Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Freedom to Choose?

I'm procrastinating online, hanging out in one of my online communities, wallowing in other people's relationship-driven unhappiness.

First of all, I have to wonder why I'm wallowing this way. I'm sure it's related to the fact that I'm still feeling very unsettled in my life right now. I've quit the big bad thing that was driving my misery, but I have to replace it with something and I don't know what with, and meanwhile the clock is ticking. It's always reassuring to hear that no one else knows what they're doing, either.

But mostly, I'm thinking about relationships and how hard they seem to be for so many people. I'm including myself in that. It used to be, I guess, that you got married, young, because it was expected, and you stayed together because it was expected. In the last couple of decades, people stopped staying together when they were unhappy simply because they were "supposed to." Now, it seems that people hold off on getting married because it feels like there isn't any point to marriage if you're just going to split up. We're afraid, and we all go through a long, careful process of trying to be very very sure about our partners.

It isn't just in my life, and it isn't just the Glitter girls. It's my friends and acquaintances, and heck, even my exes are struggling with it. I had a conversation with one ex recently who is in the process of ending a long term relationship, and getting a lot of pressure from his family. "Are you sure? Is it so bad that if you were married, you would need a divorce?" To which he can only respond that the issues they have are the reasons he couldn't marry her in the first place. That he doesn't want to be in a situation where he has to make that choice.

And I worry that in all this carefulness, we pile too many expectations and put too much pressure on one another. That we expect our potential partners to be more than they can reasonably be. And that for fear of making the wrong decisions, we'll make no decisions at all.

I don't have an answer. But I am sometimes extremely frustrated by the dilemma. Maybe we should all just give up and let go of the search, choosing to live in little cottages with our cats and our vibrators and focus our effort on other things. But we don't - something (hi evolution!) keeps pushing us to make those connections, find that person, give him or her long test runs, try to craft our relationships into something lasting, to indulge the possibilities. What if we find that perfect person, that perfect relationship? We won't know if we don't look.

We have so much freedom to choose... that it's hard to make a choice.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I would agree and say that it's not only relationships--it carries over into other parts of life as well (at least for me). We are definitely a Devo song in the making.