We talk about this constantly. We write articles about how we can’t seem to get what we deserve and why we participate in the modern dating scene. We ask ourselves why we have a messed up dating culture. Why we can’t seem to get real relationships, and when we do get them, why we can’t make them last. We wonder why we say vows before our friends and family one day, and then a few years down the road we are signing papers to take those vows back. We ask why romance is dead and why commitment is scarce. The answer sits right before our eyes but we don’t want to acknowledge it, because we don’t like what it is.
It’s because we say we want real relationships, but all of our actions produce the opposite.
In today’s culture we are told that it’s all about us. We decide what we want and we go after it.
If we decide we want a fling? Cool, go have fun. If we want something to distract us for a little while? Awesome, distract away. We are told to figure out what makes us happy, stay for as long as it continues to make us happy, and to leave when it no longer does. So if a one-night stand makes us happy, we go have one. If a friends-with-benefits relationship brings us joy, then we go grab our best guy friend and go for it. If long-term commitment relationship is what we need to find fulfillment, then we go find a boyfriend/girlfriend and spend the next few months or years together. Nothing is wrong with wanting to be happy.
The issue is that as soon as the happiness is gone, so are we.
We are so concerned with our own happiness that we forget that another person is involved too.
We tend to know ourselves exceptionally well. We know the things we like and dislike. The things that make us tick and the things that make us feel on top of the world. We know how we handle pain and how we feel when someone tells us they love us completely. We know the things that make us happy and the things that don’t. It’s because we know ourselves so well that of course we look at everything through our own perspective; How it’s going to affect us.
So when things start going south, when we are no longer happy, we are told, “Life is too short, go out and find the next thing!” We process things by only one standard: our own happiness. When it comes down to it, wanting to find and pursuing happiness is not terrible. However, the point of a relationship isn’t simply about one person’s sole happiness.
It’s about two people and both of their happiness. It’s a commitment saying,
“I know we are both imperfect people and things aren’t always going to be easy, but my life is better with you in it.”
It’s about waking up each day and deciding that you choose that person despite the difficulties. It sounds very noble and self sacrificing, because it is. Relationships are work, and we are not talking a part time job. They take our time, our energy, and our devotion. We make the conscious decision to care for another person, and we hope that by doing that we make them happy.
We understand this concept. We write about it, talk about it, and read books about it. Yet it goes in direct conflict with the focus of today’s dating culture. It’s “Do what makes you happy until it doesn’t.” vs. “Stick together in the happy times and the hard ones.” It’s two conflicting ideas.
We can’t walk into a relationships and say, “I’m staying until I’m not happy anymore.” Because a relationship isn’t just about you.
When another person is involved, then they are affected. They do get hurt if you decide to leave. They feel the sting of rejection when you decide they aren’t making you happy. You affect their life, even if it’s only slightly. Your actions, words, and presence affect a whole other person. Someone with complex thoughts and feelings just like you. If we took one moment and realized that the people we are searching to try to make us happy are also looking for that same happiness too, then maybe we would think things through. Maybe we wouldn’t spend time with someone to only make us happy, but to ask ourselves if we have it in us to care about their happiness just as much.
Maybe, just maybe that would solve a lot of our problems.