Monday, June 27, 2016

State Of The Union

     I don’t know if it’s just me and my circle of friends, but it seems like most of the people I know are single. Many of them have been single since I’ve known them. I’m assuming this is by choice, because for the most part, they are not horrible human beings or unattractive. Not that personality or attractiveness seems to be any deterrent for dating or marriage, judging by some of the horror shows I see coupled these days.
     I know personally that many people are just tired of trying. They have been through the wringer, and are much happier on their own. I can’t blame them, really. I am 51 years old, and although I never really stopped trying, I have dated my fair share of looneys.
      I'm being glib. Not all of them were crazy. Many of them were at weird points in their lives, or incomplete, and sometimes it was me that was not ready or together enough to make it work.
     There are many people out there that are terrified of getting involved only to have yet another bad experience, or worse yet an abusive or damaging relationship. It seems much simpler and safer to just be alone. If you are not out there in the brave new world of online and camera phone dating, believe me, it’s not pretty.
     New technology has emboldened a lot of men, and the results are horrifying. I tell guys this all the time, get to know some women without hitting on them and slobbering over them, and earn their trust. You will be amazed at the stories you hear. Find out about the unsolicited dick pics. The sense of entitlement and the rage when men don’t get what they want. Most men don’t even realize how they are coming off. We are bigger and more intimidating than we think, and it is very easy to put a woman at unease.
     Not to blame it all on men though. Women are full of issues too. One of the things I come across these days are women that have behaviors that they are unhappy with, and feel are wrong, but do them anyway. They expect you to enable them, too. Somewhere they got the idea that love means agreeing with whatever they say and acquiescing to whatever damaging behavior they are engaging in, even when they know it’s wrong.
     And that’s not all men, or all women. There are plenty of well-adjusted, stable, capable of love people of both genders out there, I know that. Well, I assume that. It’s kind of like the giant squid. We see dead ones washed up on the shore, so we know they exist, we just never really get to see one in the wild.
     I also notice that most people have some weird, borderline obsessive compulsive thing going on these days. I know I do. I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with so much technology at hand, so much information and access to everything that is most likely turning us into psychotic automatons slowly but surely.
     I’m positive that 24/7 access to porn has ruined sex for most of us. It certainly has for our children. There are so many kids in their mid teens that have a warped idea of what sex is because the only examples they have are internet porn, or demanding boyfriends that watch too much internet porn.
     I’m not naive, I know that sex in all shapes and forms has existed for all time, but there was never this kind of bombardment, with every deviant act known to man at our fingertips. It is confusing for women, who must find some common ground where they satisfy their own and their man’s desires and still keep their self respect. For men too, many who still struggle with the madonna/whore complex and can’t reconcile a healthy sex life with a brain full of nasty shit they were watching on their phone on their lunch hour.
     Essentially, I think we want it all, and we are bludgeoned with a million different versions of what “it all” is, every minute of every day. How could we settle for one person when we are exposed non-stop to so many ideals, real or imaginary, every moment of our life?
     We no longer live in reality, so what chance does a real relationship have? We have too many choices, and half those choices don’t even exist, and the other half are not realistic on our budgets or lifestyles. We have unrealistic expectations and we are scared to act on them even if they presented themselves.
     Of course, I do know people in relationships and marriages, and some of them actually seem happy. It’s not for me to say whether or not they are healthy or good relationships, some seem to be. The thing is, almost none of them are really traditional. Not that that’s a bad thing, more or less, society and social mores change and grow, so why would things be like they were even a few decades ago?
      A lot of the relationships I see these days are two people living very separate lives, which again, is not necessarily a bad thing. I think people need to maintain their individualism in a pairing, that’s important. It’s also important to be able to spend time together, and share your lives and experiences. I’m not sure how much of that is going on in the world today. I see so many couples, out to dinner and both of them are staring into their phones. Or worse yet, one of them is and the other is looking forlorn and lonely and unsatisfied, across the table from their lifemate who cares more about Facebook or the football game.
     I also see a lot of couples that don’t look comfortable with each other. They don’t hold hands, or they seem awkward or distressed. The best is when I catch one of them looking at the other when their back is turned with a mixture of bewilderment and disgust on their face.
      That is something as old as time itself also, people that are together just because they are afraid to be alone. They grab the first thing that comes along and try to fool themselves into thinking that they are happy or because they think that's how it's supposed to be. I think most people are everything, all at once. We are lonely, but not lonely enough that we want to tie ourselves down or get ourselves hurt. We want security and we want freedom. We want to settle down and be able to cut and run whenever things get bad. We want someone we can depend on and count on and makes our heart race when we see them, but we don’t really feel like putting that kind of time and effort back into a relationship.
     In a nutshell, we are lazy and selfish. There are many people out there that think the perfect relationship would be if you had a partner that you could just turn off and put in a closet when you didn’t need them, and see them maybe once or twice a week. The rest of the time they were safe and secure in their cubbyhole, and you wouldn’t have to worry about keeping them happy or wonder what they were doing.
