Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Last Relationship

I was reading this article a few days ago and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.

While I watch Mad Men and have enjoyed the entertainment provided by the character Don Draper, the focus of this article that stuck out to me was the analysis of relationships.

The specific portion that sticks with me is the idea that there are two types of relationships. The first type is modeled by Don Draper on the show. He is married but has various adulterous affairs at points throughout the show. While this life of having no consequences for your actions and seeming to always get what you want sounds appealing, the author points out what is going on underneath the surface. The reality is that Don can have these affairs because the relationship he has with his wife is shallow and meaningless. There is no guilt or regret because the deeper feelings don't exist, only a shallow act, with both parties playing the part.

Now the second type of relationship is not modeled in the show. The author enlightens us though, saying that in it both parties have a real connection. As is seen in writings about marriage, the idea is that the relationship between two parties is so strong that each puts the groups best benefit ahead of that of the individual. If one of these parties was to participate in an affair, it would shatter that dynamic and tear the relationship apart.

The author goes on to discuss the bar scene. Those looking for the second type of relationship fail when meeting people at the bar. This is because the ideal for them would be to find someone who is interested in them uniquely for who they are, meaning no other would do. The reality of the bar scene is that everyone is interchangeable; the reason a person is able to attract another is that the other being attracted could be replaced by any other. There is no uniqueness, no interest in the individuals defining characteristics, only that they embody what is being sought out at this current moment in time.

This has stuck with me for so long because of how much I can identify with it. Having been in a long term relationship, I've seen what the second type of relationship could be like. Unfortunately, I sought too hard to mold the relationship into the second type instead of seeking one that would naturally fit into it. Ever since, I've spent time learning about the first type, trying to come to terms with why I couldn't find the second at the bars where relationships seem so easy to trigger.

I'm looking forward to seeing what further insight can come from the second part of his analysis.