Holding on Too Long? A Story about Cars and Love

Over the summer, I was in Boston and out to dinner with Cars and Love a colleague who specializes in relationships. We’ll call him Adam because, well, his name is Adam LoDolce. When two relationship experts go out to dinner and strike up a conversation with the waitress, you’d assume Tubit.com the topic du jour would be love, dating, and relationships.

You’d be wrong.

For the Love of Cars

Instead, we chatted with our waitress Jordan about cars. Yup, automobiles. It all started when Jordan overheard me say how much I love my 10-year-old car, despite it having ancient technology (an old iPod connector in the glovebox) and completely lacking modern basics like a backup camera. I was saying to Adam that despite these annoyances, and clear justification for an upgrade, I’m riding with this car until it dies.

Overhearing this, Jordan shared how she was similarly dedicated to her car. But it was a little different because, in her words, her car “sucked so bad.” A ringing endorsement for sure. Ever curious about how people think about the world and make decisions, I asked her to explain.

Holding on Too Long? A Story about Cars and LoveIt was her first car. Not the first one she had ever driven, but the first real serious car that she considered her own. She thoroughly researched it, look. At lots of different models, picked this one, and bought it with her own money that she saved up. She didn’t just buy any old car. She did it right. After years of public transportation and bumming rides off of others. She had saved up enough to buy a luxury model. The type of car that anyone would agree is a top-end, high-quality vehicle. Expensive, but she deserved it.

Or so it seemed at first. – Cars and Love

Car Trouble

Jordan went on to describe what seemed like the world’s longest list of car troubles. It was long. That was involved. It. Never. Seemed. To. End. Frankly, there’s more than I can remember or give justice to here. Actually, if I’m being honest, either because of the story or the wine, I may have zoned out a bit. But to say it was exhaustive is an understatement.

Jordan’s car troubles were not only numerous, but they were comprehensive—impacting every facet of the car, from electrical, to mechanical, to basics, like her key fob not working and requiring a $100+ replacement. I felt traumatized on her behalf.

Hearing all of this, I remarked, “But you’re keeping it?” To which she replied, “Of course I am, it’s my car, and it’s a high-end brand name car” (In reality, she had no problem Tubit constantly name-dropping the type of car, but I’m leaving it anonymous so that I don’t get sued.)

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A Keeper or a Trade-In?

My question is…should she have kept the car and continued to spend money on never-ending repairs? Or should she have traded it in a long time ago?

Hearing this story about a car as an objective outsider, the answer is obvious. No more repairs, no more money, no more waiting. She deserved better and should trade this car in as soon as possible.

A Metaphor for Relationships – Cars and Love

Though Jordan was quite literally talking about her car, her feelings about it are a metaphor for relationships. Despite every obvious sign telling her that her car was unsalvageable, she stuck with it because it meant something to her. Each new expense or problem triggered the natural reaction to dislike the car and swear this was the last time she’d fix it. But it wasn’t.

She kept fixing it because it was part of her identity. Stuck with it because she remembered that feeling she had. When she first purchased it. She held on to her early optimism, hoping. That everything would eventually work out, that it would be the car. She wanted it to be, that she knew it could be. The reality told a different story, but she was undeterred.

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It was clear that she was miserable with this car, but her feelings had a certain romanticism to them. Jordan spoke proudly of her dedication and loyalty. She knew others would have quit on this car, but not her. She was going to rescue it. The problem, of course, is that she’s stuck driving a horrible car, and that wasn’t ever going to change. She was stuck. She was still miserable about it.

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