In Convenient Relationships

One of the most amazing things about our culture in the United States is how incredibly convenient so many things are for us.  We can change the temperature in many homes with the simplest of motions or the press of a few buttons.  We have more food in this country than we can possibly eat without becoming morbidly obese, and the variety of foods available is astounding.  Most people in the U.S. have cars to get around in, and those cars have so many built-in conveniences like lights that automatically turn off, remote door locks, and alerts for when your oil needs changed that my mind is continually boggled.  Also, some doors open for us.  Really?  We can sit in a comfy chair in the sky on an airplane and watch movies.  We have small devices that fit in a pocket…which we use to talk to each other, send text messages, browse the web, edit documents, use GPS navigation, and play games.  And I don’t even have space to name all the other thousands of things they can do.  Oh, do you need something?  Drive to the nearest…computer in your house and order it online.  Now that’s convenient.  Not sure how you’re going to pay for it?  Grab that little piece of plastic with numbers on it and type the numbers in.  With all this mounting convenience, we understandably start to expect things to be convenient, and we might even be surprised or upset when they are not as convenient as we might like them to be.

One last thing.  We have such a thing as a convenience store.  If that doesn’t indicate that our culture has some kind of obsessive relationship with convenience, I don’t know what would.  Speaking of relationships, have you ever wondered when exactly relationships were going to become a convenience just like everything else?  If so, take a look at the now.  Many people in my generation fully expect relationships to be convenient for them, that their relationships will begin at the right time in their lives, that their relationships will be characterized by an instant ease of communication, that they’ll have mind-blowing sex right away, and that their relationships will end conveniently when no longer convenient.  We went from courtship to dating to hooking up in pretty short order, and each step of the way things got more…convenient.  Relationships are often fast these days.  They start quickly, we enjoy them for a short time, and then they’re over just as quickly as they started.  And if someone reacts with strong emotion to the fact that we just callously used them, well, they’re probably crazy.

The nice thing about these fast relationships is that we really don’t have to invest ourselves in another person.  There’s no need to go to all the inconvenience of having a wedding, or moving in together, or having joint bank accounts.  You don’t have to worry about having lots of kids just because you’re having lots of sex.  Birth control is pretty convenient, ain’t it?  Have you ever thought that if you’re unwilling to invest yourself in another person, you shouldn’t have sex with them and leave them with child and no support?  Well, many people in my generation think you’re crazy, too. 

And there’s no need to improve your character or behavior, because it is incumbent upon everyone else to accept you for who you are.  We’ll reassure you that even though you choose to not work very hard, not take care of your health, and not develop your integrity, there’s still someone out there who will have a relationship with you.  After all, it would inconvenient to have to go to the trouble of disciplining yourself into being a person of good habits and good character.  We wouldn’t want you to have to grow as a person and treat other people as more than just conveniences that you can dispose of as easily as toilet paper.  Do you think that one of the great things about relationships is that they prompt you to change yourself for the better?  Well, you must be crazy, because they were told that they are wonderful just the way they are and that they didn’t need to change, and they even believed that load of excrement that isn’t even useful as fertilizer.

But don’t worry, if you’re crazy, we can get you pills to take care of that so you don’t have to deal with all the inconvenience of that whole… reality… thing.  I apologize in advance for any inconvenience I may have caused your brain with these words on your brilliantly convenient computer screen.

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5 Responses to In Convenient Relationships

  1. galadrial says:

    Interesting piece.It’s been decades since I dated…but what you are describing still applied then. The 60’s had ended. The Playboy Era convinced most young men that marraige was a con game, a trap, or simply a “drag” they no longer needed to get sex. Better contraception gave young women the ability to have sex without the consequence of pregnancy. Some people called it the Sexual Revolution…but I recall it as a dismal time.  Say you were a young woman who actually wasn’t interested in getting married. Perhaps you wanted college—a career, and were prepared to live as a normal adult, and have (gulp) relationships. But that wasn’t being offered.THAT was viewed as being demanding, bitchy, cling-y.  You were expected to be a “cool chick”. That meant when you met a guy even casually, sex was expected. You could say no, of course…but they were already heading for the door. The four years i was in college, I think I remember ONE girl actually being asked out. (And her guy was older…not a college dude.) The rest of the women I knew were presented with the unappetizing choice of being alone…or being a quick score. Now if you did sleep with a guy, that did not obligate him to allow you to spend the night. I always found that sort of appalling.  Do the deed…and “Do me a favor and lock the door on your way out?” or  “You weren’t planning to STAY, were you?” The casual cruelty of it silenced a lot of young women. They dressed in a hurry, and ran..feeling pretty stupid. The word I believe is “used”. And had it only been one guy—or one sort of guy, it could have been a lesson learned…but it was generational. That’s part of the reason I decided I liked older men. Guys my own age had no tact, no manners…and didn’t seem to notice that they were being rude. Men even five years older treated me more like a lady…something i found I liked. They did not take sex for granted…another plus. Oh…and they tended not to have “secret girlfriends”. THAT was always amusing. About half the guys I went to college with had “steady” girlfriends at home. They NEVER brought them to school…and some of them were even engaged. (Though they did not mention that to the girls they dated at school.) This isn’t meant as “male bashing”…please don’t mistake the intent. My point I suppose is that in your age group, most parents would  have been my peers. And I am sure men my age have their own recollection of the time. People who lived that life weren’t going to teach their children a great deal about commitment, large, or small. As my friends got older, some met people, got married, and had kids… but they seemed to do so because it was expected…not because they really wanted to. I was in a relationship with my husband for over six years before we married, and ten before we had our child. I considered marriage a serious thing—which is why it scared me. I considered becoming a parent an even larger commitment…which is why I waited til I was 31 to have a baby. But considering the bruising I remember taking (not literally, of  course)  it amazing I wanted to do either.  I’m sorry that it has gotten worse, in ways…and I hope you can find someone who speaks your language, where the heart is concerned.

  2. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @galadrial -Thanks.  You’re very right that it’s generational, and that many men’s treatment of women was pretty appalling then and still is now.  I was very fortunate that both my parents did teach us about the value of commitment and that it not acceptable to use other people as disposable things.  Most of my age group didn’t get those messages, but did get a lot of messages about the virtue of frequent sex without consequences, and so men and women alike are using each other for whatever pleasure or feeling of intimacy they need and then bailing when convenient.I will try to find someone who speaks my language.  So far, I’ve found very few women who do.  Many of them have either bought into the lie that they need to be a convenience to other people and that it’s a good thing, or bought into the lie that they need to be a convenience to other people but that it’s a bad thing.  I just want to find one who doesn’t believe the lie at all.

  3. galadrial says:

    @Nous_Apeiron – I truly hope you do.You seem a bright, articulate, fine man.You deserve someone special…

  4. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @galadrial – Many thanks.  That’s very sweet of you.  I don’t know if I deserve someone special, but I do know that I will no longer settle for anything less.

  5. PPhilip says:

    Generational or old fashion, still people can feel that being loyal or faithful is a two way street that means less complications. My fate is that some detours are disastrous. What was I thinking or ignoring, the restore button gets pushed and I try not to take that side road again. What convenience? That may work for others but not for me.

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