Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adult Choices

Everyone who knows someone who has cheated on their significant other, raise your hands! Yep, i'm guessing you did. Now, all those who blamed the other woman/man for breaking up a marriage, raise YOUR hands. I'm thinking the number of hands just went up by atleast half. I'm hoping not, though.

Because in today's day and age, you don't have a leg to stand on.

When my parents split, it was an unusual occurence for that time. For the longest time, the rest of the extended family even managed to pretend that it hadn't happened. In the meanwhile, my Dad met and fell in love with another woman. He technically cheated on my mother since they were still married at that time.

When they decided to officially call it quits, it was a shocking revelation for most people. Probably because in the rest of the family, something like this had never happened. Marriages were sacred and 'through thick and thin till death do you 'part' was a literal statement. And yet, here were two people, who had supposedly been madly in love and shared two kids, just calling it off. While my parents went through their share of grief, I believe that what really riled the rest of the family was the incomprehensible choice they made - personal happiness over societal norms.

Personal Happiness. Two words that changed a culture. Or not. My point being, once THAT can of worms is opened, there is no going back. Personal happiness doesn't stop at just relationships anymore, it extends to your job and career path, your possessions, your friends, etc etc. It goes from buying the right toothpaste (because it makes you feel good about yourself) to studying for the MBA (great pay packets!) to backpacking around the world to 'trying out' partners to see who best suits you.

Ofcourse, behaviour like that comes with its own share of value judgements from others. After all, one man's "partner trial" could very well be another man's "cheating partner". We've all heard "Do unto others as you'd like them to do unto you." (An Aside: That argument falls apart in the vicinity of a masochist who would in that case be giving everyone a royal thrashing.) And yes, we've all heard about the repurcussions of inviting 'bad karma'.

But really, whom are we kidding?? Pursuit of happiness is a choice you make every minute of every day. From the mundane - fried or poached? - to the complex - Shall i dump his sorry ass or shall i stay? - once that choice is made, it's YOUR choice. And hence, it's nobody's problem but yours.

So, if a man/ woman strays, it isn't because there was someone to stray towards, but that he/she CHOSE to risk what they had for the promise of something else.

Bottom line - If you single-mindedly chase your happiness (and that's a good thing, incidentally, since no one else will chase it for you), then it's only logical that others are doing it too. The bad news - their choices may not always fit in with your life plan. But those are the breaks of being an adult and taking responsibility for your life. It's not about paying your bills or doing the laundry - it's about accepting that whatever you do (or don't), has repurcussions on your life. That you have the power to choose. And hopefully you're adult enough to deal with that without hiding behind cliches.


Bloggermom said...

well written but i don't get it, are you justifing cheating with the argument "...If you single-mindedly chase your happiness (and that's a good thing, incidentally, since no one else will chase it for you)..."

I know you can't force anyone to be faithful, as that defeats the purpose of it.

But ma'm, you forgot the most important part of being an adult i.e. of taking 'full' responsibility of your actions. Fornicate with whoever you wish, make your choice, chase happniness...BUT be adult enough to have the courage to tell your partner before you do it.

Having your cake and eating it too is not a very adult behaviour.

The One said...

Searcher: I have been thinking along similar lines recently. I call it the modern Tragedy of the Commons. Consider this: so much clutter in our lives, and yet so much need for space. For personal happiness. Such a lot of companions, and yet so little companionship?

Bloggermom: I am so glad you wrote in. I have been waiting since your last comment here. As much as I hate taking sides, I have to say that adultery is a reality. I do not see myself as an accomplice right now, but who knows what the future has in store. And as long as the old man (or woman in my case) does not fester hopes of walking into the Sunset with his new found object of affection, how the hell does it matter? (Searcher, do I have it right?) And does telling your partner before you're making out with someone make you an adult: get real... I mean really, its like a junkie telling his parents every time he jabs the needle. Who defines responsibility, and what is it? And what makes anyone the authority on Adult Behaviour, really? Is everyone over the age of 18 supposed to act the same way? The questions you ask here (what makes you young people do it???) are really questions you should ask yourself. Life isn't a volume of Harry Potter.

