Like everyone else, I get a staggering array of Christian Mingle dating website ads, bondage gear specials, services to rent goats, retirement home and assisted suicide information on Facebook. But these are merely interspersed in an endless stream of “so you suck at relationships” and “how to be a person who sucks less at relationships” sponsored-link advice blogs, generally with names like “Nice Men Doing Nice Things, Unlike that Asshat Who Just Dumped You.”
This trend is because Facebook has figured out that 58% of my friends are ending their marriages or otherwise seriously-committed relationships. (Based on what I observe on the Feed, the remainder have chosen to pair-bond with cats, hamsters, dogs, or horses, rather than human partners.) Some are “consciously uncoupling” and others are engaged in Game of Thrones-worthy severance of the kingdoms. But so far, not a single one of the splits has surprised me.
Some of these relationships were eminently rational, Clinton-worthy arrangements. They bonded because they made good teams, worked together well, had similar moral values and wanted the same escalator-relationship things: marriage, a home, careers, and children, plans they executed with grace, aplomb and success. Having reached the top of the escalator, however, they have now been pulled under by their loose laces and slammed to the linoleum, scrambling to slam the emergency-off button before beloved pieces of themselves are sucked in and mangled beyond repair. Ironically, these couples’ problem is that they’ve won the game.
Now, having carefully beaten each level and rescued the princess, they’re ready to drop acid and BASE jump in Cambodia to make up for all the years of endorphin deprival and their overly-intact skeletal structure. These are the ones who now think I’m a killjoy, because as a card-carrying member of the “4 o’clock is an early bedtime not a reasonable waking hour” club I learned years ago to balance Kamikazes with chasers of club soda. The best expression of support I can offer these friends is to make sure they’re each equipped with a guidebook, a parachute and seventeen condoms, while pointing them towards the Thai-stripper talent shows.
As for the younger swath of divorcees, my rational brain can’t wrap around why they married in the first place. As I learned from my experience on the teevee with the online dating expert, everyone has “dealbreakers,” whether they are completely reasonable (“must be okay with my beloved pet eel,” “no family history of ax murdering”) or utterly arbitrary (“no more than 10 toes,” “must be able to recite Pi to 42 digits”).
If, as the “expert” pointed out, your dealbreakers are in fact just preferences, you should be willing to flex when someone seems unexpectedly appealing but won’t subscribe to your zealous proselytizing of vegan superiority. But real dealbreakers – “I am against organized religion, I don’t want children, and I do not embrace monogamy” – are things that you’ve identified as necessary to your long-term psychological happiness. When you hitch your wagon to a partner who fundamentally disagrees with your basic beliefs or needs, it is virtually inevitable that you will be miserable, unless you are committed to a wholesale overhaul of your faith racket, your fetish proclivities, or your reproductive desires. We all understand how well praying away the gay works, right? No matter how earnestly you slam your knees into the floor in penance, you still find yourself dreaming of cock while you’re down there.
Therefore, I can only assume they married due to bewitching: that horrible trick that your brain plays on you to release the deadly cocktail of all the euphoric feels about this partner who violates each and every one of your dealbreakers. As the EDM beats fade, the carriage turns back into a pumpkin and the footmen mutate back to rats, everyone picks themselves up as gracefully as possible, walks the stride of pride back to their little corners of the sky and straps in for Suicide Tuesday.
I always sneered at this naïve insanity, while downing shots with my divorcing friends, until the day I succumbed to the evil spell. Fortunately for me, Mr. So-Wrong-For-Me dumped me on my sparkly-fairy-tale ass well before our friends ever got to start a deadpool at the wedding reception…but even though I appreciate the irrationality, if he strode through my front door I would elope with him in a nanosecond, second star to the right, straight on ‘til divorceland.
I’m glad I installed a deadbolt.