That crazy little thing called love

When I was five, her name was Tina. Mostly we held hands and giggled, and that was love. When I was twelve or so, it was Buffy. I admired her with a deep and abiding passion that was, I believe, based mostly on how she looked in this one particular mohair sweater. That, too, was love. Today I'm in love with a girl named Sue. A lot of the time we fight. Sometimes we're just friends. Other times we're a lot more. I don't understand all my feelings about Sue, but I know that without her, my life would be totally different. And not better. And that, I think, is love for sure.

As we grow and change so does the way we love, along with our whole idea of what that magic thing is. So, this Valentine's month, I thought we'd look at an age-old question: Exactly what is love?

How about this for an answer: Love is a complex mixture--of friendship, desire, patience, sacrifice, tolerance, courage, occasionally pain, and (hopefully) ultimately happiness.

Did you say friendship? That's right. A real love affair is the deepest form of friendship there is. My friends Jack and Jannie knew each other for two years before they realized they were in love. All of a sudden one day they just turned around and really saw each other for the first time. Now they've been together a lot longer than other couples who started out twice as fast. So if you have fun together and care about each other's feelings -and feel free to be truly weird around each other-you're there.

You mean it doesn't always strike like lightning? There is such a thing as Love at First Sight-but that's not the only way.

Sometimes a great romance begins as coolness, sometimes as positive dislike. When I met Sue, I thought she was hopelessly stuck-up; she thought I was an irresponsible jerk. We took it from there, and we've been happy ever since.

What's the difference between love and lust?

I'd like to tell my boyfriend. Lust springs into full force almost immediately. But without friendship and tenderness, it fades and eventually dies altogether. If all you want to do is make out, you've probably won't last beyond the first frost. Love takes time to develop. And as it does it grows, adding facets-like a diamond's. Okay, what if I think I love him, but sometimes I think he's kind of a nerd? Loving someone means accepting him basically as he is. If you're thinking, "I wish he were more my type," something's wrong. Loving him should make him your type. But we fight sometimes. Does that mean we're not in love? It probably means you are. Love involves all of you, and that means it's not always going to run smoothly. I get it! Love is pain, right? Wrong. Sure, there's some yearning and heartbreak involved, but if a love doesn't make you happy overall, it's not worth keeping. So am I in love? Do you have to ask? Then you're probably not. Love, above all, knows itself. And when it happens, you know it, because it's wonderful.

Here's hoping that this year's Valentine is the real thing.

Love Common Fallacies

Someone facetiously defined sweetheart love as "an insane desire to squeeze orange juice out of a lemon." We can smile at this analogy because it comes so close to the beliefs and practices of so many. But it is incorrect. True love is neither insane nor is it based upon deceit.

A frequent fallacy is to regard love as an irrational force, mystically and mysteriously operating to shape man's destiny. It has been said, for example, that "love is blind." Though we would agree that some persons are blinded by what they think is love, we contend that real love comes from understanding, not ignorance; and from self-effort and adjustment rather than from any supposed manipulation by the fates.

It has also been claimed that everyone has a "one-and-only," a "soul-mate," who is waiting and searching for him, just as he is in return.

Part of this belief is that people are "meant for each other," predestined to get together; and that unless one finds the right person, the one intended, he can be only partially happy. We say nonsense. Given an equal start, there are very likely any number from the opposite sex that each person could be equally happy with--or if not, the reason would be in the matching combinations rather than in the fates.

Our position will be discussed more fully in the next chapter; here we would only say that in mature love there comes an intelligent choosing rather than any mysterious searching or intuitive reaching for "signs." Another notion, which can hardly stand up under analysis, is that people "fall in love," suddenly and completely, whenever the right person comes along. We have heard some people talk about "love at first sight." We have listened to claims that "when love strikes, you will know it." To all of this we would say that there is a difference between the infatuations and "puppy loves" of romantic youngsters, and the tested loves of mature companions.

There may be the beginning of love at first sight, but that is all. Whether that beginning will ever develop into "the real thing" it will take time and testing to determine. Love is a process, not a static fact; we grow in love, not fall. Many have thought, at first sight, that they were in love, only to change their minds after taking another and a closer look. On the other hand, many have thought that they didn't particularly care for the one they were going with, only to find themselves coming to love this person after time and close association.

Sometimes, too, people hold to the mistaken idea that "love is all that matters," that if man and woman are madly in love they should be willing to give up everything else in order to have each other; that if they are in love and marry, they cannot but be eternally happy regardless of everything else. All we can say to this is that other things are important too; things that the head must decide; things that, if favorable, will give love itself a better chance of maturing and enduring.

Madness in love is dangerous, for with it people are irrational and impetuous in what they do. Emotional love needs to be tested, strengthened, and controlled by the intellect. Complete surrender to love leaves one open to exploitation by the unscrupulous, and it leads to decisions that may be regretted after the emotions have cooled. A large proportion of the heartaches men and women experience in courtship and marriage are attributable to this attitude of "all for love."

Students of marriage and family very commonly group all these mistaken notions concerning love under the term Romantic Fallacy. The fallacy lies not in the acceptance of romance as an element in love (for certainly every relationship needs some demonstration of affection to serve as a social lubricant, if nothing else), but rather in the belief that romantic love is just about everything that needs to be considered in choosing a mate or in making a happy union. Romance has overglamourized the love concept; it has discouraged rational action and has added mystery and superficiality to the whole thing.

This is particularly true, though not exclusively so, in American culture. It is no wonder that youth are so often swept off their feet by romantic infatuation, for almost everything they do in courtship tends to stimulate and reinforce the idea. The modern novel and the picture show usually depict the struggles and conflicts of courtship, highly flavored with romantic passion, and then end with marriage and the assumption that all conflict is over and that eternal bliss is certain.

These modern fairy tales, although they do not say "they lived happily ever after," imply as much. Their harm lies in their overemphasis on romance and erotic stimulation and upon the unreal picture of life they paint in the minds of those who follow them. The popular song, which is given so much attention in the dance hall and on the radio, does very much the same thing; it stimulates the sentiments and builds up the idea that love is all that matters. This is the fallacy or the illusion that so many of our young people are living under. They are often "in love with love," and nothing more; they see their lover through colored glasses rather than with clear vision; they are blinded by romance.

Unless our culture can be made to change in this regard, unless the romantic infantilism which underlies so many of our marriages can be modified, the American family will continue to be in trouble.

Nature and function of love

Love might be simply defined as any sentiment of attachment that is centered upon any person or thing; it is a pleasurable feeling, in other words, and it is directed toward some object. The love object might be entirely nonmaterial, as when we say that one loves some standard, principle, or cause that he shows a strong devotion for; he can love democracy, for example, or peace, or the Christian Church.

Similarly it can be said that one loves a certain type of activity such as swimming, reading, or listening to musical concerts. Again, the love object might be material though nonhuman, as when we say that one loves ice cream, or new hats, or horses.

Finally, the love object might be a human personality. There are many varieties of this latter also: there is self-love; there are filial and parental loves; there are friendships everywhere, regardless of age, sex, or social relationships; and there is the sweetheart love of courtship and marriage.

Broadly considered, love exists whenever and wherever people obtain satisfactions from the objects and the activities that attract them. It is to the narrower usage of the term, to sweetheart love, that attention is now being turned. Though love is of many types, it is only that which relates to marriage that will concern us here.

Why Don't They Marry?

Some people remain permanently unmarried by choice, others due to circumstances. Major types are as follows:

Certain individuals are denied the right to marry by society. These are those who fail to meet the minimum requirements of the marriage statutes or who are under long-range custodial care in institutions.

