Stuck on Shingling


Like Springsteen tickets, it seems everybody has them.

Cell phone communication has helped the insecure feel more secure in their insecurity. The ability to call friends during alone time (See: walking home, on the bus, or #2 sans reading material) makes singles feel as comforted as we did when the dog used to sleep at the end of our beds as children. We may be lonely, but we certainly aren’t alone.

But for those individuals whose Nokias aren’t enough to fill the void, there’s that other hot product sure to become hotter once the summer wind stops blowing:

The Significant Other…available in stores now.

Oddly, the beautiful people of the world are in greater need of security than the less aesthetically pleasing individuals. The eye-candy elite invariably owns the more successful careers, friends and lovers (which are sometimes one in the same) from which to choose. Still, these are the same folks who suffer from the growing phenomenon referred to as “Overlapping.”

O-ver-lapp-ing (verb)

1- When one individual starts a relationship while an existing one is winding down…usually unbeknownst to the person about to be dumped.

Note: To officially qualify as Overlapping, the person must be exclusively dating the soon-to-be-axed significant other leading up to the eventual overlap.

According to a non-scientific poll (code for: the author is guessing), women account for 80% of the perpetrators when it comes to the overlap. While post breakup men usually enjoy the newfound guy time, consumed by regaining control of the remote and drinking their faces off, some women prefer not to relinquish the perks that relationships can offer:

Dinners and wine.

Consistent sex.

An arm to escort into parties and weddings.

A sounding board to share every frivolous thought.

Like a 7-11, overlapping decrees that closing the door completely to potential buyers is not an option. If an X chromosome knows after a few months of monogamous dating that she isn’t with her soulmate, she won’t necessarily end the relationship 1) if there is still a comfort factor and 2) there is no safety net.

Ultimately, in the world of the insecure dater, a two-card hand of nice and boring always beats unpredictable and alone.

“There’s definite guilt,” explains Shawna, 28. “In many cases the overlapping only lasts a few weeks…prolonged by not wanting to hurt the “innocent” party involved.

We figure that the relationship should not continue because we would not be looking elsewhere if truly happy.”

“I think women look to see the potential in the new person. With the current guy on deck you already know what you have to deal with,” explains Tracie, described by a friend as someone who both overlaps and recycles. “There are also women who would rather hang on to someone as opposed to finding their own happiness,” she continues. “It’s like buying a new pair of shoes and you need to break them in. You won’t throw away the old ones just yet. The new ones need to be comfortable!”

But what about the moral implications if overlapping occurs while still having “sympathy-because-I’m- about-to-kick-you-to-the-curb” sex with the old pair of shoes while having “honeymoon stage sex” with the new ones?

“That’s when things get emotional. You don’t want your current boyfriend to suspect anything, so you go ahead with it out of guilt,” confesses Lauren, 31. “But usually if I hit a fork in the road, and have to give in to having sex with my new boyfriend that I plan on being with, I try to end things with the old one as quickly as possible.”

The irony of those men who become victims of overlapping is that—because of ego and infallibility—they believe their girlfriends would NEVER dream of cheating on them. In their minds, guys are the ones most likely to stray. Overall, the Y-chromosomes feel women aren’t calculated or schewd enough to pull a Kobe and go off with someone else on a whim…as if doing an imitation of Diane Lane in “Unfaithful.”

However, respected psychologist and author Bonnie Eaker Weil recently told ABC’s 20/20 her research concluded that over 50% of women cheat on their husbands.

“You have to be on the alert that at any moment you could lose your partner,” she warned. “We know how to fall in love but we don’t know how to stay in love.”

Based on that information, as well as the conversations I’ve had with twenty and thirtysomethings, our generation is…

a) Very accomplished at starting relationships (See: Thrill of the chase) b) Cowardly when attempting to end them (See: Simply not returning phone calls and/or emails even when things seem to be going well) c) Absolutely inept at settling down (See: Selfish tendencies towards career, personal goals or fun time before sharing lives) d) Constantly looking to trade up, even during seemingly content period of existing relationships (See: This column).

In the end, Overlappers aren’t bad people.

Rather, they simply possess the very human and increasingly common traits of a, b, c and d.

So the next time you believe things are breezing right along with your mate…that there is no reason to go to the gym anymore…or to actually attempt to think creatively when planning a night out or while in the bedroom, think again…

…You may be getting Overlapped as you read this.