Social Question

3xscorp's avatar

Does my definition of and approach to love put me in the minority?

Asked by 3xscorp (54points) May 1st, 2012

I came home last night and ran into my neighbor who told me that her husband of 14 years just left her. It came as a complete surprise to her but he told her that she wasn’t the same person that he had once been attracted to. Then I received an email from a guy friend of mine who said that if it wasn’t for the kids, he would leave his marriage because the relationship that he envisioned isn’t the one that he has. And then my mechanic/friend called me to say that his divorce was finally done – he was free of the woman who he initially believed was such an old-fashioned girl and who ended up stealing money from his company and nearly bankrupting him.

All this brought to mind something I recently read in a novel. The female character says, “Have you ever noticed that when people are dating, no one is who they really are? The guy will take the girl to nice restaurants and dancing when he actually hates that kind of food and doesn’t like to dance. And the woman will pretend to like his favorite sport when she couldn’t care less….I mean, I know it’s human nature to want to make a good impression on someone if you like them, but there’s a big difference between making a good impression and pretending to be someone you’re not. If the guy doesn’t like dancing and she really hates football, they should just say so. They can’t keep up the pretense forever. Is it any huge surprise that a few years down the road they don’t recognize the person sitting across from them at the dinner table? I just don’t get it.”

I’m with her. I don’t get it. What’s to be gained by playing games and putting on an act? Isn’t that the same as lying to the other person and making him/her fall in “love” with someone who doesn’t exist? Why do so many people seem to be swayed by things that don’t or may not last – like looks and money? I DON’T believe in a fairy tale kind of love but I DO believe in the kind of love that’s based on honesty and that remains even when there are disagreements and the looks fade away, the sex may not be possible for whatever reason, and the money is depleted. I seem to be in the minority though.

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20 Answers

tom_g's avatar

Good question.

@3xscorp: “Why do so many people seem to be swayed by things that don’t or may not last – like looks and money?”

Sure, money and looks don’t last. But neither does “you” or “your partner”. We are constantly changing. I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago when I got married, and neither is my wife. That’s a good thing. But we value our relationship and we are open about our experiences and how we are changing. Ideally, we will continue to grow and change as individuals together, and we’ll continue to want to be with each other in our current state.

Bill1939's avatar

Sexual attraction is a biological response that produces a high that clouds the rational examination of a relationship. This effect decreases over time allowing recognition of shortcomings that otherwise were masked by instinctual imperatives.

marinelife's avatar

I’m sorry that you’ve been exposed to such negative experiences lately. What you have described is a good reason for waiting awhile before committing yourself to marriage. You need to see your potential partner as they are and see them in all sorts of situations.

People also need to not walk out at the first sign of trouble. If a relationship is built on a solid friendship and common values and interests, it can survive. If the passion fades, there are things to do to bring it back.

But there are no schools that teach how to be in relationship (more’s the pity). People need to learn by trial and error.

Trillian's avatar

Good question, welcome to Fluther. This is why it’s a good idea to date for at least six months before making any decisions that will involve packing or the legal system. In that time, the “new” wears off and so does the mask. You ‘ll make a decision based on more complete information.

john65pennington's avatar

My wife and I dated for 6 months, before I asked her to marry me. That was 46 years ago. Why do we have the longevity in our marriage? We took it slow and got to know each other, from head to toe. I accepted her for who she was and vice versa. We had many long talks about our future together. We soon discovered that our chemistry for each other, was right on target. We were and are very compatible with each other. I never attempted to be someone other than myself and the same for her.

Today is a generation of infatuation of hot love, before marriage. People do not get to know each other, before saying “I do”.

If you plan on sharing two lives together, forever, you have to know each other inside out and that takes time.

You are on the right track. Wait until you are absolutely positive that this is the person you want to live with for the rest of your life.

Only you can make a difference.

Ela's avatar

I believe people are constantly growing and evolving in their own individual directions and they should be given the freedom to do so. When you are in a relationship, how you accept and adjusts to these growths and changes will a be a major contributing factor in determining whether or not you remain together throughout them.
Respect is key for me. I think you should always respect your partner even if you don’t agree with them (which can be difficult at times but is doable). That doesn’t automatically mean the relationship will survive change but it may help in understanding why it didn’t.
As far as deception when first meeting or dating… I don’t get that either.