Sometimes people remain single in the spirit of self-sacrifice and because of defects in heredity, health, ability, or character. These are likely to feel inadequate to the marriage situation--incapable of a normal sex life or of anything else that goes with marriage and family.

In certain cultures there are individuals who remain single out of devotion to a cause. A good example of this is religious celibacy, as in Roman Catholicism.

There are always a few persons who remain basically unresponsive to heterosexual love. These are frequently individuals who are autoerotic, or homosexual, or who have strong parent-fixations. Having been conditioned against marriage, they are likely not even to want it.

Then there are those who see marriage as something that is competing with other desires, and who consider the price as too great; they are reluctant to give up their independence or to accept this new responsibility. Men (more than women) sometimes seek arrangements whereby they can have sexual satisfaction without the obligation of marriage. Women (more than men) sometimes find love and marriage interests interfering with their plans for an education and career.

Finally, there are persons who never marry through lack of adequate opportunity.

This last point requires further elaboration. It seems likely that the majority of those who remain single do so out of circumstances rather than desire. This is especially true with the female, for she is less free in making advances. Yet choice is relative to the values and standards which people hold. Many of those who have gone through life alone could have married had they been willing to lower their sights and had they done it in time. But who is there to say which is better, no marriage, or marriage to an undesirable person? Judgment in such matters must be left to the people concerned. It is true, however, that single people as they get along in years frequently feel regret over having passed up earlier opportunities.

One's chances for marriage decrease with age. The middleaged female is at a particular disadvantage, for men generally choose someone younger than themselves. Furthermore the older men are when they marry, the greater is the age difference between them and the ones they marry. For this reason, older girls frequently get skipped and left out. By waiting too long--because of career interests, or extreme standards, or immaturity and indecision--young people sometimes let the opportunity slip away. Not only is the marriage market smaller as they get older, but they also become more set in their ways and harder to please.

Marriage opportunity is contingent upon situations which permit people to meet and associate with adequate numbers of the opposite sex. If the residential sex ratio is unfavorable, or if occupational activities keep the sexes apart, or if the culturally provided contacts are so formal or superficial as to make it hard for men and women really to get acquainted, marriage becomes difficult. The problem of the white-collar girl in this regard has already been described; surrounded by millions, she is nevertheless lonesome and without male companionship, or enough of it, or the kind desired.

Those who never marry

United States census figures reveal that nearly 10 per cent of our adult population never marries. Only about 90 per cent of all who reach the age of forty-five have had the marriage experience. Since very few of the remaining 10 per cent will marry after that age, it follows that about one tenth of all adults end their lives as single individuals.

The percentage that never marries is even greater when all ages are considered. This is illustrated by the fact that of every 100,000 females born, only approximately 78,000 ever marry (of these, only about 65,000 eventually become mothers). This means that between one fifth and one fourth of all persons born never marry; some because of death before the time of marriage and others because they either choose it that way or lack opportunity on the adult level.

It would be both inaccurate and unjust to assume that the unmarried, as a class, are inferior to the married. Though some individuals remain single because of personality deficiencies, others never marry in order to better express their personal talents. Though society encourages marriage, it is rapidly coming to accept the unmarried state as normal and to remove many of the handicaps which formerly surrounded it.

Single persons of every age group have higher death rates than do those who are married. This is particularly true of the male, but with certain exceptions during the childbearing ages it applies to the female as well. Reasons are two: (1) Marriage is selective as to health, the tendency being for those with serious constitutional weaknesses or deficiencies to remain single. (2) Marriage tends to favor the health of its members by encouraging a more settled and systematic mode of living.

There is a strong probability that unmarried men and women differ from each other in regard to quality. In an earlier chapter we referred to the commonly observed tendency of men to marry beneath themselves for the sake of ego protection--supported by parallel tendencies of many capable women to want a career, to delay marriage for it, and to be more particular than men in choosing a mate.

This "marrying down" expresses itself in the areas of age, education, general socioeconomic status, and very possibly with reference to physical and emotional aspects of the personality. Folsom has used the term mating gradient to describe the tendency, claiming that it "would seem to leave an unmarried residue on the upper rungs of the female social ladder and on the lower rungs of the male ladder."

This point finds reinforcement in the fact that of women who don't go beyond the sixth grade in school, about 95 per cent marry, while only some 70 per cent of those who graduate from college ever marry. Apparently it is the more able and career-minded of the females that go on for higher education, and in going on they reduce their marriage chances, both by becoming older and by becoming too intellectual for the dominance-loving male. We should add parenthetically, however, that though marriage after college graduation becomes slightly less likely for the girl, this does not apply while she is in school; the college campus has proved itself to be an extremely productive laboratory for mate selection. Furthermore, as studies reveal, college marriages, when they do take place, are less likely to end in divorce than are noncollege marriages.

Six killer comments a guy'll make

"You're such a good friend."

It's the ultimate letdown. Well, I could go on (and on and on), but I'd rather stop and try to explain why a guy would say some of these things. Bear with me, because there's no easy answer.

It's like this: Some ego crushers are simply clumsy attempts at humor: We like you, we want to make you laugh, but sometimes our jokes just aren't funny. Sometimes we start off with the best intentions, but the wrong words come out-like in example one. (We may think your hair looks fantastic and still manage to phrase our compliment this way.) But some ego nukers are simply downright mean-spirited: A guy is showing off for his friends, maybe, or simply taking out his own frustrations or insecurities on you.

What should you do? You could start by letting him know he's hurt your feelings. Believe it or not, if you don't flat out tell him, he may never realize you're hurting. If he cares about you, he'll shape up (he might even be cool enough to apologize). If he doesn't . . . walk away. Some guys are angry at the world in general and looking for targets. So stay off the shooting range.

One more thing: If you cut your hair- or put on makeup or change your style or act a certain way - just "for him." you're setting yourself up for a possible letdown. There's nothing wrong with hoping he'll like you, but what's more important is that you like you. Self-confidence doesn't arrive all at once: It's won little by little. But once you feel it, comments like these won't be able to crush you . . . even if they do sting a little.

"Check her out!"

This one cuts deep-whether he's admiring a girl you don't know or comparing you to his ex-girlfriend. When he openly drools all over your friends - especially when he knows you like him.

"You're wearing a lot of makeup today."

It makes you feel like Bozo and your ego deflates like a popped balloon.

"Is your whole family flat-chested?"

"Did you wake up late this morning?"

Seven small, wounding words that fueled more than a few self-doubts-about hair, makeup, talking, walking, clothes, breath . . . you get the point.

"What happened to your hair?"

This little question is your biggest complaint. Especially rude after you go out and get a great new cut for him. This topic also topped the guy-crusher column.

Confusion and Complaints in Regard to Dating Experience

A relatively noninstitutionalized pattern such as dating may result in confusion, misunderstanding, and complaints. One issue involves the modest, passive, supported role for females, which denies them initiative and spares them expense. Girls may want to take the initiative and may be willing to pay and yet be reluctant to seem other than sought after, Boys may be uncertain and ambivalent about their masculine role. Minnesota men attributed to their partners far more initiative and sharing of expense than women students admitted in their own behavior. The revealed differences were statistically significant.

There is confusion in regard to the "rating" of persons dated and concerning the motives underlying the dating process. Not uncommonly circular reasoning is implied, as when the phrase "attractive personality" is used, meaning essentially a person who attracts dates. A student therefore dates because he dates. Yet the logic is not totally unrealistic, for it may well be that students date in order to seem sought after and hence desirable for further dates.

