Failing at Forever Isn’t Failing; A Revisit

Walk it OffThere was more to be said on the topic that an ended relationship isn’t necessarily a failed relationship, and I think I’m ready to say it.

People go into a relationship expecting that it will last forever. They visualize that, over time, the relationship will move through “levels,” ultimately ending in marriage (or some kind of life-long commitment) – the epitome of relationship “success.” If for some reason, the relationship gets stuck on a level and isn’t moving forward, it is seen as something worth ditching and giving up on, rather than being enjoyed for what it is at the moment.

“The percentage of the [American] population ever married has declined some in the past decades, but it is still 80%. That’s just about everyone. . . .In surveys, teens and young adults consistently say they view marriage as a very important life goal,” according to Kay Hymowitz at Forbes.

We equate marriage with success. We think that someone who is capable of having a “successful” marriage must be capable of being successful in other things. We think good spouses make good people. When we are told that someone is “successful” in life, we often imagine them as married, and if not, then they are successful in their professional life at the cost of being “unfulfilled” in their personal life.

Success makes us happy, and because success = marriage in our minds, we all assume that marriage makes us happy. However, “quite a few investigations have persuasively shown that it is happiness that leads to marriage, as opposed to the reverse.” (Psychology Today) That’s right, folks. Expecting marriage to make you happy is putting the cart before the horse. Get happy first, be happy with who you are and what relationship status you are in, and then you are more likely to get married. (That means you have to figure out how to be happy while unmarried. Unthinkable!)

neweyes.atlblogs.comI keep writing about marriage, even though the original topic was about relationships in general. Why? We model our relationships after the “ideal” romantic relationship (marriage) as much as possible. Where do you think promise rings came from? Even if a person doesn’t think “marriage is for them,” they often are interested in some sort of life partnership, co-habitating indefinitely, or some kind of promise along the lines of “til death do us part.”

I worry that some of this is laziness, a thought process of, “if I can find just the right person/people to make me feel fulfilled, I can enter a life-long contract with him/her/them and be fulfilled forever, and never have to search for fulfillment ever again.” That’s a really scary mindset, and also a really sad one because, seriously, do you know what it feels like to fall in love? Not the landing part, not the being in love, but that part where you feel that you are falling? What a great feeling! Why are people so determined to cut off the possibility of feeling that in favor of laboring over a life-long commitment? There’s value in that hard work, but there’s also value in letting love flourish where, when, and how it wants.

If your love for someone leads to you committing your life to them, that’s wonderful, but if not, that’s wonderful as well. Let the relationship be what it is meant to be. If you can be a part of a relationship, however short or long, that allows love to flourish, you, my friend, have been a part of a successful relationship. Be respectful, be honest, be happy, be you, and if/when it ends, know that it hasn’t failed.

The ending of a successful project is not seen as a failure, so why should the ending of a great relationship be seen as one? Like a finished project, you can admire the finished relationship, smile at the memories, be grateful for the lessons learned, and, if you are lucky, cherish the friendships that evolved while it was being built.

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Monogamy is Militarily Advantageous

You learn something new every day:

Why We Think Monogamy is Normal (Psychology Today)

“…a plausible answer is that it spread because historically, monogamous groups were advantaged militarily over polygynous groups (Alexander, 1987)…. the imposition of monogamy produced bigger, better armies, because monogamous groups can grow larger than polygynous ones. Why can monogamous groups grow larger? Because men want wives, and if you need a lot of men on your team, you must offer them something that they want.”

So, basically, the idea is that monogamist armies were bigger than polygynous armies, kicked polygynous butts, and “Yay! Monogamy!” happened.

I’ve always been fairly anti-violence, personally…

And, right, there were less men in polygynous groups because many men who didn’t have high enough status/attractiveness to attract a wife had to leave to look elsewhere for one. This is why the idea of allowing men and women to have multiple partners if they so wish (polygamy, if we’re talking about “marriage”) is what I like to call. . . a crazy idea.

Other thoughts of the day? I’ve been reading those two books on marriage, The Future of Marriage, and Is Marriage for White People?, and I feel the bubbling of opinions starting to form on my part. Will share later.

Oh! And I owe a review of the Polyamory and Diversity paper I read. It’s in the drafts folder. I’ll get back to it. Promise.