Apparently more words have to be written on this subject. I appear to have been less than clear in my recent anti-romantic love musing. At least that’s the impression I get from the rather, er, heated responses I’ve received. The Being Dumped musing generated the biggest response of any thus far. And the least positive one. Sigh.
First up: the unhappy long-term relationships I was referring to? None of them was your relationship, okay? I didn’t mean any of my friends in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States (or any other places I’ve momentarily forgotten). I meant other friends who live elsewhere. And I wasn’t referring to your breakup, either. Hence the careful non-specificness of the whole musing. None of my friends have ever had anything but beautiful, peaceful break ups and all their relationships are perfect and will last forever.
Yes, there were some logical disconects in my arguments. I did say incoherent rant, didn’t I?
No, I’m not against love. Just romantic delusional love (which of course none of my friends suffer from).
No, Scott and I are not breaking up. We, just like all our friends, share a perfect relationship that will last forever. Blah blah blah.
One annoymous correspondent wanted to know what the "insane amounts of propaganda [for romantic love] every single day of our lives" was exactly, because they—bless their innocence—have never encountered such in the course of their existence. To which I can only respond: Are you only a day old? Are you insane? Are you blind, deaf and dumb, as well as illiterate? Well, no, not illiterate, are they? Else how would they have been able to write their idiot email to me in the first place?
Where is this propoganda? Romantic love is just about the most common narrative in human culture: boy meets girl. Check out almost any book: I don’t just mean Mills & Boons, have a look at a few textbooks on human reproduction and marvel at the romance of the damsel-in-distress egg and knight-in-shining-armour sperm (thank you, Emily Martin); or any TV program: Where do you start? From "Queer Eye on the Straight Guy", which has to be the most aggressively conservative defense-of-het-romance show I’ve ever seen, to the news (full of crap about celebrity couples, or cute old couples celebrating 175 years of wedded bliss), to any sitcom or drama or cop show ever aired.
This garbage is everywhere you look: video clips, movies, advertising: have shiny, pretty hair/ new car/ new laundry detergent: get girl/boy. Romance propoganda is in almost every song you hear, is the narrative drive of virtually every opera. It comes out of the mouths of your friends and family. Every time you’re asked if you’re seeing someone, every time someone commiserates when you confess your tragic state of singleness, every time someone asks if you think this time it’s the real thing.
All of it is romantic love propoganda. Does that answer your question?
No, I really wasn’t mocking the pain of anyone who’s been dumped. Especially not your pain, honest. I’ve felt that pain. It’s agony. Horrible. I pray never to be dumped again, by friends or lovers. I was just saying as how that pain is made worse by the unrealistic expectations we’re all trained to have about romantic love. How we’re taught to expect romantic relationships to last and last and last. Why can’t we be happy when a relationship lasts, say, five years and most of that time it was pretty good? Why can’t that be considered a success? Why is only forever (or until one of you karks it) a successful relationship?
Someone else asked if I really believe that friendship is as important as a "love relationship". Yeah, I really, really do. In fact, I think the law should be changed everywhere so that it’s possible to enter into a civil union with your best friend, leave all your wordly goods to them, have them make the pulling-the-plug decision. We should all be able to sponsor close friends (thanks, niece Renee, for the suggestion) who want to come live in the same country and vice versa. It should be subject to the same stringent tests that sponsoring a spouse or close relation are currently subject to.
I don’t understand why these things aren’t possible everywhere in the world right now. I don’t understand why we overvalue our "love" relationships and undervalue our friendships.
Stop it, already!
San Miguel de Allende, 27 January 2004