I think it’s interesting that so many people have such an investment in “understanding” other people’s relationships. Now, mind you, I have as a prurient interest as everyone else and like the gossip, sordid goings on, murky beginnings or questionable motives of relationships as much as the next US Weekly reader. But beyond those schadenfreude-styled motives, I don’t feel nearly as qualified as my peers in assigning motives (mostly bad of course) to other people’s spouses or deciding who is or is not a “right fit” for the “right reasons”. Don’t get me wrong- its human nature, when socializing, to speculate on these things and as inevitable as commenting on the weather. It is one of our many social lubricants but, strangely, taken much more seriously.
I mean, I could not begin to deeply care about a friend’s relationship vis-à-vis his or her spouse/ significant other. Here’s the thing, in the vast universe of relationship possibilities, what are the odds that my friend’s relationship is so broken or unhealthy its worth commenting on in other than a completely superficial, farcical way? I live in a middle class hetro-sexually driven world where everyone is cut, pretty closely, from the same cloth. Same Judeo-Christian upbringing. Similar socio-economic class; similar ethnic background. If the underpinnings of relationships are so banal in their similarities, what is the possibility that something truly unique is going to set them apart? I can’t even think of a good analogy to compare it to.
So when people start making comments (serious comments) about other people’s relationships, the hypocrisy is mind blowing because they do it with such facility, never stopping to recognize how fucked up their own relationship likely is.
The beauty and specialness of each relationship is that the inner workings of why two people are together are secret and unexplained to the rest of the world and quite likely, the couple themselves. Is Joe with Suzy b/c he loves her? Or b/c she likes his money? Those are objective questions we ask ourselves, playing detective, about a completely subjective topic. I couldn’t begin to adequately explain my wife’s motives for caring for me, so what weight, what degree of understanding would I give to a third party? It’s utterly meaningless. It’s a fun parlor game but it is objectively meaningless. I guess I have more respect for people’s private lives than most because I’m not afraid to acknowledge that none of us really like to be alone and that, plain and simple, dictates the foundations of all relationships, romantic or platonic. Once you admit that bit of frailty, you become more tolerant of your spouse’s foibles, more tolerant of others seemingly incomprehensible choices and a little more humble in your expectations (of your relationship and everyone else’s). The key isn’t so much to understand the motives of a relationship but the basic principle that people don’t like to be alone and will pay a fairly steep price to avoid it.
It’s not so much that I don’t think relationships are special (for the record, I do), it’s just that I don’t feel qualified in deciding who’s is and who’s isn’t. And, quite frankly, they all have an equal chance to be special or disastrous.