first, i have listened to this song nonstop for the last five days. when i'm not listening to it, i'm singing it.
so it was particularly appropriate when this morning, friend tucker posted this article on a popular social network, about getting back together with those somebodys you used to know. here's the highlight reel:
What are the long-term effects of cyclical patterns (a couple who breaks up and then gets back together) on a relationship?
While movies, books and TV shows may portray rekindling a relationship as romantic, the results of getting back together are less than desirable.
Couples in a cyclical relationship tended to be more impulsive about major relationship transitions -- like moving in together, buying a pet together or having a child together -- than those not in a cyclical relationship. As a result, the couples in cyclical relationships tended to be less satisfied with their partner; had worse communication; made more decisions that negatively affected the relationship; had lower self-esteem; and had a higher uncertainty about their future together.
The idea is that because people aren't making explicit commitments to the relationship, they are less likely to engage in pro-relationship behaviors, such as discussing the state of the relationship or making sacrifices for their partner.
When cyclical couples break up, they tend to be ambiguous about ending the relationship. So it can be unclear to one or both partners if they broke up and why they broke up, which leads to them continuing the romantic relationship. Other times the breakup won't be unilateral, so one person pursues the other until they get back together.
Couples who were cyclical prior to marriage were more uncertain about getting married and began their marriages with lower satisfaction and higher conflict than noncyclical couples. Over time, satisfaction with the marriage continued to decrease for cyclical couples. The more you are cyclical, the more your relationship quality tends to decrease and that creates a lack of trust and uncertainty about the future of the relationship, perpetuating the pattern.
first, this is oddly very comforting to me. it gives me peace about all those past failed relationships that, try though i did, never worked out post-breakup.
however, if i were married to someone i'd had a cyclical relationship with, this article would probably freak me out a little (i'm easily freak-out-able). and i'll be the first to say i think i'm a cyclical relationship kind of person. i believe in second chances, i believe in the timing being just right, and i believe in sappy romance movies that give me false ideas about marriage. in too many relationships in my past, i've held on longer than i should have because i really thought the relationship was salvageable--we just both needed time apart to get on the same page again. (that has yet to ever actually work.)
and that leads me to this: there seems to be a deeper issue at work here, beyond relationship patterns, and it is this: whether or not a person can stick to a decision. deciding to be in a relationship for the long haul takes commitment--as does deciding to break off a relationship. there are those who are either in or they're out, and there are those who are endlessly waffling between the two. thankfully most of the boys i have dated have been excellent at this: they're in the relationship no matter what, and when it's time to break up, they cut ties, move on, and don't let either of us entertain thoughts of getting back together. the first guy i really fell in love with--we'll call him joe because that was his name--was so good about this. when we broke up, it was over. it was hard and there was lots of crying, but it was over. that "clean getaway" made it so much easier to move on and (i think) helped both of us have healthier future relationships.
i've also dated some wafflers though, and i have been a waffler myself. waffling is when it's never really clear what your relationship is (and you're usually afraid to ask because of fear it will somehow ruin the burgeoning potential you are just sure your relationship has). and it's never really clear if you broke up or what the terms for that breakup are. in my experience, those are the kinds of relationships that prevent either person from really moving on.
now, i think sometimes a breakup period can do wonders for figuring out what you want from the relationship, and i've heard a lot of success stories of couples who were unsure if this was someone they wanted to be with, and the time apart really helped them clear their heads, after which they both realized this relationship was exactly what they wanted. they were just having cold feet.
a good friend recently told me about a couple who were on and off again for years, the girl always loving the guy, the guy never being sure. and finally the guy decided, "you know what? i love her! i'm doing this!" and they got married.
so sometimes it does work.
but then this good friend learned that said couple wasn't so happy in their marriage.
so maybe sometimes not being utterly sure is your sign? maybe sometimes being halfway sure it's what you want means it isn't what you want?
or maybe the truth is that there just is no hard and fast rule for happy relationships? a shout-out to tolstoy feels appropriate here:
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." (Anna Karenina, first line)
who knows. i surely do not.