There may be a real distinction between dating for the sake of rating as a means to further dates and dating just for fun. Perhaps it is more pleasurable to be with a person that you like rather than making an effort to attract and impress a "sorority queen" or a "big man on campus." Social pressure complicates dating as a personal means to a good time.

Early Dating Difficulties

Parental opposition may exist in regard to dating behavior. Since the mothers are more inclined than fathers to encourage sons as well as daughters, a Freudian interpretation is inadequate. Mothers in general are romantically inclined and may identify more than fathers with dating behavior. The figures give no evidence as the exact nature of opposition, but there is evidence from other data of teasing by parents and siblings.

Awkwardness and isolation complicate acquaintance with the opposite sex.

Lack of money was frequently mentioned by male students as a reason for lack of opportunity to meet girls. This suggests the double burden of men who often must both find and feed the woman.

Reports of college students concerning dating may be misleading, for a denial of dating is essentially a denial of popularity.

A limited contact could be wishfully interpreted as a date by way of ego protection. Of the Minnesota men, only 5.7 per cent reported no dating, and the remainder claimed on the average 10.3 girls dated more than once. Of the girls, only 2.7 per cent reported no dating. The girls dating claimed on the average 11.7 per cent persons dated more than once in the course of dating history.

Failure to marry

"We are the most married nation on earth," as Professor Ross said repeatedly to his classes on the family, and yet about one person in ten never marries. That so many should fail to marry is surprising when we consider how habituated to and dependent upon family roles each of us comes to be through the conditioning experiences which we undergo as children -- at the very time in our lives when our personalities are being basically shaped and molded.

How can we account for this one person in every ten, particularly when we note further the fact that his married friends exert pressure upon the unmarried individual in many subtle ways, the most obvious effect of which is to exclude him from the circle? Parents and relatives begin to volunteer subtle but insistent advice when he remains unmarried beyond the age of twenty-five (this is even more true for young women than for young men).

Even the cultural restrictions on freedom of behavior of single women become more obvious and probably more keenly felt by them when most of their friends have married. There are places where they may not go unescorted. Finding a socially acceptable living arrangement becomes more complicated. In smaller localities the single person, male or female, is forced into a pattern of living so different from that of the rest of the community that he is soon aware of not "belonging." And finally he who does not marry must face, more or less alone, the problem of dealing with sexual drives, with the understanding that most of the ways alternative to marriage of getting release and gratification for these drives are highly disapproved by our society. What, then, are the reasons why some people never marry?

Paradoxically, one of the processes leading to nonmarriage is identical with that process which is most potent in leading people to marriage. It is the process which causes adult attitudes and behavior patterns to result largely from childhood experiences. Usually, as we have seen, this tends to bring people to marry, but in the case of an unhappy childhood, one in which basic wishes and needs remained unsatisfied and frustrated, the carryover to adulthood will often include hostile attitudes toward marriage and family life or in other cases toward members of the opposite sex. It is probably well that such people do not marry in great numbers, for when they do, they often play roles which lead to an inordinate amount of conflict -- roles which at times are carried over from the patterns of intense conflict followed by parents and at other times occur simply by the continual expectation of frustration from family life, conditioned by unfortunate early experiences. This reason for not marrying is one of the personal and internal factors limiting marriage over which there is little conscious control. After all, one cannot choose his parents, nor even his childhood experiences!

Some people do not marry because the objects of their sexual and affectional drives are those of their own sex. It is a "common sense" assumption in our society that interest in the opposite sex "comes naturally" -- in other words, is innate -- and that homosexuals are biological freaks or "queers." This assumption is no longer held among biologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

The more tenable picture would seem to be this: the heterosexual direction of the sexual drive is not implicit in the drive itself, especially since the individual of either sex is even somewhat bisexual in organic equipment. The direction of the sexual interest is acquired as a result of conditioning. The drive is without object at the outset, and the various processes by which it becomes attached to an object are as yet imperfectly understood.

It seems likely that we all tend to identify ourselves with those of our own sex at some time or other in childhood or youth, but most of us pass through more or less culturally standardized experiences in which our love drives become firmly directed toward those of the opposite sex. Some people, whether from constitutional or circumstantial causes, remain attached to the homosexual class of love-objects. When homosexuals, or "inverts" as they are sometimes called, do marry the results are usually tragic. Consequently it is well that these people, too, do not ordinarily marry. Here again we are dealing with personality factors over which a person has little or no control -- in the ordinary sense of the word "control."

Other personality variations which may, in specific situations, disqualify people for marriage are too numerous to list here. There are people who tend to recede from all social relations and dwell in worlds of fantasy within themselves. Others are inordinately suspicious. The actions of still others are of a highly compulsive nature.

How mates are sorted

Do you expect to marry? Nearly everyone in his late teens and early twenties not only intends to marry but spends an enormous amount of time talking, thinking, and daydreaming about the kind of mate he expects to choose and the kind of family he hopes to have.

This is not surprising when we consider how important the outcome is to the later course of anyone's life. It is even more understandable when we consider that the youth, whether boy or girl, has had his basic purposes and intentions molded by family living. His own parental family, a constellation comprised of a host of deeply ingrained and intermeshing habits working within and between its members, is the most important model he has for picturing his future pattern of life.

If his deepest needs and wishes have been satisfied in this parental family situation, he has an almost irrepressible need to establish his own family when his growing independence severs most of the ties with his parental family. It is as natural, then, to spin dreams about the choice of a mate as it is to spin dreams about the choice of a vocation. In fact, the two problems are often so related that neither can be considered alone.

But can you really "decide" whether or not to marry? Can you "choose" your wife or husband? Can you "plan" a wise and stable marriage? There is much less choice involved than is commonly believed. A number of factors narrow the range of conscious choice, factors which are not essentially different from those involved in any other aspect of human behavior.

We may place them in three broad categories:

(1) Personal and temperamental traits are first in the list; these result from the interplay of inherited predisposition and early childhood experiences, probably forming the framework on which most later attitudes and purposes are built.

(2) Interpersonal factors come next; these are the precipitate of interaction during the immediate period of courtship.

(3) Then there are impersonal factors of three principal varieties: (a) spatial and occupational limitations upon choice -- such as vicinally (inexactly, geographically) imposed isolation; (b) limitations resulting from the peculiarities of population structure and sex ratio; (c) cultural permissives, cultural preferences, cultural prescriptions, and similar shadings of cultural prohibitions with respect to marital choice and in terms of status in the group. It should be noted that all these types of factors tend to limit conscious choice without themselves becoming conscious or subject to conscious control or alteration.

From this standpoint there is a grain of truth in the romantic doctrine that "Some one person is destined by the stars in their courses to be my mate." Is not every person limited (that is, somewhat "predestined") in settling the problem of whether or not to marry, in choosing a mate, in planning intelligently for a happy marriage, by such factors as his geographic location, his parents' vocational and economic group, his inherited intelligence, as well as by his traits of temperament and physique as they have been modified by early childhood experiences?

This is not, however, a fatalistic or deterministic philosophy which would rule out the exercise of intelligent choice and rational planning. On the contrary, it is precisely through bringing certain limiting processes to one's conscious attention that he is able to be reasonable rather than romantic in the choices he does have the capacity to make. In short, we can marry wisely only if we understand wherein wisdom is possible.

