In the space of just one week three people close to me have told me they are actually quite bored in their relationship. That’s because routine and boredom, lack of adventure, is the price we pay to rid ourselves of the dreadful fear of loneliness. And there are obvious economic reasons to hook up, unless you’re very wealthy.
After the initial hormone rush calms down, with hopefully a blissful sex period, your relationship will change. This initial honeymoon phase lasts maximum three years. There’s no escape. Even if you can’t imagine it now, those hormones will go dormant, unless you find someone new. This is probably because nature wants to keep you together just long enough to let a child grow up to some basic independence. Then the ‘reproduction contract’ is over, and the man can go and impregnate someone else, which is much better to spread around his genes. Scientists call this the Coolidge effect. This is more or less at play. Short, unattractive males with little testosterone and lots of the quality ‘agreeableness’ will not mind to be faithful so much. They invest more in children with one woman, as they have little other options and their low testosterone keeps their hunting instinct in check. The women who settle for these men, trade attractiveness in a mate for safety. From a genetic point of view, it’s not a bad bargain. Even better would be to get impregnated by an unfaithful stud and marry an unattractive schmuck to raise the child.
Monogamy also exists to preserve the social order. In a completely ‘natural’ environment the most powerful men would get most of the women, and the beta schmucks would not get any. Of course, after a while these fustrated chumps might team up and kill the powerful minority. You would have endless wars, basically because people are vicious and selfish and don’t want to share. So the compromise is monogamy. Good for the social order, safe, more stabile, and most women are fine with it, since for them it’s better to reproduce with a man that will stay, because they can reproduce much less frequently than men.
This monogamy concept creates a whole lot of tension, but the porn industry and the alcohol industry seem to take the edge off, in a very sad, degrading and depressing way. Fine if you say you like monogamy, but please don’t try to sell it as virtue. There’s nothing glorious about limiting an other person’s sex life exclusively to your own body, and threatening to do all kinds of bad things to that person if his or her instinct violates that contract to a) make you feel secure b) keep society together so it makes us survive, at least physically.
For those still in the 3 year rampant, can’t live without you, sex phase: ENJOY IT, by all means, suck the fucking marrow out of this phase. It will need to compensate for the years that follow.
So when this initial 3 year honeymoon phase is over, your relationship becomes mostly this:
- A form of housing arrangement. In our society most people can’t afford to live alone. You need two people to be able to afford a decent home and even then it can be difficult to do more than make ends meet.
- An insurance against loneliness, you have to keep me company and I have to keep you company. You run out of things to do and say, but you can watch series together. Without the endless stream of video entertainment lots of couples would wake up tomorrow asking what the hell are we doing together?
- An economic unit that is the cornerstone of our economy. These days both partners usually have jobs, which is ideal for employers because with such a huge labor force they can keep wages low. It’s also more expensive. Yes, it’s costing you money to both have a job. There are so many things you need to buy and keep up, you actually need to spend money to allow both partners to work, so it’s probably a very bad arrangement. Stuff for a separate article, there’s even a book about it. The two income trap.
- A contract to reproduce, obviously.
- In the best case: a social arrangement to visit grandparents, parents and mutal friends. Our society is also organised around the principle ‘it takes two to tango’. At many events you are sort of expected to turn up in pairs
- A compensation for the general lack of affection, lack of easiness around sex, lack of depth in human exchanges. For these huge shortcomings there’s the relationship. And of course one relationship can’t make up for all the human needs that society denies us (society is designed to make us survive, not to make us happy, think about it) and there will be lots of pressure on the relationship
- An excuse to try out bars and restaurants. Because, you know, even binge watching series or playing videogames (latest trend) together can get boring.
- An excuse to go on trips to get away from it all (including the relationship itself). Traveling is one of the best ways to wipe relationship problems under the rug. Of course, you can’t travel all the time, because it’s expensive, and the two of you are an economic unit, you need to make money.
- Living with someone that you see a lot less than your colleagues and clients
- Someone to be there for you when you end up in hospital, and other practical advantages
In the best of cases:
- You are genuinely supportive of the other person’s growth
- You give each other freedom
- You do not confuse love with having that other person as your personal property (a very common mistake)
- You are best friends
- You don’t punish the other for not doing what you want
- You don’t play silly games like giving each other ‘the silent treatment’
- You sort of have the same values
- You find some mutual higher purpose to serve than seeking mild entertainment together (couples often don’t entertain each other, they seek entertainment externally, couples are lazy)
- You have a deep and profound respect for each other and you put the other person’s happiness before your own. It’s really the only way to keep things decent and to make it work
- Maybe you’re both incredibly intellectual and you always find new topics to debate, at least if you both have sufficiently strong opinions to allow for a debate
- Maybe you’re lucky and you can make each other laugh, in the limited time you spend together
- Hopefully you can pick up a worthy cause to fight for, together, even in old age…
- Couples live longer, especially the men, hell yeah, more time to watch movies and series together and to go on trips to stare at castles, churches, opera houses, statues of famous people you don’t know and don’t really care about and to eat sort of the same food but in different restaurants!
- If you are Slovak the ultimate relationship goal is to go mountain climbing together. The Slovak secret to relationship endurance is only possible in a country with mountains
- Perhaps in the end it’s just about not sleeping that well when the other is not there. And sleep is very important.
If all this sounds kind of lacklustre, well, consider loneliness, it’s abysmal AND bad for your health.
Do NOT buy into the Hollywood hype