and more interestingly, i'm not sure what the ramifications are...what does this mean for my future relationships? should i be of the joe-mentality: when it's over, it's over. no second chances. ? and if i'm in a relationship and we need to "take a break" to figure out where we're at, does that actually mean that it would be better for us to just cut all ties (as hard as that is) and move on?
and what about implications for my larger life? this commitment issue--waffling between projects, between careers, between friends, between summer plans--this is a very real part of my life. should i just commit to things fiercely, regardless of how sure i am that it is "THE BEST OPTION" for me, trusting that fiercely committing to a less-than-the-BEST-OPTION (say a third or fourth best) will still leave me happier than if i ultimately ended up with the best option but only after months of waffling?
1. brave enough?
2. now that i've thoroughly gorged myself on M&Ms and fettucine alfredo, i shall write my thesis.
3. i have GOT to get out of this place.
4. sometimes the right side of my face goes numb.
5. the gods of inspiration are not smiling kindly on me tonight.
6. "you didn't have to cut me off, make out like it never happened and that we were nothing"
7. but lonely is ...
8. can be healthy if you let it.
9. happiness is a warm burrito and a book of essays.
tonight i feel lonely. not the kind of "please-feel-bad-for-me" lonely, or the kind of "where-are-all-my-friends" lonely. more like the "here i am, trying to decide what to give up for lent and there are so many things i should choose" kind of lonely. the kind where you realize that you can't do things like set goals with another person. the kind where you realize the path you're setting out on to achieve thekindofdreamsyou'rehavingis one that no matter how similar your friends and roommates and lovers are, it will still be a path you'll have to travel alone// and you alone must muster the courage to say, "forget what other people think! forget safety nets! i'm living my dreams, okay!!" //and it's you alone who has to stare at tom phillips' book and hiroshi watanabe & max wanger photographs and think, "why. didn't. I. think. to do. that."
roget's thesaurus lists the following under "lonely":
depressed by solitude
i feel none of those except for uninhabited. if i am a country i'm aching for railroad tracks and houses and frank gehry buildings to be put up.
on a separate note but related theme, i do think the word lonelily is lovely
(yes, like the damien rice song.),
as is this quote from "the tree of life": UNLESS YOU LOVE, YOUR LIFE WILL FLASH BY.
and lastly a video (courtesy of des), of the sorts that makes me want to move to a pond and build a cabin and grow rows and rows of beans.
happy february, world! i'm in very deep with things like such as:
the song "a place only you can go" by needtobreathe
sorry that blogging isn't on that list. i know this blog is the sole source of joy for most people in my little town....nay, the world, soooo..........
(now watch, tomorrow i'll suddenly have no followers. sigh. the fickle world of blogging.)
in the words of my sister,
peace, love, justin beiber.
addendum: only after publishing this did i learn that the garamond parentheses used in the "compose" box actually SWITCHES to a lame verdana one when published. hence an emoticon smiley equivalent in mediocrity to the times new roman one we see everyday. sigh. the unpredictable and sometimes disappointing world of blogspot. (now watch, tomorrow i'll suddenly have no blog.)
had a text message exchange (more like a lord of the rings showdown) with camille tonight. it started with her sending this picture:
carolyn: The day will come when the hearts of men will fail them. TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.
camille: FOORRRR FFRRRROOOODDDDOOO!!
carolyn: Do you remember the taste of strawberries?
camille: And the sound of water? Or the look of the Shire in the spring?
carolyn: It is mine to give...like my heaaart.
camille: Woah. New scene. Elvish: Thomah lea mein. English translation: I choose a mortal life.
carolyn: Oh sheesh. Please tell me you knew that off the top of your head. Okay, Entish: whaaahhohrrrghh...
camille: Very nice. Not nearly as good as my ring wraith though. Eeeeeeeeeee tleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!
oh how i love having funny sisters.
(yes, the post title is an allusion to this song from who else but noah and his whale of a tale.)