Tuesday, January 13

Relationship Idealism Click for more info

Here's an article doing the rounds and causing a bit of a stir at the moment:

I'm looking for a wife - but it'll probably help if she's not human

Charlie Brooker is pretty hilarious in this piece; he also makes a fair few points. For us single Asians though I'm not sure what he's written is anything new - many succumb to both internal and external pressures to get married and reduce it to a practical exercise in living life way before they actually find someone to spend the rest of their lives with.

The rest of us tend to hold out for a bit, waiting for something that might actually be special, magical and unique - something, as Kia in her beautifully cynical way describes here, that others will be envious of. This is usually in the face of a lot of cynicism, accusations of being unrealistic and watching too much Bollywood. Faced with this kind of support, it's no wonder so many people settle in the way Brooker describes.

An ideal relationship could also be a bit of a poisoned chalice too: the closer you are to what you really want, the more troublesome any inevitable issues may be - it's kinda why we don't mind our friends acting in a way we wouldn't tolerate of our partners. The paradox is that all relationships will have issues; that much is natural and possibly healthy. They just happen to be more of a frustrating pain when you know you're so close to perfection. To put it cynically once we accept that a relationship is going to suck anyway our expectations become lower and so we become more flexible and tolerant. In that sense ideal relationships are the most unstable, and so naturally occur less often anyway.

Brooker does get it wrong eventually though - he suggests that this brand of pure happiness and contentment can only be found with someone who fulfils some pre-made list of expectations which, admittedly, many single looking people have. They know what their partners will look like, and so compare everyone they meet to them.

Perhaps it's this sense of missing a preconceived perfect target which then evolves into thinking that you're not in an ideal relationship, one envied by others? If that's the case, then perhaps all these ungrateful people should realise what they have is envied by others and they just don't appreciate it themselves - millionaires can be jealous of billionaires after all, while the rest of us just look at them both in awe. In that sense perhaps those who aren't envious of other relationships are the ones in perfect ones?

Personally I see a list of requirements as extremely limiting - and despite being asked at least three times a week, I'm still unable to pinpoint exactly what my own magical partner will look or act like. I think I've been universally criticised for this; after all how will I even be able to start looking if I don't know what I'm looking for?

But a lack of requirements is quite telling. In many ways it means it's the ideal relationship being sought and not a person to share it with; heck, I think I'd be pretty happy on my own if it was possible to have a relationship in isolation (and spare me the smutty gags please).

But here comes the gyp: we won't ever know if a person, on paper, will help us achieve a ideal relationship. The only real way is to actually try it out and see - sure, you can get an idea by being friends with them and talking but eventually the proof will be in the actual pudding, and then only if we submit fully to it. Being guarded and careful won't help much since by trying to control the relationship you'll also be influencing its direction unnaturally - you can't force something to be ideal that isn't (see Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle for more on this idea).

So where does this leave us? Well I guess the most important thing to realise is that you need a relationship in the first place for it to become ideal - I can't imagine anyone being able to determine that much without being in it. Secondly although any relationship does take effort to maintain there's not much you can do if there's no natural potential for it to be ideal - and once you realise where the one you're in is it's up to you to decide what to do. Thirdly, and most importantly, ideal relationships aren't necessarily the best, most successful or most stable; after all it's hard to be envious of something awesome when it only lasts a year. Perhaps ideal relationships aren't the most ideal after all?