I was just commenting on a friend's journal, and I got to "thinking" again. (Uh oh. Put on your helmets and get out the fire extinguisher just in case.) I got to thinking about how people can be really idiotic when it comes to things like relationships, and how there are so many complex unwritten social rules in that area. It's just ridiculous. Here's part of my comment, and I'll elaborate more below.
There needs to be some sort of middle ground between "friendship" and "relationship." One where you get the best of both worlds but aren't 100% exclusive and don't define yourselves as a couple. So then, you can have sort of an elevated friendship, but also be mushy and cutesy and make out or whatever. You wouldn't feel smothered, your other friends wouldn't get annoyed/jealous because the other person wouldn't monopolize your free time, and you'd still have someone kinda-sorta special without the commitment of a regular relationship. And you can have that sort of friendship with more than one person if you want without it being cheating or bigamy (heck, you can have a trio if you want). You wouldn't have to worry about a big breakup, because you could just remain friends but not necessarily as "close." Of course, you do run the risk of hurting a friendship, and friends sometimes hurt each other as much as (if not more than) people in relationships, so it's not "perfect." But then again, few friendships are hunky-dory 100% of the time. But there really needs to be something in between. Stupid society, with its unwritten social rules and boundaries...
I don't know how many of you have read The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by JK Rowling. (Go read it if you haven't, even if you've never read any of the Harry Potter books. It has several excellent short stories in it, you can read it in an evening, and you don't have to know anything about the wizarding world to understand the stories.) But there's a story about a young wizard who watches his otherwise intelligent friends basically turn into idiots when they fall in love. So the wizard decides he's never going to fall in love and literally locks away his heart. He goes on to become rich, successful, and powerful, but realizes nobody likes or respects him. So he decides that maybe he'll marry the "perfect" woman, and then things will be ok. So he finds the "perfect" woman and tries to woo her, but she's not impressed because he has no heart. He decides to unlock his heart and show it to her, but after being locked away for so long, it's not the same, and well, very bad things happen and there's no happy ending. Anyway, there must be some way for people to find satisfaction without being idiots about relationships.
What is it with society's definition of a "relationship," anyway? Why are the rules so complex, restrictive, and downright ridiculous? And so many people seem to want relationships, but they go about them totally wrong. I mean, are you really going to find someone you can tolerate sharing your life with at a bar, competing with a dozen morons on a reality show, or in the produce section? Maybe if you're reeeeeeally lucky, but chances are, no. Why would you want to get all fancied up and go on an awkward "date" with someone you barely know, just because there's some amount of physical attraction? And then, to see if there's potential for a "relationship," which will quite likely monopolize your time, alienate the other people you care about, and eventually end in disaster, where you cry for weeks and never want to talk to the person again. What's up with all that? I really don't get it. I know I'm incredibly socially inept and have a hard time understanding/following social rules, but it still seems like people are going about it the wrong way.
So what do people reallywant? What are they ultimately trying to get out of relationships? Is it closeness? A deep connection to someone else? Sex? That weird butterflies-doing-the-jitterbug-in-your-belly thing? Babies? Well, everyone has different motives. Some people are set on a very straight dating-relationship-marriage-children-retirement path, which is pretty much what society says is the "right" path. And if that's what you want, go for it. (Good luck.) But not everyone is so commitment-minded, so that's not going to work for everyone.
I've tried to understand why people seem to want "relationships" and what's so great about them. I still don't get it. But here's what I've learned about what relationships are. Apparently, you're supposed to find someone you like, and then you start hanging out with them more than anyone else. Despite the social rules of "chicks before dicks" and "bros before hos" (which I actually agree with if you take out the gender-exclusiveness: always put your friends first), relationships seem to monopolize people's free time and energy. And you're not allowed to be close with anyone else unless it's strictly platonic. If you DARE touch anyone else in a questionable way, it's "cheating," and even if you develop another close friendship when there are "feelings" involved, that's "emotional infidelity." I know some people do well with monogamy, but a lot of people don't. It's just how humans are, as members of the animal kingdom, with individual variation. The societal standard of "one path for everyone" just doesn't work. Even the gods aren't always perfectly monogamous. I mean, you have Zeus going around and knocking up everything female he can find, yet he's married to Hera, who rips him a new one all the time but still stays with him. It's ridiculous. I mean, monogamy is great and all, but it's not for everyone.
Look at the divorce rate. Half of marriages end in divorce these days. That means at least half of the population is going about the whole "relationship" thing wrong. It's different in every case. Maybe they didn't really get to know each other enough on a deep level. Maybe they jumped into things too quickly or mistook sex for love. Maybe one person was wired for monogamy and the other wasn't. Maybe they thought the "opposites attract" thing would work and later regretted it. Maybe they really were in love but weren't necessarily compatible, because love is not all you need. There are zillions of reasons. Also arranged marriages have a much higher success rate than ones based on love. Why? In most cases, the parents make sure the children are actually compatible before making the arrangement, and the couple eventually grows to love each other. Of course, people arrange marriages for questionable reasons too, and sometimes disaster strikes, but people can be idiots like that. If the parents are careful, the children willingly consent, and the motives are pure, things can work out better in the end than if people are left to their own devices and decide to get married based on what they think is "love." Because love can be good and all, but if you're not compatible, it's not going to work.
Anyway, back to the whole "middle ground" thing. I think there should be some sort of middle ground for people who don't want to be bound by a traditional relationship. I guess the closest current equivalent is the "friends with benefits" option, which can be a decent compromise, but this is different. Why do people feel the need to define their interpersonal relationships and make them fit into societally-defined categories? Why not make your own rules? Go ahead and have your "special friends." Your friends are generally the people you're most compatible with anyway. Don't worry about deciding whether you're just friends or a couple. There should be an in-between zone. If you're in an ambiguous situation with someone and there's an elephant lurking in the room, you don't have to give the elephant an ultimatum and tell it to join the party or split. And if you want to transition into or out of the in-between zone, it's easier and less awkward/painful. Maybe eventually it will lead to the relationship-marriage/civil union-2.5 children thing, maybe not. There just needs to be more wiggle room and less restriction. It would make things a lot easier for everyone.
'Kay. Done now. *sings* You get the beeeeest of both worlds! Chillin' out, take it slow, then you rock out the show...