Today, I read an article about who gets custody of the favourite café once a couple breaks up, and to be honest, it has made me a bit sad. Are our relationships with our local cafes more likely to outlive our relationships with our significant others? In a way, I suppose it’s empowering to know that we can walk out when something is not working out. On the other hand, I wonder if our society is taking relationships too lightly in that we walk out whenever something is not going right.
A friend and I were having this discussion a few months ago, and we realized that while we thought of marriage as the “end of it all” commitment, a long term relationship where you share so much and know each other so well is almost like a marriage. The only difference is that no contract was signed. A breakup can be just as complicated and messy. There are the things to return, the families to tell which often includes the crying mother, the friends who have to go through an awkward time, dividing common areas and who can go where when, going out and being worried about bumping into the other, and a myriad of other different complications. The only mess avoided is the legal mess and alimony. By that logic, why is saying “never married” less of a stigma than saying “divorced” then? You do have about the same amount of baggage, and in our society, sometimes even children.
Twenty years ago, the average number of relationships a person had before settling down would have been much lower, but of a longer duration. Nowadays the number of relationships we have are larger, but the duration of each relationship is shorter. Like cutlery and diapers, have our relationships become disposable? Does our coffee guy mean more to us than our guy? Should we just start dating our coffee guy then? The only problem with dating our coffee guy or our best friend is that we have the potential of losing them.
Isn’t it slightly dysfunctional that if we meet someone we actually like, we wouldn’t date them for fear of losing them? And if we are with someone who really is great, we do something to mess it up before they leave us. It’s probably time to stop, reflect, and really think about this, because honestly, is we are more attached to a coffee shop than a partner, then something seems a bit off balance.