Throughout our lives, we’ve been praised for being logical.
We were told that making the right decisions based on reason and fact was the best way to lead a successful life. In almost all instances this held true, but nowhere was it more true than in the academic world. If you throw enough concrete examples into your term paper and control for all the possible variables in your research you get the best grade. It has been ingrained into our minds as fact: rationality = success. In the ultra-competitive world that our generation has been thrown into, faltering from rationality is not an option. It seemed to be the answer to all of life’s problems, and right as we think we have a handle on how this world works we’re smacked in the face with the most irrational idea imaginable: love.
I couldn’t have been happier for the three years I was I a relationship with the girl I loved.
It really was like the songs said it would be. My Friday nights went from drinking with my buddies until someone puked to staying in with a bottle of wine and watching a sh*tty rom-com while making fun of it and enjoying the fact that I had what those characters were striving to get. It was the best part of my life so far and it made so much sense. No piece of evidence could have convinced me that being with her was wrong. It was a perfect hybrid of love and logic, and then came graduation.
It’s hard enough to leave college. It’s even harder to leave your best friends. But it’s damn near impossible to say goodbye to someone whose scent is trapped on your other pillow. She was going to a different city and I was starting grad school. So for at least four years we would be seeing each other rarely at best. This is when rationality betrays us. For all the greatness that was our relationship, reason kicked in and gave me every logical reason why I should bail. Staying with her would be really hard. I was really young and there were plenty of fish in the sea. A quick perusal of Facebook proved that there were many hot, fun, and single people out there. Few of my friends were in meaningful relationships and they were living it up. The list of reasons was long and convincing, and I, believing that reason would give me my answer, was convinced by these facts. In the moment the breakup felt like the right thing to do. Sadly, only in the clarity that comes with solitude have I realized how misguided I was.
There is no happy ending to this story, not yet at least. No, this is a cautionary tale to the rational. We’ve been trained to always make logical and sensible decisions. So we poke fun at melodramatic movies because the characters say sappy shit and make insane gestures out of love. They don’t make sense and are therefore naive. Truth is, I’m jealous of them. They know how to love without worrying about bullshit like logistics and the opportunity-cost of long distance. I was tainted and I was weak; once those thoughts entered my mind, I couldn’t shake them. I wish I had advice that didn’t sound like it came directly from a preteen girl’s diary, (maybe they know more than we give them credit for) but all I can say is that we need to fight. In a time when it’s so simple to connect with people and so easy to wonder if there is anything better out there, we need to defend our love from the ingresses of our logic. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t question anything in relationships nor should we settle for something that’s just okay. I’m simply saying that we need to be wary. Admittedly it’s a vague balance and achieving it is not easy at all, but if we let reason dictate our love, we’ll end up perpetually convinced that there is something more logical, more timely, more perfect. By the time we recognize our flawed rationale, it may be too late.