The Arranged Marriage

“I’ve thought about marriage before in a couple of relationships I’ve been in in the past. I thought I probably could be married to this person. We sort of even discussed it. It seemed kind of real then because there was already a flow to the relationship. You felt like what would marriage be except some kind of formalizing of this bond. But here is like going from nothing to everything. It’s like one of these commercials for cars. They go from zero to sixty in two point three seconds or whatever There’s no starting point. It’s all of a sudden You’re going at sixty miles an hour and you don’t even know how you got there.”

– A young man on arranged marriage vs. choice-based marriage.

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Arranged marriages are counter to the relationship ideology held here in the United States. We are all about choosing who we want to love. The idea of a partner chosen by your parents might send chills up many people’s spines. But there are cultures where a person does not have that choice.

I’ve wondered what is the mental state of a person in such an arrangement? Are they angry with their society? Do they feel cheated out of a real opportunity for love? Do they resent their partner? Are they less happy than people who got to choose someone they loved? What keeps the couple together when things get hard? What is the glue to arranged marriages?

I needed these questions answered so I could answer another question that I’ve been wanting to find an answer to. I zoomed to Youtube to watch a documentary on contemporary arranged marriages. I’ve linked to it below.

It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. The arranged marriages in this documentary did involve choice. The people weren’t betrothed at an early age and then wed once they could bear children. Some of the subjects in this documentary dated normally before they got involved in an arranged marriages. They had their choice of suitors. One woman placed an ad in a newspaper looking for a husband, and received over two hundred letters from men. She had a choice in them

I did figure out that the glue to many arranged marriages was tradition. Children wanted to make their parents proud by finding a partner that continued the traditions of their cultures.

One scene where this was evident was a car ride between two friends. One girl was adamant that her partner had to be Indian like her because it would be easier to live with her partner. Her friend struggled to understand why she couldn’t accept someone else. The other girl said that it would be so annoying to explain her culture to an outsider and proceeded to attack her friend’s Indianness for not seeing it the same way.

While the documentary was informative, it didn’t give me insight into the mental state of a person in an arranged marriage. So I did some heavy research and googled the subject. The first entry was this article.

Here’s a snippet from it.

” We found absolutely no difference between participants in arranged marriages and those in free choice marriages on the four measures we included in our study. Regardless of the nature of their marriage — whether their spouse had been selected by family members/matchmakers or had been personally and freely chosen — the participants in our study were extremely (and equally) happy with their relationships.”

This is just one report. I was unconvinced so I went down to the fourth entry on google where I found this article.

“They are seen by many as business deals that have little to do with love.

But arranged marriages are far more likely to lead to lasting affection than marriages of passion, experts claim.

According to research, those in arranged marriages – or who have had their partner chosen for them by a parent or matchmaker – tend to feel more in love as time grows, whereas those in regular marriages feel less in love over time.

Relationship experts claim this is because arranged matches are carefully considered, with thought going into whether potential partners’ families, interests and life goals are compatible.

This means they are more likely to commit for life – and to stick together through rocky patches.

Those who marry for love, on the other hand, tend to be blinded by passion and so overlook these crucial details. ”

It’s very possible that those in arranged marriages are lying on these surveys and are saving face for their relationships, pretending to be happy when they are miserable. But then perhaps the same could be said of choice-based marriages. People will always lie to save face and look good in front of others. Lying is more convenient than telling the truth. Just look at politics.

But if everyone was honest with their answers, then it seems to me that these two types of marriages are not so different after all. They both end up with the same destination. They just go through a different process of weeding undesirables to get to the ideal partner. This does stem to many other questions, but now I’d like to focus on the question that led me to look into arranged marriages in the first place.

Is love a choice?

I’m still trying to discern how best to find an answer to that question. There is a lot of material I may have to shift through from love psychology to human biology. I’d also have to find a working definition for love which is much harder than it sounds. Love between two people today is not the same sort of love that existed in two hundred years ago. If I do find an answer, I’ll write about it on here some day.

Or Worse.

