The evolution of conjugal and non-platonic relationships has never been so dynamic and rapid as in the last decade. By this time, we have indeed stretched the boundaries of the once acceptable social norm to inconceivable limits. And so today, no relationship status is scandalous, bizarre, outlandish, even if a tad unusual. Nothing raises eye brows and nothing is judged for its virtue or absence of it.
My trigger for this article was an old episode of ‘Koffee with Karan’ which I happened to see recently in its re-run. So, this episode featured two most celebrated contemporary actors of Bollywood, the flamboyant Ranvir Singh, and the heart throb Ranbir Kapoor. At the time of this episode, Ranbir Kapoor had had a break-up and was clearly single. Karan Johar curiously asked him what he thought of being single and how was he taking it. The gorgeous Kapoor unequivocally responded that being single was boring and unexciting. There was really nothing good about it. And Ranvir Singh seemed quite in tandem with Ranbir’s views.
I was quite surprised by their responses. I expected that the honey boy of a country, who has almost half its population crushing on him, would be totally enjoying his single status with all its liberties. He could be having a lot of fling fun. But he was not. Maybe because he had had enough of it.
Let’s call it ‘scenario one’ and my conclusion from it is that being single is no longer exciting after a point despite its carnal liberties. People do value and desire a more stable and secure companionship and intimacy.
Now coming to another age-old rather trite scenario of marriage. Marriages also seem to get unexciting after a fair number of years (the same would hold true for committed live-ins as well). You would not say it gets boring or uncompliant, it just gets old. And like all old things, it does not exude the same fizz even when it ushers a great amount of comfort. Couples usually outgrow that effervescent romance between them, not necessarily companionship but sometimes both. Either way a long-standing committed relationship is somewhat lacking in the excitement quotient.
My conclusion from scenario one and scenario two put together is that being single is boring, being married or committed also gets dreary. Therefore, being in a relationship is the thing to do but… not with the same one. People like relationships but new ones or parallel ones.
And true to this conclusion there is an emerging and trending third scenario of ‘fraysexuals’ whose proliferation is not a myth. Aided by the benevolent digitised world and the burgeoning dating apps, relationships are in a different mode of evolution. They happen fast and flippant. The once laborious and time-consuming process of introduction, acquaintance, romance, intimacy, love, companionship, differences, reconciliation, respect, so on and so forth is now redundant. There are three easy steps: introduction, consummation and cessation accomplished over a few weeks or months. It is convenient, hassle free and very thrifty on the emotions.
It is the new normal and it is perfectly fine. There is no reason to sneer at it. In fact, it seems to be in sync with the universal law of nature, i.e., change. Emphasizing the temporary nature of this world which is in a constant churn, so are the relationships today, ephemeral, forming and unforming, ever brief and brazen. There are lesser attachments, or rather none. There is no heart ache, no expectations and hence no bitterness. A hybrid relationship model in tune with its times.
When I say that this new relationship dynamic is in order with the nature and its transiency, it is not wrong except that it has one solid constant. That constant being ‘craving for new.’ This adrenaline of newness keeps you detached to the person you are with but severely attached to your own longing body. It is for this attachment alone that you seek a new one after every ‘move on’. Because an engulfing emptiness or boredom comes and surrounds you otherwise. But the ever-new attractions are heady and the thrill palpable. Multiplicity of bodies is your emollient.
Yet, this uber relationship avatar with its liberties, bling, excitement, and convenience does not seem viable. I do not say this because I stand on the other side of the fence. Nor do I judge it out of my conditioned four-decade old mind. It’s only logical and apparent that the emerging cultural phenomenon is not cut out for sustainability. It caters to a very limited age bracket of an individual’s life where you are never single but never committed.
However, after a 10 year fast and furious run you are usually single and uncommitted. And then it is not just boring, it can be lonely. In those past years, you have experienced varied titillating and animalistic gratifications and you are almost sated. But the short span of these relationships does not give opportunity for emotional fulfilment. Humans being humans are greedy and want it all. The highs of new sensual adventures and the stability of established companionship.
Those who think that there might be an alternate way to the woes of any of the above scenarios might be disappointed. There seems by far no single relationship status that satisfies our fluttering, fleeting and very subjective needs. Still, some might say that open marriages or polyamorous relationships are an answer to these conflicting human desires. An arrangement that allows for the seductive charms of new blended with the sanguine calm of old. For all we know, they might be the answer or they might not. Because for such concepts to thrive on a social and community level needs humongous amount of trust, understanding, respect and altruism individually and mutually. At this stage of our emotional and psychological evolution, we are clearly not capable of it. It is not so much a moral dilemma than a human one.
Well, some may believe since no arrangement works anyway, there should rather be no norms or structure at all. In my humble opinion, as utopian and progressive as it sounds, let us not forget that we are not a crowd of a few hundreds or thousands. We are a staggering mass of seven billion strong who are extremely emotionally sentient, sexually charged and at a bewildering consciousness level. We mate for pleasure and the craving for this pleasure cannot have a free rein, in the absence of self-control. In fact, this might have been one of the reasons to put a regulatory system in the first place in the earliest human societies. Not as a moral code but a practical and social requirement even if it governs something as personal as relationships.
The day we reach a more balanced state of mind which is truly detached of itself and others, we shall indeed not need any system, law, or structure to decide our choices. As a friend rightly said, “we are polyamorous in our heads anyway”. Loving more than one is never a problem. It is the desire to seek pleasure out of it which is the kick. And this ‘pleasure-desire’ is rooted in self-gratification, whether you deny it or delude it and whether you seek it by being single, married, committed, or open-ended.
Loving someone does not need a relationship or a name to go with it. It is for the desires that overtake it, that calls for all the labels. And no label or status is invulnerable or immaculate for eternity irrespective of its virtuosity. Human fate is sealed while Satan has the last laugh!!!
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-scale-photo-of-smiling-woman-3692749/