Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Relationships are never easy. They’ve never been easy for me, and I’m sure they’ve never been very easy for you either. After all, they do involve another person, besides ourselves. Most of us don’t have much trouble having a relationship with ourselves, but throw another person in the mix and things can become problematic. Relationships have their ups and downs. They have prolonged periods of both. And they have their periods of dormancy. They have periods of intense mutual interest, and they have times of relative disinterest. Relationships wax and wane, as it were, like the tide.

Relationships. They get complicated. They’re kind of like sex. It’s much easier for one to have an intimate relationship with one’s self than it is to have a personal, intimate relationship with another person. And if you think that’s not true, you haven’t been paying attention to the staggering increase in the world’s consumption of pornography. It is, without question, one of the largest, if not THE largest industry on the planet today.

With the availability of ‘social networking’ sites on the Internet, we live under the illusion that we are connecting with other people. We live under the misconception that these exchanges are bringing us together, that they encourage relationship. But in reality, these sites keep us separate from each other, under the delusion that we are connected. It is far too easy to ‘be friends’ in cyber space, and it is equally effortless to dismiss friends and acquaintances, or to simply ignore the involvement should it require some degree of personal investment. The Internet gives us full control of our ‘relationships’, something we do not have with real associations, and many people have allowed these relationships to replace, or at least minimize, actual ones.
Consequently, more and more people find themselves settling for alternate ways to meet their needs. They have simply given up on real relationships. And with the complexity of maintaining a relationship in today’s world, I frequently have to ask myself, “Who can really blame them?”

Relationships take effort, a lot of effort. They must be defined, and they must be negotiated, otherwise they tend to fold in on themselves like a parachute catching a downdraft. They can be an expansive element of one’s life, but can also become a dangerous inversion of one’s expectations. Relationships, to be successful, require that both parties play by the same set of rules. And if they don’t, it is only a matter of time before they implode.

It’s not as important what the rules are, as it is that they are agreed upon in the development of the relationship. The rules can be tacit, (understood, or implied, without being stated openly), but they must exist for the relationship to prosper. And they must be understood and embraced equally, with honesty of intention, and commitment to upholding the integrity of their purpose.
Something that is sorely lacking with Internet friendships.

For harmony to exist in any relationship, honesty must prevail. Otherwise the relationship is reduced to two people pretending that everything is OK. OK, however, is pretty transparent, even to the least observant among us, and over time even it becomes compromised, reduced to the relationship equivalent of two people talking about the weather. If that is the relationship that is agreed upon, fine. And the weather changes regularly, so there will always be cause for new discussion. A nice safe, formulaic relationship where each party is equally protected from the other. Neither party takes any risks, expands the parameters of the relationship, or ever has to confront their own fears and insecurities. Nobody gets hurt.

And the relationship doesn’t grow.
I’m sure you have your share of those.

But my question is, “Why would someone even want to be in a relationship with someone they feel they need to protect themselves from?” A person could have that kind of relationship on the Internet, or with a box of cereal, or with the order-taker at a drive-thru fast food restaurant.
Why pretend at relationship?

If both parties intend to have a real relationship, they cannot, as people are want to do, pretend that everything is fine when it’s not. Pretension breeds resentment, resentment breeds silence, and silence breeds distance. It takes courage not to pretend that everything is OK, but it takes more courage to see that things don’t get there in the first place. Courage is a quality always in high demand, but, unfortunately, it is also a quality in scarce supply in our modern day culture.

Relationships are never easy, but, unfortunately, we’re learning to replace courage with the simple ‘click of a mouse’.
That’s very sad,
I think.

To be continued: