Let me be more explanatory, and I’ll get this idea across eventually here.
Romantic love is a very new idea, considering the entire span of human history. If we look back over the course of recorded history, we actually see that arranged marriages for the greater good of the families/culture/society were more the norm regardless of the feelings of the two people being hooked up by their village leaders or parental units.
From that random tidbit of data, I’m going to segue into my own thoughts on the matter.
Teaching young girls to “follow your heart” essentially translates to this:
Go out into the world as soon as you’re barely legal and make some serious life choices based on nothing more than your emotions; without consideration for reason, logic, and especially without thinking through the likely outcomes that will stem from your choices.
Following one’s heart actually means following one’s internal hormonal chemistry – because when we look across the crowded room and see a handsome/beautiful stranger, it is not through any knowledge of their character that we decide we are in love at first sight.
Our reaction is based entirely within ourselves, based on our own projections of what we believe that stranger to be, and has no basis in the reality of who they are as a person; which we cannot possibly know when we’ve never met or talked to the person. We simply let our body chemistry make our mating decisions for us when we look around and spot the hottest person our body tells us we have a chance in hell of scoring with.
Yes, that’s my statement of my personal understanding of relationship facts. Now here’s where I get into the advice section:
- Choose your next date on the content of their character; not on their appearance, not on their wealth or social status or the brand names on their clothes or the car they drive or the job they work. Yes, this means you’d have to spend a little time getting to know the person before you hop into bed with them. And yes, that’s a good thing.
After that’s accomplished;
I strongly advise pre-marital counseling for any couple considering tying the knot.
Because young people in our culture generally aren’t taught to discuss and share and communicate with one another in order to create realistic expectations for their relationship, forge a cohesive life plan trajectory together, or to truly understand and know their prospective life partner for who they really are before they make a major commitment like marriage or popping out kids.
The best advice I got before I married my husband was this:
“Before you get married, take a good hard look and discover what things he just can’t do, can’t ever accept, can’t overcome, or where his absolute limits and lacks really are. Because if you know that in advance you’ll prevent a whole rash of arguments and fights down the road. You’ll know what things you really need to do for him because he just can’t do it himself. And if you ask him to do this for you as well, you’ll mutually provide for each others needs in those fundamental ways that you each simply can’t do for yourselves and meet each others needs while having your own needs met.”
I would also like to strongly advise open communication, clearly delineated limits and boundaries, and all sorts of other reasonable things that nobody actually does in their relationships. Like talking to each other. Yeah. That.
Now I’m going to reference this article, just for the sake of education on other current cultural dating norms around the world:
Now that you’ve read that, there’s this:
The most common relationship habit in the USA is serial monogamy with some level of infidelity thrown into the mix, whereby individuals couple up for a time whether it be months or years, one or both cheat a little here and there, then the relationship eventually fails; most often actually because of money creating larger issues; but not before one person has been readying themselves to leave and already scoping out potential next romantic partners as they sever their emotional ties to person #1. In this way, they play it safe and hedge their bets so they don’t stay single very long, because they already have their next romantic partner teed up before they dump person #1.
- Is it really a good choice to have three kids via three different baby-mamas? Really? Or are you just doing what you want even when what you want isn’t in anyone’s best interest – not your own, not the mamas, and certainly not the kids.
Yes, they call it serial monogamy which happens to focus on a basis in emotional romance, but nobody wants to admit that our version of monogamy focusing on the everlasting wedding-day romance is an unrealistic social construct. So in most/all instances of serial monogamy there’s some level of infidelity; whether it be a politician hooking up with his secretary or a wife obsessing over Robert Pattinson or a husband being really into internet porn, it’s always there. And the trading up aspect is a very real thing.
Because if we were truly monogamous, we would be physically incapable of becoming sexually aroused by anyone other than our chosen life mate. Think about that for a long second here. Just think about it.
The truth is that relationships evolve and change over time as the individuals involved age and grow and change. A marriage or relationship will change when kids are added to the mix. It will change when the couple hits 30 and isn’t out clubbing all the time anymore. It’ll change again when they’re 40, when one or the other or both make a career change or get promoted or get fired; all of these things and a zillion more change the dynamic of the relationship; and being able to accept and roll with the changes while still appreciating, loving and respecting your spouse/mate can make or break the relationship.
