Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rebel without a Cause

Last night, Kosta and I got into one of those unnecessary shouting matches. It all started with him talking about an argument he had with his girlfriend when he said, "Marriage is a dead institution". I'm personally sick and tired of hearing this - it's like beating a dead horse, over and over again, daring it to raise it's head and make us care. The fact is, i agree that the traditional definitions and role-play within a marriage, and even a relationship, has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, leaving a lot of confusion in its wake. But what really annoys me is this - Kosta ALWAYS brings it up.

He's seeing a girl who has been brought up in the world where marriage is taken for granted. She sees herself getting married. She (i assume) wants to marry Kosta because they have been seeing each other for soooo long (1 whole year... see what i mean about changing definitions?). Kosta knew this when he started seeing her, and yet, he keeps railing against lack of autonomy that exists in a 'relationship'.

"There are times when you need space, and i don't get it."
"I want to see my other friends, but she doesn't understand that it's not about her"
"I can't just be."

These have been common refrains i've heard over the last one year and frankly i'm bored. Either get happy about spending time with your loved one, or tell her she's driving you crazy.

It all started when he said that there are only three kinds of relationships possible - sexual attraction, romantic love and companionship. While it is possible that the relationship with one person can touch on all these aspects over its duration, at no point can a relationship have all of them. Which is why, it's abnormal to limit our expectations of all these aspects from one person. Ergo, 'marriage', with it's traditional insistence on deriving all three aspects from one person, is defunct.

One would think that if he's managed to logically deduce this, then it should be easy for him to tell the girlfriend, "babe, i love you, but i want to have sex with someone else and i'd rather just hang with someone else entirely. What say?" Maybe sugarcoat that a bit.

"We have talked about it... it's an ongoing dialogue." Yeah, right. (Remember i said that Kosta is the super-intellectualiser, for whom everything is a mental process? He manages to obfuscate even the simplest desire into a deep analysis of hormone levels and psychosis).

For the girlfriend, it's all an academic discussion because, well... they WILL be getting married. It's understood. And marriage means 'emotional and physical fidelity.' Poor Kosta somehow knows that the wedding will take place, and somewhere in there, he knows that it'll be a marriage which is fairly traditional in its role play. He wishes he could come clean...but he can't. Because he loves her and can't hurt her feelings. And, more importantly, wants her to agree with his perspective. That way, they will be 'together' but also separate. The perfect mix of permanence and no strings. She won't see that as a viable, workable scenario. So instead, he finds me to argue his point with, all the time hoping that some miraculous third-way will become visible to him.

What he doesn't realise is that a third way does exist, has existed for centuries. The only problem is that its followers have invariably been shunned by society or died horrible deaths. The third way is this - to work on the premise that ALL relationships have simultaneous aspects of the three elements - attraction, love and companionship. We are primarily attracted to a person, we love them and care about them and we derive companionship from them. That means, in each of our relationships (and i genuinely mean all - girlfriends, boyfriends, siblings, parents, etc), there exists the possibility of that special connection... that spark (i don't need to cite examples of the elektra, oedipal attractions, gay, lesbian lovers, incest, older woman-younger man, uncle-niece, etc - societal mores dictate how we feel about them, but the fact remains, 'abnormal' rewarding relationships are formed everyday.) It requires that genuine openness to accepting and demonstrating the honest extent of the spark that you feel. And only when there is an equal intensity of the feelings returned by a person, does the relationship take a leap into the sexual and romantic. The down side? It may not always be with an 'appropriate' person.

In short, love the people in your life, express it, welcome it when it's expressed right back at you and always know that all relationships are temporary. Kipling had it right when he said, "Let all men (women too) count with you, but none too much." And don't expect to be the centre of someone else's Universe either.

Freedom comes at a price.

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