Dating Quotes

Dating and Love Quotes by Famous People

"A man loses his sense of direction after four drinks; A woman loses hers after four kisses" H.L. Mencken

"It is better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all." Alfred Lord Tennyson

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house." Rod Stewart

"When I had no work and all this time on my hands, I couldn't get a date. Now that I have women banging on my door, I have no time to answer it." Scott Wolf

"Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night. Rodney Dangerfield

"I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy." Tom Clancy

"What's nice about my dating life is that I don't have to leave my house. All I have to do is read the paper: I'm marrying Richard Gere, dating Daniel Day-Lewis, parading around with John F. Kennedy, Jr., and even Robert De Niro was in there for a day." Julia Roberts

"According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just grateful." Robert De Niro

Marriage High Expectations

Judging by statistics, marriage is more popular today than it has ever been. In America today, 84.8 percent of the men and 84.5 percent of the women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four are married. Because marriage is a social institution that has been with us for a long time, we have some widely accepted understandings about what a marriage ought to be. We can say that most Americans see marriage as the deepest, most vital partnership in a person's life. We tend to look to it for an experience of growth and vitality that we hope will be richly rewarding to both husband and wife. These high expectations with regard to marriage derive from the traditions of romanticism, Western Christian teachings about monogamy, concern for the preservation of private property, and the high esteem with which our culture regards personal freedom.

What seems to be happening in America today, however, is that, while we may be in some ways expecting greater things of marriage than we have in the past, we also are willing (or forced) to settle for much less. Study after study sadly suggests that marriage today typically is a quite colorless affair. These studies suggest that at least a near majority of us have settled for marriages of convenience that are at best merely comfortable because they have become routinized and demand little of the partners. If our understanding of what is happening is correct, the image that more and more young people are acquiring of marriage is not a good one. On the college campuses coeds talk of not marrying at all because of their distaste for housewifery and domestic roles. Young men and women are deferring marriage longer and longer before taking the final step. Our impersonal society generates a high level of loneliness and a foreboding sense of separation. A part of our apparent eagerness to enter into marriage, therefore, may be seen not as the result of an attraction to marriage but as an attempt to escape from the loneliness and impersonality of our technologically driven society. Americans thus tend to come to marriage with high expectations and great needs at a time when the institution of marriage is being subjected to enormous social pressures which make it difficult for persons to realize these expectations in marriage.

Learning to love

There is no clear-cut line separating what we have called the "factors" and what we are now referring to as the "processes" of marriage. Our analysis of factors has emphasized the structural or organizational aspects of the phenomenon under study; it has let us examine the major elements of marriage, though without particular reference to dynamics or over-all processes.

Our present concern is with the application of this knowledge to the developmental stages or sequence patterns in the family life cycle. We shall want to examine the period of premarriage, mate adjustment within marriage, parenthood as a fruit of marriage, widowhood and other aspects of postmarriage, and spinsterhood or nonmarriage.

Love seems to be the logical starting point. Though not synonymous, love and marriage are nevertheless very much interrelated and are generally thought of together. Marriage is the natural consummation of love interests. Love is the magnet that brings people together and the cement that holds them together; it is the most essential element in pair unity.

Yet there are perhaps few concepts so misunderstood and abused. In the name of love people sometimes flounder, when they could have intelligent direction; dissipate, when their energies could be spent constructively; exploit, when they could, and should, cooperate.

Some people regard love as a blind force that can be neither understood nor controlled. Others see it as an excuse for indulgence or for the satisfying of narrow self-interest. Only a few, relatively speaking, learn the full meaning of the term and are able to use well the full power that love provides.

When your boyfriend is a flirt

I'm at a party. Samantha's on my left. Didi's on my right. My head's swiveling back and forth like a weather vane: I'm trying to entertain them both. Suddenly I'm aware of two hazel-green eyes shooting lightning bolts from across the room-straight at my head. They belong to my girlfriend, Sarah. I think I'm in trouble. I think I'm in big trouble.

Was I flirting? Tough call. I definitely wasn't doing what my friend Drew does-Drew, aka Drac, who feeds on female affection and ricochets from one girl to the next like a human pinball. But I also wasn't quite as innocent as my friend J.J., who has tons of girl "friends" but really has eyes only for Jaime, and everyone knows it including Jaime. The fact is, whether or not I was flirting wasn't what really mattered.

What mattered was that I was being uncool to Sarah (who's a pretty cool girl)-and the way she handled it is one of the reasons we've lasted as long as we have.


See, there's no set formula for identifying when your boyfriend's a flirt, but there is a point when you have a right to say something about his, well, abundance of affection for other girls. That point comes, simply, when his behavior starts to bother you. Of course, if you freak every time he looks at another girl, check your jealousy meter: You may be making demands he's not willing (or required) to meet. And if you serve him up with an ultimatum, face it: You're taking a risk.


That's what happened with J.J. and his ex Diane, who exploded when she found female voices on his answering machine. "It's me or them," she barked. He (reluctantly) picked them-which later became Jaime-but I think eventually neither J.J. nor Diane regretted his choice, once they got over the initial sting of a romance gone sour. J.J.'s better off with Jaime, who's confident enough to deal with his slew of girl "friends." And Diane's now in hog heaven with Wally, who's never been a real social guy (and who worships the pavement she walks on).


Drew's current flame, on the other hand, has chosen to put up (and shut up) when it comes to Drew's antics-which isn't easy for her. "I love Drew when we're alone, but as soon as we step out the door everything changes," she told me a while back.
"What can I do?" I didn't have the heart to tell her that not even a ton of garlic would persuade old Drac to retire his cape; I figured she'd pick that up soon enough herself and dump him for a guy who's a little less of a slimeball (sorry, Drew!).

As for Sarah and me? I'm happy to report that I'm the one who changed my ways-with help from Sarah, who handled things in her usual cool way. "You were flirting," she said, gently but firmly (once I had finally extracted myself from Didi and Samantha). "I was just being friendly," I countered. "You were flirting," she repeated. "You know I don't mind you being friends with other girls. But do you need quite so much affection from Didi and Sam when you've already got all of mine?" She put it that simply, and after about two seconds, I realized she was right. It just wasn't worth losing Sarah to have a few more minutes of attention from Didi, Sam, or any other girl. Not that I've become antisocial or anything. I'm just a little less "friendly". . . and now I've got the best of both worlds.

What does it mean to be engaged?

What does it mean to be engaged? From the foregoing it is obvious that a good deal of ambiguity and haziness surrounds not only the act of becoming engaged but the very state of being engaged. Perhaps no situation in any society is ever completely defined by the symbols which relate to it, but the engagement situation in our society is one which is left almost completely undefined by its symbols. The symbols are commonly the wearing of a ring or fraternity pin, the announcement of engagement at a party and in the newspaper, exclusive courtship over a long period of time, the words "I love you. Will you marry me?" and so on. The significance or meaning of engagement, however, is not at all standardized or universal. While the symbols remain fairly constant throughout our society the meaning varies from couple to couple. Even more striking is the fact that the functions which the engagement period fulfills are not regulated by the formal customs of our society. In this respect modern America differs from most other societies. This will be appreciated when we survey the varying customs and functions of the betrothal among groups other than our own.

Comparative Marriage Choices of the Single, Widowed, and Divorced

More information is needed on the choices made in first marriages of men and women, as well as those in second or following marriages. Who marry the widows and divorced women? Are they chosen chiefly by bachelors, widowers, or divorced men?

