What’s the problem with relationships? Why do all of us have problems with them, either trivial or life-crushing? Why is it that we were made so complicated and can’t simply decide who to go out with and let nature work it out for us, the way it works for all other animals in the world.
Well… We did this to ourselves. Men and women are not different just because, we made it happen and now we have to swallow (or spit, depending on individual tastes) and try to work with what we not only did, but keep on doing to feed this insanity.
I have always thought that relationships are abnormally hard. Women don’t understand men and always expect too much of them, inevitably being disappointed and in the end coping with it. Men expect their women to be like goddesses while they get fat and flip channels in the couch.
I won’t even try to get into any specific sex practices or fetishes, things are hard as it is trying to talk about some of these things. I will try to focus in what is universally understood as a «normal» relationship (which, as with «common sense», is neither «common» or «normal»).
What is in a relationship? Let’s see…
What we have here is two people (a man and a woman, on average) who know each other and start dancing around each other. From this early beginning things can start to go awry. Men tend to be different in courtship than when in an actual relationship, and women fail to see this pattern even after tens of tries (and disappointments). Women on the other hand usually to be like they «would like to be» (instead of being «like the other wants them to be», as happens with men) when being courted. This means that during courtship it’s common to see a very shy woman going out with a courteus and chivalrous gentleman and, if the relationship ever gives fruit, you’ll see the former flirting around like crazy and the second one growing a belly the size of Iowa while belching in front of the computer while pretending to be a hot, shy model in search of a man.
Men and women are not the same in courtship, on average, as they are in real life. The shock of actually knowing who you’re dating when you get to know him/her can be as much of a disappointment («uh, okay, so you want to use my pantyhose, you say? And my bra?») to a delightful discovery («Hey, where did you learn to do tha… Oooooh»). Although the average is 50% of each we usually only hear of the former because they make the most interesting (and usually, self-loathing) stories and are also, as all bad things in life, the ones we see most readily (almost nobody will answer «great!» consistently when asked how they are, although a LOT of people will start enumerating the problems in their lives, we humans tend to take the good things for granted, as they should, all the while blowing up the bad things to make them fill our «bad news buffer»).
If couples ever get past the courting part (and it sometimes impresses me we manage to get even that far) and something more serious begins (boyfriend/girlfriend or anything else where you’re acknowledged as having only one partner) then the «revelations» stage kicks in. Things start to be seen in a different light. What before was a «funny quirk» becomes an «annoying habit». What was a completely innocent tic becomes «that hideous thing you do with your teeth» and so on.
My mother used to tell her friends: «Beware of all the things he’s so different to everyone else about, as those are the very things you will hate in the long run». This after she got fed up of friends coming up and telling her that their «wonderfully rebellious, free-spirit, candid» boyfriend had suddenly become a «grumpy no-gooder who can’t even consider a serious commitment and blurts out stupiditiy as if he breathed it». Try breaking that phrase into two separate ones and put them apart a few months and tell me you have never seen anyone convert what where the good things about someone into what becomes the disappointing disadvantages they have to suffer.
I am truly convinced people who are happy, in the long term relationships, are so because they live in a wonderful state of blissful ignorance. They don’t care about their problems because they don’t see them. They just trod along, not blaming anyone for what happens to them (not even themselves, which is the worst kind of blame there could exist) except for, maybe, luck. And they never hold a grudge against luck, they just learn from it.
People who worry about their relationships, if they are happy enough, if the other party is worthy of them (or they are worthy of him/her) are, unadvertendly paving the way for their own failure.
A pool teacher (from whom I never learned any pool, but had good insights in life over a cold beer around 6:00 pm) once was telling me that the mind is so powerful that if you look at the balls in the pool table and for even a moment think you might fail the shot you will surely do. At first this all sounded like metaphysical crap to me, and I told him so.