In today’s world is there anyone who can’t identify with the anguish caused by the failure of a relationship?
I submit that there’s no adult living in today’s world who hasn’t felt despair at the gaping chasm which exists between our ideals of what a relationship should be, and the reality that we’re confronted with.
Failed relationships are the perhaps the #1 reason for which we start to search for answers about life, either philosophical or psychological. We want the ideal, but it seems impossible to attain. And perhaps it is.
Fairy tales, literature, and movies have a lot to answer for. They fill our heads from a young age with ideas of everlasting romance and completeness in relationship. This has been the case throughout the ages. The problem with today’s world is that we’re putting all of these fantasies of everlasting love into a context of a society where people aren’t willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make anything everlasting. We’re more narcissistic and selfish than perhaps we’ve ever been. We want it all.
1. Unrealistic Expectations
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but anything of value in life requires a certain amount of sacrifice and struggle. Want a successful career? You realize that you’ve got to sacrifice partying all the time and work for it. Want a child? You realize that you pay for this joy on condition that you sacrifice your own will to that of another human being.
What makes anyone think that relationships are exempt from the same law everything else is subject to?
In a long-term relationship, you’ll have to sacrifice the exhilaration that comes with flirtation and falling in love. You’ll have to sacrifice feeding your ego with seduction and constant affirmation of your sexual desirability. This is the reality of the long-term relationship, and there’s no way of getting around it. Love isn’t just a word, it comes with responsibility and that’s the whole point in it. That’s why it’s a big word and that’s why it means something. If you throw it around just because you have feelings of pleasure, then it doesn’t mean anything other than ‘I feel pleasure right now and I relate that to you’.
2. Values in Crisis
Today’s world is ruggedly individualist and the order of the day is personal development. This isn’t the best possible environment in which relationships can flourish. Relationships involve a certain degree of taking the mind’s gaze off yourself, and off your wants and needs alone. Relationships flourish where the values in the society or of the two individuals involved are concerned with the importance of relationship and community, rather than individuals simply taking all the pleasure they can possibly squeeze out of life.
3. Obsession with sexuality
Related to values, we have to look at today’s world and ask what it places value chiefly on. It won’t take you very long to find the answer. Modern western society has one obsession, and that’s sex. We come from a particular type of religious culture that had its own inverse obsession with sex. On being emancipated from the oppression of that kind of thinking, the obsession didn’t stop, it was simply brought out into the open.
When we were religious, sex was the big guilty secret that became more important in our psyche than anything else. Once we’d revealed and accepted this secret, it moved from being the primary focus of the unconscious mind to the primary focus of the conscious mind.
Capitalism has taken full advantage of this state of affairs and has stoked the flames by selling it to you day-in-day-out that your inherent value as a human being is bound up entirely with your sexual desirability and potency.
You’re being told that your status is bound up with your sexual desirability. You’re made to think that your only chance for adventure and escape from mundane reality is in sexual encounters. As a result, you consume and consume to try to maintain maximum sexual desirability. Like all things in capitalism, this is necessarily an unattainable ideal and an illusion. It has to be to keep you chasing it.
How can a relationship survive this barrage of psychological assaults? Monogamy has very little value in today’s world, and indeed society mocks it as boring and for losers. Sexual adventure is dressed up as what will make you feel special and free of your mortal chains. Tell me how a long-term relationship is meant to survive all this.
4. Social networking
Stay with me if you will – stay in the context of the things I have already described. In the midst of all this, add into the mix social media.
It’s now no longer just that people cannot cope with the unromantic reality of relationships, and are actively encouraged not to. We no longer have just movies and commercials selling us fantasies of how life could be if only we were free to experience it. But you’ve now got the girl and boy next door selling themselves as a fantasy.
They say that social networks destroy homes, and it’s probably true because your partner is no longer looking at pictures of some celebrity which is truly fantasy, and which he/she is aware is nothing but. They’re looking at people they can meet and trade you in for. Of course, the fantasy is demolished immediately as that relationship manifests in reality, but nevertheless, the betrayal has already taken place and the damage is already done.
5. Unwillingness to accept reality
Not just a problem in today’s society but in every society is the one thread that ties all of this together. We hide from reality in religion, we hide from it in books, ideas, spiritualism, drugs, alcohol, sexual conquests, shopping, TV, games, the internet. We can’t cope with the truth of life so we have to distract ourselves from it.
Relationships, by confronting us with true intimacy; in other words, the seeing of another person in all their human weakness, and their seeing us in ours, bring us face-to-face with the harsh reality that few of us are brave enough to gaze at for long. This reality is the reality of physicality, of limitation, of drudgery, of aging, of illness, of death.
Imagine if you were brave enough to relinquish your fantasies and illusions and live absolutely in reality. Could you relish it? Can you look at the world and yourself and someone you love exactly as they are? Could you continue to face it? Are you brave enough take on the responsibility of loving someone else as you love yourself, and of discovering the deepest truth of this existence with them?
Think about it, and act accordingly.
Did you find this article helpful, or did it make you feel more hopeless? Share your views.
By Carolina J.