This is a common Chinese saying that literally translates to “Riding a cow in order to find a horse.” In more colloquial terms, it means doing the best you can with what you have now, but always looking to replace what you have now with something better. There is no real polarization of the connotation of the word; most of the time, it is used in a neutral sense. Normally, this saying is applied to to career choices. Chinese parents will usually tell their child to just take what job he or she has been offered and 骑马寻马. Whilst going to that job, he or she should continue searching for something better. Now, logically, it makes perfect sense; to have something is better than nothing at all, and this job, even if not perfect, will pay the bills and put food on the table.
But this is not the application that irks me and the not the application that for me, becomes a negative. This saying really bothers me when it is used to describe people in relationships. It becomes a description of someone who takes love and turns it into business. The intricate interplay of emotions, attraction, respect and sacrifice is reduced to nothing more than a simple and selfish game of trades, almost like American consumerism. The rule becomes constantly trading in what one currently has for something newer, something better, something more impressive. When you say that someone is 骑马寻马, you’re inherently describing the person as capricious. He or she settles with someone for now, for the sake of being in a relationship. However, the second an upgrade comes along, that first significant other is tossed away as worthless and replaced with someone new. Some people may do this once in a while, some people use this as their code for dating. I will not comment on these people and their dating practices, because how they choose to live is how they choose to live. But these people (which I refer to as soul suckers) should recognize that turning love into a business transaction sucks out the very essence and vitality from the passion and that the people they throw away are permanently scarred and shattered. Personally, I will never let myself become a soul sucker. I am not speaking against upgrading yourself and in turn, your significant other. (There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, self-efficacy should be applauded and encouraged.)
For me, I view every relationship as distinct and special. I can confidently say that if you go into a relationship with someone with the pretense that it’s just temporary and that you’re going to move on to greener pastures in the near future, there is no way that you can invest 100%, as you should in a relationship. And that is what pisses me off. Using people for temporary, carnal pleasures, when on the flipside, they could potentially committing 110% to you. The disparity, when it emerges, is harsh and often heart-wrenchingly tragic, and I hate when it happens to me, or when I see it happen.
Does any of this make sense? I don’t know. I’m just touchy when it comes to this subject.
A companion piece to Homo FOMO, @realityrehabilitation here comments on the emotional toil of opportunistic dating and the bitter cynicism it engenders in the community. While certainly a problem for earlier generations, I feel that today’s social media has exacerbated this mentality by proffering an illusion of choice. Open any dating app and the possibilities seem endless, hundreds of available partners simply a click away. But we forget that a relationship is not your typical one-way business transaction, where the “buyer” exerts dominant control over the “seller” in a competitive market. Rather it’s a reciprocal arrangement where both parties can exercise equal market power. And when we respect this dynamic and recognize that there are very few “sellers” that we are compatible with, perhaps that would help temper the temptation to cast wandering eyes.