The modern relationship is a myth. Well, it is if you decide to use the archaic definition of what a relationship should be. That usually entails an unequal distribution of power and very inflexible gender roles that we are, thankfully, moving away from. It’s not just about who does what, though. It’s about the fundamental human interaction required to start a relationship and keep one going. In that sense, it’s one giant lie.
I mean, what is a relationship exactly and why is our generation so very afraid of it?
Is it a meeting of two minds, their delicate complexities intertwining to form an unbreakable unit that is bound by unwavering trust and mutual respect? Is it a partnership where both parties have an equal say in how things move forward? Is it two individuals who meet regularly over a drink or a meal to share their lives with each other, both silently fretting about the intimacy of the situation and what it could possibly mean? Is it the same “one night stand” that you wake up next to for the fourth weekend in a row? Is it the person on the other side of the country or the world that you occasionally text when the feelings of loneliness become impossible to bear?
There isn’t one solid definition of what a relationship is because the people in them are so different. Each one has its own specific parameters. The problem with the modern relationship is that it isn’t really one. Or if it is, it’s definitely not substantial and sustainable. With the advent of countless dating applications and the accompanying ability to sate your boredom and/or sexual frustration at the literal click of a button, the art of the relationship has taken a back seat. Or rather, it’s been tossed out the car altogether, violently smashing against the speeding pavement and left for dead as the occupants careen off to find more immediately gratifying prospects.
We live in a hedonistic culture dominated by the iron fist of mind games, suppressed emotions, hardened hearts, jaded souls, masked personas and meaningless babble. It’s easier to tiptoe around how we really feel about somebody because the tortured soul is more attractive than just coming out with your intentions. I mean, goodness! Is there a faster way to send somebody running for the hills than being upfront about how you feel about them? Right? Right?
It’s easier to be frank about wanting to fuck somebody than to be frank about how their smile sends you off-kilter because (for most people) there are fewer feelings, if any, involved. Why try when you can just swipe right on Tinder and replace the person with a willing participant in 20 minutes, time and time again? “I don’t want your soul, just your body and what it can give me” is the message being perpetuated everywhere you look.
It’s easy to make your body look good and stir up the basest of urges in a potential mate. It would be their absolute pleasure for them to ravish that body. Baring your soul just as readily, however, is near impossible. Once you let someone see the essence of who you are, there’s no turning back. We face this overwhelming fear of being spiritually naked because what happens when your insides aren’t attractive enough? Where do you start fixing? It’s the absolute terror of somebody else rejecting you for something you’re powerless to immediately change. To ourselves, we’re ugly. That’s why is easy to run away from something that forces you to confront that ugliness.
Emotional investment means sacrificing, it means being vulnerable, it means maturing, it means compromise, it means a long list of unpleasant, painful lessons that can help you grow. Relationships mean trying, they mean humility, they mean seeing past your own needs, they mean inevitable lows. Why suffer through all of this when you can just drop your significant other when you’ve had enough and go hook up with someone new later? Why work to fix something that you know in your deepest of hearts, is and always will be beautiful but just needs a little work?
Obviously not all relationships are this way. Some just aren’t meant to be. It makes me sad though, the mythology of the modern relationship. It bothers me that we can’t be as vigilant about exploring one another on an emotional level as we are on a sexual one. The two definitely go hand in hand but it’s a real shame that you’re not worth the trouble if you don’t put out, you’re crazy and “catching feelings” if you text a person to ask how they are, you’re being unreasonable if you want to share your days with somebody. You’re naïve if you think that good people with clear intentions still exist. You’re in trouble and downright weird if your sexual appetite isn’t of the voracious variety and inevitably, you’re having to explain yourself out of a corner about why you are that way.
Sometimes it seems as though we’re trapped, shackled by this freedom that we claim to have. The dying art of the relationship. Can we still save it or will it forever dissolve into the abyss, a modern myth oft whispered about but never seen?