A Relationship is Not a Commitment
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~A.A. Milne
Dalrock wrote an interesting post last week about how commitment has changed since the Sexual Revolution. While conventional wisdom tells us that women want commitment and men drag their feet, the truth is that hookup culture, where commitment is on life support, was ushered in by women. Changing sexual mores in the 60s and the introduction of the Pill meant that women could embrace casual sex without fear of pregnancy or social stigma. That broke the time-honored exchange of sex for commitment. Many would say that is a good thing. Yet it has brought real changes to the sexual marketplace. Dalrock:
Early in the sexual revolution there was some level of stability for serial monogamy. This was because there was still some inertia keeping women from feeling comfortable hopping from man to man. But over time women have felt more and more free to enter and exit sexual relationships at will.
Women are now free to openly compete with one another for the most desirable males, often resorting to quick sex as bait. Those males have little incentive to restrict themselves to one woman. Meanwhile, all the other guys, who in a previous era would have been able to attract and hold a girlfriend, now find themselves being passed over as girls trip over themselves for a shot at walk of shaming in a lax jersey. And what of the girls who only want sex in a relationship? They’re now severely handicapped by a reputation for being a prude. They’re members of the No-Fun Crew.
We bemoan the lack of relationships, the absence of commitment, but what is the benefit of commitment in the hookup culture? Can it even exist?
Is it fair for a man or a woman to have an expectation that their “Long Term Relationship” will be intact an hour from now, tomorrow, or next week? Is either party judged for deciding at any moment in the relationship that it no longer exists? If either party can terminate the relationship at will simply by voicing their preference, where exactly is the commitment?
Long Term Relationships actually have no term and no commitment.
I have to agree. Here’s a chart I put together last year. I call it the Holy Grail of Dating.
Does this look like relationship security to you? If you manage to get to Date, well, Dumped is always right next door. The commitment you seek is as changeable as the weather. Fake boyfriends, reluctant boyfriends, cheating girlfriends are all rewarded handsomely by hookup culture. If they get caught or called out, what is the terrible consequence? Proceed immediately back to Random Hookup Land! The elusive prize is actually pretty near worthless.
You’ll no doubt say this is harsh, and perhaps you’re right. Surely there is some value in having someone agree to be exclusive with you! Yes, there is. It means that person wants to be with you now, right this minute. Today you are the fan favorite, and the benefits of being exclusive outweigh the costs. That is enjoyable, but it is ephemeral.
Does this mean there’s no point in being in a relationship? Not at all. Relationships provide emotional intimacy and nurturing. They teach us how to be good to each other as we practice generosity, empathy, loyalty. Relationships are worth having, for as long as they are good. When they stop feeling good and being fun, all you have to do is say so and call a cab. It’s not complicated.
Learn everything you can from your relationships, so that when you have the rare opportunity to share a genuine commitment, you’ll be ready.