People bemoan the passing of traditional relationship because they think it means the end of “true” love and “commitment”. They cry how shallow people are for finding dates and partners and spouses online. Apps like Facebook, Grindr and Tinder toll the death of meaningful relationships, they say, and chide those of us who use them often. Meaningless are our connections, promiscuous are our behaviors and doomed to loneliness are we seekers of modern relationships.
Bugger off. If you like the long gone days of dowery, ownership of your spouse, trophy wives and indentured servitude then there’s not much anyone can do to change your mind. You’re a dissatisfied relic, and it’s you who’s doomed to unhappiness. Modern relationships are here to stay.
The days of the linear relationship – a single line connecting two people – are dwindling. Linear relationships operated to the exclusion of all others; you may as well have built a wall around the relationship to keep friends, family and potential Plan “B”s well away. Modern technology will not permit that wall and will not exclude others, including Plan “B”s.
Replacing the antiquated linear structure of relationships is a new pyramid structure, with a primary couple at the top, fuck buddies, friends with benefits and boyfriend/girlfriends at the mid-level, and our friendships at the base. In case you mistake the placement of friendships as the least important aspect of our relationship, think again. Study after study proves that friendships are more valuable to our long-term happiness than either of the other two levels – by far. Our lives greatly enriched by the quality of the base level of the pyramid.
The mid-level of the pyramid gives us license to explore sexual interests the old linear structure bottled up. Friends with benefits relationships come with few commitments and therefore low expectations. They are casual interactions with important people in our lives, but don’t permit jealousy or commitment. These relationships can bring great satisfaction to us and help complete our interests.
The pinnacle, or primary relationship is the person we love, the person we can’t imagine being without, the one we call husband, partner, spouse and to whom we go home at night and cuddle up with. While modern relationships don’t contain the vow of “till death do us part”, these pinnacle relationships are open-ended with no expiration. They provide us with great comfort and companionship and come in all shapes and sizes.
I’m happy to see the end of linear relationships – no, I’m ecstatic to see them end. They had their place in the evolution of human interaction, but their existence today is causing misery and conflict and is rippling unhappiness throughout our society. Marriages based on the traditional, linear structure are failing at record rates while the surviving relationships are of questionable value. These collapses cost society in economic terms as well as emotional costs to families and friends.
There is merit to complaints of narcissism and shallowness, but these complaints are ageless – they’ve existed since we began competing for mates, comparing ourselves to everyone else. The guy who takes a new selfie every day is compensating for a huge hole in his personality, trying to find validation in 33,000 Instagram followers, but no validation comes. So he needs more, but time runs out. And so do looks. And so do friends. And so does happiness. Narcissism is loneliness.
But crying over lost “love” and “meaning” in modern relationships is stupid. Both exist and are stronger. Studies are coming out that relationships formed online are more stable and last longer than ones that form by “traditional” means.
Build that wall around your castle Prince Charming, and hold Cinderella as tight as you can, but your days are numbered. She just joined Instagram.