Coloma's avatar

No, I feel the same way. This is why I don’t take anyones new relationship seriously until they have been together for 2–3 years. This is when the masks slip and peoples baggage and personality flaws come spilling out. The traditional idea of romantic “love” is nothing more than infatuation, sexual lust and brain chemicals in the early phases of a relationship.
It takes a LONG time to see how people keep showing up, how they handle stress and problems, personally and in the relationship.

Infact, some of the worst high risk types are the best at pouring on the charm in the beginning stages of a relationship. I am always suspicious of anyone that comes on like a freight train, usually a red flag, the “too good to be true”, person usually is. lol

Coloma's avatar

Yes, @Ela Agreed. We are all changing and evolving as we should be, and change is not the same as lack of character. I’m a firm believer that character cannot be acquired , you either have it or you don’t. This doesn’t mean that people don’t make mistakes, but some people truly just lack any fundamental integrity and these are the dangerous ones that have no problem lying, cheating, stealing, whatever it takes to get what they want.

Paradox25's avatar

I rant on about this all the time, and I’ve taken some heat for telling others my opinions about how I feel about initial facades. Unfortunately most of the dating advice that is floating around out there (DeAngelo, Katz, etc) actually encourages people to put on facades, and they repeatedly inform us that being ourselves to try to get somebody rarely works.

This is why I think that more people need to start standing up to the status quo of dating rules and just start being themselves. Personally I know deep down inside of me that putting on facades just to impress a person, or to get them to date you rarely works in the long run. Until the facade nonsense comes to an end (or if) dating will be like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re going to get. I’m not one of those people and I’m always myself (the real me), and I prefer a person to know what I’m all about right at the beginning. Maybe I’m a rare breed myself but I am who I am, like it or leave it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think it’s just a matter of putting on an act and then realizing there is some ‘other’ person underneath. Relationships fail because of cultural memes, as well…memes about gendered expectations, about how a woman of ‘that background’ or a man ‘who buys dinners’ is supposed to be. In reality, few people (but, surely, there are some caricatures) are one-dimensional representations of that which is expected of their gender and sexuality or race and class. In reality, men and women aren’t different and both long to be respected and want to feel inspired, passionately cared for, etc. In reality, money or, rather, the lack of it does put a strain on a relationship as does unequal sharing of chores or child-rearing (usually, in this society, falling on the woman). In reality, men aren’t constantly sex-starved without emotion and plenty of women don’t want jewelry when it comes at the expense of actual communication and commitment. Besides, people do change and we aren’t raised to cope with change, we aren’t raised to not own our partners. It’s very rare to hear a couple say something along the lines of ‘One of the most important things for us, as a couple, is that each of us gets personal growth..if she wants to do a masters, I will figure out how to change my life…if he wants to stay at home, I will go to work…we will try to be as equal as possible in the kinds of dreams we we help the other achieve, etc.’ You just don’t hear that kind of thing. Finally, people break up because they don’t know how to communicate, it’s true. I know that many people don’t know how to express themselves about their desires, about pleasure, about intimacy, about sexual needs, about how their bodies feel. Nobody talks with honesty and vulnerability and when they do, it’s often with a scream and a slam and an end.

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir They also fail because of personality disorders and other emotional issues. The world is full of “adults” with the emotional intelligence of 5 year olds. I agree, stereotyped expectations take their toll too.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma But that’s the thing – personality disorders come from somewhere, from being reared in a particular society, they aren’t just there (save for some that are inherited, but still) – emotional issues also come from the family or from the ways others have treated you. I’m a sociologist, you see…I am biased against psychology that thinks it’s all about this individual issue in this individual and that specific problem in that individual. I get along nicely with social psych types (if I must) because, at least, they know people never grow up in a vacuum. Emotional issues are everyone’s issues. If people (and many say men are this way) act like they’re 5, I think it’s good to ask, well…how does that connect to our ideas about masculinity or our ideas around class?

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir True. Lots of factors involved. :-)

YARNLADY's avatar

There are a lot of great answers here. My husband and I have been married for 37 years now, and are still very much in love. We met on Memorial Day, moved in together on Independence Day and married on Labor Day, so ours was a whirlwind romance.

