It’s not just about love, then marriage, then a baby in a carriage. Today’s broader definition of relationships means some people are choosing a new non-linear way to explore the realms of relationships. Not all relationships end in marriage; not all marriages include children; gay and polyamorous relationships challenge traditional conventions; online dating has revolutionized the ability to meet new prospects. For some, navigating this new world of relationships without a guidebook or timeline is a challenge that leaves them unsure of what’s expected or acceptable.
It may not the be most romantic way of looking at things, but the parallels between financial investments and the investments of personal resources like time, attention, and consideration in relationships are undeniable. From playing the field to cyber-stalking potential dates to committing to the long haul, both the rational analysis and gut emotions that inform financial decisions translate into determining compatibility of a partner, whether for the night or for life.
Sex is everywhere. Everyone says they’re having it, but they’re probably not referring to missionary-style intercourse leading to simultaneous orgasm. No one says is what’s actually going on. You’d think in a post-Sex and the City world in which Miley twerks at the VMAs and Weiner gets busted for sexting, there would be more dialogue. Instead, the
of sex are topics people hesitate to bring up even with their partner, never mind openly discuss and consider in everyday conversation. That leaves the door open for media, and especially porn, to set unrealistic expectations about sexual desire and normality.
There’s a lot to gain from partnering up, but there are inevitable struggles and a huge range of difficult dynamics to navigate. It’s often just easier to care for yourself. There can be a perceived power in being liked more—evidenced in a mother’s words of wisdom that “you should always marry a man who loves you more than you love him”—though that doesn’t say much about equality. Speaking of equality, women’s increasing earning power and in some cases, breadwinner status, can lead to some complications and feelings of inferiority for their guys. Most relationships have an undercurrent of a dominant and a submissive; since someone always has to give in, who it is might fall into a pattern.
Fear of being alone or comfort in the familiar can keep people in relationships past their sell-by date. Being part of a couple might take some of the pressure off you trying to grow as an individual. Then there are the people who see dating as a means to an end and won’t “settle” for dating a person who doesn’t agree to their views about marriage and parenting right off the bat. Unfortunately, this view isn’t about the two people in the relationship, but rather how the partner fits into his/her predefined role.
Between the technology that gives you access to hundreds more people than you’d normally meet in your everyday life and also keeps past lovers within arm’s/computer’s reach, the sheer breadth of potential partners makes it easy to perceive that there might always be a better option out there. In the meantime, it deteriorates the willingness to commit to trying to make something work, or even the basic respect of dissolving something in person instead of via text or non-response. Some dates might not even be worth the gossip, or their worth is just to serve as fodder for boozy brunch giggles.
When it comes to heterosexual couples, the more men and women try to act like one another, the less magnetic attraction there is between the two sexes. Men have heard for years that women want them to be more sensitive, better listeners, and relinquish control every once in awhile. At the same time, women are trying to assert their independence and shake stereotypes that they are too emotional and submissive. What’s resulted is a population of people that are remarkably similar. While that may seem more agreeable, it’s minimized a natural polarity between the sexes that keeps them strongly attracted to one another.