Most girls want to marry someone older than themselves, and in four out of five cases they do. The average age difference for the country is three years. Although going to college theoretically gives a girl an excellent chance at selection, actually her opportunity is not so great as supposed. Her classmates are men of her own age; and though she may be ready to marry upon graduation, they usually are not. Either they have postgraduate work to do, or they must get jobs and become somewhat established before they can marry. By that time, unless they have held through a long engagement, they are more likely to be interested in girls from three to five years younger than themselves, which rules out most of their college mates. The freshman girl who can put her brand on some not-too-haughty senior may get out of college just about the time he wants to marry, but such skill denotes special favor of the gods.

Standards of Choice Are Built Up Gradually

Those who want to do something to help young folk in this difficult matter of selection frequently go at the matter from the wrong end. They assume that they have an unencumbered field on which to work, when actually it is already covered with ideas, whether good, bad, or indifferent. For young folk do not, when they reach the marrying age, suddenly begin to study the characteristics most desirable in a mate. They have ideas on this subject, but they don't get them just at that time. Reading, talking with friends, discussion courses in college or voluntary organizations-all these give additional ideas and help to clear up uncertainties. But most of their ideas on the subject have been acquired from childhood up. They have been built into their whole system of life values by parents, teachers, friends, and companions, for successful marriage (to a considerable degree at least) depends upon the same rules as successful friendship.

From an early age, children are unconsciously influenced by the kind of playmates they are encouraged to play with and even the kind of adult friends their parents choose. This constitutes a process of selection, a continual choosing of persons with whom it is worth while to spend time, and the avoidance of those with whom one would waste time. This is much the same as saying that we choose as friends the people that we like and that we like them because they represent, in varying degrees, life values that comfortably coincide with our own.

In much the same way, one marries a person because one likes her-not because one has gone around with list in hand and checked her as the one who most nearly meets all specifications. Even those who temper romance with common sense are hardly that cold and analytical. We marry persons, not abstractions. This does not mean that a study of attributes which in general are most likely to make for success in marriage is not helpful; the emphasis of ideals is helpful at any age. But it does mean that the most strategic point of influence is long before the mating age and that the responsibility of education for marriage rests first on parents, teachers, and others who shape the ideals of children.

By the time young people have reached the marriageable age, their life values are pretty well established, which is to say that the general type of person they will marry is already determined, within reasonable bounds. Even then they may be influenced in certain crises by the counseling of elders whose wisdom and judgment they respect, but on the whole they are satisfied to follow what they consider to be their own ideas, little realizing that these ideas are not their own but have accrued from a hundred sources through many years. Any cross section, therefore, of their standards of selection would be to a considerable degree a reflection of the value patterns of the social milieu in which they grew up. Nevertheless, such a measure of youth's attitudes should be of interest.

No study has been made on this subject that includes proportional representation of all races, nationalities, religious faiths, and social and economic classes in the country, and hence no "all-American" standard can be determined. It would be easy to argue that such a study would mean little, for most people marry, at one time or another, and these of necessity include rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, generous and selfish, honest and dishonest, good cooks and poor cooks, and most of the opposites that could be mentioned. But it is possible to find the prevailing ideals of smaller groups, for example, those of a given locality, or of a selected class within a given locality.

Preferential mating

By preferential mating is meant the conscious or unconscious choice of a mate because of certain desirable characteristics, whether or not these are possessed to any marked degree by the one doing the choosing. In assortative mating, much of the selection is unconscious, but in preferential mating a large share of it is conscious and thus more amenable to social influence, particularly education. But even here part of the process is unconscious, for individuals absorb much of their social thought from innumerable sources, some of which seldom come to the foreground of attention.

Similar social and economic status is undoubtedly a large factor in selection, not only because of consciousness of kind and the comfort of the familiar but also because one's acquaintanceship usually lies mostly within one's own class and the laws of numbers play their role well. There follow the more personal characteristics, such as beauty, disposition, vivacity, intelligence, health, stability, and a host of others. These will be rated differently by different social groups, and the ratings may change at different periods in time. Beauty is practically always desired but, of necessity, not always insisted upon. Also, it is well that individual standards of beauty vary as much as they do, for many a person who would rate low in a professional beauty contest can qualify as beautiful to someone. Beauty is such an elusive, indefinable attribute that it need not wholly depend upon regularity of features and conformity to an accepted type but is determined partly by the reflection of personality through face and body, revealing such factors as animation, kindness, courage, and grace of movement.

But it is impossible to compose a list of attributes that a person must have in order to be a successful husband or wife. The press has frequently exploited the subject through "love columns" as well as through the sensational statements of notoriety seekers. One of these, a doctor of some standing, warns young men against marrying a girl who cannot run 100 yards in 13 seconds. Presumably, this is merely a test of good health rather than ability to keep out of reach of said husband when in an irate mood. Anyway, the husband supposedly travels in another medium, for girls are adjured to pick husbands who can swim 25 yards in 30 seconds. One writer insists that the young man select a college graduate if possible, but another says that college women make the worst wives in the world. There are innumerable lists with names like "Ten Rules for Choosing a Husband (or Wife)" which include such banalities as "He must not be jealous," "He should not be conceited or tactless," "He should be willing to let his wife audit his accounts"; "She should be charming, clever, and entertaining, always neat in appearance, thrifty" in other words, a mate should be a paragon of virtue and grace.

Granted that these lists contain many admirable characteristics, as well as negative ones to be shunned, the absurdity is not so much in their innocuous enumeration as in the authoritative assumption that this or that list is the perfect guide and that unhappiness will result from the choice of a person who does not measure up. It is worth while to analyze certain characteristics that frequently have great influence one way or another, for youth needs all the enlightenment it can get on this difficult question, but to make arbitrary lists that can automatically sort out the successful or unsuccessful prospects is patently impossible.

What sort of person should I marry

"What sort of person should I marry," is a rather academic question unless there is real opportunity for choice. This means that each person should have sufficient acquaintance with a sufficient number of eligible partners. Modern life has made human beings more highly individuated than they ever were before. Being exposed from childhood on to a wider variety of situations, they develop interests and tastes which are more diversified than in those days when there were fewer and simpler types of environment.

Not only is the actual variety of personalities in the marriage market greater, but the demand for a congenial mating seems to have become more insistent. There was a day when all women were in a sense more or less alike. The men, too, were more alike than now, although their differences in prowess, occupation and status were recognized. Within wide limits it did not make so much difference just what woman a man obtained, or vice versa. In any case she was reared in the culture of the community, had learned to do the things all women must do, and apart from the fireside she would not be very much the companion of her husband. Her place, like that of every other woman, was in the home. The man must find companionship in his adventurous, awayfrom-home activities, his more personal interests, among his own sex, or in a limited way in some societies, from hetairae or "free women."

With the emancipation of women and their assimilation with men in interests, a more all-pervading companionship comes to be expected between man and wife. The modern young person hopes to find all sides of his personality satisfied by his partner. Whatever his actual behavior, the man at least does not take for granted, as he did in many earlier societies, supplementary satisfactions from other women. The wife now expects from her husband emotional satisfactions which formerly she would have obtained through other relationships, including those with her children. She also demands a more perfect physical sex satisfaction, for she cannot help knowing, from modern literature and conversation, that such is possible. She can no longer accept the notion taught by her grandmother that sex is merely a woman's concession to male passion.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the problem of finding the right mate has become more intense. If to find the one right mate, an acquaintance with five candidates was once sufficient, it might seem that today one must know at least 25 candidates to have the same probability of achieving a good choice. Yet the social machinery for the mutual discovery of partners has not changed to keep pace with the increasing difficulties of the choice. This is what sociologists call a cultural lag. One kind of change has lagged behind another; the result is a problem where no problem existed before.

