All's Fair in Love and War

Maybe she wasn't such a cootie queen after all.

History is always told from the perspective of the winner, not as it actually went down.  Our history books are all written in such a way that applauds the actions of the ones in control and condemns those of the loser.  This is simply one of the spoils of war; the winners get to tell the story the way they want it to be told, and very few actually question it.  This is not only the case in our civilization's history, but love as well. 

Some time last year a good friend of mine was telling me about a new guy she was kickin' it with.  He was a musician, handsome, sexy, and despite the fact that he was staying with her (temporarily til he found another place, supposedly), he had a girlfriend.  I told her run for your life, he's playing you as live-in booty while he plans a life with this chick, you're gonna get your feelings hurt.

Well, last week they got engaged.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to people who are in pre-marriage relationships:  One is that these people are in committed relationships and their relationship should be respected and left alone, and anyone who tries to interfere is just foul and dead wrong.  The other, which was best summed up by my mentor who was a notorious flirt, is "You're single until you're married."  In the Infinite Wisdom of my 20's (and by "Infinite Wisdom" I mean "I thought I had shit figured out and then I actually lived life and was proven terribly wrong") I was of the school of thought that the latter attitude was just awful and an excuse to sleep around for as long as possible.  And even still today I get irritated when someone persists in trying to holla even after I inform them that I have a boyfriend.  But my friend's good news got me thinking about whether this issue is as black and white, right vs. wrong, as I originally thought.

Take my friend as example.  When she first started "dating" her now fiance, 9 out of 10 disinterested women polled on the street would probably tell you she was being a scandalous scallywag for messing with someone else's man.  Now in hindsight though, I would merely have to say "She won."  The ultimate purpose of dating (for most people) is to find someone to build a life with, ideally to marry.  But the fact is that many people are in lackluster, half hearted relationships that they are holding onto for whatever reason, maybe because it's not bad but not really fantastic, or out of habit, or because that's what they think they want, or whatever.  If someone else comes along that is a better match, should they bypass it because of some sense of obligation to the lackluster relationship, or go forward and pursue greater happiness?  Should the interloper walk away from someone showing interest in them because that person is supposedly in a relationship which the interloper has no knowledge of its depth or complexity?

Let's take another example: my very own sister.  She dated a guy from high school for over 5 years, but then her junior or senior year of college she had another guy incessantly in her ear, calling her all the time over the summer, not really caring at all that she had a boyfriend.  That other guy is now my brother-in-law, they have 2 beautiful boys and a wonderful life together.  Had he abided by the "rules" and left my sister alone out of "respect" for her relationship with a guy who honestly was slipping, my sister would not have the life she has today.  My brother-in-law presented himself as the better option, plain and simple.  He won.

I'm not saying that anyone who is not married is 100% fair game and that the follow up question to "Yes, I'm seeing someone" should always be "But are you happy?" because really, that just comes off as rude and disrespectful.  I'm just making the observation that when it comes to love and dating, history rewrites itself such that seemingly questionable behavior all the sudden becomes justified and endearing.  I would be willing to bet that a great number of "how we met" stories involve the scenario "he/she was dating someone already, but I really wanted to get to know him/her" or some other reason why the situation wasn't exactly ideal at the time.  During none of the umpteen times your dad tells the story of how he met your mother do you think "Man, what an asshole", but rather "Wow, he really, really wanted to get with mom."  After the fact we applaud the persistence, the determination, the romanticism, and the poor ex ("Ole Whats-His-Name") just becomes a forgotten casualty of love.

So I guess I do have to agree that, in the grand scheme of life, you really are single until you're married, not in the sense that you can willy nilly do whatever you want in a relationship and use that as a defense (try saying "It wasn't wrong because we're not married" to your boo and see what happens.... you won't be in that particular relationship much longer), but rather there are no guarantees until you say "I do".  Married people are definitely off limits, and at that point you merely become a homewrecker.  But for everyone else, relationships come and go and the reality is that there aren't always clean breaks in between them.  In the end, when it's all said and done, the only person who matters is the one who won.

All is fair in love and war, loved ones..... and the victor gets to rewrite history.

*Disclaimer: Idiosyncratic Thoughts will not be held responsible for any head busting or beat downs you may catch going after someone else's (wo)man. Please proceed with caution.


Brandiss said...

Im still young (23), so I do lack a lot of wisdom when it comes to relationships. But this here, makes much sense to me. At this point it seems that it would be easier said then done because I care too much about other people's feelings... but I'll get over that one day too.
For right now, I'm in a relationship with a great guy who's 7 years older than me. I guess I'll just take it one day at a time....

The Unheeded Prophetess said...

Brandiss: There is NOTHING wrong with caring about people's feelings and being respectful of others' relationships. That's the ideal.

I guess I should have added the additional thought that nobody can "take" someone's mate. They were already gone before that point. The fact that advances are being entertained (or made) is a red flag. And as a person being approached by someone who is in a relationship, the thought is "If it were all that serious, he/she wouldn't be after me and the relationship must be on the outs" (or at least, that's the wishful thinking).

This post was just an observation, that's all.

Brandiss said...

Point taken.
I guess I should have explained myself better. Like if someone else came along that was "better" for me, I'd be worried about breaking it off with the person I'm involved with at the moment. Like what do you tell them?? "Oh I got someone better?"
Now if I was in a horrible relationship, that would be easy to break off...

Or maybe I should go back and re-read the

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