Some personal thoughts from the senior editor’s desk.
To be in a relationship, or not to be in a relationship? That appears to be our question.
Everywhere around me right now, I’m seeing relationships failing. I’ve heard a few of my friends refer to 2018 as the year where all the power couples broke up – a comment on various YouTube couples, celebrity couples, and people in our friend group choosing to terminate relationships that have been going on for years now. Myself, and my other partner behind The Thinker’s Right, may count for two of those potential breakups. While neither of us have made a concrete decision yet, we’re both now faced with the prospect of life without our partners, and it’s left a lot on my mind.
There is something profoundly unsetting about couples you admire breaking up. Relationships give us a sense of security, and we idolize power couples especially because they show us what we want for ourselves. Despite what your gender studies prof has conditioned you to believe, what we all want is to be in a good, loving relationship; to find a partner who meets our emotional needs and physical standards, to have by our side for all our lives.
So when we watch those couples that we thought were going to make it to the end fall apart, it leaves us scared for our own success in relationships. One of my all-time favourite songs is Kurt Vile’s brilliant ‘Girl Called Alex,’ about a friend of his who had recently split up from her husband. The narrator continues to fantasize the utopian relationship as it gives him a sense of comfort.
As members of our generation are choosing flawed models like open and polyamorous relationships over traditional partnerships, we are, at the same time, seeing a rise in fixation on power couples – or at least, that’s what I’m witnessing from my peer group. Young people always want to see change in society, and there’s not much left that our generation has to fight for. Maybe that’s why we’re tearing apart the social fabric of gender and relationships, because we just want to leave our own mark on history, and this is the easiest way we can do it. Like how a suicide bomber explodes.
By nature, we all want to be loved. Really it’s more of a necessity than a desire. Babies die if they’re not touched. Lonely people live shorter lives that aren’t as worth living as people who have a partner and kids to grow old with. Humans are animals, plain and simple. Being inherently monogamous is not restricted to Catholics, and to tell yourself otherwise can only be an attempt to conform to a lifestyle that doesn’t feel natural to you, for the sake of appearances and your role in a community. E.g. the ‘poly power couple.’ Or the ‘free-spirited non-monog’. Or because you’re insecure and afraid of the commitment that a long term relationship requires.
In the day and age of technology and hiring people to fix things and perform difficult labour duties for you, and grocery stores and fast food, and online shopping, we’re getting more and more used to getting things easily. The plain and simple truth of relationships is that they’re not, and our generation is getting really good at jumping ship the moment anything goes wrong. “It’s convenient to skip away a lucky penny rather than invest it.” Our parents – and their parents – didn’t set great examples for us either. More than half of relationships right now are ending in divorce, and that can’t all be because ‘marriage is a flawed premise.’ Our parents who were married two or three or four times set poor examples for us in showing us that marriage is a temporary thing that can be torn apart at any time.
Now, the disturbing thing about these breakups that are happening around me is that most of them are pretty solid relationships (fifty years ago, these people would be getting married) that are ending for no real reasons. Reasons including: ‘I wasn’t getting anything new out of the relationship,’ and ‘we were together for so long I didn’t know who I was without the other person anymore,’ which are self-serving and weak copouts.
Now that I am looking at the possibility of losing the person who I spent the last two years thinking I was going to be with forever, who am settled with, I think the second one especially is an absurd reason to end a relationship. If you have grown so close to somebody that they become a part of you and your identity, that is a beautiful thing, something worth fighting to preserve. I’ve grown more as a member of this partnership than I have at any point in my single life. Not in spite of it; because of it.
I’m also hearing my peers say things like ‘you should be just as happy single as you should be in a relationship.’ Your partner should be somebody who makes your life better and more meaningful. If your partner doesn’t make you happier than being alone, then something is fundamentally wrong with your relationship. You can’t blame your partner for your own lack of self-security. You and your partner should each have your own values, and bring them together to create a new life around them.
There’s a biological component to settling down young too. When you delay having children because you’re searching for your ‘perfect partner,’ you won’t have children early enough in life to give them their best life – or maybe you’ll miss out entirely. I’ll get into this next time.
If you’re thinking about breaking up with your partner, ask yourself – could this person be the mother/father of my children? Could I see us building a life together? If the answer is yes, congrats, you probably already have what the rest of us are downloading freaking apps to try to find. If it’s no, that’s no, you know what to do. But if it’s yes, hang on to it. It’s more precious then you’ll realize until it’s too late.
“The most outlaw thing that I ever done was give a good woman a ring.
Life ain’t fair and the world is mean.”
– Sturgill Simpson
-Senior Editor A.
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