It is true that chaperonage has relaxed and that young people have a certain measure of freedom to mingle and become acquainted in all kinds of situations, which did not exist before. Under many circumstances they become acquainted without the formality of an introduction. These relaxations of the older rules do not, however, meet the need. The new informality is very irregularly distributed, it does not operate among many who need it most; and commonly it brings only a superficial acquaintance. The circumstances are not conducive to serious friendships which might open the way toward marriage.

Not all the situations in which persons of opposite sex meet are favorable to the kind of interest which leads toward courtship and marriage. The attitude produced by the situation may be too irresponsible or too serious. Two very worth while young people may meet in "pick up" fashion under unusual conditions of gayety, the very atmosphere itself creating a mental set which prevents each from recognizing the worth of the other. On the other hand, many persons meet potential partners in connection with their work, and the tense or "hectic" atmosphere inhibits the playful or personal interest which might otherwise develop.

Some young people feel that the modern custom of going to places of commercial amusement such as roadhouses, night clubs, and the like, narrows the possibilities of acquaintance, because the participants tend to remain in the small groups in which they arrive at the scene and do not, of course, mingle freely with the strangers. Insofar as such entertainment replaces home and church parties where all guests freely mingle, there is a loss of acquaintance possibilities. What is really needed is a type of gathering where the people are personally strangers, but are selected in such a way that each feels safe in approaching any other. Gatherings of this kind are found in churches, schools, institutions, and in the national or regional assemblages of members of various organizations.

The school or college group is a labor-saving device in spreading personal acquaintance, since each learns to know and observe many others without a special introduction or approach to each individual separately. Young people of the working class in America, at least, are not as well provided with these opportunities as are the more privileged classes. In Europe labor unions and labor political parties perform this function to a degree unknown here. It is not surprising that many of our working class youth must resort to the casual "pick up" method of acquaintance.

There is real need in modern society for institutions which perform the function of the marriage broker of other times and countries. There are indeed agencies which play the role in part, or for certain classes of people: advertising columns, correspondence leagues, date bureaus, individuals who take a special pleasure in matchmaking, debutante parties, and hostesses who carefully keep lists of eligible young men. Either the older machinery must be greatly extended, or new machinery invented.

A really good match

What is an intelligent choice, a really "good match"?

In a study several hundred couples were rated as to their present degree of happiness in marriage, and many facts about the life of each individual before marriage were ascertained. It was found that certain of these characteristics were associated with marital happiness; such, for example, was high education. By combining all the variables which did actually correlate with happiness, a "prediction score" was developed by which one could estimate, from known pre-marital facts, the probable future happiness. However, such social prediction scores seldom give more than a certain degree of probability; they never give any certainty as regards any individual case. They are worth having and the intelligent young person will give them some attention, without drawing from them any fatalistic or inevitable conclusions about any single case. Predictions for the mass are more accurate than for the individual. We can predict with some reliability how many divorces will take place in a given city, or in a given large group of people with known characteristics. But we cannot predict reliably which particular persons will be divorced.

Scientific observation dispels at least one popular fallacy. Namely, it is widely believed that opposite types attract each other like the poles of a magnet, and ought normally to marry. Science finds no evidence for this belief. In some respects like tends to mate with like; in other respects people tend to choose at random without regard to likeness or unlikeness.2 Frequently one is attracted by some trait in the partner which fascinates him because of its novelty, or its apparent differences from his own traits or those of other familiar persons. This unlikeness-to-himself, however, is more probably incidental rather than the real reason for the attractiveness. Commonly the trait is one which he himself wants to acquire, and may possibly acquire later. When all traits are considered, the partner is probably more similar to him than she would be to a man chosen purely at random. On the whole one is safer to marry a person near his own age, of his own race, religion, culture, and social background; a person of interests, ideals, and beliefs compatible with his own; such matings in fact are more common than those of opposite or radically unlike backgrounds. It is better for mates to be reasonably similar in physical energy and mental ability, otherwise one may become a drag on the other. It is dangerous to marry in order to uplift somebody, or to be uplifted. In some minor characteristics of temperament, taste and style, it may be safe to choose a so-called opposite. But the only absolute rule of opposites is that one should choose the opposite sex.

Under our American romanticism, cultural differences between mates are not so serious a difficulty as they are in caste societies, where marrying outside the pale is a family disgrace. The romantic ideology lends a special atmosphere of adventure and drama to the intercultural marriage. "True love" supposedly proves its strength by its ability to overcome such handicaps. While this romanticism misleads many into unwise marriages, it also shifts the emphasis away from cultural differences and furthers the assimilation of unlike social elements. When trouble comes to an intercultural marriage, as Mrs. Mowrer points out, the cultural differences are often used as a rationalization, or outward explanation, of the conflict, whereas the real cause may lie in personality incompatibilities. 42 Thus the woman who is dissatisfied with her husband as a love-maker may attribute her annoyance to his plebeian habit of going about in his shirt sleeves whereas her family used to dress for dinner.

Many kinds of differences, including those of cultural background, may be used to enrich and educate the couple who face these differences intelligently. Thus one man values especially in his wife the culturally higher level to which she, through her family, was able to introduce him. One woman, reared in a western, farm, Protestant environment, finds her life enriched by marriage to a New York Jew reared in the midst of sharp business practice and machine politics. In many such cases marital happiness is genuine beyond doubt. "It can be done."

About age differences much the same thing can be said as about cultural differences. What evidence we have indicates that it is somewhat safer if the man is two or three years older than the girl and she is at least twenty-one. But certainly the risks do not differ greatly enough to permit us to say that any given couple, well suited on other grounds, should abstain from marriage merely because of an abnormal age situation. We do find, however, one combination which should be inspected carefully because it appears in divorce or domesticrelations courts much oftener than it would by pure chance. This is the marriage of a girl of nineteen or less to a man five or more years her senior.

The more serious danger to happiness exists where the major life-drives, goals, purposes, values, expectations, of the two partners, are incompatible. In the past, indeed, these major differences of values which distinguished one person from another were to a large extent cultural, that is, they were the product mainly of different religions, national, social backgrounds of the two. Today cultural values are losing their authority and rigidity; persons are becoming mutually tolerant or even similar about many cultural tastes and ideals which once set them apart. At the same time new differences are arising; differences having to do with the chosen pattern and style of the individual life, especially with the ways in which leisure time and money are spent.

A student, writing anonymously her conception of "my ideal man," says: "He should enjoy, mildly at least, nature, sports, books, music, and the theater, and not have any highly absorbing interest to which I was wholly indifferent after making an effort to cultivate such an interest." This girl, instead of being scolded for selfishness or egotism, should be commended for her realistic facing of her own personality. Only by first recognizing this highly exacting desire of hers, can she modify it and adjust herself to realities.

The values upon which it is dangerous to differ are those whose pursuit requires much time, money, mental concentration, physical transportation, or absorbing effort. In general they are values to which one devotes leisure time. Men and women normally expect to spend their working hours apart. Working in the same occupation, or together on the same

specific project, may bring them into closer harmony; in other cases it may cause mutual irritation and perhaps jealous rivalry. Important for harmony is the integration or compatibility of their purposes rather than whether they spend an average or a much greater number of hours together. It is also important, however, that they spend a certain minimum of leisure time together and that this be free from tension. It is during these relaxed hours that love may perpetually renew itself.