Now here’s my next factoid:
In most any monogamous relationship, one person or the other or both will at some point experience feeling themselves being attracted to someone other than their partner. (Unless you’re one of those strange people who’s sexuality doesn’t rear it’s ugly head all that often and isn’t much of a problem for you. And yes, I hate you. You suck.)
One can run down the most likely candidates for this extra-marital attraction pretty easily. Just look around at the range of people you associate with: coworkers, colleagues, friends, extended social circle; you won’t have to look all that far because proximity is the easiest indicator of a romantic connection. If you hang out with that person a lot, sooner or later a romantic urge is likely to rise up and try to roar at the back of your eyes begging to be released and pounce on that poor soul you’re lusting after who just so happens to be NOT YOUR SPOUSE.
Now WHEN this happens, (Yes, I’m saying when, not if) that’s when most people just “follow their heart” and go with it; either breaking up with their significant other or choosing to cheat, not bothering to think of the outcome of what they’re getting themselves into or how it will affect the other people they are responsible for and obligated to. They’ll suddenly focus on all their spouse’s little flaws that seem suddenly intolerable now that their body is drawing them to person #2. “Why didn’t I ever notice how annoying that is before now?! GAWD!”
I’m a personal advocate for a rather different way of handling these inevitable attractions. Simply don’t do anything about it. Don’t cheat, don’t trade up into your next committed relationship, don’t do shit. Because the hormones and chemistry DO eventually wear off. It might take a while, it might be hard, but life isn’t easy – so sac up!
“What?” you might say. “You mean you might find yourself feeling attracted to someone and you just don’t do anything about it?!” Well, yes. Because my body and my internal hormones and chemistry and emotions do not make my life choices for me. That’d be fucking stupid.
- And yes, I’m breaking a major social taboo by admitting that I’m a married woman with a libido who experiences attractions towards men who aren’t my husband. Like daily. I’m a big ‘ol five. (Cool people will get that reference.)
- And no, I have never expected my husband to be somehow inhumanly blind to the beauty of other women simply because he married me. He’s married; not dead. Nobody ceases to recognize other attractive human beings when they spot them just by saying wedding vows like they’re some kind of magic spell.
Any time I find myself feeling attracted to Mr. Handsome over there; (which happens more often than I’d like to admit; seriously) whether it be a friend or some handsome dad I spot at my son’s school or super-hunky Eric Bana on the movie screen; there is absolutely nothing that obligates me to act on it. I can recognize and enjoy the pleasurable sensation of physical longing for Random Dude while still recognizing the love, friendship, respect and trust I have in my really sexy husband; the value and fulfillment of the life we’ve built together, and how he’s still the best man I’ve ever known, and it takes less than ten seconds for me to mentally run down how absolutely terrible it would be if I went around humping everybody I feel the urge to hump and thereby cause my happy and stable life, his happy and stable life, our son’s happy and stable life, to collectively implode in a disgusting oversexed mess of slutty wife-ness. It’s called self control, people.
So the overall take-aways I think I’ve been building to in this really long and rambling post are these:
- Achieve some minimum level of knowing yourself before you get into having serious relationships with anyone else. Self actualize first. Know who the fuck you are before you expect anyone else to truly know and love you for who you are.
- Get to know the person before you commit, have kids, move in together, etc. because that prevents a whole world of mess down the line.
- Do pre-marital counseling whether you feel the need or not. It’ll be a good thing to have done it.
- Don’t make stupid irresponsible choices based on sexual urges – ever.
- Don’t let your body, hormones, chemistry or emotions make your major life choices for you.
- Don’t be stupid.
- Establish real trust and an absence of jealousy in your relationship.
- For every sensation of want that you experience, make sure to stop and think whether you need to indulge that want.
I’m not attempting to advocate for open relationships, nor am I attempting to advocate for strict monogamy or no divorce or more divorces. None of the above. I’m just saying that we could all be a little smarter and a little less focused on the impractical fairytale ideal when we make major life choices, that’s all. And I’m saying be realistic about the fact that at some point you’re going to feel attracted to somebody who isn’t your spouse, so don’t freak out when it happens. And if your spouse comes to you and admits that they’re having feelings for someone, offer to help them re-center their focus and help work through it, rather than going ballistic and blowing up about it; because it is entirely possible to just get over it without getting incurably jealous.
Got a hilarious tale about an ex you’d like to share so that others don’t make the same stupid choices you did? Send your tale of hilarious romantic woe to ThaliaBrandon.com and you might see it featured on the site!