Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Love vs. Attachment

Crossposted from Dharma Girl.

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I have been thinking a lot about relationships lately, especially those of the romantic kind, and the obsession that people have with them. One needs only to take a look at the cinema listings, and the prevalence of sappy stories of love and "happily ever after," to realise what most people want to see. More often than not, these films are unrealistic stories of "rags to riches," such as in Pretty Woman, Jersey Girls, or Maid in Manhattan. A destitute woman of low class somehow finds her way into the bed of a millionaire. Said millionaire unexpectedly falls in love with the wretch, sometimes due to a convenient misunderstanding, and they ride off into the sunset to live the common human fantasy of love everlasting.

During my lunch break at work yesterday, I was flipping through the Metro that my boss often buys and leaves for us lowly employees. Whilst randomly turning the pages looking for something of interest, my eyes caught sight of the Personals section, which had an enormous amount of ads, and each one was almost identical to the next. "SWF, 40, attractive. Looking for man aged 40-55 for friendship, maybe more." I was left wondering, as I often do when I come across these personal ads, what people think they are going to get out of a relationship that they formed through a newspaper. And then the larger issue occurred to me: "What do people think they are going to get out of any relationship at all?"

It's not so rare for me to talk to someone, who is about my age and has never had a relationship, and hear them saying "I feel so lonely. I wish someone wanted to be with me." I even read in one person's online journal that he wanted someone "to fill this hole inside of me." The confusion of it all is so crazy, the thought that we need someone to fill the gaps in our lives, that we cannot live fully until we find our "soulmate" who is going to make us feel complete, and we can finally be happy and carefree and la la la.

I think most of this is due to laziness and insecurity. People don't want to do the work on themselves so that they can feel complete independently. They want someone else to do it. They're looking for a magical cure that they've invented in their minds: "There is someone out there who shares my soul, who is going to complete me. Once I find them, everything will be okay!" Many relationships start out this way, with two people feeling like they've each found the person who forms the missing jigsaw piece in the puzzle that is their soul. Unfortunately, this often ends up leading to divorce, or broken relationships and feelings of confusion. If you cannot heal yourself on your own, and you are depending on someone else to come along and fix things for you, you are essentially giving up and handing over the responsibilities to somebody else. Nobody can fill that sort of role, so people often end up thinking "I guess I haven't found the one after all, because I still feel empty inside."

The problem is not that you haven't found "the one." The problem is that people are often too lazy to spend much time working on themselves alone, when they have the chance to do so, before they end up in a relationship and a situation where they will almost inevitably end up codependent. One ad that stuck in my memory went something like this: "Attractive woman, 40, looking for man aged 40-55, to show that life begins now." That's obviously an allusion to the common saying that "life begins at 40." My question is, why does this woman need a man to show her that it does? Why hasn't the thought occurred to her that perhaps it's time to focus on herself, do some meditation, take up a hobby of some kind, write that book she's always been meaning to write, instead of looking for a new relationship to show her that life can be good at her age?

Read the rest here.

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