Shortly after my friend, Rupert, ended a five-year relationship, he was very pensive. It was about a month into winter and we went out for drinks with the intent of “picking up” I had been on what felt like a hot-streak and was slightly over-confident at our chances of success.
The Rhino was busy as usual. We ordered pints and fries, then shot outside to smoke a joint. The conversation had been fairly morose up to that point. When you get used to the idea of someone being around, being there for the majority of significant events in your life, the notion that you have to give up on them is an all-consuming one. The future starts to feel like more of a blur and you sometimes doubt you’ll be better off alone. Though, the pot seemed to take that edge off awhile.
We lapsed into a zone where the greasy potatoes between us were the greatest thing we’d ever had and the bustle of chatter in the air felt like a wealth of shared energy. Our discussion shifted to the nature of the beast that is the human condition. We shared our vague observations of the way people are for a indeterminate amount of time, then left the bar.
The air was crisp and Queen Street was busy. The conversation had tamed to a comfortable silence when Rupert turned to me, “The winter” he started “… is a time of mourning.”
I smiled “Why? ‘Cause everyone misses summer?”
“Exactly!” he shot back “Just look around. Everybody’s wearing black.”
Sure enough, everyone, including us, was wearing some sort of black coat. While there is a definite urban-style element to why people sport the colour of the void in the winter, Rupert, an industrial designer, may have been onto something. Being forced to stay inside or face discomfort for an extended period throws free-spirits a curve ball.
As we devoured a slice of Vinny Massimo’s cheese pizza topped with a plethora of spicy arrabiata peppers, my decade-long pal looked distracted. It could have been that when we asked for the peppers, the guy behind the counter literally blanketed the slice in them; but it wasn’t. When we got outside Rupert turned to me and asked “Do you think I’ll succeed?” In addition to a blurred future, it can be hard to gauge your present worth.
Still trying to think of myself as a man, I brushed off the hellish burning still filleting the inside my mouth and replied, “Of course! You’re a catch.”
Just those words and the (partially peppered) vigour of my response seemed enough. He perked up.
We moved on to the ever-debatable topic of monogamy. Rupert is a long-term relationship addict. Yet, through the latter years of his previous relationship, he grew very cynical of the practice. Which is understandable. The downside of getting used to someone is that it’s easy to find anything tasty and new more appealing. While I can relate, I’m one of those sickening ever-optimists who believe a/the “one” may someday come along that will generally hold my interest. Although, he kind of hit the nail on the head when he said that for the most part “… monogamy is unnatural.” The majority of relationships, whether we want them to or knew they would, fail.
As my former co-worker, France, says about modern dating, “Instead of looking for something, it’s become an addiction of just looking.” And with the advent of such tools as Lavalife, Plenty Of Fish, Facebook stalking, dressing like a Hipster and so many others, just looking has never been easier.
Modern love, much like reality TV show stardom, is fleeting. We don’t live in the days of yore when you were married by twelve, had six kids in your teens and died at the rock-star age of twenty-seven. Our existence is one driven by communal A.D.D.
Wait. What was I talking about again? Oh, right, commitment.
Monogamy is a particularly hard practice to keep up in a society driven by sex. When you’re flashed by images of finely toned bodies or flawless facial features nearly everywhere you turn, it’s easy to dip into fantasy. And that’s the point, right? Sex sells. Not to say that people haven’t been cheating since we were much hairier primates; just that we’re at a stage in our sexual evolution where we should be enlightened enough to realize the gravity of the selfish act of breaking a personal commitment to someone. Especially if there’s love involved. The great thing is that we’re starting to.
We modern existers, have realized that resistance is futile and are adapting. Many are taking to redefining their sexuality as something that needs to be unique. Between open-relationships, dating without dinner and taking “breaks” to explore ones self (/let others explore you) there is an omnipresent sense that we are moving toward a more complicated, content and temporary existence. One where committing to someone is more like a contract. “I really like you (right now), but you’re up for review within the next three months. At which point I’ll see what else is out there.” And if you’re having fun and not leading someone on in the process, why not ride out the contract?
But as I said earlier, I, myself am one of those sickening ever-optimists. Love is a great thing worth being nurtured when you have it. At the same time, it is good to be aware of who you are and what your desires entail. What’s particularly important for us modern existers to make sure of is that who we are in the present doesn’t sabotage our future happiness. Meaning, don’t run from something good just because something new makes your loins pop. Take more than a few seconds to figure out if yours is a boredom that will pass or a complacency you’ve yet to shake.
As for Rupert… he’s in another long-term relationship. May the force be with him.