Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Society Views "Romantic" Relationships

Lately, I've been thinking about the different relationships people can have with each other. From personal events, I've realized that social interactions are not just black and white. There are definitely in-betweens and grey areas. The amount of dedication, trust, and time that two people give in to their relationship defines it. But as soon as one gets to the cusp of friendship, it all gets more complicated. For example, what truly is friendship? Is that girl who you've known since elementary school and who you still talk to occasionally in order to catch up with and not feel bad about your friend? Is that other girl who you've only known for about a week but who you feel you can tell absolutely anything to your friend? Is she something more? Does she have the potential to become it? Once two people get into the "something more than just friends" area, that's when the bomb goes explode.

(American and European) Society views so-called romantic relationships as a social matter. A couple is expected to hold hands, kiss in public (but not too much, or else it's disrespectful and disgusting), engage in activities together, and be known by friends and family that they are taken, by this other person. Society expects couples to act a certain way, and if they don't, there is something wrong either with the couple or the relationship itself. To highlight an example from my personal life, my ex and I used to (and still do) fight. By fight, I mean the punching, kicking, biting, scratching kind of fighting. Some thought I was staying in an abusive relationship every time they say bruises or cuts on me. Others just shook their heads and refused to fathom why on earth we would want to fight. And yet others were scared that we two would give relationships a bad name for our unorthodox behaviour. Why did we fight? To release sexual tension and because it felt good.* However, society does not necessarily expect two people who profess to love each other to come in pubic covered with signs of physical abuse. I love him because he hits me? No, there were boundaries and limits to the damage we could perform. He was twice my height, much stronger than me, and could easily break me, but from some unimaginable reason, he didn't. The fights never got to anything either he or I could not stand. They were fun. This is one way (albeit, strangely) how we showed our affection to each other, something that people gawked at because instead of a kiss, we would punch. If a couple does not show signs of physical affection, they are looked strangely upon. Personally, I am neither a romantic person nor a touchy-feely person in public. My PDA goes as far as a hug. I feel uncomfortable displaying my affections for everyone to see. I don't even hold hands.

Facebook has several statuses, one being the relationship status. If anyone were to go to my profile, they would see that I am Single. However, as much as I am poly, and as much as I am available, I am still dating someone at the moment. Why don't I change my status to "in a relationship with-"? I don't feel comfortable with the whole world knowing my personal life. Which comes to my next point...Society views romantic relationships as a somewhat social matter. In a way, they should be. The people around need to know to a certain degree where you are in your love life so they don't step over boundaries. However, it comes to a point where relationships are just a status. Remember in kindergarten, or middle school, or high school, or college, or marriage, where there were those couples who would just get together to be seen together? They would just be in a relationship so they could move up the social ladder and put on their Failbook statuses "in a relationship with-", "engaged to-", "married to-". It comes a point where one's personal life is not so personal anymore. Society encourages that. Read the headlines to any magazine. I can guarantee you they have to do with the latest celebrity break-up, or who's that girl's sugadaddy. Relationships are not a social status. Only because you're married doesn't make you better than everyone else. And if you think it does, you don't really deserve to be married.

When you say "I have a boyfriend/girlfriend", "I'm dating someone", everyone else immediately runs to the conclusion of "Oh, since you're dating this type of person, that means that you're attracted to this sex/gender and we expect you to act like 'a couple' from now on." But there are different kinds of "romantic" relationships. There are those that truly are romantic. There are those that are simply sexual. There are those that are friendship with sexual mixed (friends with benefits). There are those that are sexual and romantic (which is the norm). And then, there are those relationships that many get confused about: the simply emotional relationship. The simply emotional relationship is neither sexual, nor romantic. It is simply emotional. It is, what I like to call "more than friends, but less than lovers". The relationship may change to include romanticism or sexual activities, but it doesn't have to. This may be a mind-boggling concept but think about that one person who you don't want to have sex with and you want to be in a relationship with, but only so you can get to know them better.

Human relationships are extremely complex. There is not just one type of relationship that a couple may have with each other. It is not fair to those people to think you know what they feel towards each other or to expect certain behaviours from them only because of stereotype. So, next time, don't immediately respond to the local lesbian's comment of "I have a boyfriend" with "Oh, so you're not lesbian. You're bi." It's not always like that.

* to explain why I love fighting, check this link out. 

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