Bring on wedding belles and beaux
Most of us still desire that lifelong romantic commitment
So far so good on Married at First Sight!
Luke and Lacey have hit it off in a cute and comedic fashion. Dom is totally smitten with Claire (who got over his height pretty quickly, pegging him as just the loveliest man ever). Vicky wants to take it slow with Andrew.
But Brett and Angel were so happy with each other, they just couldn’t stop smiling.
Two more weddings to go.
As we wait to meet the final couples tonight, it’s timely to consider how this thing — “the couple” — structures our daily lives.
Not only is society firmly centred around the couple (the nuclear family is considered the norm), but the romantic pair is also positioned as the ultimate relationship goal.
As much as the Western world has become liberalised about sex, my academic research indicates most people are still chasing that romantic ideology of “The One” — even if they are delaying the process.
We largely have the freedom to choose how, when, where and with whom we have sex. Yet most of us still desire that lifelong romantic commitment to do it in.
Being single eventually gets difficult. It has a stigma attached to it, and it gets harder as you get older and people start to pair off — how many times can you be the third or fifth wheel?
It might be okay to be single in your 20s — you might be studying, focusing on work, or travel — but being single in your 30s and beyond is a major stress for most, particularly when friends and family have children and spend more time with similar couples. When matching up couples for
Married at First Sight, I was surprised by how many younger applicants there were.
At 25, or even 30, have you really exhausted all your options — or is it that the pressure to find The One and settle down is so powerful you’re willing to put your destiny in the hands of experts and go on a televised social experiment to find it?
It’s often taken as “normal” or natural to need to be paired off. But the prominence placed on this for our intimate relationships and in some ways for our whole society requires analysis.
For example, monogamy is not a requirement for sex, love, or procreation — but we’ve been led to believe it is.
Historically, monogamy has been useful to control sexual conduct, as well as help keep track of which offspring are whose — and who is financially responsible for them.
As religious and moral discourses have softened in favour of secularism and liberalism, I’m surprised how strongly the traditional concept of love, as tied to marriage and lifelong coupledom, remains intact.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t commit to one person, but I wonder if we’re long overdue for some diversity and plurality in our options.
Recent research I undertook on casual sex revealed a hierarchy of respectability that structures our sexual behaviour.
The ranking of sex/relationships, from ideal to least ideal was, from the pinnacle: monogamous relationships with The One; monogamous relationships; dating in search of The One; long-term casual sex relationships — aka friends with benefits — a one-night stand; and finally, at the bottom, the booty call.
Notably, in this hierarchy, the more emotionally involved or committed a sexual relationship, the higher its status.
Although sex ostensibly holds an important position in determining relationships and commitment — here it was the “emotional” involvement, the involvement beyond sex, that increased the status and meaning of a relationship.
It would seem our new moral compass is emotional intimacy, in the contemporary context. It’s how we judge the worth of intimate relationships.
What does this mean for coupledom and marriage? Do we get the emotional intimacy we dream of? Can such emotional intimacy survive the pressures of working, having children and other family obligations, and stand the test of time?
Most intriguing, through Three’s new social experiment, can our
Married at First Sight participants find the emotional connection that could bind them for life?
Lovebirds Luke and Lacey have happily hit it off in an amusing fashion.