It is silly, however, to become alarmed merely because one's partner likes golf while one's self dislikes it, and instead, plays an excellent game of tennis. It is the deeper patterns of enjoyment rather than specific activities which are significant. Suppose, for example, we have a person who fundamentally likes to do a few things and to do them exceedingly well. He sees himself as a specialist in leisure, as well as in work, where everyone must be a specialist. He has already set for himself certain long-run goals in his sphere of interest. He may aspire to a trip around the world, or acquiring a summer home in the country, or becoming the best tennis player in six states. Suppose he (or she) marries a partner who may be equally intelligent, but whose essential satisfaction is to drift with the tide of circumstance, to sample many of life's pleasures, to "putter" now with this hobby and now with that, collecting now some antique furniture, then selling it at a loss and taking up the breeding of dogs, under the shifting influences of fashion and friends. Both patterns of life may be equally worthy. It may be the Puritan component in our culture which causes us to give a certain admiration to the former. The serious problem is the difference in this respect between two persons who must live together, share a limited space for household storage, share the same purse without any authoritative formula for its apportionment between them, and who, to keep their love, need to spend a certain number of pleasurable hours in each other's physical presence.

The Individual Choice of Partner

If the sexes were evenly distributed and everyone married on his own level, there would still be the problem of proper mating. Who should marry whom? Let those who have already committed themselves not be disturbed by this question. A scientifically ideal choice of mate is not essential to marital happiness. There is also a scale of values which says: "The highest achievement is to make a success with her whom you have already chosen." This achievement also is facilitated by science and understanding.

Most advice to young people about choosing a mate seems to imply that there are a number of bad types of personality which all should avoid. Indeed it is quite true, as the experience of case workers and marriage counselors will testify, that many persons are psychologically unfit to marry anyone. The significant question is: how numerous are these bad risks? If they are less than 10 or 15 per cent of the population, perhaps we can persuade them to stay unmarried. If, however, they are 50 per cent, as one might suspect from the numerous and broad descriptions sometimes given, then most of them will marry anyway. If we steer one person away from such a black sheep the latter merely falls into someone else's arms. Are we not merely helping one person at the expense of another? How does it profit society as a whole?

This analysis, of course, is too abstract and there are not the facts to answer concretely the question raised. It was raised to call attention to our basic assumptions in this discussion. Do you as an individual merely want help to get an advantage over some other individual, or will you help to increase the general welfare and happiness of the whole? About the possibility of increasing the general welfare, thinkers are today becoming more rather than less optimistic. Moreover, many of your individual problems can best be solved, not by something you can do single-handed for yourself, but by the joint efforts of groups in which you coƶperate. If you are able to accept this social responsibility, you will want to discuss this process of courtship and marital choice from a social point of view which will be independent of your own present personal status in the process.

According to the romantic theory there is something mysterious about the process of pairing off. It is more or less believed that each person has a "natural mate," and when this mate is found, the couple will know intuitively that they "belong to each other." Calculations and cold-blooded analysis, it is thought, do not help; they may spoil the beauty of romance. Here is where understanding is needed. True understanding will not spoil the romance; it may save one from disillusionment afterward.

Love, or any other emotional experience, consists of two parts. First, there is the feeling itself; second, there is the object of the feeling. In the case of romantic love, the object is a particular human being of the opposite sex. John says he is romantically in love with Mary. If he says so, he probably is. Except under very abnormal conditions, he is the best judge of his own feelings. There is nothing false, or unreal, or illusory about that feeling of his. It is there. Neither is there any question about Mary's being the object of his feeling. Furthermore, John, throughout his life, will probably experience now and then the same love feeling that he does now. These feelings are as possible and real at fifty as at twenty; they do not wear out in a few years like a suit of clothes. Moreover, Mary will probably always be much the same type of person as she is now; she will change only gradually. If she is lovable by John now, she will probably be lovable by him in the future, and is lovable also by many other men. In all these respects John is under no illusion. Both his feeling, and the object of his feeling, are very real, and they are substantially what they seem to be. If John is an average young American, however, mentally nourished upon popular love literature and movies, and has not had scientific training, he is likely to suffer from illusion in one respect. Namely, he will believe that there is something inevitable, changeless, unique, and irreplaceable, about this connection of his love feeling with the object, "Mary."

Yet, in sober truth, while she indeed may be the "only girl" for him under present conditions, she is not the only possible girl; she was not so in the past, and she may not be in the future. Maybe John will admit these facts in certain moods, but to admit them gives him a sense of disloyalty and disillusion. He would rather cherish his illusion! If he becomes disillusioned he may become cynical, that is, he will try to lay aside his more "idealistic" feelings and to live upon a lower level of pleasures and emotions which are less subject to disappointment.

I would like to inoculate all young people against illusion, disillusion, and cynicism. The essential element in my mental antitoxin would be an appreciation of change. We have been taught to overvalue what is static. We crave that which "stays put," the rock amid shifting sands. Yet the fact is, all things change. John changes. Mary changes. Their love relation changes. Probably John now likes many foods which he formerly disliked intensely. He may feel enthusiastic about certain sports, men friends, political theories toward which he formerly felt indifference or dislike. Toward other objects his feeling has shifted in the reverse direction. It is natural that similar shifts should take place in his love feelings.

Yet all these facts do not destroy: (1) the possibility of this love relation's being supremely valuable, indeed the most beautiful experience in the life of John or Mary, whether it endures for a long or short while; (2) the possibility of maintaining this love relation, if they so wish, at a high intensity throughout life. If they wish to maintain it, however, they must not think of it as something inherently static, which will endure forever because of some mysterious inner quality, but as something which is now so beautiful that it is worth continued development through careful, intelligent nurture. A supreme love relation between John and Mary may continue throughout life, but it will not be changeless. What they really want and can get is continuity, not changelessness. They can get continuity by accepting change!

The writer's generation was taught: "Put thy faith in that which endureth." Then they were disillusioned. Some turned cynical and said: "Nothing endureth, hence ideals are vain, and only sense pleasures are worth cultivating." A few, however, have seen beyond this. As they see it, "everything changeth, hence let us rejoice. Life itself is change."

With this dynamic concept of life, of personality, and of love, the younger generation may face the future without illusion and also without cynicism. Everything changes, that is, in its specific configuration and constitution. But any aspect of life which seems worth continuing, can be continued if one will accept the changes which are necessary to continue it. Thus the seeming paradox, that the only way to secure permanence in life is through change. In the case of the love relation, the meaning is this. If John wishes always to love Mary as intensely as he does now, and she him, they must perpetually renew their love by learning new things, doing new things, changing their treatment of each other as new needs and circumstances arise. In other words, they must continually change themselves and their relation to each other to keep in step with the other changes which life will continually and relentlessly force upon them. To put the matter in more philosophical terms, the only kind of permanence in human relations is a dynamic equilibrium maintained by keeping related changes constantly adjusted to one another in their speed and direction. This is better named "continuity" than "permanence." Why should this make anyone melancholy?

To choose a mate intelligently does not mean to choose unromantically. Few if any persons marry without emotion, without love, which sooner or later takes on a "romantic" quality. The issue is simply whether one will use his intelligence to guide love, or place himself at the mercy of circumstances. To be sure, one cannot directly, through mere will power, make himself fall in love or out of love with a given person. He can, however, by will power, keep himself out of situations which may cause his present mild interest in a potential but unsuitable partner to develop into romance. He can by will power put himself into situations which promise new and desirable acquaintances. He can hold a budding romantic feeling in check until intelligence, so to speak, gives him the green light, and then advance joyously. When that time comes, he will not find that his love emotions have been dulled or impoverished because on certain earlier occasions they were held under control.

