Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are There Any Couples Left?

2008 seems to have been a bad year for couples across the board. Madonna and Guy split after seven and a half years of marriage; Anne Hathaway kicked her con-artist boyfriend to the curb, and who can forget the almost “Notebook” storyline of Rachel McAdams’ and Ryan Goslings’ on-again, off-again relationship.

Out of the public eye, mainstream couples have seen a decline in the past eleven months. Long-term relationships have taken nosedives, and couples casually dating have made the decision to split early and live the single life for awhile. Numerous factors have been called to take the blame: monogamy not being taken so seriously in our day and age, the rise seen in middle-aged women cheating on their partners, and the curious phenomenon that happens every August, which is the month most couples break up in, due in part to roving eyes on scantily-clad beaches, hot weather making people irritable, and family trips on which partners realize that when taken out of their every-day routines and denied distractions, they can’t stand each other.

Mutually exclusive, long-term relationships seem like risky business in the first place, to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a commitment-phobe who can’t choose between two entrees at dinner for fear of ending up craving the other one, but there’s something that has more people other than just me spooked this year. Maybe the world is waking up. Maybe women are realizing that men actually do smell, and men are finally getting that women will never be satisfied unless you can predict what they want you to do before they even ask you to do it. Maybe women have finally given up on men ever being able to stay faithful to one person for the rest of their life, and men have finally gotten so fed-up with being ten minutes late to every event because of their girlfriend’s primping time that they’ve had enough. Or maybe, just maybe, people are changing.

In 2008, women now ask men out. Men now have the social pressure of instituting the first contact taken away from them. Women are running their own businesses, spending their own money, and settling down to have children later. Men are more prone to moving back home with their parents for a few months after graduating college, are more prone to putting the “playing the field” method to use when casually dating, and have increased in number of younger men dating older women. (Here’s where the older women cheating on husbands theme comes in—watch out, it’s the Year of the Cougar.) Gender roles are switching—more women are now the breadwinners of their families, and more men are parking it on the sofa to be stay-at-home dads. 2008 seems to have brought all the issues of today’s changing society to a head, and it’s resulted in the death of the relationship.

I’m batting for the singles team, if you haven’t already picked up on that. My last relationship also ended in early 2008 when the guy I was seeing dropped off the face of the Earth. I think he might have taken the easy route out; I’ve since watched numerous friends go through extremely messy break-ups and had the opportunity to realize that I was at least allowed the privacy of falling apart on my own, without the injuring party watching. Break-ups occur more than we’d like to admit; the chances of the relationship you’re currently working in has a fifty-fifty chance of making it, at best, minus points for all the annoying quirks of your partner, wandering eyes, and a sense of settling…for the moment only.

I don’t mean to sound like a totally embittered spinster for life, but after witnessing the carnage of this past year, I think that the world should maybe make a joint New Year’s resolution in 2009: Get to know the person through casual, non-serious dating first, and then weigh all your options and worries very carefully before jumping into another relationship. With all the news of break-ups, it only makes people in healthy relationships more paranoid (which then undermines that relationship), and makes single people more discouraged to even attempt to find that special someone…or anyone, for that matter. Maybe looking before you leap would be the next logical step. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with casual dating for a while before making any serious decisions; in fact, I would garner a guess that casually dating someone builds up a better base for a solid couple than jumping straight into an exclusive match. If the sign I recently saw on Facebook proclaiming “Relationship, RealtionSHIT,” is of any clue, other people are starting to get it, too. 2009—let’s make it a more couple-friendly year than 2008.


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