Recipe for Conformity [Guest Post]

This is a guest post from Carlos Miceli, who blogs ever-so-succinctly at OwlSparks.com.

People fascinate me.

I enjoy looking and listening to them.

I like analyzing their exteriors and predicting their actions.

I love imagining their backgrounds and guessing their goals and desires.

One of the aspects that have interested me enormously lately is love and attraction.

What it means to people, what they really look in another person, what they do to “triumph” and what they hide away.

Infinite variables affect the way we act towards relationships, but I’ve seen one attitude present in most people (especially young people), one that I think we should re-evaluate.

That attitude is expectancy. The idea of love as a sure step. The problem is this:

Expecting to be in happy relationship is a recipe for conformity.

I’m obviously not saying that being in a happy relationship is impossible, nor I’m saying that we shouldn’t try to be in one.

We just shouldn’t expect it.

We still put “being happily married” as one of the obvious steps of life, after graduating and having a job. As if we should logically go through it at some point. There’s a clear problem with people saying things like “I want to be married by the time I’m X.” Even though words like destiny, karma and soul mates may sound nice, I don’t think they prove anything. We shouldn’t put our hopes in them.

So, conformism kicks in. We are stubborn people. It’s human nature, you know? To prevent our “plans” from changing, we force ourselves to fit our context into our goals, instead of doing the opposite. We reject the idea of solitude as a possibility (and ending) for many of us, so we invent and create a fantasy that suits our dreams.

The result? A lowered standard relationship with either a short-life span of Hollywood moments, or a permanent situation filled with regrets, unhappiness and broken dreams. This is no the case for every relationship out there, but I’m sure it’s the case with most of them that end badly.

Maybe it’s because of pride; maybe it’s ignorance - the reason is irrelevant. What matters is that we are not very fond of embracing randomness as the main factor and ruler of our lives.

Look, here’s the thing: As opposed to choosing your major or career direction, you’re only in charge of 50% of the decision when it comes to relationships.

That’s OK. Accept that.

Otherwise you’ll get stuck with the other half looking to settle, and not the half looking for you.

19 Responses to “Recipe for Conformity [Guest Post]”

  1. Jun Loayza says:

    My Dad once told me, “Jun, you should never get married. There are just too many women in the world to experience.” Well, actually, he’s been telling me this my whole life.

    I think that part of the reason I was so shy with girls in high school was because I was afraid I wouldn’t live up to my Dad’s “expectations.” I think that part of the reason I went girl crazy in college was because I wanted to live up to my Dad’s “expectations.”

    A lot of what we want out of relationships is passed on to us by our parents. My parents have been divorced for 14 years now. My older brother is divorced. My grandfather is divorced. Maybe it’s my destiny to divorce as well.

    Relationships are about compromise and respect. With Kim, I’m happy to only have 50% of the control. Actually, she’ll argue that I only have 10% of the control :P

    - Jun

  2. [...] Do read my guest post “Recipe For Conformity” [...]

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Holly Hoffman. Holly Hoffman said: New post on WorkLoveLife! Recipe for Conformity from guest blogger @CarlosMic http://bit.ly/1dfbz Thanks Carlos! [...]

  4. Greg Rollett says:

    Nice thoughts Carlos. The 50% rule is true in the fact that you only have an influence on what you do to make the relationship work, but that 50% has a direct influence on the other person. In my relationship (a married 20something), we have the storybook situation because we both work our asses off at having it – we look out for each other.

    I agree that we all shouldn’t expect love to just happen, but we should take action when the opportunity arises, no matter how busy or blind sighted or heartbroken we may be. You never know when that moment is going to happen.

  5. Really great guest post! I loved it and I loved that it introduced me to this great site. Just subscribed in my RSS! :)

  6. Norcross says:

    Being married myself, I can say without a doubt that any relationship (whether it’s with a person or something else) will have varying degrees of happiness at times. There are some days where my wife and I want to kill each other, but those are few and far between.

    At the end of the day, it still comes down to how you feel about yourself. If you aren’t OK with yourself, you’ll never be with anyone else.

  7. Baker says:

    Carlos, insightful as always!

    I think many of us go into marriage thinking ours is going to be the exception, especially when we marry young. Here’s what I’ve learned over the first three years…

    I don’t want to marriage where happiness is going to be expected. I want a marriage where pushing each other to grow is expected.

    Yeah, there are times we are at each others throats, but looking back it’s all part of growing and maturing. Show me a marriage that is surrounded in happiness 100% of the time and I’ll show you stale growth. Conformity is right on.

  8. Grace Boyle says:

    I always hear people outline their life goals and how they want to get their ‘ducks in order’ and follow a certain trajectory. As nice as it is to have goals, people sometimes forget that life is messy (me included). Life isn’t linear. Conforming to a happy relationship might just be that. I feel like now, I’m not in a relationship and I’m happy. Doesn’t mean someday I won’t want to be (of course I do). I’m constantly asked, “Oh, so do you have a boyfriend?” Or “Are you dating anyone?” It still frustrates me…why does it matter? Why not ask what I read this week or what recipe I cooked…

    Interesting thoughts and love the guest post. Cheers Holly and Carlos

  9. Akhila says:

    Carlos, nice post and very interesting/insightful. I agree that as a society we place too much emphasis on getting married and finding that PERFECT spouse or lover. The idea of finding your ‘soulmate’ is nice and hopelessly romantic, but the fact that we put such huuuuge expectations on ourselves just waiting to be whisked away by the perfect guy/gal is just self-defeating. I mean, real life is no chick flick.

