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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

My friend Jon recently wrong something in his LJ which I found very, very true:
With no mystical connection between people, you are completely free to choose whomever you want. It cheapened the process of coupling, reduced it to a situation not unlike buying a car. Pay your money and make your choice. The one you end up with may not have all the features that you want, but at least you can afford the payments.

When you consider the actual dynamics of relationships, most of them end in catastropic failure. Simply put, the odds that two developing, interesting people will maintain a state wherein they want to be with one another, and all the external details will continue to work themselves out, is ridiculously small. This is, of course, to say nothing of the chances that you will meet someone who is really up to what you deserve and that person will also be looking for someone like you, and so on and so forth. At first, it seems as if any meaningful coupling ought to be an anomoly - and one which spans any substantial period of time is flat out crazy.

I think the preponderance of people who are together suggests that there is something else at work, and of course there is. I believe two factors really play in to it - one inspiring, and one depressing as hell. The first is the unbelievable lengths some people will go to so that they might maintain an amenable situation with their significant other. The amount of work which goes in to just keeping things running smoothly (god forbid something drastic happen, like one party moving away) is something which we take for granted when it comes to our sexual partner, but something which, were it suggested that it be duplicated in other spheres of our life, would be taken as insanity. It strikes me that, even in the great works of art and philosophy and science, there goes about as much commitment as in a semimature college or young adult relationship. I'm sure this will meet at least some disagreement, but think about how much time goes in to thinking about that other person, and doing little things for them... just all the aggregate energy which accumulates around this one focal point in your life.

And then there's the other thing - which is the concussive fact that, simply put, people tend not to wait for someone who they really deserve. All too often the intrinsic value of the relationship (percieved more often than not as greater than it truly is) outshines in a person's mind the incidental fact of who the other person entering in to this arrangement is. "Good enough" is a phrase which, when you really consider it, ought never be applied to something as close to who a person really is as this sort of matter. Granted, there are degrees of severity within the whole system, but it's still something where there's always a tradeoff. Even if you're casually dating another person, there's the marginal sacrifice of potential happiness. I have to wonder: how many people just settled for the person they're with? Granted, they may be happy as can be with their partner, but every time I see a truly intelligent girl with a guy she's beyond, or an imaginitive, sensitive person with someone who is truly just ordinary, I question how the situation came to be. How many people really are with someone who appreciates them to the fullest, and whose depths they can understand in the way the other person deserves? How many are just in it for the comfort of a warm body?

Maybe it would be better if there were soulmates. Some mystical bond which precludes the meat market mentality we've come to expect, and which really does make the process of finding someone more analogous to picking out the right breakfast cereal than to a journey with a destination. What makes it especially appealing to believe in soulmates becuase there is suddenly some way to figure out the right choices from the wrong choices. The most frightening part of the whole enterprize, to me, is the fact that we really are just lost out there, with no answer key, and no way to determine if we're wasting our brief time on earth except to consider what might have been. Regret is a terrible thing, but it's an inevitability of how things really are. It's sorta funny how the loss of one fatalistic viewpoint spawns another.

cranked out at 1:37 AM | |

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