Giving Up

Finding someone is easy, but finding the right person is not.

A friend recently pointed out to me that she knows of women who have given up completely on the idea of finding that right person. They don’t date, look, go out or in any way make an effort to attract men.

It’s pretty easy to understand how this happens. Whether we have been priorly married or not, or had children or not, time has a way of insulating us against the invasion of outside influence. We get comfortable; content in our habits and less able (willing?) to see the advantage of the new.

That’s what’s commonly called a rut. Meeting someone with intent to couple is all about acknowledging our own incompleteness, a bittersweet truth if ever there was one. Singlehood, if chosen deliberately, is about reinforcing the notion that we don’t need another to fill in the missing parts of us.

No question about it, relationships are work. They require us to change, and they also require us to process new ways of thinking and doing things. You’d think that we’d want to always have someone with whom to explore life, but that is often uncomfortable in the short-term, even if rewarding in the long.

Whether from fatigue, exasperation, boredom or sheer lack of engagement, the intellectual progression is easy enough. What’s more difficult is silencing the inner voice. Yes, we can live alone and surround ourselves with family and friends, but the specialness of being with someone drives much of our lives. Blocking that part of ourselves sounds horrid.

The question remains: Is a life lived without coupling as good as one lived in couplehood? Furthermore, can we just block out the possibility of finding someone and call it good?

Marriage

Boldly galloping through the culture – western culture, at least – gaining currency is the idea that marriage is over. Singlehood is now explained as anything from the choice of sophisticates to the best way of finding happiness, thereby making it the default choice of more or less anyone who either can’t be bothered to marry or doesn’t know how.

The jump that this horse always neatly trots around is why it is that we’ve begun to turn our back on marriage; balked at the jump if you like. Proponents of universal singlehood assume that divorce is inevitable for a large number of married people and that this is only likely to worsen. The evidence provided is that divorce rate of anywhere from 40% to 60%, numbers that do not differentiate between first, second or third marriages, age, the presence of children and so on. It’s a big number, so it must be right. Right?

But the true number is irrelevant because it reflects a marital culture based on the behaviour of amateurs. Over sixty years or so, society has created a vision of marriage based on false premises, ideas that best serve advertisers, media and specific political operatives. The false premises include, but are not limited to:

  • marriage can be successful at any age
  • marriage is based on love
  • marriage is based on feelings
  • marriage is the end of the dating process, not the beginning of something
  • marriage is not about getting what you want
  • individual difficulties can be worked out inside marriage
  • initial compatibility can overcome later problems

…and so on.

We are amateurs at marriage because we have the arrogance to think we know what marriage is all about, like it’s a genetically transmitted skill. We give it about as much thought as buying a new car or creating an Instagram account, and oftentimes a whole lot less. Critical thinking almost never pops into our deliberation, and why would it: Love conquers all.

So because they (ie: the abovementioned sponsors) judge marriage based on the decisions and subsequent divorces of shallow-thinking instant gratifiers, the wisdom becomes that remaining single is better.

It’s the same idea as expecting Olympic-quality performances from athletes who train with a tv remote in their hands. Let’s not ditch marriage because the participants are lazy, dopey, poorly advised, misguided, misanthropic, selfish, desperate or easily fooled. We are the problem, not marriage.

Subtext

Wombat: So who is the brunette hottie in the pic you sent?

Friend-Girl: Oh, that’s Chantelle.

Wombat: Would I like her?

Friend-Girl: Hmmmm, maybe. She’s a little spiritual for you. But I think she’s dirty – she’s always talking about her thigh-high boots and lingerie. I’m sure you’d like that about her.

Wombat: So why is she single?

Friend-Girl: You can’t ask that question.

Wombat: Sorry?

Friend-Girl: That question is off-limits. Everyone asks cute single girls why they don’t have a man, like that’s the only thing that matters. So I rule the question invalid.

Wombat: Oh. I can’t even ask the question?

Friend-Girl: Nope.

Pause.

Wombat: This is about you, isn’t it? You don’t want to talk about this because you’re sans-a-man, right?

Friend-Girl: Bastard.

Click.