On settling

Check out my recent online conversation with Sophia of 52 Faces about “settling” and commitment in relationships. In Sophia’s original post, “Confessions of a Settler,” she talks about her own personal journey towards commitment and comments on Lori Gottlieb’s controversial Atlantic piece on “Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” I pose the question as to whether marriage is necessary for true commitment, or is marriage just one form of commitment. (And Sophia answers.)

While we are on the topic of commitment and settling, don’t miss this past Sunday’s NY Times Magazine article on young married gays in MA.

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Foossa Facts

  • Marriage is cool. Plus, if you’re lucky, you get a set of beer mugs from your pal!

  • Wow we have some trendy friends don’t we? Are you going to join in…? ::nudge wink::

    Thank you for the mention dear!

  • By “one form of commitment” you seem to imply that there are several others. I see only two: commitment with marriage, and without. The question isn’t the nature of devotion itself, but how society expects it to look. I don’t think there are various types of “commitment” though, just as there aren’t various types of “dead.” Some people might consider an emotionally monogamous but physically polygamous relationship model a commitment of sorts, but I don’t really buy that as a “commitment,” rather more of a “custom-made arrangement.” As much as I am loathe to defer to such a doctrinal definition of commitment, at least it provides a universally-accepted ontology around which people can negotiate details that serve their individual needs.

    Most emotionally vulnerable people (isn’t that everyone?) can’t sustain non-traditional models of commitment (open relationships, et al.) without some degree of emotional distress, given that one of the two parties will always “get more” and jealousy will follow as sure as night after day. This isn’t to say that the arrangement is illegitimate, but rather it recognizes the emotional frailties of people, who in general bring at least some “baggage” to any relationship in the way of self-esteem deficiencies, or a helpless, nagging sense of lost opportunity in the past.

    Old fashioned barrel-chair-and-green-appliance as it sounds, I adhere to the absolutist, admittedly-naive-but-nonetheless-seductive belief that commitment is total devotion, the recognition of mutual benefit despite a tacit admission that each party might not always offer everything the other wants, all the time. As complicated and multifaceted as people are intellectually and emotionally, it’s quixotic to think that everything will “match up” perfectly all the time. But emotions are irrational – when people “fall in love” (oh god here we go!), they tend to suspend rationality and give themselves over 100%. This often traps them in unsatisfying relationships if due diligence has been flimsy, and as such the commitment to commitment itself becomes a prison cell of lost identity, a graveyard for personal aspirations. But for people who “make it work,” there is the ultimate comfort of knowing, despite suffering through the whims of a cruel and indifferent cosmos (job loss, family problems, etc.), they will always be there for each other.

    Leesean, have you retched on your keyboard yet?

  • Damn Kris I want one of these comments on MY site! I loved it and the turn of phrases you used.

    Due diligence – yes! People “fall” for the wrong reasons. It takes quite a bit of self-awareness, honesty and integrity to know what your priorities are when seeking a mate and stick with it.

    A bit of a bleak outlook, but I expect nothing less from my Tri-State compatriots. Seeing Newark outside one’s window is bound to bring the mortuary into the mind’s eye.

  • “Gnothi seauton,” as the oracle says. In the world of pop-psych rhetorical flimflam, it may be an overused cliche; in practice, it’s overused because it’s true. You have to be secure with yourself before you can with anyone else. Working on both at the same time is tiresome but when the opportunity presents itself, there’s no option to wait. You make it work with the emotional abilities you have, not those you wish you had.

    As for seeing Newark, anything looks peaceful from 7 miles away through a roof-mounted telescope. And the only time I’m actually there anymore, I’m drunk. So it works out pretty well.

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