In the fictional “Star Trek” universe, the Kobayashi Maru is a Starfleet Academy training exercise for those cadets who are training for command roles. Without getting in to deep with the nerdy specifics, in the simulated exercise, the Kobayashi Maru is the name of a disabled civilian vessel located in the Klingon Neutral Zone. The cadets participating in the exercise must decide whether to enter the Neutral Zone to rescue the crew of the Kobayashi Maru — violating a treaty between the Klingons and Starfleet, and risking all out war — or leave the Kobayashi Maru to certain destruction. Essentially, the exercise tests how a cadet would handle and react to a no-win scenario.
In our real lives, no-win situations arise in all facets of life — work, friendship, and, of course, dating. After the jump are five examples of the Kobayashi Maru in sex and relationships — how would you handle these no-win scenarios?
1. Falling in love with a friend’s ex. By some luck of the draw, you find yourself romantically interested in a friend’s ex, who also reciprocates those feelings. You know your friend would totally disown you if you ever entered into a relationship with her ex. Do you sacrifice the potential for true, lasting love in favor of respecting your friend’s prior relationship? Or do you risk losing that friendship to follow your heart?
On “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Counselor Deanna Troi used to be romantically involved with Commander William Riker. Even after they stopped seeing each other, there was still a certain amount of intimacy between them — and then Troi and Commander Worf fell in love. Riker was admirably understanding about his ex taking up with one of his closest officers. In the end, Worf went on to marry Dax from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and Troi and Riker eventually got married. Imzadis for life!
2. Dating someone of a different religion who has been clear that ultimately they want to marry someone of the same religion. You met a great dude! He’s smart, and handsome, and funny, and basically everything you’re looking for — except he has no intention of marrying someone who doesn’t share his religion. You’re having a blast and the thought of ending things breaks your heart. But so does the potential for him to end things down the line. Do you keep dating him, hopeful that he’ll either change his mind or you’ll be able to stop your feelings from growing any stronger? Or do you end things immediately because it seems like no matter what, the relationship has a shelf-life?
3. You’re looking for a serious relationship but the person you’re dating isn’t. After going on a string of bad dates, you finally meet someone you really like. The sex is great, the conversation is lively, you had so much in common! Except for one thing: you’re in the market for a longterm relationship while the object of your affection isn’t keen on what they’ve called “settling down” anytime soon. But they want to keep dating you! But do you want to keep dating them, knowing that you want different things, at least right now? It seems a little soon into the relationship to be thinking so seriously about the future, so you’re very tempted to just see where things go. After all, what if you fall in love? Surely they’ll want a serious relationship then, right? But maybe not. Maybe because they’re not open to falling in love, they won’t. Is it best to cut and run and keep your schedule open for someone who wants the same level of relationship as you do now? Or keep dating them, leaving it up to fate to decide whether you’re meant to be?
In a related example, on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Data (an android), in his quest to learn all that he could about human emotion (something he lacks), by attempting to date a female office (a human) named Lieutenant Jenna D’Sora on board the Enterprise. She had been crushing on him like WHOA, so Data decided to play the part of devoted boyfriend, not really realizing that it would only make her fall even harder. Ultimately, she wanted more from Data than he could ever give her, and they broke up.
4. There’s a major emotional connection, but you disagree on a number of dealbreakers. Everything about the person you’ve been dating is magical and your connection is intense. It feels just so right in every way but one — the two of you disagree on one or more of the major dealbreaker issues: having children, marriage, politics, etc. Sure, it makes for some passionate debates — and the makeup sex is glorious — but eventually, arguing over issues related to values and life goals will get really old, really fast. Do you pay attention to these glaring red flags of incompatibility and end something that might be destined to fail, as much as the thought of doing so wrecks you? Or do you consider the possibility that people grow and change together and hold out hope that as your relationship grows, your views on the world will sync up?
5. You’re in a serious committed relationship and were just offered your dream job — thousands of miles away. Huzzah! You’ve just been offered the job of a lifetime and it’s located in the city of your dreams. Unfortunately, taking the job would mean moving thousands of miles away from your long-term love. You’ve been together for a couple years and are very happy together, but your S.O. is unable/unwilling to leave their current job to move with you. You both agree, for whatever reasons, that a long distance relationship wouldn’t work. So, do you stay or do you go?
Starfleet officers deal with this all the time as they are reassigned to various posts throughout the galaxy. While Starfleet is great about letting officers bring their immediate families with them if they’d like, those couples who both work for Starfleet are often forced to make a choice between love and career when they’re assigned to posts in different sectors, not just separated by thousands of miles, but light years. Those who do the long distance thing are seriously thankful for warp drive!