I think it stems from not forming expectations ahead of time, but rather let the relationship evolve and be flexible enough to allow change. Our relationship is more like a partnership than two-into-one type. Mutual respect is very important, along with honesty.

From what I see, too many people place too much emphasis on looks and tend to live in the moment, as if everything revolves around them.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

What you describe is just one view. What @tom_g wrote is a more positive but not uncommon one.

The extent people will put on airs or facades to get what they want is huge. As much fun as people believe they’re having with that other person, they should also invest in peeking over the wall at the not so great things because there’s always something of issue to be navigated.

There’s no rule that a couple has to like the same things in order to be a good couple but pretending to like something kinda of soul sucks over time.

3xscorp's avatar

Everyone here has made a significant point so here’s my response before I have to get back to the project that I’m working on (I’m on my lunch break).
I recognize that people change and evolve but I think that you weather that change much better if you see, love, accept, and respect the real person to begin with – not a façade. And yes, people rush into so-called relationships way too fast these days. Everything is focused on fast in today’s society – fastest phone network, fastest computer downloads, fastest cars. I’ve seen young people complain and wonder whether someone really likes them or not because he/she didn’t respond immediately to a text message. Took an hour to respond = must not like me. And in many ways it seems that people have assumed a disposable mentality – disposable diapers, cell phones, contact lenses, underwear, pre-fabricated furniture….and relationships.
It’s wonderful that some of you who have found happy, enduring relationships. But I think that you are the beautiful exceptions and that longevity alone means nothing. Both of my great grandmothers were picture brides from Japan and Okinawa. Basically, their families sold them to men who had moved to Hawaii to work on the sugar cane plantations. Not uncommon in those days. Their marriages lasted until death but ask me if either of them were happy. The thing is, thinking about personal happiness was simply not done back then. You did what your family wanted or needed you to do and then accepted your fate because, really, what other options did you have? Abandoning your family or getting a divorce would make you an outcast and there was almost no way for a woman “like that” to earn an honest living, especially here. Even today, many people feel trapped. The difference between then and now is that back then most people accepted their situation while today many outwardly accept but inwardly rebel because they know that they in fact do have options. Talk about conflict and emotional and mental problems.
When the world changed and women began asserting their rights, it was good thing for women but it shattered the clearly defined roles of men and women in relationships and marriage. Before, men earned a living and therefore had a right to rule the home. They didn’t have to care about a woman’s emotional needs. Women raised children and took care of the home and him, including his physical needs because that was her “duty”. It wasn’t important if she was enjoying it or not. (I know, I know, not EVERYONE was like that but I’m talking about society in general). And even though it’s been decades, it seems as though people are still confused. Men accept women in the workplace but I’ve seen marriages fall apart because a woman earns more than the guy so somewhere in the back of his mind he still thinks that he should be the primary breadwinner and it’s a blow to his ego when he can’t be. And, of course, it doesn’t help if the woman keeps pointing out this fact to the man. Women know that they have the freedom to pursue their dreams and the right to be happy but many of them still want to be taken care of financially. I know so many who would not stay with their spouses if something happened and they were not longer able to live the lifestyle that they’ve become accustomed to. They are also free to express their physical needs so now more and more men seem to worry about their “performance”. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that people wear masks – so many of them don’t know who they really are or what they really want or what the other person wants.

I could write pages on this stuff but got to get back to work now. Just remember, when I say “men” and “women”, I’m talking about in general. There are always, thankfully, exceptions.

Plucky's avatar

@3xscorp Your response seems very male centred to me.

Plucky's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Sorry, I should have been more specific. The last large paragraph ..most of what is brought up is from the male perspective. I’m not saying whether the points are wrong or right. Just that they seemed lopsided to me. That is all.

3xscorp's avatar

@Plucky – That was not my intent. I think confusion and conflict occurs on both sides. Women used to be expected to remain in the home, not work, and raise the kids. The changes that have occurred have opened up a world of options to them but it seems that now, women are made to feel guilty if they choose to be homemakers. My sister faced that sort of attitude when she chose to not work and home school her children. But, like I said, I could write too many pages about this subject matter.

Thanks to everyone for your responses and insights.

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