Tuesday, July 26, 2011


After a conversation with my Sis the other day, I figured I should attempt to better articulate my thoughts about relationships and how they function--or maybe how people within them function.

In any case, I found myself ranting about how ill-prepared individuals are for not only understanding what love is and how it works but how relationships based on faulty notions of love work. I am not speaking as an expert on love or relationships--my first post says as much--I am speaking as someone who has observed the hold individualism has on American culture (overly generalized I know). Despite our upbringings, as adults, especially newly independent ones, we understand--through interactions with one another, and especially media and marketing of products that project what the 'ideal' person should look like, do, dress and be like in general--what it means to live for ourselves. With no one to answer to, its easy to relish in this sense of 'freedom' and with it we understand that we don't have to compromise what we believe to be part of our identities--even though the people and situations we interact with  prove these identities are forever growing and changing.

It seems the only moments we are willing to compromise ourselves is in situations that we want to look 'good' in. A lot goes into looking good in relationships, especially at the beginning. Things are overlooked in our quest for acceptance and throughout a 'courtship' failure to be 'true' to oneself runs rampant. Once committed to this other person, love is often stereotyped as the magic elixir that will guide the way and make everything work out. Some even understand that work is involved in relationships--work in keeping it together. But for what purpose? And beyond initial commitment that 'true self' that has been neglected is longed for as situations that led to initial denials of self repeat themselves--which only leads to future insecurities and misery. On top of this, that sense of individuality has never really been abandoned despite the attempts at togetherness.

We never are taught what love is, how relationships should work or function, or our individual roles in making  future relationships a livable reality. We were never taught how to accept our true selves, how to truly accept others for who they are, how to live in intimate settings where the two can peacefully coincide without false understandings of compromise, and belief in 'no pain, no gain'.  (And maybe figuring out if it is worth committing to someone we truly do understand  to some extent--especially when it comes to deeply inherent flaws that might be near impossible to overcome?) Most importantly it seems, we have never learned how to live without the individualism that places ourselves at the center of our own universe. Or maybe its learning to balance out this sense of self with one that is adept at communalism as well (individualism shouldn't necessarily be demonized right?). Despite all of this, we are somehow expected to know how to flourish in relationships and the pressure to do so is great.

In any case, these sets of knowledge have all but been abandoned and replaced by faulty magical love--the kind of desire for instant gratification that seems so much a part of American culture at least. This is the real work that needs to be realized about relationships and our ability to really relate and coincide with one another.  Often it seems the weight and pressure that crumbles relationships is the weight surrounding the ignorance of these things. Not to mention not knowing  or being ourselves, operating under faulty masks of acceptance that was never there and other things all out of the greed that comes from wanting and continuing what is/was believed to be a wonderful occurrence--love.

What I have observed about relationships and love in this day and age, is that there is a lot that has not been acknowledged about them and is difficult to learn (how can you learn something that isn't and hasn't been spoken about in your--and other--lifetime(s)?).  As such relationships and love have been fused with consumerist and instantly gratifying ways of being that are part of a culture of individualism. These things happen and are maintained by magic. Efforts put into sustaining this magic are misunderstood and misplaced, never addressing the issues at hand.

At this rate, it seems if one were to actively engage in learning about these things, one wouldn't be ready to pursue a decent relationship until...well later than her/his 30s ( an exaggeration of course since I have no idea how long such a journey would take). As for me, like I might have mentioned in my first post, understanding myself, love, relationships and my choice of commitment is a personal journey I'm taking on solo. I have a lot to learn in each of the areas mentioned above, especially balancing out the desire for individualism with learning to live in a deeply communal sense. Personal issues abound as well since I did not have the best (in fact it was likely the worst) model to work from when it comes to understanding love, relationships and most of all, acceptance of self and others (since being highly critical in a negative sense was a skill I learned from the best, yet loathe to no end). Based on this and other posts, I should (and almost have  at times) run off my Mate long ago. Yeah, I have a lot I need to work out in trying to pursue a better self and relationship.

In any case, this is but a one, maybe two-dimensional way of looking at the workings and understandings of love and relationships. This and many of the other spouty posts aren't likely to be followed up by research that would add meaning or depth any time soon. As always, I am open to other angles left unexplored, unimagined and etcetera about this topic. Despite my tones of factual-ness (blasted academia!)  I have a lot to learn and think about in my journey towards becoming a better human being --something I have learned I cannot simply rely on others to bring about in myself.  I hope others have thoughts and experiences they would like to contribute nonetheless.  Is this a realistic take on love and relationships? What is missing? Too much negativity and cynicism? What are more positive outlooks? (Maybe I'll engage some of these questions in later posts who knows?)

Thanks again for 'listening'
Until next time...

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