Friday, April 30, 2010

Foolish Notions About the Importance of Love.

I don’t like it when couples break up. This includes celebrity couples. I know nothing about them, of course, and they’re so distant from my life that they could be made up. But we all think we know celebrities, and that we know all about their fairy tale perfect lives. It just seems like such an admonishment of “true love” when a couple like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split; if they can’t make it who else is doomed to fail? The current situation with Sandra Bullock and Jesse James fits this category. They’ve never really been on my radar, per se, but having seen random interviews, the stories they shared about life together always seemed very sweet. And then, of course, there was Sandra’s speech at the Oscars. You just seemed to feel the love she had for her husband. Not only was it cute, it just felt real. It made her moment all the more special because this was a non-conventional relationship that seemed to be beating all the odds to bring both husband and wife real happiness. Recent scandal in their relationship has been all the more titillating to the public because of the discrepancies between the projected image and what seems to be reality. I’ve polled friends about their feelings. Not so much, “Do you think he’s a cad?” The feelings on that one I’d expect to be unanimous. I wonder, though, how many people would file for divorce over infidelity such as this.

Infidelity can be a terrible thing. No one likes to feel that they’ve opened themselves up to a loved one just to have that trust trampled. Sex is associated with love, and for many people the two can’t be separated. If someone cheats on a relationship, it is akin to saying that they no longer love their betrothed. A bond has been broken.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Sex can be a simple act that doesn’t have emotional connection. It can mean love, or not. Sometimes it’s simply about the physical. There are plenty of people that believe love can exist without a relationship becoming physically intimate; surely the reverse can be true, can’t it?

I would think that what would really be hurtful and damaging would be the lies that went along with infidelity, or the idea that something that was supposed to belong only to one person was carelessly shared with others. There was a House on recently that featured a couple with an open marriage. The program made a lot of moral judgments about this situation, and no doubt such an arrangement could certainly be harmful to a relationship. It doesn’t have to be, though. The honesty could make up for the pain; without the lies, the situation may be not only bearable but quite workable for some people.

With most people I’ve spoken to, it’s been indicated that the magnitude of James’ infidelity is the problem. It’s not that he cheated once, it’s that he has a chronic problem. Despite how contrite he seems, his consistency with being duplicitous is what can’t be forgiven. “Once or twice, maybe even more, I guess you could forgive. But to constantly be having affairs and pretending everything was good in the marriage, that’s not something I think I’d want to live with.”
Only one person considered the situation in a different light. He made a point that I found really intriguing. It was much more upsetting to him, and by far much more of a deal-breaker” that James had racist tendencies. Rumor had broken that many of his indiscretions were with women that had first been encountered on hatemongering websites. For my friend, and for myself, this was the stumbling block that we personally wouldn’t be able to overcome. Finding out my husband was a letch; I might be able to overcome that. Overcoming white supremacy? Not possible. I found it very intriguing that the two of us in my extremely informal polling of friends that agreed infidelity could be overlooked were also the ones that found mistreatment of others to be the deciding factor. The personal could be potentially dealt with; the impersonal could not.

I don’t know that there’s any real conclusion to be drawn from this. Maybe my concurring friend and I are masochists that have to be proven wrong repeatedly before giving up on a person and everyone else is very wise. I like to think, though, that maybe we’re just a little more realistic and willing to overlook or deal with others’ imperfections in the name of keeping something rare like love alive. A hopeless romantic, perhaps, but I’d rather be a trusting soul who becomes disillusioned than a constant cynic who doesn’t trust at all.

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