Wing to Wing: Hot Potato

It’s Monday Wednesday (note new day), which now means we continue with reading Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. We’re just getting started, and as such, after last week’s overview (click the “courting” link in the sidebar for the collected essays as they develop). This book is an anthology, a collection of essays. Today’s essay is one which is probably familiar (with a certain amount of heat be it love or hate). That is to say, the text is abstracted from Mr Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, from the chapter on relationships. Because of the quantity of ink, print and digital which has been spilled on Mr Bloom’s book, instead of going in depth on this issue today I’m going to attmpt a short abstraction of one of the main points.

Modern relationships of our youngsters have implicit in their current state a fundamental contradiction. One the one hand, love has been abstracted to eros, to physical sexual attraction. At the same time, it is also held as a common notion that marriage and lasting relationships must be built primarly (or completely) on love as their basis. At the same time, demonstrations, protestations, and other public demonstrative acts aligned with courtship, i.e., balladeering at windows or from the prior week’s essay “calling, are minimized and set aside. Thus we have a situation where our young people find themselves seeking to base a lifetime relationship (or any sort of relationship) on a thing which they diminish at the same time.

It is mind boggling to consider the cognitive dissonance which apparently does not occur. Holding at the same time hope for lasting relationships built on love in a culture which also practices and esteems “hooking up” and “friendships with benefits”. If any readers think both of these are compatible and/or acceptable notions … how do you do it? How are these two things held up at the same time?


My criticism of my prior essay, must fall on myself and Mr Bloom, for we aren’t doing a proper “world-view” study of these youngsters. For I too am deriding this feature, yet not seeking understanding. I think in the near future, I’m going to return to the Wright book noted in that essay and try to put it to work on some cultural divides.

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4 comments

  1. […] kapherus wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptModern relationships of our youngsters have implicit in their current state a fundamental contradiction. One the one hand, love has been abstracted to eros, to physical sexual attraction. At the same time, it is also held as a common … […]

  2. Holding at the same time hope for lasting relationships built on love in a culture which also practices and esteems “hooking up” and “friendships with benefits”. If any readers think both of these are compatible and/or acceptable notions … how do you do it? How are these two things held up at the same time?

    Love and sex are two different things. What’s the dilemma?

  3. Mark says:

    JA,
    By different things, I’m guessing you mean … unrelated?

    Do you really think that’s right?

  4. Well, no, obviously not unrelated. I’ll be the first to admit that any “hooking up” I’ve done has almost invariably caused unwanted emotions on one side or the other. Friendships with benefits are even more complicated — they often caused hurt feelings and prevent either party from entering into a complete relationship. So yeah, there are downsides to be sure. But then again, you’re getting to “hook up” and have “benefits,” so it’s not all bad. You also gain experience, not just sexually, but in figuring out who is a good fit for you sexually and emotionally. Finally, it prevents people from getting married to the first person they fall in lust with simply because they’re young, horny, and don’t believe in premarital sex.

    So there is a conflict in the sense that hooking up too often or having a friend with benefits may postpone a real love relationship from happening. However, it doesn’t prevent it permanently, of course. People in America tend to get married in their mid-to-late twenties, which leaves plenty of time for sleeping around before they start looking for the long-term. Some will even discover that someone they hooked up with or was a FWB with is indeed their true love.

    The only beliefs that could be problematic for someone who’s engaged in these activities is that sex is so special that you should share it only with the person you Love forever. Obviously, that person will be conflicted. The rest of us see sex as something a little more messy than, say, making out, or having long, emotional talks at 2 in the morning with a member of the preferred sex. It’s not something you do with other people when you’re in a monogamous relationship, but having done it in the past isn’t a bad thing.