As a young girl, she used to secretly calculate relationship compatibility with her crushes using the ‘flames’ game — the ultimate relationship quotient calculator almost all adolescent kids swear by. She revelled when she got the letter ‘m’ that signified marriage, as it meant having a shot at making her love eternal. As she grew older, her perspectives changed; love alone wasn’t her top priority, but like most humans, she too was driven by the quest for the one. Destiny didn’t let the one who made her go weak at the knees cross her path, so she went on to settle for someone with whom she felt compatible, tossing aside her juvenile expectations to where Santa Claus and unicorns belonged.
Fast forward several years, she managed to survive the four-year-itch and seven-year-itch with her man, successfully overcoming several relationship roadblocks en route. But she isn’t definitely contented. She loves her man, and their kids, like how it is supposed to be in any healthy, functional family.
Marriage for her is nothing but a perpetual effort to foster the bond, and she isn’t puerile to confine the meaning of love to that of a mere feeling. She has mastered the art of dealing with the ebbs and flows of anger, frustrations and shortcomings in her marriage, reminding herself love is as real as life, with its ups and downs.
While we don’t get a second chance at life, chances are more for a second shot at love, experiencing the being in love phase, at least.
She didn’t seek another man, but it rather happened to her. What she shares with him is a pure platonic relationship, as they both are wary of letting it devolve into an emotional bond that could risk the space and freedom they both enjoy in their intimacy. He treats her like a person, and respects her for what she is; it was as if he held a mirror to her face and she recognised the woman whom she used to be, which had been subdued by the alter egos of a wife and a mother. Through his eyes, she saw her idealised version, and it was hard to not take pleasure in and cherish the moments they spent together. She was rediscovering herself.
She is sensible enough to not think of him as a replacement for her husband, and they don’t spend hours chatting when they are not in each other’s presence. Besides, they both like the tension that comes with the restrain they maintain. Although there aren’t any immediate threats lurking beneath, she wonders whether it is normal that the other guy preoccupies her thoughts often.
Relationship forums on the internet warned her of the red flags. When her close friend asked whether she would take her relationship to a physical level in the absence of social constraints, she didn’t deny fantasising about the same, while maintaining that the thought of leaving behind her family and start something new with her paramour is nowhere in her mind’s radar. What she feels for someone, is involuntary, and she doesn’t feel any guilt in cherishing her special relationship. Instead of being in denial, she wanted to accept her feelings.
The woman I mentioned, might be familiar to most of us. She could either be your friend, friend’s friend, someone who is a fodder for gossip, or even you yourself. Before you judge and cast the stone, maybe you should consider that she isn’t an anomaly.
A widely regarded opinion is that developing an attachment with someone other than your spouse — be it platonic, emotional or sexual, is like walking through a minefield. It’s a blanket statement to brand any bond that exists outside marriage as detrimental, without taking into account the fact that the definition of cheating varies with couples. For some, emotional intimacy doesn’t constitute cheating, while for others, it’s worse than a casual fling or one-night stand.
The concept of marriage and family have varied across time and space, but predominantly, monogamous societies and the social order it fostered have been thriving for centuries, as it proved advantageous for the sustenance of humankind, notwithstanding the fact that it used to be a rational business based on practicality, before marriages based on romantic love became the norm.
We are in constant flux, thus, our ideals, values and relationship concepts get redefined with passing time. Yet, some of our primal instincts are lagging behind. Evolutionary psychologists believe that our basic instincts when it comes to our eating and mating habits, still linger in the hunter-gatherer era; our ancestors used to gorge themselves to compensate for the dearth of nutriments, and copulate with multiple partners to ensure genetic diversity. The aforementioned residual genetic characteristics could explain why we overindulge despite abundance of food, and stay discontented in our relationships, in present-time.
However, the solution for our present angst isn’t a retrograde journey. Instead, throwing some light into human behaviour from an evolutionary perspective can help understand the issues that are plaguing our minds, without dismantling the existing social structures. Projecting marriage as a sacrosanct institution often makes us less prepared before embarking on that journey, and no journey will be fruitful if based solely on impulse and blind faith.
Affairs that stem from disappointment tend to be perilous, for it’s immature to constantly seek happiness and recognition from another. Such liaisons seldom bring happiness, except for the momentary pleasures. But if a person can distinguish instinct from reason when it comes to bonding with someone outside marriage, it can sometimes alleviate the conflicts and demands, and also the desperation from trying to meet the unrealistic standards of perfection from our partner and ourselves.
Do you think it is wrong to feel attracted to another person outside marriage? Let us know your thoughts.