I’m always drawn to darker topics. I try to read more positive things, but there’s just nothing all that interesting about good deeds or uplifting stories. Some guy saves a cat in a tree. It’s cute and all but what else is there to it? Some cat mauls a guy. Why did that happen? How is he recovering? Will he ever trust a cat again? What happened to the cat? Why did it attack? What is the history of cats attacking people? There’s much more there.

I had a fascination with last words for about a month. I had to come to the point in a story where I was killing off a character. I had to decide what his last words would be. I had an entire death speech written out. But then I wondered if that was realistic. What are people’s last words? I read a lot of material on the last words of people; suicide notes, airplane crash black box transcripts, emergency room help stories, cancer patient blogs. I made sure to include of various ages. I read the last words of children who didn’t quite understand what death was, the words elderly who were often prepared for it, and then the middle-aged who didn’t see it coming. There would be fear in people’s writings or messages to their family. Some people raved, begging and screaming for more time. I found those suited the character I was writing so that was the death I gave him.

Now my current fascination is divorce. I don’t know what has brought this up. None of my friends are getting divorced. I just love reading articles about what causes marriages to fail and reading the stories of people fighting an uphill battle to keep their marriages together.

A successful marriage takes two people. A successful divorce only needs one. Isn’t that funny? You can get down on your knees in front of your friend and family, then back out of what you said. Not that I advocate people staying in bad relationships. I’m not against divorce. I just think it’s funny that a person can promise their life to another for better or worse but once worse comes, they can just wash their hands of it.

After a divorce, a person has to recover their identity outside the marriage. For years they did everything with their partner in mind. They bought a house together. They might have taken a job that better fit their relationship. They were like flesh and blood. Now it’s torn asunder. They are not the same person that went into that marriage. They have to redefine themselves.

I read a lot about people feeling like they can breath again. They’re free from a bad environment that was making them miserable.

Another fascinating thing about divorce is how alarmingly high the rate of it is. It isn’t the fifty percent that’s been tossed around since the seventies. I believe around twenty-five to thirty percent of first time marriages end in divorce. So about a third of people were dead wrong when they picked their partner. What is the cause of this? Were issues ignored? How many of these people were rushed into marriage by their families? Did they quit too early? Did they just see marriage as a logical next step and didn’t realize the work that had to be put in? Did they find someone that they loved more?

Or was it irreconcilable differences?

No one is at fault. It was just two people who tried and there was no way to make it work. They’re only human after all. There are people who blame themselves for the failing of the marriage. They carry that weight and it hangs over their future connections. They can’t escape that failure. They made a vow that they couldn’t keep. How can they make the promise to someone else?

I’m hoping my next fascination will be something a bit more upbeat. Last year I was all about barren women and how they’ve been treated throughout history. It has not been good for them. Before that it was missing people who were never found. Are they still out there? I do find myself drifting towards the never-ending cycle of poverty. Why can’t you just throw money at that problem?

Divorce
Divorce

Us and Them.

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Right now there’s a guy in a cafeteria sitting all by himself. He’s unpacking his brown bag lunch with the same meal he eats everyday. He might look over at the table next to him. No person greets him. Not a person is excited that they’ve sat down. No person even knows them.

You’ve seen this guy or girl in every workplace or school cafeteria. They sit on the edge of a table by themselves.
What is it that these people are lacking? Why has no one brought them into their group? Is it because they are a bad person?

But even angry violent people have friends. The worst of the worst have people willing to put up with and care for them. Serial killers receive thousands of letters. Some get marriage proposals. Terrorist organizations trip over new recruits between their day-to-day bombings of the innocent. So it can’t be morality.

And it isn’t looks. The ugly find people on their level to connect to. These loners aren’t the ugly. You wouldn’t bat an eye if you saw them accepted into a group. They’d fit right in to that group of friends that they’re sitting across from.

Perhaps they’ve been offered to join a group and turned it down. They are strong enough to be alone. There is no joy in social places for them. They want the solitude and seek it. People come and go. Why care about their acceptance? There’s only one person they need to love. And that’s the only person that’ll be there with them for their entire life.

