Relationships According to the Internet: A Response

If you’ve spent as much time on the internet as I have, you’ll have seen at least some of the thousands of romantic quote pictures that exist. These usually consist of a one-liner somebody has addressed to their significant other, overlaid onto either a nice-looking view such as a sunset, or a picture of a happy couple fondling. Here’s one such picture that recently got my thinking juices flowing…

Why the hell are they on train tracks

Seems pretty sweet, at least if we ignore the fact that they’re both standing on a railway line. But being honest with ourselves, is this really the reasoning with which we should go into a relationship?

I can totally sympathise with whoever wrote this, if they did so in the wake of a particularly hard breakup (or a succession of them). Although I’ve never been in a serious relationship before, I understand that when you’re in that state, the last thing you want is for it to happen to you again. And after all, it’s not like they were asking for somebody with wealth or status or anything like that; all they wanted was a trustworthy companion, for which I can hardly fault them.

Even so, I can’t help thinking that this is a view that places me and my desires and interests at the centre of it all. It seems like having someone who will stay in this person’s life was the first thing on their mind, when actually we should be thinking about what we need to do to ensure our relationships last.

Ideally, relationships should have far less to do with what we receive than with what we give. Yes, there are good things that come from being with somebody else, but they don’t come without a price – the hard work that we put in. Only if we’re prepared to put in that work does love, happiness and the rest follow. Of course, it shouldn’t become a quid-pro-quo situation either; we shouldn’t do things for our partners expecting something good in return, but because we love them and want them to be happy.

I know my thoughts on this aren’t entirely revolutionary (which is OK), and I deliberately haven’t touched on the picture itself too much because I wasn’t trying to respond to it per se, but rather to get some thoughts out that were inspired by the picture. Much like what I wrote about here, it’s entirely possible for things like this to influence us if we’re not careful and discerning. I won’t deny that those pictures look very nice, and I’m sure their creators mean no wrong, but whether they can be relied upon for relationship advice is a whole other story.

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