At my core, I am a Disney romantic. I still believe there is one special person out there for me that will bring about a fairy tale happiness and love undying. Love is more powerful than the foundations of existence itself. Cowering behind a nimbus cloud black as hatred, God will quiver in fear as he looks upon a timeless love that transcends all that is and all that was. His eyes, two flashing emeralds dripping with green envy, he will look upon us and weep his ruination. The tears of the false prophet will nary quench the flames of our passion. Powerless, he will cower, transfixed, as Heaven and Hell alike are incinerated in the scorching flames of the Phoenix incarnate. Convulsing and writhing amongst the plumes of smoke and smoldering wreckage he once called glory, something slowly takes form. He looks into the eyes of truth and begins to scream. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. His shrieks pierce through all of creation as his sanity slips away into nothingness…Gods too decompose (Gotta love Nietzsche and Yeats).
Lol anyway, in his standup, “Never Scared”, Chris Rock makes the claim that people are limited to two choices in the game of love: Married and bored or single and lonely. Is this really an accurate depiction of reality? Or is it simply a philosophy derived from jaded cynicism?
According to biologists, the idea of monogamy invariably has a minority representation in the wild. Dieter Lukas, of the University of Cambridge, states that merely a measly 9% of mammals actively practice monogamous breeding. Some say this practice is derived for the protection of their offspring from outside acts of infanticide. Others say it may simply be a lack of regional availability of females. There are many other theories out there, but this ain’t no research paper. In short, we are a unique species.
Whatever the case, I feel that in human relationships (and everything else human for that matter), individual perspectives make a HUGE difference in the outcome. I’d like to take this time to share with you my own perspective on commitment.
To give a little background on myself, I guess I better first concede that I have never been married. However, I have been in monogamous relationships in excess of five years and I have cohabited with women in the past. With that being said, I’d like to start by sharing my experience of what it is like to be fully committed to another. Like all life experiences, there is a learning curve, and an evolution of growth that comes with it.
Naomi, a friend of mine, once told me that the human mind is pliable. She believes that one is able to force a contrived perspective through sheer willpower until it becomes an unwavering reality. Perhaps she is correct and it is really such manipulations of instinct that truly set us apart from the animal kingdom. If my romanticism and realism were to both exist in a synergistic relationship, Naomi’s philosophy becomes paramount to a successful relationship.
I’m going to go ahead and just discard the first year of any relationship to make it easier. This is the period when everything comes effortlessly (in general). You are deeply in love with each other and every damn thing the other person does is friggin adorable. Even their flaws serve as an additional bonus that adds to the uniqueness and strength of their character. The conversations at this stage are abundant and overflowing with content and the sex is amazing. You are fucking each other in bathroom stalls, theatres, sofas, counter tops, parks, swimming pools, and roach-infested motels (I’m sure many of you are way more kinky than myself, but you get the idea).
Assuming you have managed to stay together for a year or two without one of you cheating or betraying the other, the relationship becomes difficult. You have already heard each others stories over and over. You become so attuned to your partner that you are often able to predict exactly what they will do and say in any given situation. You even start to become annoyed ahead of time because you know they’re just going to say or do something to piss you off in the next ten seconds.
Sex is nothing like when you first became intimate. The excitement is diminished and there are even times when it feels like a chore and lacks spontaneity. You begin noticing other people more often as well. Qualities that you admire starts shining in the people around you. You may even begin to start thinking that another person would be the perfect match for you instead. You look at all the posts from social networking sites and think how much happier your peers seem to be compared to you two. You begin to slowly regret your decision to commit yourself to this one person. It sure seems like the end of your story. Is the love no longer there?
In my opinion, this is a critical junction. This is the stage when love no longer comes effortlessly. Reality and romance meet and you are asked to embrace both in order for this love to thrive. Calling it a junction may be kind of misleading. Even if you make the conscious decision to stick to the person you have chosen as a committed partner, it is not a single event. You have to be prepared to maintain your choice through every second of every waking moment unto death. This requires a tremendous amount of tenacity and it often leads to mental fatigue. I think this is one of the more tragic elements of human nature. However, it is not without its rewards.
Have you ever really conquered your fears of failure and worked for something with all your being? That satisfaction and sense of accomplishment is irreplaceable and sweeter than any reward you might have obtained with more ease.
You have managed to find someone that loves you for who you are. They know every single one of your flaws. They know you snore like a train. They know how petty and prideful you can be. They know how inferior you feel to every other human being on the planet. They know that you’re a fatass that hates vegetables and has the taste palate of a 10 year old child. They know you get nauseous after running a few miles. They know all your shameful, sexual perversions. They know you’re terrified of heights and only ride roller coasters to prove to yourself you’re not a coward. They know you look in the mirror and loathe yourself. They know you secretly think “The Titanic” was an awesome movie. But most of all, they know you belong together and have made the choice to stick by you no matter what.
I now believe love to be a combination of choice and heart in equal parts. As Steve Carell would say while attempting to quote John Lennon, “You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not” (Dinner for Schmucks 2010).