     Admit it, there are some of you that think that would be great. It fits in with our on the go, everything at your fingertips world. We are used to having what we want, when we want it, so why wouldn’t our brains apply that same principle to our love life?
     We all have jobs now, and those jobs seem to demand more than they ever have. The employers have the upper hand these days, and they demand so much more for so much less, it seems. There are so many things pulling at us, making us feel obliged and responsible, guilty and shamed.
      There are so many more temptations too. Private messages on Facebook, dating apps, secret texts and phone calls. So many predators waiting to jump in at the slightest hint of trouble in your relationship. Stalkers and creepers, playing on your doubts and insecurities, and once you go down that road you assume your partner is too. Then you’re doomed.
     Our own fears and desires and stray thoughts do us in. We not only project past hurts and abuse on our current lovers, but we project our own idle thoughts and desires on them too. We see how much temptation and wrong decisions are out there, and we assume that our partners won’t be able to handle it like we do, so we write them off before they can do it to us.
      There is reality television, which isn't reality at all. TV makes a lot of money with shows about how we never know the person we're with and how anyone can be a serial killer hiding in plain sight. Murder porn has ruined what little faith we had in each other.
      Then there is the fact that the older we get, the more we see of the world and the more we are ground down by the sometimes unsettling truths of life. We live in a fantasy world, but it is filled with very real and disheartening things that jar us from it all the time. When we were young, we were made to feel better by the simple reassurance that everything was alright. Now that we are older, we know that it’s a lie. Nothing can ever be alright again. It can be tolerable. It can be ignored for awhile, or dulled with alcohol or drugs or sex or whatever thing you use to make it temporarily bearable.
     But life is still waiting for you when you’re done escaping.
     It used to be that we thought we would find that one magic someone, and they would make it alright again. So now the person that makes us feel that way is looked upon with suspicion and distrust. You expect that to be taken away, just like everything else.
      Then life happens, and you realize that even that person is just a person, fallible and disappointing at times. We should expect them to be, but we don’t. We still insist that our soulmates are different, and we can’t bear it when they aren’t. We expect too much, and we are quick to throw away the people that love us just because they can’t live up to some unattainable ideal.
     The contest is rigged from the start, and the questions have no right answers, and we get to say “aha!” when our loves inevitably fail.
     That’s wrong, and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how we hit the reset and get us all back to the place where trying your best and being loyal and true was enough, and a simple grand gesture once in awhile meant the world. Intimacy seems to be a fleeting thing, romance seems dead, replaced by fear and trepidation, lives spent waiting for the other shoe to drop. Mutual trust and understanding seem to have disappeared too, and we look at each other’s phones and the search history on our computers. We all seem to be living with so much unease, often about the people we are supposed to be closest too. We have royally fucked ourselves up.
      Then there's the whole other thing with sexual compatibility. I have known so many people in relationships where the sex, while not horrible, wasn't that good. They figure that it's a trade off. Have something solid and comforting and expect the sex to be blah, or in some cases nonexistent.
     Who is going to be fulfilled with that? No one, no matter how much you try to convince yourself. Sex is such an important part of a relationship, but we are so childish and immature about it. We never talk honestly about it and feel ashamed by our own feelings.
       We also bring so many other people's stuff into our own relationships. We see what they go through and we project it into our own situation. We listen to their opinions when they don't even know the whole story because we always leave out the embarrassing parts where we come off badly. We are not true to them or ourselves, so how can we expect a helpful answer?
      Basically, now more than ever, there are a million things working against ever having a successful relationship.
     But there still are. There are still couples that are happy and stronger and better because they are together. You can say they are fooling themselves, you can say they are deluded and living a lie, you can try to put it down and attack it anyway you want.
     No matter what happened in your love life, or with your parent's relationship, that fact remains that there are still couples out there making it work. Just because I can only think of maybe three or four makes no difference. They are out there, and most of us aspire to it, or else we wouldn't keep trying.
      Maybe we all need to change something about ourselves. Maybe we need to put more effort into it, and develop more staying power. Relationships, like everything else, require work. Anything worthwhile does. They also require faith, and that can be hard to come by these days. Many times you need to spend years restoring faith because some asshole before you destroyed it in the person you love.
     It's hard to have a relationship with someone that can no longer trust anyone, and many times that person is you. We don't even trust ourselves. We question our own decisions and we are so afraid of playing the fool yet again.
      I don't know what the answer is, but I know a lot of people that go to bed lonely night after night, and most of them are not really happy about that. They just think that the thing they want so much might not exist. That's soul crushing, and so many of us have convinced ourselves it's okay.
      It is not okay. Love exists. Just never completely on our own terms. Our whole society seems to be in a “my way or no way” state right now, and nothing in life can be accomplished without compromise. Compromise isn't a loss, it's a win for both sides. The sooner we understand that, the better things will be.
      I hope it's soon. The love of your life is having a miserable time of it too. They are waiting, just as you are, to have that one person that they know loves them for the amazing person they are and will give that love back.
     All your dreams are waiting to come true, and as usual you're the only one standing in the way.

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