For a quick refresher course on the Time Orientation Theory in the realm of the post-dating world, check out my last two guest blogs on Past-Oriented and Present-Oriented people:
So I’m sure that by now, you’ve figured out that Future-Oriented is where we want to be. And you’d be right…sort of.
Future-Oriented people can be the best of all Times.
“When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. You do not need it anymore. Presence is the key. Now is the key.” – ECKHART TOLLE
If you want a picture of the WTF?! girls in our 9th grade production of Cinderella, I’m your girl. I love holding court at sorority alumnae weekends, regaling the younger sisters with tales of our former glory. Even my WTF?! username is a nickname that was bestowed upon me during my second day of college.
But being a Past-Positive has not worked out so well when it comes to relationships. Perhaps I should take the advice of Mr. Tolle and be more present and in the moment. Maybe I should forget the past, not worry about the future, and just live in the now.
Or maybe not.
Here’s a little test to see if you are a Present person. Was your yearbook quote:
A) “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
B) “Don’t take life too seriously; you’ll never get out of it alive.”
C) “Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse.”
If you said yes to any of these – or any of them sound like totally awesome quotes to add to your Facebook page – you are one of our Present people. But is living totally for now, in the moment, with no regard for the past or future, really the best way to behave in a relationship?
What are Present people really all about?
How many times have we all rationalized away a failed relationship (or potential relationship) by invoking the ever-comforting, “the timing was just off?”
This platitude is cliché but reassuring. There is not something inherently wrong with us! Or the other person. The failure was just a function of that ineffable construct – Time. Right…? Like all the things we say to ourselves after facing the collapse of a relationship, we don’t necessarily believe it. But it certainly helps to ease the rejection.
But maybe time isn’t so intangible. Maybe timing is in fact everything.
I don’t mean “time,” in the sense that your efforts to get a guy to commit days after his fiance left him are not working, or that your 21-year-old crush is more interested in finding her new favorite happy hour spot than in going on a couples weekends with you, your best friend and his wife. I mean time in terms of how we perceive time, and consequently, our whole lives.
For decades, education researchers, psychologists and sociologists have been fascinated by a concept called future time orientation. There are dozens of scholarly articles on the topic – but for those without access to a university library log-in, you can get the condensed version here.
Basically, it all boils down to the argument that there are three lenses through which we view the world – Past, Present and Future. Each one has two sub-categories. And while this all may seem pretty simple, time-orientation can explain a lot about how you approach the world and what successes you might experience.
Don’t worry, there won’t be a test at the end.
For our WTF?! purposes, time-orientation also gives us insight into how we behave in our relationships, what we look for in our partners, and why sometimes – no matter how hard we try – the timing is just never right. A present hedonistic will probably never be happy with a future oriented, and a fatalist just can’t understand the past-negative’s inability to instantly get over his ex.
If you and the person you want to be with are living in different times, no matter how hard you may try, it is just not going to work.
In this post-dating world of e-harmony algorithms, networking-non-dates, and wider and wider pools of potential partners, maybe we shouldn’t be asking “What’s your sign?” but rather be wondering, “What’s your time?”
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