Could they have been a part of a group and then kicked out? Perhaps they are an exile from a lunch table across the hall. They’re reduced to eating by themselves.They once saw smiling faces across the table and now only strangers around them. They made a mistake and this is their punishment.

Are they mentally stunted? Can they not process the pain of social rejection? Were they born without a need for human contact? Did someone pummel it out of them? A childhood spanking gone awry? Perhaps they hit their head as a child and lost what the rest of us have?

They could smell. That could do it. The best personality in the world can’t overcome a putrid odor. Has someone told them about their problem? Perhaps they know and can’t do a thing about it. No deodorant, cologne, or soap can fight back the stench radiating from their body. So they sit there, knowing no one can stand to be within them.

Could they be an alien from another planet? They’re watching our every move and waiting to slip in. They’re leaning all our social scripts and irrational gestures. And then they’ll ask how you’re doing. You’ll be none the wiser. You’d accept them. They’ll say all the words at all the right times. They’ll come off as human like you and I.

Is it their destiny to be where they are? If there are people with friends, there must be people without friends. One cannot exist without the other. They’ve drawn the short straw in life. It’s unfair.

But if they opened their mouth to complain or beg for a chance, it’d only push us farther away from them.

There is nothing more repugnant to the human spirit than the socially desperate. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. We see them for all they are. We know what they want. And it disgusts us. It is written in our flesh and blood, right down to the bone to reject such a person.

We are not as cruel to the hungry and thirsty. We toss them our scraps and urge people to be more considerate of them. But the socially starved gain our disdain whether they’re responsible for their position or not. They ask too much of us. How can we accept them? They might as well be begging for a cancer cure.

No person is good enough to be everyone’s friend. No person good enough to look at all people and see something worthwhile. We have our favorites that we keep close.

They’re agreeable to us. They were born near us. They went to the same school as us. They share some of our same opinions. So we give them our love. We deem them worthy of our time and affection. They get to become a part of us.

There must be us and them.

Just be glad you’re not them.

A is for…

During my continued adventures collecting information about unconventional love and relationships for a future writing project, I stumbled upon this interesting documentary about a lesser known sexual orientation.

Asexuality is the complete lack of sexual desire or want. I wasn’t aware of this sexual orientation until finding this documentary. There are people out there who have no desire for sex at all. They’re normal people just don’t care for sex.

There’s an asexual couple in this that speak about both their struggles and joys in their sexless relationship. David Jay is a focal point of the documentary and he discusses a few radical relationship ideas. He viewed his lack of sexual attraction as a door to different deeper connections. He wanted to treat each of his friendships like people treated their romantic partners. Unfortunately for him, other people didn’t want to see it his way.

By far the most shocking scene is when a group of Asexuals marched in an LGBT parade in San Francisco. While some were receptive to the group, others were definitely not. There were lesbians and gay men who wanted nothing to do with them, The hypocrisy of their actions was completely lost to them. I was very disappointed in what went on there.

If you’re looking to spend an hour with very unique people, check this one out.

I’ve been trying to get my hands on a good arranged marriages documentary next. I read in this news article that arranged marriages had a similar level of happiness to marriages with choice. I want to see how a couple works on a long term relationship when love is not and never was a part of the equation.

What is the glue to arranged marriages? I must know.

The Guys Who Finish Last

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This post was inspired by Scott Alexander’s Radicalizing the Romanceless. Scott Alexander writes these articulate very well-researched and rational essays. If you have a spare half hour, I urge you to check out this article and his entire site.

Now for the galactically feared, globally reviled, universally despised – Nice Guys

WORKING DEFINITION

Let’s define Nice Guy.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition (Number One on Google).

“A nice guy is an informal term for a teenage or adult male who is gentle, compassionate, sensitive and vulnerable.”

Here’s geekfeminism.wikia.com’s definition. (Number Two on Google Search)

“Nice Guy™ is a term in Internet discourse describing a man or teenage boy with a fixation on a friendship building over time into a romance, most stereotypically by providing a woman with emotional support when she is having difficulties with another male partner. “

The first one is the one I’ll be using for discussion. This was close to my own personal definition. The fixation on friendship aspect is foreign to me.

