Love =/= Relationship

Relationship involves commitment. What does love involve? I’ve written about what I think about love before. In short, just to give you a sense of how I define love–love means the wonderful opportunity to be the best of yourself next to someone who is equally inspired by your presence to be the best of themselves. Love Love brings a mutual burst of expressivity, creativity and affection. Yes, I’m quoting straight from the blog post I wrote about love, because I’m too lazy to write another summary.

Anyway, back to relationship. So relationship involves commitment. It also involves choice. To be in a relationship with somebody means you choose to be with this person. It’s mutual, it’s meant to be reciprocal, and it often evolves into something more permanent like marriage. I was watching Aziz Asari’s stand-up a while ago, and he did a segment on marriage. Marriage is basically an “arrangement” to “hang out with each other” every day until death. As he joked about the engagement ring and the cake, it got me thinking.

If you really think about it–why a relationship? Why marriage? Are we destined to be with one person, and one person only? There are different types of relationship and marriage, of course, but the most commonly acceptable and practiced one is monogamy. Why? Why two? Is it our “nature” that we pair off? Is it encoded in our DNA?

I’m not promoting polygamy, or monogamy–for that matter. I’m not trying to promote or denounce anything. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the nature of a relationship and marriage. When we are in a relationship or marriage, there is a sense of ownership and entitlement involved, no? It’s like after we decide, “okay, this is the one”, we are going to shut the doors to the rest of the world. It’s not right to show interest in another person if you’re in a relationship. There’s the question of being faithful, loyal, and truthful to your partner. Of course, that’s a given. When you choose to be in a relationship, you honour that decision by respecting and cherishing your partner.

But say, John and Mary are in a relationship, and Mary meets a guy who is charming and interesting. And she enjoys his company a lot. Sounds like the beginning of an affair, right? But what if that’s it? That’s the end of it? I mean, personally, I think it’s natural for us to be attracted to multiple people at once. How can we not? But because of the nature of “being in a relationship” and that sense of ownership and entitlement–a lot of awkwardness, guilt, discomfort can arise.

You can argue that there is a fine line between being friendly and being flirtatious. I argue that this “fine line” exists because, again, the sense of ownership and entitlement. The nature of a relationship demands the undivided attention from another. It doesn’t allow us room to “flirt around”. Of course, I don’t think we should be flirting around when we’re in a relationship–I just think that, it’s natural for us to be attracted to somebody, to enjoy somebody’s company, or just simply “like” someone. And it doesn’t have to be awkward. It can just be something natural, as long as both parties within a relationship are honest, confident, open, and true to each other. It’s hard to define, yes, and everyone’s different–and things get tangled, complicated, ugly and confusing–people can get hurt, abused, or cheated on…

I don’t mean that we should just love whoever we want and do whatever we want recklessly without any regard of morality and honesty–and completely “free” that way. No, that would be chaos. I think what I’m trying to say is, the word “relationship” or “marriage” has a lot of baggage–because when we are in a relationship, we assume, we expect, and we desire. Those have to be the most dangerous trio that puppeteers human emotions–just think about how many breakups and divorces are a result of that trinity! Just think how expectations can poison a love, or a relationship.

I’m trying to say that relationships shouldn’t have to be like this, because I believe love is more than chocolate and flowers, more than a car and a house, more than a stable life and legal rights. Because I believe love’s nature is the truest and highest expression of who you are, there shouldn’t be so many rules, so many awkward silences or cages around it. I think we should all be a little bit more understanding, a little bit more open and forgiving. Otherwise, why do we enter a relationship? Not to shackle the other person, not for financial security or benefits. We enter a relationship because we love someone, because we hope to continue to love that person, to be with that person, and because of who we are and who we become when we are together with that special someone. Relationship shouldn’t be a formality, a process we go through or some sort of procedure–nor should it be a contract, a guarantee. It is ultimately a choice, and a celebration, of two people coming together because of, of course, love–and because of who they are and what they can be when they are together.

That’s what I think a relationship is. That’s what I think a relationship should be.