I was in a relationship from April 4, 2009, to October 11, 2013 (with a couple hiatuses). I still remember our first kiss, the night before our first date, outside the show his band had just played at McDunna’s. Aww.
But, alas, I was only 20, and no one spends the rest of their life with their partner from that age. I mean, I guess a few people do, but it’s a really bad idea and most of them just stay out of fear and stubbornness, in the long run. Besides, romantic love doesn’t last more than a few years and is eventually replaced by the complacency of routine, and I can’t help thinking that it’s bad for young people to become complacent so soon. Like, just because my ex and I lived comfortably together didn’t mean we made a good couple, as time went on. We raised our pet duck well, and he gave me the best back rubs whenever I was sad, but that doesn’t mean our union was truly, deeply fulfilling for either of us.
My therapist pointed out that I have an unusually negative view of marriage, and I know she’s right. Of course, I’ve always promised myself I’d avoid marriage like the plague until my 30s, but that’s just because I’m smart and educated. The really negative viewpoint didn’t manifest until I got into the dating world. The past 4.5 years of being in this relationship have taught me that long-term monogamy is the absolute worst idea ever and that basically no one can ever be truly happy that way. People tolerate monogamy as the price they pay for being committed, but they’re certainly not happy about it, and it naturally breeds resentment. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. That’s what we need to acknowledge. It’s absolutely normal not to want to only have sex–or even be emotionally intimate–with one person for the rest of your life. Very, very few people can be happy that way.
That said, for the record, I do not condone cheating. It’s never okay, and barring extreme circumstances like abuse, there’s never an excuse for it. It’s deceitful, disrespectful, and just downright awful.
Then again, I’ve discovered that everyone does it sooner or later. So what does that tell you about monogamy?
We live in a society where more than half of marriages end in divorce. Conservatives bitch that it’s because people aren’t dedicated anymore, are lazy, are promiscuous, and don’t value their partners. But no, it’s actually because we’ve come to expect happiness in life. We’ve come to expect fulfillment. And at least 50% of the married population comes to their senses and realizes their situation is a joke. A good portion of the other half is scared and resists the perceived “failure” of divorce. In this day and age, I can’t help feeling like anyone who’s happy with one person for the rest of their life must be (major judgment alert!) kind of dumb, totally sexually repressed, insecure, and just generally boring overall. Is there anything less interesting than living each day the same?
From now on, I’m going to learn to let go sooner. That’s what I need to take away from all this. I have a tendency to hold onto things in remembrance of how good they used to be. Instead of up and leaving, I hang around and complain. I won’t let that be me anymore. And, even though I’m sure I’ll end up back in a relationship way sooner than I want to, because that’s something else I always do–cave in to possessive dudes–I won’t stick around when shit gets lame. It’s fun or nothing. Sure, relationships take work, but they shouldn’t demand settling. If the guy stops being fun–and we all know what I mean by that–I’m not going to hang onto the relationship. If I stop enjoying it, I’m gone.
Marriage equality passed in Illinois today, which is very exciting! I posted on FB about how, now, all people in Illinois have an equal opportunity to get divorced. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be super stoked if studies someday show that same-sex married couples stay together more often than hetero married couples do. That would be so awesome. Like, check and mate, bigots! But, it probably won’t happen, so the reality is that now we all have equal opportunities for both marriage and divorce.
It’s like when one of my relatives asked, a few years back, if my ex and I were planning on getting married anytime soon. I told her, “No, I want to be his girlfriend, but not his ex-wife,” and I felt that was a really fitting answer. I meant it. It wasn’t a joke. I’m just realistic that way about marriage and young marriage in particular. My relationship wasn’t an exception to the rule, especially considering how young I was. In reality, everyone is equally likely to split from their partner eventually. I’m not exceptionally impervious to divorce or breaking up, and neither is anyone else.
Shit man, I just really hope nobody is actually stupid enough to think that their love is special or unique in any way, because it’s clearly not. It’s the same as everyone else’s. We all do the same things. We find someone we really care about, spend our time being devoted to them for a while, and then we get tired of it and leave. It’s the same thing over and over. Repeat indefinitely.
Look, before people start freaking out in the comments, I’m not saying it’s impossible to have a happy, lifelong relationship or marriage. I’m just saying it’s incredibly unlikely, and most people who’ll tell you they’re happily married are actually just complacent. The sooner we can admit to that, the better off we’ll all be.