Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The problem when you don't know love...

Had a long walk this morning and thought about a conversation I had the other day regarding the rationalization of irrational behavior. The longer I live the more I see irrational behavior that emanates from monogamy. Now, I'm not purporting that we strike monogamy from culture and enter a great sex fest. No, not at all, there are too many good reasons to not do that. I don't think we should live in such a "light switch" world, though. It's obvious that neither "on" nor "off" are working for most people. In this case, neither people are happy committed to each other or sleeping around on each other.

What's the point?

I read an Esquire article many years ago that described the perfect plan for infidelity; it must be with someone in your similar state of relationship (say, both married with kids), this someone must live out of town and you must meet at a neutral location (neither town you live in). The article might have also said something about only meeting once per year for a couple of days since it's hard to cover up much more than that.

I think we can apply the same thought process to our everyday relationships... minus the secrecy.

A big sliver of the happiness pie chart is trust. If one person doesn't trust the other to stay true to the "rules" of their relationship, then irrational behavior becomes the norm. You aren't trusted to go out on a bender with your friends, to meet the gals/guys in Las Vegas, to run into an ex accidentally, carry a conversation with her and act friendly even in the slightest way--men and women both do this--suddenly treating the other like a piece of property. "Hey bitch, that's my man," or, "I don't want you talking to that dickhead."

Damn, seriously? Grow up or get out of my life.

If you trust someone enough that you want to spend the rest of your life together, then you should trust them with these ultimately petty situations. Problem is you can't. You can't because you have no idea what love really is--you don't know yourself, what you want or where you're going--so you don't have any clue what kind of partner works for you. And, because you're in a mad rush to get married and/or have kids, your life equation looks like this:

W x F = P
W = Weddings
F = Frequency of Her/My Girlfriends Having Them
P = Pressure to Marry

You commit the act of accepting a life of unsuccessfully but constantly trying to hammer a round peg into a square hole--neither of you are right for each other, but you believe you can shape the other. Now, change and sacrifice are a healthy part of a good relationship, but the degree to which most of you want your "other" to change is irrational, but instead of the risk of not finding real love, you engage in the ultimate rationalization of a completely irrational act by getting all wedded up for a life of frustration, complaints, constantly picking on each other in public (yes, you pick on the one you like, on the playground in 3rd grade! If you're doing this constantly as an adult, you're not in love), hours in separate rooms watching separate television shows (by the way, if you already spend most every night doing nothing but watching TV and you're not married yet... you're not in love) and probably, some degree of "cheating" because flirting, winking, sexing or having a friend of the opposite sex gives oxygen to the smoldering embers of mistrust that have always been a massive slice of your relationship pie chart, whether you admit it or not.

I don't think everyone gets it wrong. We all, hopefully, have examples of ideal couples in our lives--we want to be like them. In fact, we want to be like them enough that we believe we are without stepping back to look at why we get so frustrated with each other or partake in a jealous fit of rage or name calling when some trivial thing goes awry. Guess what? Just like a driver on the road might not have seen you in a blind spot, therefore didn't cut you off intentionally, a lot of people aren't in the business of intentionally being mean to each other. Just remember, it's one thing if it happens periodically in unique ways, it's another if it's normal behavior. The first is a mistake. The last is an asshole.

In this conversation that I was having the other day, repeated irrational behavior was rationalized by one person claiming to "understand" the reasons for the other person's behavior. A valid statement, but not rational, not enough to make it acceptable behavior. As adults, emotionally immature behavior is simply childish. So, why is it being rationalized? Guilt? Fear? Convenience? Yeah, it's probably a combination of not wanting to be alone, enjoying the convenience of the relationship and, perhaps, retribution for some offense that one person committed to the other. On this last point, you can't have trust if you aren't honest with each other. You'd think that would be obvious, but it's so obviously and frequently not.

Don't confuse guilt with love.
Don't confuse fear with love.
Don't confuse convenience with love.

[Words of advice should you ever date me: I don't intend to offend you. If I do then please consider it a learning opportunity for us both and teach me. And when teaching me, skip the part where you think I'm the biggest slime-ball asshole in the world and get right to why you were offended. Nothing aggravates me more than being told I'm loved to being told I'm a piece of crap. 'Cause if you really feel the latter then it's time for you to leave.]

So, if the traditional template of a relationship is broken for most, and the number of divorces pretty much points to this fact, why don't we change the template? 

We already do this with friends; we have one person that we spend most of our time and conversations with, but we've one or two others that fill-in or provide a completely different support function aside from the "best friend."

Can we do this with love, too?

Think about it.
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