To Be in a Relationship, Or Not To Be in a Relationship– Is THAT the New Question?

For today’s post, I’d like to examine the idea of relationship itself.

The bulk of the material available on this topic made one thing abundantly clear: courtship is a dying ideal.  I mean we’ve heard the adage: “Why buy the cow when the milk is free?” and that adage is holding true.  As an interviewee on NPR’s Morning Edition said– and I’m paraphrasing here, “Dating is expensive.  Hooking up costs way less than a movie.”  And he’s right.  If done wisely, hooking up can cost no more than a 6-pack ($5).  A date to the movies will easily run you into $40 or more.

Technology has put us in a fast-track mindset.  We are growing used to instant gratification.  I can get nearly anything I want right now…at this VERY moment if I choose, including sex.   Why go through the hell of first dates?

But the one thing you CANNOT get instantaneously is intimacy.  Intimacy takes time, patience and effort.  Here we are in a decade where we have more “friends” than ever, thanks to the advent of facebook, Myspace, and other social networking outlets, but we know our “friends” less– merely superficially.

Sure, I can tell you Jane likes her oatmeal with brown sugar and a spot of honey, or that she takes her dog to the park every Sunday.  This dictation of her daily routine is available in her status updates.  But I’ll never know why she cries herself to sleep at night or why she’s embarrased to let her husband see her naked.  This level of intimacy will never be reached.

It’s the same with dating.  The ritual of the 1950s was ingenious, and perhaps that’s why more of those relationships lasted into several decades and divorce rates were at a low.  There was a formality of “going steady” followed by “getting pinned” followed then by engagment.  All of which was happening under the watchful eye of the parents by the way.   Couples were taking the time to get to know one another.

Today, my 13-year-old is already concerned with finding a boyfriend and is going about achieving it through text messaging.  Her friends are sexting one another and already “hooking up” with boys too young to appreciate their value or to be concerned with anything outside of scoring.  Times are changing, and “hooking up” is occurring at a progressively younger and younger age.

I’ll openly admit to housing a profile on a few online dating sites.  As a busy woman, it’s hard for me to meet men.  I’m bombarded daily with emails commenting on my physicality, asking for meet ups or just crudely requesting things I’m too much of a lady to repeat.

I can pack as much information as I can into a dating profile in an attempt to explain the ins-and-outs of me to a complete stranger,  but few will take the time to read it.  They will see the picture, judge the movement (if any) in their penis, and haphazardly send me an email in the hopes that no matter what I’ve said in my profile, I’m open to “hooking up.”  A good portion of them will be married or otherwise committed– a testament to the purpose of this blog.  They are not  concerned with “who” I am, but rather how far I am willing to go and how quickly.

Another interviewee on the NPR snippet I listened to was a female.  She relayed how she has a close circle of female friends she’s known since college, and she finds her intimacy here.  She worries that a man may try to change those relationships, and this is why she actually prefers “hooking up.”

Ironically, I changed my facebook relationship status recently to “It’s Complicated” and declared my allegiance to my best female friend.  We are neither lesbians or sexual with one another, but our bond is the most intimate, loving, supportive bond I have experienced in my entire life.  For that, I declared she has me.  Let no man put us under.

Are we moving toward an era where traditional relationships are growing extinct?  If I can find emotional intimacy with my best same sex friend, why would I need a man to provide that?  Does he then just become a recreational activity?

There’s something sad about that to me.  But is it because I can’t let go of my traditional upbringing?  Am I too rigid in my ideal that I want a man to know me deeper than my vagina?  Personally, I don’t want to give up on the ideas of romance, courtship and relationship.   But am I fighting an uphill battle in changing times?

Sure, I don’t need a man for financial security, protection, child-bearing or even to open pickle jars.  Most women don’t today.  But that said, Do I resign to be recreation myself?  Is it easier if the emotion is compartmentalized and strictly with my girlfriend?  Is the relationship as we know it growing extinct?

What do you think about all this?

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