always at least a little bit out of the other’s league.

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However, there are no leagues. There is no reaching. There is no settling. Relationships aren’t a competition in which looks and status amount to some sort of imaginary tally. You can’t quantify a person. 

This kind of thinking is so prevalent in media and society in general. People wind up developing arbitrary standards for what defines a “catch” for them, and in this way potential partners become commoditized. It follows that an envious, status-obsessed civilization would submit itself to the fear of missing out the way it does. We’re not playing any sports, though. There is no winning. All that matters is how that person makes you feel. That’s it.

Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

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Let’s Cheat

It’s fascinating that infidelity is a relative term. Every person has their own unique idea of what qualifies as cheating. For some couples, such as those in open relationships, cheating isn’t even a factor. Others, however, consider merely flirting to be a breach of the social contract. 

Why do people cheat with such frequency? Why would people jeopardize their relationships for mere moments of fleeting pleasure? There’s a fear of missing out inherent in simply being present. We let impulse take over, prioritizing now over the future. We throw away our lives because the reptilian brain doesn’t want to miss out on some thrusting. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

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Soulmates

Whether you subscribe to the existence of souls or not, the concept remains the same. We always hear about soulmates, or “the one.” The idea that there is only one single person out there with whom you are destined to be together is preposterous. It is a fantasy and an excuse that gets tossed around by people who’s relationships recently failed. They’ll say things like “they just weren’t the one,” but really they just didn’t put in the effort.

No, there isn’t one singular individual out there who will make things cosmically easy. If you find yourself wondering whether or not you current partner is truly your soulmate, that’s probably a mistake. It doesn’t matter if you believe they were ordained by the universe to be your lover, what matters is how they make you feel every day. 

Conceptually, soulmates are the ultimate romantic manifestation of FOMO. If you truly believe that everyone has one single soulmate, how could you ever be secure with your current partner. Did you ever take a statistics course? Do you know how many people are on this Earth right now?

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Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

The First, The Only

High school sweethearts are such a backwoods, corny trope, and I can say that because I’m still with mine. While the cool kids were already having the most awkward sex possible by the time freshman year rolled around, I was not. Still, once I got together with my first partner, there was no looking back. There’s only looking sideways.

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The sad reality is that there will always be this doubt in the back of my mind. How can I really be sure if she’s the right one, and not just the first one? How do I evaluate the quality of a relationship when there’s no basis for comparison? The logical problem with this doubt is that this isn’t a scientific study; no control group is required. I just established that I don’t buy the concept of soulmates, that all that matters is how they make me feel, and I am sure of that part. Then why does this apprehension lurk indefinitely?

There is a constant FOMO. There is always the thought in the farthest reaches of my mind that wonders if I could have what I have now with somebody better.

Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

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So How Do I Get Over FOMO In My Relationship?

An easy answer to this question does not exist. Despite every preceding word, the creeping suspicion that something better could exist never fully goes away. Better doesn’t really exist, and I love my partner more than I ever knew I could love anyone. There’s no doubt in mind of that. There’s no doubt in mind that she’s amazing, either. She gets more beautiful every day. I still get butterflies in my stomach and all she has to do is look at me. I’m unconditionally certain of how she makes me feel.

Maybe that’s what a soulmate really is, an icon to combat the mystery of others.  

Relationships And The Fear Of Missing Out

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If there’s any wisdom I’d like for this meditation on relationships to impart, it’s that the fear of missing out within them is completely normal and needs to be understood, not avoided. Do you suffer from this fear in your own relationship? We want to hear about it.