Searcher said...

Bloggermom: I'm not justifying cheating with any argument. I'm saying - the Cheater made a choice. Once he/she made that choice, it's up to the Cheated to make the choice of whether they'll stick around in the relationship or not. If the Cheated decides to stay, but continues to berate their fate/karma/ cheating partner for the grief currently faced by Cheated, then THAT is having your cake and eating it too.

And about 'telling before the deed' situation, i have to say that smacks of a 'pre-meditated' event. But what of those that just happen... the first time hands touched fleetingly, the extended stare, the impulsive kiss? I don't see anyone telling their significant other, "Darling, today i intend to have a flirtatious conversation with the neighbor... what are your plans?" And usually, the time it takes for a flirtatious conversation to change to a steamy 'fornication' isn't enough for a report back.

Hello TO :-) About the old man/woman walking into the sunset with new found squeeze - frankly, if you're ok with it, then you're ok with it. Simple. It works for you (or not) and accordingly, you choose your next step.

AT the end of the day, all one can do is choose how to live their own life. And how to feel about it. It's an empowering thought - also a terrifying one. It means YOU get to DECIDE whether you're happy or not. You get to play God in your world.

Bloggermom said...

I don't know. May be it works for you guys. I have never cheated, never will so it is difficult for me to fathom what goes on inside the mind of a cheater.

It is easy for you to digest this kind of behaviour because you guys have clearly cheated too, (or else somewhat condone it). It is easier to forgive and move on in that case. As the roles keep reversing, sometimes you are the cheater, sometimes the cheated. Not the end of the world for your types (but messed up nevertheless)

But let me tell you one more reality, when age catches up with you...when I say you I mean a 'woman', then the role reversal is a bit difficult unless you look like Susan Sarandon. There are less suiters for a 45 year old women than there are girls for a potential 45 year old accomplished sugar daddy. Don't know why Im citing this example but even happened in the case if Suhitra Krishnamoorthy and Shekhar Kapoor, though he was more than a generation older than her.

Possibilities of such favorable escapades coming your way may be equal for you and your man at this point as the playig field is levelled , but what will you do when you are 40?

Searcher said...

Bloggermom: Honestly, I feel your pain. My mother has asked me the same question several times (but in the context of marriage)- "It's ok now that you're single, but what happens 20 years later?" I don't know what happens later. All i hope for is that at that age, if i'm with someone and something like this does happen, i shall have the moral strength to dump his sorry ass and leave. Maybe join a theatre group. Maybe start going to adventure holidays solo. Because at the end of the day, if a guy doesn't appreciate you, he doesn't deserve you.

Anonymous said...

Because at the end of the day, if a guy doesn't appreciate you, he doesn't deserve you.

Well said

Anonymous said...

Why do you have a picture of an old haggard woman on your blog?

Searcher said...

It's an experiment, and your question just revealed a lot about you. Pay closer attention :-)

annie said...

In search for greener pastures when relationship contentment in its present form ceases or begins to fade away or deliberately done for the lark of it. All i know is it's easy to forgive than forget!!

Staci said...

I completely agree. Romantic relationships rely on autonomous decision making, meaning that while aware and informed on the opinions of society, your friends and even your partner, ultimately, you are entitled to weigh your own happiness into the equation, even if it defies all logic. I am completely satisfied in my "sin" even if it's silly or not productive or sets up poor expectations. The one thing I'm struggling with is that while I would always choose him first, clearly that isn't reciprocal...and that does sting, but I'm 19, so I figure my ego can take the hit right now and I'll deal the regret, consequences and insecurity underlying that later. :) For now, I am blissfully happy.

Searcher said...

Hey Staci thanks for writing in. One thing will always be constant in any relationship - and that's inequality - of commitment, of desire, of dependence, etc. The only thing that needs to happen is being aware of what your boundaries of tolerating this discrepancy are. In a dysfunctional relationship, beyond a certain point, the scale will tilt more often in the favor of unhappiness. How you deal with that will define, to a very large degree, who you are as a person. In that context, you seem to be doing all right :)