    The worst thing is that this expectation boxes men and women into traditional gender roles, which I find even more annoying.

    The funniest thing though, is that I used to be super cynical about all this. I never expected it to happen. But guess what, it happened to me! I’m super happy with my boyfriend right now but I actually went into it with low expectations. But was pleasantly surprised! I think it IS possible….but we have to be realistic and reasonable about relationships. But at the same time, be open to all the possibilities out there. Pragmatic love?

  10. Elisa says:

    What a great blog to write this guest post for! This fits so well with the feeling of work, life and love.

    I especially like the last line: “Otherwise you’ll get stuck with the other half looking to settle, and not the half looking for you.” I think what happens a lot when people get “stuck settling” they don’t necessarily do it because they are being told they have to or because it’s easier. Sure, that’s part of it, but the driving force behind conformity is fear. In this case, fear of missing out. Fear of going against the expected path. And most importantly fear of being alone. What scares ME is how much those fears lead people to miss out of what should be an amazing experience. And we wonder why the divorce rate keeps creeping higher and higher….

  11. Do you think that people generally make clear plans about when they want to marry and stick to those plans?

    I think the opposite might be happening. People seem to keep putting marriage off, longer and longer, always thinking that maybe someone better and more perfect will come along. I feel this same sentiment applies to business opportunities and jobs as well. Commitment is getting harder because people have so many great choices.

    This is particularly true in Japan, where many, maybe most, woman are no longer willing to sacrifice their careers and lower their standards for marriage. My wife has a couple of friends waiting for a handsome doctor to sweep them off their feet and ride off into the sunset on a white horse with romantic music playing in the background. Needless to say, they are in their 40s and still single.

  12. @Jun

    Player dad, now I get it ;) Don’t worry, my dad’s the same. Nice thoughts bro.

    @Greg

    Agreed. We shouldn’t expect it, nor we shouldn’t wait. Taking action is very important, but as long as we understand that it’s ok if maybe we don’t end up with our desired results. That’s what luck is all about.

  13. @Jun

    Player dad, now I get it ;) Don’t worry, my dad’s the same. Nice thoughts bro.

    @Greg

    Agreed. We shouldn’t expect it, nor we shouldn’t wait. Taking action is very important, but as long as we understand that it’s ok if maybe we don’t end up with our desired results. That’s what luck is all about.

    @Norcross

    Absolutely, you need peace of mindin order to bring it to the relationship. Understanding what’s up to you and what’s not, is a good way to begin.

    @Positively Present

    Great decision!

    @Baker

    Before marriage, during marriage, after marriage. As Andrew says, happiness changes, and that’s ok. Growing is more important.

    @Grace

    Oh, the common achievements! They are everywhere, ignoring them is a wise choice. I’m with you my friend, being “alone” does not mean being “unhappy.” In fact, I’m pretty sure it can be quite the opposite.

    @Elisa

    Totally correct. Also, I’d add the fear of being alone, as if it was supposed to be “worse.” If you can’t be happy alone, I’m doubtful that you can be happy with someone else.

  14. @John

    It’s not about planning to get married. It’s about expecting it. And for what you’re telling me, they are expecting it. It doesn’t matter how much you put it off, you’re still convinced that it HAS to happen.

    this is not about why people marry more or less, this is about what people think they will get in life.

  15. Akirah says:

    This is interesting. I agree with you…people do expect to be married some day. I think that may be the reason why some people force a circle into a square; trying to make something work that doesn’t work. I think I might have to reflect on this for a bit. In my life, I’ve always just thought that marriage would come, eventually, and when it did, I’d be the happiest chick ever. But as time goes on, I see that’s not necessarily the case. This post challenges me to think…and that’s a good thing!

  16. @Akhila

    Sorry, I must have missed your post on my first read, replying now :)

    Love that expression, pragmatic love. You make a good point my friend, when we have low expectations (or none at all), we can be surprised. You know what’s so great about this? That if we focus on being happy on our own, we feel great. And then, if we’re surprised, we’re happy too! It’s a no brainer.

    @Akirah

    Glad to have helped you in some way. Again, embrace randomness and be happy on your own. The rest is just part of the game.

  17. Carlos, this is an awesome, MUST read for every 20 something in my opinion. You have no idea how many times I have had to tell close friends that life is NOT all about finding that “special someone”. If it happens, fantastic, but you one has to come to terms with the fact that it just might not be in the cards for you. This life is really all about finding what YOU love to do, what you want to give back to the world, not about finding some storybook romance. I think especially in the States, we have too many Disney movies and romantic comedies that lead us to believe our lives will pan out just like fiction.

  18. Carla Young says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I have lots of friends that seem like they are just in a relationship because that’s what they’re supposed to do. That doesn’t seem right. I’ve been single for awhile now, because I don’t want to settle for anything less than what I deserve and because I’m quite happy on my own.

    With that said (and I do think it differs between men and women here) I *do* want to have a family one day, and I wouldn’t want to bring a child into the world without a husband for support. So although I’m only 26, the clock is somewhat ticking in the sense that I *would* like to have a family someday.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  19. Colin Wright says:

    Essentially everything I was going to say has already been said, so I’ll add this:

    I think we can all agree that Disney is the biggest perpetrator here. Not only do they inflame the need for a picture perfect, marriage-based relationship (between a man and a woman…or in some cases some animals of various sorts) from an early age, but they also make little girls believe that they may secretly be princesses (let down #2).

Leave a Reply