The Bar Has Always Been Low, You Just Couldn’t See It

Wednesday Journal Entry, Week 11

Karina Lafayette – July 6th 2022

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Lately I’ve been noticing a trend on social media where people are complaining about how the bar is so low when it comes to relationships. My question is, when has the bar not been low? And pardon my cynicism, but when have most relationships actually been about connection anyway?

Until about sixty or so years ago, you didn’t get to choose who you were with. Unless you were really lucky, but otherwise you would hope you could at best tolerate each other. The main purpose of being partnered was to settle down and have a family. It’s never been about happiness, it’s been mostly about advancing the population. As long as your parents were content that their legacy would be passed along to their grandkids, that was all that mattered. It didn’t matter whether your partner was an alcoholic, a cheater, or someone who couldn’t even hold down a conversation. One person would stay home and tend to the chores and kids, while the other had to work. That was each partner’s purpose in life.

There’s no doubt that to an extent romance has always existed, but a lot of practices that have been around like holding hands, opening the door, and courtship as a whole, still ultimately led to one thing. While choosing to want a family is fine, when we’re with someone only to have our goals met, it’s impossible to see them as their own person with needs and feelings, let alone really make a connection. We only see what they have to “bring to the table”. That’s the main reason marriages lasted longer, because they had to. Romantic love as we know it has been mostly talked about in theory, it’s rarely been put into practice, and when it is, we fail at it because no one really knows what it is. A lot of us are just treating partners the way we treat our parents or friends, but for a relationship to last, you need to remember that your partner is different from everyone else. This is why in Symposium, Plato talks about the different kinds of love.

Plato says there are six different kinds of love: Agape (love of humanity), Philia (friendship), Storge (family), Ludus (playful love), Eros (romantic love), Pragma (longterm partnership), and Philautia (self-love). So what happens once a relationship becomes committed is the Eros and Pragma almost completely fizzle, and you’re left with a partner who acts like a child and expects you to treat them that way. Then somewhere along the line neither partner feels an attraction anymore, because if they did, the relationship would feel like incest, and nobody wants that. So people lose interest, or they cheat, or break up altogether, because the connection was never made a priority. All you cared about was whether your partner made a good parent, caretaker, provider or protector, not whether they were still your partner in the first place.

And of course, the romance alone is never enough for that kind of relationship to last anyway, you need a certain level of friendship too (Philia). You need to be able to talk to each other, you need to respect each other, and value the same things. One of the only romantic comedies I could tolerate for that reason is When Harry Met Sally. It’s a rare gem where two characters are actually able to bond with each other in a meaningful, solid way.

While the closing scene where Harry runs to the New Year’s Eve party to confess his love for Sally seems cliché, it’s completely realistic, since he knows her better than anyone else, with them already being best friends. Of course, a partner is never really like one of your friends. They’re not just some person you chill with to watch Netflix, because that too will also make the relationship fail. Even if all relationships matter, your partner deserves to feel special (Pragma), otherwise what are you even doing with them? Why should they be with you unless they know that they’re appreciated, and vice versa? Take them out on dates, flirt, have real conversations- instead of it always being about sharing a bed. With the North Node in Taurus, a lot of us are getting a wake up call as to how much we settle in love, and that’s one thing a Taurus won’t do- since you know, we’re picky.

So like I mentioned earlier, the bar has always been low, you just never noticed that. The only reason why it’s so difficult to get even a text back nowadays, is because less and less people are having kids, so we’re trying to figure other reasons to be with someone. Emotional intimacy and connection are things we’re just really starting to understand. Most of us never had the opportunity to be with a person because we chose to be with them, and being able to choose is scary when you don’t even know what you’re looking for. No one taught us what it means to love. It’s obvious to me that a lot of younger people don’t actually know what it was like to be married years ago. There’s a certain romanticism toward old couples who’ve been together for five decades, when they don’t show half of what their relationship is like. People weren’t allowed to talk back then, let alone get a divorce. People might have complained to their friends, but it’s not like they would have actually left anyway. And movies are of little help.

In movies, people look at each other from across the room, and we’re led to believe that two characters who barely communicate or ask questions, are somehow going to fall in love. This is why there are many real life instances where two people can be together for years, and still not know each other. There aren’t any classes in schools on how to explore emotional intimacy, let alone how to unpack all the negative, outdated belief systems our parents shared with us from their own relationships. Modern relationships are literally a science experiment.

If you take relationship advice from movies, you’re mostly sold a predator and prey fantasy, where the guy chases the girl for eighty minutes till she finally agrees to be with him. If you take advice from your parents, they’re probably more concerned with grandkids than they are for your happiness. If you take advice from your friends, it’s a mixed bag. Either way, the reality is that most of us don’t know what we’re doing. Most of us want romantic love, but are walking into situations blindfolded, hoping for the best. A relationship is really about trial and error, being clear on what you want, spending some time together, and understanding where the other person is coming from. Its also about having someone who you can share everything about yourself with, without judgment. How long you stay with each other, if at all, will be up to the both of you.

Karina


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