History has taught us that humankind has always had a penchant for forming romantic relationships within the species. Somewhere along the line, we allowed superstition and tradition to dictate that these relationships were something more than a basis for biological reproduction, expecting them to weather the years and produce a lifetime of fidelity. We ignore our psychology and do our best to convince ourselves of the truth in our traditions, that one man and one woman are meant to become each others’ sole partner once they exchange a series of linguistic poetry, an amalgam of auditory frequencies meant to convey promises.
No account is taken of the breadth of change that will occur in each of the two individuals’ psychology, manifesting itself as a change in personality and behavioral patterns. Your alleged lifelong mate is not the same person that they were ten years ago, both physiologically and psychologically. If said mate’s personality has not expressed any dynamic evolution, congratulations, you have successfully mated with a impotent and dull individual whose static nature will allow for you to have psychological comfort due to nothing in their behavioral patterns coming as a surprise. Predictable. Nice and comfortable. You will probably die in your sleep in a house that you will have lived in for your entire life.
For the rest of the world, we are constantly changing in terms of who we are. Sure, some habits and views will remain mostly unchanged, but (if you are the type of person who craves novelty and exhibits a critical mindset) odds are the old ways will always be tossed out for something else. The whole concept of someone “finding” themselves is a bit of a snipe hunt. Sure, you will begin to recognize more and more of the patterns you tend to have, but the constant mental evolution can never be fully observed. By the time you realize something, it may have already changed and progressed, or died.
Back to this concept of romance though and another major flaw in the popular operating parameters of the normative version of it. It is a game of possession and control. You believe that you have a right to predict your partner’s behavior, and that they have an obligation to not surprise your poor mental state by changing or, god forbid, cheating. How dare something that you own have a will of its own, its own personal vendettas and desires! This behavior is most readily observed in the actions of men.
One can easily imagine a scenario in which a man cheats on his wife, but then becomes infuriated to the point of violence upon his discovery that his wife goes out and proceeds to cheat on him for no reason other than that she too is sexually unsatisfied (or perhaps it is a revenge-fuck). Since he sees her as his property, he assumes that it is okay for him to do whatever he needs, but when she does something to sate her needs in an independent manner, there is hell to pay.
Of course, this is on the polar extreme end of this notion of mine, and such behaviors are likely to be found among those of a patriarchal religion. Does it not make sense that an individual who already needs the mental comfort of religion would also seek an equally immutable comfort in their romantic relationships? When both of these defense mechanisms fail them, the typical reactions ensue: violence, depression, loss of meaning.
Indeed, subtler manifestations of this concept of possession do exist.
Perhaps, as soon as another human debases itself through the submission to a lifelong commitment based on nothing more than an abstract ideal, it loses respect for itself and the other party member as well. A subtle-self hate begins to unfold and one seeks to edify oneself by clinging to the notion that one, at the very least, still has their partner.
Even the very language we use betrays that at its root, romantic relationships (and perhaps even all relationships) are a game of possession. We have a girlfriend, husband, partner, and even friend. Obtaining a relationship with someone is considered a personal achievement. He is my friend. You have a friend. For the more aware, we can make the linguistic switch to terms such as we are friends, we are friends, we are seeing each other. I’m still seeing someone, but it at least implies that they are seeing me as well. Sure, many people do not think highly of linguistic constructivism, but the notion that such an integral part of our conscious experience as our language could have some (at the very least subconscious) influence upon our mentality does seem a valid psychological notion.
Am I against the practice of forming relationships? Only those that are based on errant reasons for forming them and only so long as both parties know that relationships are not meant to be anything more than a ephemerally temporal manner by which we manifest our sex drive, our archaic urge to continue pulling souls out of nonexistence into a world of meat.
As for love: nothing more than the mental power of one’s brain convincing oneself that its drives to escape loneliness and to engage in coitus are something more than a cycling of oxytocin and other assorted cocktails of hormonal chemicals. A defense mechanism against the truth that there is credence to the inescapable dichotomy of me and them.