Is For Better or Worse, Making You Better or Worse?
I chased the rabbit down the hole today. Out of curiosity. Out of anger. Out of fascination. Out of half a bottle of Woodford Reserve. So I decided to flush that rabbit out of its hole and write. Have you ever wondered why dating and relationships suck? C’mon, don’t pretend like you haven’t thought the same thing about relationships and love. I’ll admit it. I have. I have for a long time. I’m not a jaded person, and I’m not trying to be a cynic. Nor a male chauvinist. I don’t know even know how to do casual. But, look around you. Look at our divorce rate. Look at how your friends in love argue.
We’re supposed to be in love, but we often treat no one worse than our significant other. How significant is that? Here is the reality of our current situation as humans on this great land mass hurtling through space: if you aren’t with someone for love then why bother? And even with love, are relationships worth it?It is no secret that love and relationships have changed. We do not marry for kingdoms anymore, or peace alliances, property, or to be taken care of. Women are self-sufficient. So are men. Are relationships even necessary anymore? What do they give us besides companionship and sex, both of which we can find without relationships.Technology is pulling us apart from one another.
I’ve talked about this before, humanity’s greatest threat is isolation. As technology becomes so real that it warps our ability to perceive what is important in life, I drank some Kentucky whisky, went online, and crushed Quora, a question and answer site. You ask the question anonymously, and ten thousand people will answer it. I went to the dating and relationship section and checked out the most answered, most viewed questions. Here is what I learned or confirmed.
Dating is Games
Dating is games, and games suck. Does no mean no, or does no mean try harder? If you’re a female and you play hard to get because you want him to try harder, tell him to try harder. Don’t ruin a good guy by making him jump through hoops like a dog. When you say no, a good guy, a guy worth being with is going to respect you enough to vacate the premises immediately and never talk to you again. He doesn’t want to be creepy.
Anytime I think of dating or relationships I think of Hemingway’s book The Old Man and The Sea. An old man catches the fish of his life and spends days reeling the beauty in. He slackens the line when the creature at the other end struggles against him. He reels when the fish tires. The battle continues until one of the two, the man or the fish, gives up with exhaustion. Are relationships like that? Does marriage mean, at core, that we agree to just pull each other through life no matter our exhaustion? Does that sound like a fun game?
Women are like Radios
Quite a few questions pertained to the psychology of women. In other words, why do women do what they do, say what they say, and how in the world do you explain their behavior. None of the answers were good, which makes me think women are like radios. One second they are tuned in to an upbeat salsa, light on your feet sort of happy station and then the dial turns just ever so slightly and you’re listening to heavy metal thrashing music. What imperceptible movement caused a minute variation in the channel… who the hell knows.
Both men and women have so many options. We’re no longer limited by how far our horse can carry us, or how far we can walk. Consider this: throughout most of human history, people were born, lived their entire lives, and died within the same few miles. Movement is a modern phenomenon that has changed everything about our lives, including relationships. This, coupled with mortality rate increases (people now live long enough to get so annoyed with a life partner that they want to divorce) means we, both men and women, treat potential relationships as “water off a duck’s back.” If not this person, then one of the other 5 trillion people in the world will do.
Our Fears Haven’t Changed
We’re still consumed by the same relationship fears, which makes me realize that our minds are stupid. They are trapped in the prehistoric past and have not adapted to the future fast enough. We fear rejection. We worry about dating someone intelligent, wonder if someone is wealthy, or has some hidden secret for being so private.
Fear of Attachment
Men aren’t always the culprit when it comes to attachment. Often times, women are just as afraid. Maybe an asshole once used her. Maybe someone took advantage of her goodness, corrupted that princess. The older you get, the more afraid both sexes get of dating. They carry more baggage from years of relationship ills, fights, bad breakups. With each new person, after each bad relationship there is intimidation, a fear of not living up to expectations, confusion about true intentions. All of this leads to a fear of attachment. Most people never fully love because they are too afraid.
The Question of Settling Always Exists
Our biology makes us questions who we are with. We were made to reproduce, and we forced ourselves in to monogamous relationships. Our biology has not caught up to the change in lifestyle. There will always be a distraction, a second glance, a thought in our head of what about that person. Even those deeply in love admit this. But, what they also admit, is that they are so content with their choice that despite the forces of resistance they want to be with someone.
The Scales are Tipped
Why do more men than women ask someone out? If we’re a society of equals why is the dating situation still skewed? The man usually takes charge in asking out the woman, but then should he open her car door, pull out her seat, offer her his coat if she is cold?
Feminism has called into question, or made men question at the very least how much of a gentleman is acceptable in today’s society? To me, the doubt men and women have towards another appears as an unintended consequence of feminism. Should a woman let a man pay? Should a man pay? Someone should pay, and then both people can carry on with getting to know one another.
You need more than Love
Which brings us full circle. Love is not enough for a relationship to work, and yet love is the only thing that makes a relationship work. Wrap your head around that one. I cannot. Helen Fischer did some amazing research on love. She turned relationships in to a science and discovered that in a long-term, committed relationship we fall in love, fall out of love, and then learn to love again with the intensity of a new love…if we make it that long. So maybe part of the answer is just trusting ourselves and sticking things out long enough for the love to return
Chasing Love and Marriage Down the Rabbit Hole
I’m not sure we have answers to many of the questions above, or at least answers that we all agree on. Maybe it doesn’t matter. But, maybe we’re in transition as society concerning gender roles, and the one thing that had to temporarily give way is relationships before we find a way to coexist as men and women.
I hope that change comes soon, because I fear for the future. I pondered all of this, kept drinking my whiskey, chased the rabbit, and scrolled through page after page on Quora of relationship questions and concerns. “Why do husbands cheat on wives?” Have you regretted not being intimate before marriage?” “How do I get a date with Jennifer Lawrence?” “Have long have you waited for someone you love to come in to your life?” “Do you like to flirt with strangers?”
Pages and pages of questions that show me we have so much doubt when it comes to relationships, and how much value we place on love and relationships. We put so much in to them, give so much of who we are to another, and this openness creates the potential for destruction. Even men. Whether they consciously know so or not, men also commit to love and are capable of being destroyed when things fall apart.
We are so sick of dealing with these questions, these doubts, this hurt, that we’ve inoculated ourselves against it. Studies show birth rates are decreasing. Marriage rates are decreasing. People prefer melancholic, cathartic music over upbeat, positive beats. We rationalize away the chance at good love in the future because of doubt and the pain of past love.
Perhaps we are creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Our fear of hurt creates more hurt, and, in turn, creates more fear. I want to say our future as human beings looks great. We have health, technology, a standard of living unparalleled at any other point during the history of the world. But we don’t have love. Where does that leave us?