THE ORIGIN

Where do Nice Guys come from? What causes a young man to go down the dark trail of being nice for romance?

Shyness, introversion, and lack of self-esteem. If you’re not good at communicating with people, you might drift towards relying on being nice to entice potential partners. Nice guys might also be practicing The Golden Rule. They would like a girl who is pleasurable to be around and shows interest in them and so they do the same to girls they like. A personal example of this, I once left love poetry in this girl’s locker that I liked in high school. If she had done the same for me, I’d have been over the moon. But that was not what she wanted.

Parents should always bare the blame for everything that happens ever. A teen boy could go home and get love advice from his mother. She might instill her son with what she values in a partner rather than what girls his age value.

I’d also say society is unsure of what the contemporary man should be. We’re trying to help women take center stage after being shafted for far too long. Traditional gender roles break down. Where does that leave men? What is expected of you as customs and culture change? I have yet to get a definitive answer to this. This lack of knowing trickles down into dating. What role are you supposed to play? Some men can’t figure it out.

It also might be in the nature of the guy because he’s a genuinely nice emotionally sensitive person.

CONFLICT

“She’s just hit the nail on the head with what bothers me about the Nice Guy (TM) rhetoric, those whines from some men about how it’s so unfair that women won’t flock to be with them when he’s a “decent” bloke who doesn’t do nasty things to women, and what more do they want? Well, colour us as unreasonably demanding, but women do tend to want a little bit more than a guy who simply refrains from being nasty like it’s some great sacrifice.

These whines that this young woman refers to stem from shattered expectations of young guys. They were nice to girls and then were shockingly rejected. And then it happened again. Maybe even a third time after that. So now they have to answer a question. Who is to blame for these rejections? Women or themselves?

Women get the blame by a lot of dudes. They develop toxic opinions about women. Women-blamers are on a lot of dating websites. He’ll greet a girl with a nice message. He’ll do it twice. If there’s no response, fuck her, yet another stupid stuck up bitch. She’ll get a nasty last message. He’s entered the dangerous loop where women push him away because he’s bitter and he’s bitter because women push him way. I wonder what happens to these sort of guys….

Some guys blame themselves and use it as motivation to be better. They’ll start working out. Others give up because they think women aren’t worth any additional effort. I had a conversation with one of my younger cousins about that. He’s around fifteen. I asked him if he was talking to any girls. And he said no, they’re not worth his time. I laughed as he was so young to be that cynical about romance.

And others just complain.

“I’m a nice guy. I treat women right. Why can’t I catch a break? I’d be a good boyfriend. Give me a chance.”

These dudes think girls wanting more than a nice guy is an unreasonable demand. I get why. Everyone says so, even some women. Movies and television say the good guy gets the girl. Writers love this story. It’s so easy to write. That’s why you see it all the time. The virtuous man gets love and every man has an equal chance at it.

But love is inherently unfair. Nobody is an equal opportunity lover. People love with regard to race, age, marital status, creed, color, sex, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, and a lot hell of a lot more. Virtuosity is not taken into account until later if it is taken into account at all.

Why would society lead these men to believe one thing when another is true?

Because girls are supposed to want the virtuous man. But they’re people and they aren’t a certain way. I get their frustration with the situation. Having to bring guys down to reality and being hated just for not being attracted to someone. It gets worse when some of these nice guys aren’t as nice as they advertise as I mentioned above.

SOLUTIONS

The tension on both sides is palpable once anyone mentions a Nice Guy. How can things be smoothed over? What should be done with Nice Guys? Like most dating/relationship issues, there is no smooth solution. I have nothing.

Because if you give someone advice on what women want, you don’t have any authority to do so. Not even women can tell you what a particular girl wants or needs from her partner or what you may need to do. It’s hard to articulate exactly what you want. There’s a lot that words fail. It’s very much on the person to pick up signals. You can’t coach that.

