Nov 17, 2006

When It Comes to Love, Does One Size Fit All?

When people find out that I study deception and close relationships, in some form or another, most people get around to asking, "why do lovers lie?"

Besides the usual answer, that lying is driven by a conflict of interest, part of me also believes that there is a much larger issue involved. An issue, which can sometimes be hard to discuss with people in a face-to-face setting.

Is it possible that not everyone belongs in a romantic relationship?

In the past, marriage was not always tied to romantic love. Marriage was more practical in nature, designed for raising families. I'm not saying that couples didn't have genuine feelings and affection for each other, but notions of love and romance were tempered by reality.

Current day notions of love and romance, by comparison, tend to go to the other extreme. Most people now believe that love is supposed to be based on complete honesty, undying passion, and an all-encompassing view of emotional closeness. People often talk about finding their soul mate who will complete them. And it almost goes without saying - everyone expects their partners to be faithful.

All of this begs the question: Have we somehow set the standards so high that everyone falls short?

While many people have fallen for the idea of perfect love, few couples can make it work in the long run. For many people their relationships are filled with half-truths, fading passion and emotional distance.

Quite frankly, I believe that many people are simply not well-suited for the demands of a modern-day relationship. Not only have we set our expectations as high as possible, but many people have personality characteristics which make it difficult for them to be emotionally intimate with a romantic partner.

Yet, despite the fact that many people are poor candidates for romantic love, people feel pressured to fit the norm - to fit into our current version of love and romance.

Ironically, our pursuit of ideal love tends to produce results which are far from ideal: Our quest for perfect love causes much heartache, anguish and pain. When things don't go exactly according to plan, people are left feeling inadequate, disappointed and they start questioning themselves - "How and why did this happen to me? Why can't I make love work?"

Again, could the answer be as simple as this - not everyone belongs in a modern-day romantic relationship?

Ultimately, I believe that much of the lying and cheating that occurs in our close relationships is caused by couples setting unrealistic expectations, which they can never meet. And by people trying to be someone who they are not.

I also find it somewhat ironic, that Bella DePaulo, one of the leading scholars on lying and deception, is also a leading advocate for "singlehood."

Perhaps Bella knows something the rest of are still trying to figure out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So true. It is something I have felt all my life, but somehow never could put in plain words. People are so different in their emotional, physical and sexual makeup that it is silly to try and fit everyone into one norm. But is singleton the only answer?