With Valentine’s Day looming, we are immersed in surveys, studies and stories about relationships in America. They range from what we want in a mate and how we behave when we find one, to how we’ll allow ourselves to be treated and how we’ll treat someone we allegedly love. When you step back and look at all of the things people willingly say, it’s simply no wonder seemingly almost everyone is miserably unhappy in their relationships, or unable to even find one to begin with.
Let’s cede first what we’ve stipulated for two decades; all relationships are temporary until it turns out that they aren’t. Once someone decides they’re with a “significant other,” we all, of course, want to believe that it’s “the one,” but overwhelmingly they aren’t. Or, they are for a period of time, and then they aren’t. Break-ups, past relationships, divorces, and valiant attempts at saving long-term relationships are nothing to be ashamed of, as long as they are learned from. As long as you are truly giving your all every day, and enjoying your life and who you’re spending it with, that’s all that matters on that day. When you begin to realize that the enjoyment is gone, either because they’re changing in ways that are no longer compatible with your happiness, you’re changing in ways that are no longer compatible with their happiness, or perhaps the relationship is just running its course, you try harder, until you can’t try anymore. Then, it’s over and you move on. And yes, it really is that simple. Or at least it should be.
We have also stipulated that Americans seemingly are petrified of being alone. Having a significant other is apparently a status symbol, a security blanket, and a needed crutch all at once. That inspires me to pen a card Hallmark should make:
To my status symbol; the one who makes me feel like less than a loser because I have a human being on my arm when I’m seen by others. I love you, I guess, because you’re there.
Makes you all warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t it? That’s truly love in America, and it’s no wonder based on how we treat each other and ourselves.
One recent survey showed that 55% of married couples knew that they were not going to remain married to their current spouse. There were many reasons why they hadn’t left, including money, children, laziness, and planning for the right time.
A separate survey last year showed that 89% of all people in what they defined as a serious relationship were “less than happy” with their mate. That sounded about right to me. If you are in any way objective, it is not hard to think of ten friends you have and wind up recognizing that only one or maybe 2 two of them are remotely happy with their significant other. Most people define that unhappiness as “just the way things are supposed to be.” Makes sense; we’ve never really been good at love in this society, and so we have taught generation after generation that being in love is supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to mean, we wrongly believe, that you sacrifice who you are, that you do things you don’t want to do, that you put your dreams, ambitions and desires on hold or by the wayside forever. I think I feel another Hallmark card coming on:
To the person who stole my soul…thank you for teaching me that my dreams were stupid, that your family is always right and that everything that was once fun and childish about me was wrong. Being grown up and miserable is simply the way it should be, and I hate being with you.
If it weren’t for the humor, I’d actually be getting physically nauseous writing this.
One of the recent surveys we discussed was about the oldest cliché in the book; the fact that a woman throws out an average of about $400 worth of a man’s things when they move in together. This is a phenomenon I have never experienced and has always fascinated me. Don’t get me wrong, I had a woman or two try it, and it was instantly shut down. Who are these men allowing women to do this to them? It isn’t the pussified Millennials, because it’s been going on for decades. And what of these horrendous women who suddenly feel as though they are the arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable to a person they supposedly love? You’re going to tell me that my childhood comic books or sports trophies have to go away? No thank you, I’ll make that decision when I decide it’s time, you whore. Why not go set that dopey doll collection of yours on fire first? (Note; that’s not exactly how I would suggest you handle such a situation. Rather, the next time anyone tells you that what’s important to you isn’t, turn, walk, sprint, then run as far away from that person as possible and never speak to them again. Whether they be a parent, a friend or a mate. Nothing about that person is what anyone deserves).
Another recent survey listed first date deal breakers. Here we are in a country starved for “true love,” and the never ending pursuit of “the one,” and we actually have lists of things we won’t even consider, thus walling off millions of potential mates. 67% of us won’t even consider dating a smoker. 33% of us won’t go out with someone who doesn’t drink. Holy shit.
71% of us turn decision making over to our friends and family; if they don’t like the new guy or girl, that guy or girl is now the old guy or girl. Wonderful. The very people who have molded you into being a defective human now have veto power over you meeting a person who may potentially show you that all that you’ve been taught by watching other people’s behavior is wrong and toxic. Sounds like a vicious circle to me.
80% of us are totally hung up on age. Some people say they’d never date someone who was more than single digits older or younger than they are. For those of you who are idiots, that means 9 years is the cut-off. Most people say they won’t date someone who is old or young enough to be their parent or child. As a guy who, when he was in his early and mid 20’s, almost always dated girls at least 5 years older, and now dates a woman 15 years younger, I can’t even begin to express how appallingly closed minded and stupid so many people are. But the good news is that it’s your happiness that you’re destroying, not mine, so have at it.
Age difference to me is as asinine as 50% of you who refuse to date someone with different political views. I feel like I’m in a Seinfeld skit…are we all trying to just date ourselves? Dating people with different world views, different experiences and different outlooks on life is what makes love worth it. Whether as serious as the older person who has the experience to help guide you through something they’ve done a thousand times but you never have, or as silly as the younger person who keeps you young, the richness of being with someone that isn’t yourself is the fucking point!
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly know that opposites do not attract anything other than heartache. If you don’t have anything in common, it’s never going to work. But to literally be eliminating candidates before you even meet them because they eat a diet that’s different than you (yes, 25% say they do that) is just dumb.
I suppose it doesn’t matter, anyways, since once most people do find someone, they treat them like garbage and allow the same of themselves. I’ve seen friends go from men to children in days. One day, the guy is golfing every weekend with his buddies, going to Mexico once a year to scuba dive and hosting parties at his house for holidays. The next day, the golf clubs have been pawned, the annual trip is to see her family and holidays are spent there as well. I’ve seen women go from being fun loving and driven to downtrodden and unmotivated within months of allegedly finding “the one.” Unhappiness, based in a total lack of self-esteem, is truly America’s epidemic and has been for decades.
How about one more Hallmark card to wrap things up? This is what most of you would call Fantasyland…something to shoot for, I suppose:
To the one I love…thank you for being you, someone I’d never want to change, nor would if I could. Rather, you will evolve naturally as a human being should over time, and we will work together as a team on all of the new wonderment that comes your way and mine. You make me a better person by inspiring me to be more than I am every day because both you and I deserve it. I will support you in all that you dare to dream and endeavor to do, and ask only the same in return. By being great people, we will be a great couple. And, by all accounts, we’ll be very, very unique.