So no solution. Life sucks for some people.

Maybe I’ll have a solution to this in 2020.
—-

My Cold Shower

My second-favorite scene (My Finale’s ending montage beats this out) from one of my favorite shows, Scrubs. This was so heart-wrenching at the time. I’m glad JD and Elliot ended up together in the end. But at the time, I’ll admit I teared up. It was one manly tear.

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The Zone

For Day Two of Valentine’s Week here on Cynic No More, I’m going into a familiar place for a lot of people. It’s caused a lot of pain, grief, and allowed trite quotes to be liked on Facebook.

The Friend Zone.

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Note here. When I say the word “men” or “women” always assume that I don’t mean all men and all women. Goes without saying but that I’d say it either way.

I. THE SITUATION

If somehow you don’t know about or been a part of this phenomenon, let me give to ya real quick.

Two Friends. One starts to develop romantic and/or sexual feelings for the other. The other does not return the feelings, liking things as they are. Leaving the friend with feelings in a situation

There are variations to the story. Some people wanted romance the entire time but felt more comfortable being friends before hand. Others develop feelings as time went on.

This is a rather sucky well-known situation that has led to many vitriolic blog posts from men and women alike. MTV made a television show out of this.

Much of the frustration comes from the passing of the burden of the feelings. Guys complain about friend-zoned all the time. Women feel attacked for not being interested in someone. Or they see the friendship was a ruse set up to trick her into sex.

The usual way it goes is it’s the guy getting friend zoned. I don’t doubt that happens to women, but it appears to be rarer. My female friends have never mentioned being in the friend zone to me. I never overheard the girls in the front of my homeroom back in high school talk about this as I eavesdrop. They more vented about men wanting only sex without commitment. Perhaps women are more likely to keep these happenings to themselves? Or just not share them with me?

II. OUTCOMES

Quite a few ways this can end.

The Guy Remains the Genuine Friend
The most agreeable ending. The guy recognizes they’re incompatible. He stays in touch and is happy to see her pursue love in other places. Their friendship remains strong. His feelings dissipate or kept in check for the sake of the friendship.

Image: FILE PHOTO: 70 Years Since The Casablanca World Premiere Casablanca

The Guy Cuts Off All Contact
See ya later! The friendship is over! The guy decides he’s not going to suffer and watch a person he loves, love someone else. I had a co-worker who went off about this during late-night shifts. She was a little socially awkward and was bullied by the girls at her school. So she opted to get guy friends. Without fail, all of them fell passionately in love with her. Upon her rejection of them, they all hit the road. They took away their late night texting sessions. They stopped their Skyping. They pretend like they didn’t know her.

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The Guy Plots
Some day he will escape this zone and her love will be his! The guy who remains the friend for today and plots his rise to romantic partnership silently in the shadows. Rarely works out.

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The Girl Ignores
He just couldn’t get the clue. Maybe she felt he betrayed her trust by pursuing her. Maybe she realized he wasn’t that great a friend after all. Ignored. Blocked. Removed from the Steam Friendlist.

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Mutual Split
It’s painful for both of them and so both decide to never see each other again. The downer.

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They Get Together
The girl decides why not give it a chance? The relationship works. This is the cutest outcome. Genuine love. Every time I see this happen for someone, I start giggling on the inside. Story tellers adore this ending.

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III. CONCLUSION

The drama here is that there is no real compromise between friendship and romantic relationships. A suitable in-between would shut everyone up. Friends with benefits is not it. I have not seen that go anywhere good. If you try to trickle down some romance into friendship, that begs a simple question. Why don’t you just date them?

I don’t think anyone should date someone due to pressure but neither should someone be a part of a friendship that isn’t fulfilling for them. There are limits to friendship. To desire more from a person is not wrong. Wanting to be the one who makes their beloved’s eyes light up and their heart melt is an admirable desire.

The Friend Zone breeds negativity. Close friendships end. People become bitter. Some develop toxic thoughts about the other gender.

All because a friend liked a friend more than they ought to.