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The Path Of Least Resistance In Relationships

By Terri Arnold

I have always been an observer of my friends’ and acquaintances’ behavior, especially relating to relationships, which is one of the reasons I became a psychotherapist. I was especially interested in why so many relationships are unhappy. During the time I owned and operated a face-to-face dating service and was privy to personal histories of a number of men and women, I formulated what I call “The Path of Least Resistance”: people often do not consciously choose a mate and instead drift into committed relationships with a partner who chooses them. The partner pursues, is persistent and has an assertive personality - insensitive to whether their feeling are reciprocated - as long as the relationship is maintained.

The ‘love object’ is passive in relationships though not in life in general and will accept the relationship as long as the pursuer is not physically unattractive to him or her.

This became particularly obvious to me through the behavior of one of my ‘star’ clients. This young man was in his early thirties, the quintessential Latin: tall, dark and handsome. Carlos (not his real name) was also quite intelligent and had a good job. Several weeks after he joined my service and before I had the chance to make a match for him, he called to tell me he was ‘involved’ with a woman at work.

She had initially came on to him, had asked him for a date and he accepted. He had never asked her out prior to her approaching him because she did not particularly appeal to him physically and he found her to be immature in her conversation and behavior. He had a pleasant\evening and through her assertiveness and pursuit, they drifted into a dating pattern of weekend and some weeknight dates. His initial opinion of her had not changed. When I asked him if he loved her, he replied that he did not.

Another reason Carlos had called me was to say he was available for casual dating if I had any women in my database who would be agreeable to this type of relationship. He would not be able to date anyone else on the weekends because of his relationship with the woman at work. I tried to dissuade him from this behavior as this had the potential for disaster but could not talk him out of hanging on to the woman at work. He was weak, he was flattered by her attention, he was willing to become engaged to her and he was taking The Path of Least Resistance while sneaking around behind her back.

Terri Arnold
invites you to visit her websites at .

Another male client had recently retired from his mental health career. Jim, too was tall, attractive, intelligent and articulate and looked much younger than his years. The woman he had been living with had left him and went to another state to take care of some business problems. He stated how relieved he was to be free of her as their relationship had been chaotic with a great deal of arguing and his daily life was now peaceful. He further stated that she had attempted suicide several times and had made his life ‘a living hell’, that she in fact had serious mental problems and at times was physically violent toward him. He wanted to meet someone with whom he could establish a stable relationship but was not prepared to start dating until this woman returned and removed her belongings from his apartment.

When I did not hear from Jim for a while, I called him to follow up. He told me that she has back with him and now wanted to get married. He insisted he was going to ask her to leave and would get back to me in a few days - which he did not do. I again called him out of concern for his mental health and physical safety. He now stated he could not ask her to leave as ‘it would upset her’ and that she needed him in her life. His existence was again hellish but he had no immediate plans to improve his life. Again, the Path of Least Resistance!

Jennifer is in her late forties, very attractive with an athletic build. I have known her personally for a number of yeas. She is now on her third marriage. Her first marriage lasted for fifteen years. She related how she had been dating her first ex, thought he was nice but was not in love with him. However, he pressured her so much that she agreed to marry him.

She met her second husband in a country and western bar. He wanted his ‘green card’ very much and asked three different women to marry him. When they all refused, he asked Jennifer. Pressured her. She, of course, yielded and married him although she was aware of being number four on his list. They remained married for a month past the three years needed for him to obtain his coveted green card and he then divorced her.

Jennifer met husband number three in an area frequented by tourists. He was from another state. They dated for awhile and she told me he was ‘okay’. Again, he pressured her and they are now married. Path of Least Resistance!

These people are not weak in most areas of life but let others take the lead and manipulate them in a very important area: relationships. They are apparently fearful of being alone and rather than be responsible for trying to meet their special person, they allow others to impose their will upon them - usually being aware they are not happy with this person but finding it easier than resisting and attempting to find happiness.

Article by Terri Arnold
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Terri Arnold, MS has been a Psychotherapist for 20+ years and has also owned and operated a brick and mortar dating service. She now invites you to visit her websites at and .

This work is copyrighted by the author. No unauthorized duplication or presentation allowed. Copyright © 2004 Terri Arnold All Rights Reserved Reprinted With Permission.

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