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What are you thinking? November 23, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Friendship, Life, Love, Relationship.
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Marry me, NOW!In an effort to give you research-based viewpoints on complex life issues, I also want to never shy away from opposing views. Previously I posted and postured on a theory that explains why there seems to be a high success rate with interpersonal relationship building through computer mediated communication. This not only includes online dating sites but also mediums such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and e-mail. Today you will hear a different view from me and how maybe, virtual dating is causing an epidemic of failed relationships.

We want everything quickly these days – from fast foods to instant movies online. That is all fine and good, however when it comes to intimate relationship building, slow down! What is it with people these days? They are so quick to jump into the fire. It makes me wonder what the underlying force is that creates a nation of microwave marriages. Could it be that online dating implies urgency? God knows.

I have seen several cases of this hit close to home in the past few years. I have both a niece and a nephew that followed the just-add-water formula for finding mates. Both ended with charred results. The nephew came home with his finance after a weekend partying with buddies, the niece found her “match” through an online dating service and accepted his engagement ring inside of four months. They only saw each other face-to-face twice during this span of time. What the hell were they thinking? An even better question is, what the hell was their mother thinking?

First let’s look at the cold hard, sleeping-alone, facts. Depending on if you are looking at the Census Bureau’s statistic or the National Center for Health Statistics, marriages will fail between 42 to 50% of the time. Remarriages fare much worse. Psychology Today’s predictions state that remarriages will fail 60% of the time. After 10 years of marriage, the incidence of failure becomes far worse (if a second marriage will even last that long!) Research also shows that the possibility of a second divorce increases astronomically if the couple has been in a relationship for less than a year.

These are cruel statistics. So why are people ignoring this and jumping into the fire so quickly?

It comes right down to the fact that many people marry for the wrong reasons.

In first marriages, there are the traditional errors that we all are aware of, but still make: Marrying for money, family pressure, children (tick tock goes the biological clock,) even marriage for the wedding! I know women who actually have a ‘wedding scrapbook’ where they collect articles, swatches, pictures, contacts and phone numbers in order to plan their future, picture-perfect wedding BEFORE they even have a boyfriend!!

Erroneous second marriages have a different set of miscues. Loneliness is a deceptive motivator. Self-image needs to be fed after bleeding. It can be very difficult to think with a clear head. It is very easy to fall prey to irrational thought.

Because of this, there seems to be a sense of urgency to finding a relationship for people who have recently been thrown into unplanned singlehood. Whether it is for regaining self-esteem or showing the recent ex that “I can be a player too,” or even the fact that being alone in a bed is so foreign and the dog just ain’t doing it for them.

Slow down for God’s sake! You have to find out who YOU are before you can understand how you will relate to another.

In all this irrational chaos, there are people who seem to get it right.I recently had the opportunity to have a discussion with a wonderful woman I met right here in WordPress. She is a divorced single mom who refers to her significant other truthfully and honestly as her ‘friend.’ They share the same attitudes about relationships and life. They stay together by choice and without formal commitment. Their whole relationship is based on friendship, appreciation and trust. In that respect, she will tell you that marriage is unnecessary. They stay together for all the right reasons not because a simple ceremony and piece of paper tells them to.

Friendship first. Isn’t that really what matters? If you are going to position yourself in an agreement of “death do us part,” you better have the foundations laid for that. That takes time. That takes a gradual unveiling of understanding, openness, acceptance, respect, and trust. Well, being a good kisser is important too 😉

The Internet is full of convenience. It has the power of rational connection with wonderful people but also for unnatural expediency with intimacy. Use the powers for good. Stop, look, and listen before hitting send on that next message. You don’t want people like me to post on their blog… What are you thinking?

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Comments»

1. casachaos - November 25, 2009

But sometimes referring to your partner as “friend” just means you might still be looking… sorry, it’s the way my pragmatic brain works! Friendship first, of course. And online dating can lead to wonderful friendships, sometimes partnerships. It’s the people who rush things along, not the way they meet, no? We think if we commit in the throes, we’ll stay in them. We are deluded romantics!
Well-written, nice post, nice to be here.
🙂

jassnight - November 25, 2009

I agree – it is the rushing that really is the issue. My point is that the internet can be a facilitator to brevity at times.

Thanks for posting!

2. mamamaureen - November 29, 2009

Third marriage is the charm! I married twice, for exactly the wrong reasons, family pressure, self-esteem, security. Then I had a fairly serious relationship with a man I met online. The downfall of meeting someone online is that you think you have a better chance of getting to know the real person. Thinking that without the pressures of sex and physical attraction, you get to know someone on a more honest level. So not true. Online interaction is like an excuse to lie about everything, to create a whole new persona and live it. Sure, I know people who have good relationships that started online. But I think they’re the exception rather than the rule.
Great post & Happy Holidays!

jassnight - November 29, 2009

My heart goes out to you Mama. You have hit on something that Walther actually covers in his “Social Information Processing Theory” called selective self-presentation. People can portray their most attractive traits online without the rebuttal of their own physical appearance, inconsistent actions, or third party interaction. Walther actually sees this as a positive attribute to relationship building because using strictly text-based channels of communication will ‘fix’ the relationship image to the point that when other channels are incorporated, the conflicting cues will not be enough to effect the “cognitive dissonance” behavior. Interestingly enough, Walther’s research never looks at the percentage of failed relationships that start through online communication. More at my previous post, “You’ve got mail…” at https://jassnight.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/youve-got-mail-and-very-possibly-a-whole-lot-more/

The key to any relationship, at least from my own perspective, is to not rush it, regardless of the communication channels. Enjoy the other for who they are and let things progress naturally. Love is to be cherished for what it is and not to be used for alternative agendas.

Yes, so easy to say – not so easy to do.

My best to you

3. TheWildMind - November 30, 2009

Being single, staying single, and being really truly okay with it, in spite of the times of incredible lonliness, aloneness, and just downright tiredness with being a “one” in a world of “twos”, takes a pretty solid self-esteem. I’m not sure many people are up for it. They might marry or jump into relationships or stay in bad ones because there is something they all fear about being alone. What is it about us that we can’t stand being alone with ourselves? What is it we are afraid we will have to face in those quiet, and very likely lonely, moments?

It hasn’t been a fun journey at every point for me but I am still at the point that this singleness is far superior to where I was. It is also far superior to being in a miserable relationship that simply isn’t working, isn’t healthy and has no hope of changing.

This is a great blog and this post in particular echoes many thoughts I’ve shared on my own blog. Thanks for writing. I hope you’ll keep it up!


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