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Between the two, it’s option B hands down. But I wish there were an option C, where, over the course of 6 (or more) roller coaster-intense relationships, you can likely hit an ecstatic 10+ or you can be in hell with a -5. That’s what I’d go for. :)

Interesting, thought-provoking piece, Tobi.

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loool I love this answer. wow, I can't even imagine stomaching a "-5" for anything longer than a day or two. but the potential for 10+ is alluring. if you experienced a -5...do you think you'd still be hopeful enough that a 10+ is around the corner?

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Good question. Well, I have to be. Maybe not just around the corner, but definitely in the cards. This kind of rollercoaster is painful but exciting. It keeps you on your toes. :)

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I love the optimistic mindset!

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I feel like I’m in the box with Schrödinger's cat and I want the secret third option. Which is maybe that A starts out like B, meanders from 8/10 down to 4 or 5/10 when you’re not sure it’s right, but goes back up to 8/10+ because you put in the hard work and that’s what bumps the happiness score. There’s also room for undisclosed, unrequited crushes in there, which are fabulously Spotify playlist inducing if not torturously tragic.

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lmao I cackled out loud at the "tortuously tragic". I like the way you've phrased this third option, it's one that gives hope, agency and potential to the story, instead of it being a static "here's your happiness score for the rest of your life, deal with it" option .

although I'm tempted to ask....how you would answer if pushed ever-so-slightly to choose from A or B?

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Oh who am I kidding, I'd probably go with B. Life's too short to stick it out with the mediocre, right?? Let's just live the tortured life! Live Fast. Break Hearts. Listen to Emo.

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Lmaoo listen to emo....get in your feelings....get creative and write a sad piece. Then someone else feeling down reads that and feels less alone. The artist's cycle, ey?

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Very interesting question. I definitely don’t know immediately but I feel as though some people are strongly A or B. I feel like B is probably most like real like. We have these relationships that are pretty great but for whatever reason aren’t meant to last forever. I think I want to choose A because the idea of stability at this point in my life seems nice, but forever does feel so long. And I read somewhere that a 6 anything (partner, job, etc) is the worst because you don’t really like it but it’s not bad enough to leave. So maybe B.

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forever sounds awfully long to me too haha but I get what you mean re stability. when I realized that I wanted B, I felt a bit weird like "wow, you really don't wanna settle down" but then I was like "is settling down the goal at all costs?". uhh no, it's not. so why not B?

that said, I think people underestimate their ability to stay in things that aren't great. like in theory, everyone who's in a sub-par or insufficient relationship would just eject and leave but that's never how it works in practice. and people aren't likely going to come out to say they want a 6....even though that's what they's prefer. choosing 6/10 happiness is not en vogue in our culture today.

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Jul 16, 2023·edited Jul 16, 2023Liked by Tobi Ogunnaike

Oh. My. Well. After a 20-year relationship, I'm currently in the process of unchoosing A in hopes that there is a B (or better). It's painful, and there is a lot of fear and grief. But muddling through, going through the motions in a relationship that is "fine," but no longer nourishing or loving or connected seems, well, like giving away a lot of life. I have a small child so that makes the decision even more difficult. We worked hard to see if we could resurface the things that brought us together in the first place, to reignite our connection. But the truth is, we are different people now than we were when we met and that connection we once had is not deep enough to hold us. I don't even know if I would give it a 6/10 most days. The thing that gives me pause on the decision - and that is probably true of others who choose A - is fear. I must continually remind myself and renew faith that I am letting go of this relationship in order to make space for one that is loving, mutually adoring, and a decent bit saucy and flirtatious. And that might mean I'm alone for a while. So I'm learning to be a better friend to myself the process. Thank you, Tobi, for this provocative piece. I've just discovered your work and it's quite timely for me.

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wow, thank you Laura for such a raw and honest response. I can't imagine what it's like having to be in that position (especially with your small child like you mentioned) but it seems like you've worked hard at it, given your all and come to the realization that it wasn't working.

I hear what you say about fear, that's typically what holds us back in sub-optimal things—jobs, cities, lovers etc. Because we're stuck in that scarcity mindset where we believe that the thing we have now (while imperfect) is better than what we'll find out there. It's tricky to navigate, even when we're aware of this bias. But I think the key is what you mentioned- reminding yourself that you're creating space for something more beautiful to emerge in the tended space. And accepting the uncertainty that's inherent here. I wish you all the best!

Can I ask how you found my work? :)

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Jul 18, 2023·edited Jul 18, 2023

Thank you, Tobi. It's a space I have to keep carving again and again because the societal narrative is that it's a "failed marriage"(I think differently - it worked for a good while and then it didn't - mostly a success), that kids shouldn't have two homes, that an interest in pleasure (or even feeling good) is selfish and commitment/loyalty (whatever the cost) is sacred. Of course relationships have ups and downs, and nothing can be pleasing or good all of the time. But a bit of the time? I say yes. And if more than that, even better. I think I'll leave it at that for now. If you want to discuss further, we can go a less public channel. :) It's actually a mystery to me as to how I found your work. It arrived in my email inbox - a notice about a poem you'd written. I'm a wanderer at heart (been a while since I did the kind of geographic wandering you are doing - I'm envious), and I also find myself frustrated with how difficult it is to be present where I am sometimes. My head is way less interesting than my surroundings, and yet I'm there and not "here." It appealed, and then I looked deeper. I just recently became aware of Substacks after an invitation from Simone Stolzoff. I'm not on social media and I don't respond to posts anywhere, so let's just say this is a huge stretch for me. But it resonated to a space where I wanted to go. So thank you, for the invitation.

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May 28, 2023Liked by Tobi Ogunnaike

Fascinating hypothetical conjecture... I think neither option tbh. I'd like to live life with an open mind and see what happens. There might not even be an option for what'll eventually happen should you open yourself up to the craziness of the universe.

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Apr 22, 2023Liked by Tobi Ogunnaike

Maybe I'm just a rebel, but I'm putting myself in the category of people that don't want to choose either of these!

I loved reading through your thoughts about it though!

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haha I too hope I never have to choose between these two options. And I could've written a lot more on this topic but thought I'd end up blabbing too much so I cut it short. So I'm glad you enjoyed reading it :)

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who do you think are the people who stay in the 6/10?

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(Megan with the blue hair👋🏽)

I think people who are either pragmatic to the tee....or who highly value loyalty, stability, duty will choose A. Also...I think we underestimate our ability to stay in things that aren't great. In theory, everyone who's in a sub-par situation (job, relationship, apartment, school) etc would eject and leave to choose a better alternative. but that's not how things work in reality.

don't we all know someone who's in a relationship that isn't happy but they're going through the motions? forever is simply doing that for long enough that you get trapped (or think you're trapped). if someone truly wanted a 6/10 happy forever-relationship....I don't think they'd come out and say it loud, because happiness is en vogue in our modern day, so they'd vote yes but keep it hush hush

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