Article by Darren Tendler
As writers, we can embellish and elaborate on fundamental values required to foster and strengthen romantic relationships, to appear as though we are bursting with expertise.
But strip away the furniture and paint, and the four walls to any devoted kinship are respect, honesty, hard work and attraction.
Without those pillars, an enduring partnership is unlikely.
So if you are involved in an intimate relationship, how should you know if it’s the right one to pursue long-term?
‘The one’ and soulmates are fairytale concepts; not reality.
That your destiny has been written and that your true love waits for you in wings is far from the truth, yet so vividly portrayed in popular culture – from Layla and Majnun and Romeo and Juliet to Titanic’sJack and Rose and The Notebook’s Allie and Noah.
But we shouldn’t need romanticised notions to explain feelings of friendship and love, or to attempt to convince ourselves only one specific person will do. If a relationship blossoms for decades, those involved can succumb to the idea ‘fate’ pushed them together and they were destined to meet.
There’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, if I’ve ever seen one. Or how about arriving at an illogical and non-sequential conclusion for a set of circumstances?
It wouldn’t be the first time someone has done that.
Creating such fantasy worlds can also be damaging. Soulmate fanaticism can stifle existing relationships.
Research carried out by psychologists confirms if you are convinced there’s only one person suited for you, you are more likely to have lustful but short- lived intimate unions.
And this makes sense.
People often convince themselves if something goes awry in a relationship, then that person is not ‘the one’ – implying if the partnership isn’t perfect, it’s not worth pursuing.
And if everyone has a soulmate, what if one half happens to be a mass murderer, a serial rapist, or maybe just lives on the other side of the world?
There’s no pioneering handbook about relationships, either.
More and more so, people are involved in and appreciating the value of committed non-monogamous, open and polyamorous unities, and the raising of children within such families.
Committed duos are prominent, but many people are also sharing sincere trinities, quartets, quintets or kinships of six and more.
Binding ourselves to fictional notions of soulmates implies the universe has already made up its mind for us, and disregards the potential of other non-duo unions.
We also know the divorce rate in the States is approximately 50 per cent, and across multiple European countries it peaks at over 60 per cent. In Australia, the rate falls just below 50 per cent.
Marriage can be beautiful, but it has a dark side, too.
We only have to look as far as the Ashley Madison discreet dating service for married individuals, to understand millions seek sexual intimacy outside their legal bonds.
Unfortunately, this displays a lack of morality.
It is far more honourable to be truthful with a partner about the possibilities of extra-marital romantic relations.
While we’re in the business of tearing away the wallpaper to better understand the complex relationships we engage in, let’s go one step further and note that what we call love are chemical reactions for animals to breed, bond, enjoy pleasure and work together as a species.
Love? More like the pumping of adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and cortisol.
But knowing the science behind dedicated unions as well as detaching ourselves from the concept that we are only appropriate for one person, doesn’t make the idea of love any less special. It makes it glow brighter.
The success of our species is dependent upon the bonds we forge.
The excitement, arousal, confusion, passion and box of other emotions we catch when connecting with people is unlike anything else we experience.
If we can exit from pipe-dream love myths and enter the earnest realm of relationship realities, we will better understand the diverse forms of how love is personified, chance encounters, the benefits of candour, learning from personal experience and that if agreed upon, anything you do in bed is not weird.
“Given the role chaos inevitably plays in the inherently flawed notion of fate,
It’s obtuse to deduce that I’ve found my soulmate at the age of 17,
It’s just mathematically unlikely that at a university in Perth,
I happened to stumble on the one girl on Earth specifically designed for me.
And if I may conjecture a further objection,
Love is nothing to do with destined perfection,
The connection is strengthened, the affection simply grows over time.”
Tim Minchin, If I Didn’t Have You.