The reason for many mismatings is that the partners fall in love because of one or two highly desired traits and overlook the remainders of each other's personality. Thus a young woman was in love with A, but was obliged to break with him because of certain abnormalities in his personality, including a pathological tendency toward fits of gloom and depression. Soon afterward she met B, who emotionally was the very opposite of A: light-hearted, frivolous, always eager for a good time. On the rebound from her earlier disappointment she fell in love with this second man and married him. Years later she found that she had made a mistake. What she really wanted in the long run was a much "deeper" person than B; she wanted someone like A without A's pathological tendencies. But the reaction against the frustration of her first love caused her to overvalue, for some time, the one trait which had been lacking in that person. During this period of emotionally warped judgment, she made her mistake.

There are other causes beside disappointments in previous love which lead one to overvalue a particular trait in a potential partner while being blind to the more important remainder of his or her personality. It may be some ideal or whim developed years ago and never yet satisfied. Suddenly one discovers "just what I've been seeking all these years," and one's emotions surge up into a mighty wave which sweeps all before it.

One woman had had several men friends who were devoted to her. More than one had asked to marry her and she admitted they would make ideal husbands. Yet she couldn't "fall in love" with these men. To get that romantic feeling, to be carried away by her emotions, she needed a man having certain specific characteristics of manner and attitude: he must be gay, free from apparent seriousness or anxiety, and sophisticated. Once she found her man and was overwhelmed emotionally. But she couldn't accept other aspects of his personality; the two put each other to certain tests, the tests failed and they parted.

A young man working toward a career in science was weary of the smug conventionality which characterized most of the girls with whom he had been so far associated. He craved a girl who was "intellectual" and could share his joy of emancipation from his small-town conservative past. He found such a girl and married her. Then he discovered that she had only a few traits out of several which he needed. She could share with him a brilliant conversation and some groups of friends, but not his chief leisure interests, which required a more or less rural, home-and-fireside type of living, with certain manual skills and crafts. He had given up only certain of the values derived from his background culture; others which he retained were vital to his happiness. The woman likewise found that she did not possess quite the kind of husband she had anticipated. The interests of the partners were not only different, but mutually interfering, because they called for very different places and styles of living. They struggled hard to maintain their marriage, but the progressively deepening conflict was too much for them.

The Marriage Market

To use the term "market" in connection with marriage may suggest something sordid. Perhaps here lies our first exercise in realism. The term is used to analyze certain aspects of marriage; it is helpful in our intellectual understanding of the situation. Let us fear nothing which helps toward understanding. Why should it make our feeling toward marriage any less refined or delectable than it was before? To analyze a rose into carbon and water does not by one jot or one tittle change the quality of roses nor their power to beautify and enrich human life.

Marriage involves a market as does every other human process where there is a free seeking and choosing, by multitudes of individuals, of good things which are limited in quantity. There is demand and there is supply, whether we look at it from the standpoint of men or of women. The individual who falls in love and marries may feel that this course of events is something unique and personal, which was predestined to happen to him and his partner. Yet in sober reality, the romance and marriage of this young couple were governed by the social circumstances and conditions surrounding them. If the young man had lived in a different community where there were fewer girls and more boys, someone else might have taken his beloved before he had a chance to know of her existence.

It will be helpful to bear in mind certain general facts about the marriage market in the United States. About 80 per cent of both men and women marry eventually, that is, if they live to be fifty-five or more. In the case of women, all but two or three per cent of those who will ever marry have done so by the age of thirty-five; in the case of men a somewhat larger proportion wait until after that age. If the man is in the early twenties, the average tendency is for him to marry a girl about three years younger than himself; the average groom of thirty-five takes a bride six or seven years younger. Because of the usually greater age of men when they marry and the fact that women on the average outlive men by two or three years, there are many more widows than there are widowers. Young men of the professional classes marry on the average at twenty-seven or twenty-eight years of age, while those of the laboring and farming classes tend to marry at twenty-five or less.

Just as we need today a greater appreciation of individual differences, so we need also to give more attention to the differences which exist among places, social classes, groups, and situations. These differences are more important than averages and "totals." If there is an average human being, he is a very rare one. If there is an average situation or community, few persons are blessed by living in it.

One of the most important irregularities in the marriage market is the geographically and socially uneven distribution of the two sexes. The number of boys born is very slightly greater than that of girls. While Nature provides a partner for almost everyone, human beings do not stay where Nature puts them. Migration removes adolescent girls from the farm to the village or small city more than it does boys. But it also takes men and boys to the West, to large cities and to industrial communities. The farms, the large cities, metal-working industrial cities, and the West tend toward excess of males; suburbs, small cities, textile cities, and the South and New England tend toward excess of females. In wealthy suburbs there are only three single men to four single women, whereas in industrial suburbs there are four single men to three single women. In New England the sex ratio of the approximately total marriageable population (i.e., single, widowed, and divorced persons aged fifteen and over) is 89, in the Pacific states it is 125.

No one knows how much our marriage rate is cut by these local irregularities in the distribution of the sexes, but it is certainly a factor of considerable moment. In the industrial suburbs as in the working class areas of large cities and in the West generally, it is the men who must compete vigorously for partners; the women are in the favored position, being fewer in number. In prosperous residential suburbs and among the more educated classes women must compete for men. This is a very rough picture of the situation, because the real competition is based not merely on the sex ratio of the whole population, or of the unmarried adult population, but more particularly upon the sex ratio within specific social horizons. Many of the excess males in the larger cities are itinerant workers or foreign-born, who would not normally be accepted in marriage by most of the resident women. In such cities there may be an actual shortage of men in the class within which the native American women, for example, would be willing to marry.

In some cases the young person may decide that his major life objectives will best be served either by moving to another locality, or by deliberately crossing social boundaries in his acquaintance with the opposite sex. If he is an attractive and popular person who feels no worry about his own marriage prospects, he will become a still more worth while person if he is informed and intelligent about this situation which concerns his fellows.

Puzzling as it may seem, women are more affected than men by the sex ratio of their community. A certain irreducible percentage of men seem to remain bachelors anyway regardless of the sex ratio. They do not marry even when there is a surplus of women from which to choose. It is probable that these men remain bachelors either for financial or personality reasons and that many of them should so remain. On the other hand, when the men are in great preponderance in a community, almost every woman marries, there is no great residuum of spinsters. Thus if we examine the population of about forty years of age of the wealthy suburb of Brookline, Massachusetts, and the western industrial city of Pueblo, Colorado, we find that the percentage of men who remain single at this age is about 18 in both communities. On the other hand, the women of this age are 33 per cent single in Brookline, which has a huge excess of women, and only 9 per cent single in Pueblo, which has a large excess of men. Since women are more affected by the surplus or deficiency of men than the men are affected by a surplus or deficiency of women, it would seem that the woman's fate in the marriage market is relatively more a matter of opportunity or circumstance and less a matter of her own personality or personal competence. This means that there are probably many married women who are not well fitted for marriage, and many unmarried women who would make admirable wives. The same statement would not be true to so great a degree about men. It also follows from these facts that there are probably more frustrations among women than men because of wanting to be married and not succeeding. These are further intensified by the fact that men are still more free than women to secure a substitute for one aspect of married life, the sexual.

In general, then, it would seem that the marriage market presents a greater problem to women than to men. While women may take the initiative in attacking the problem, they need to secure the more intelligent cooperation of men.

Finding a Mate in Modern Society

There are three truths which all people today need to realize. First, society is changing rapidly. This involves not only changes in the way we live, but also in the very ideals or values which govern our thinking. Second, individuals differ. They differ in more significant ways than ever before. They differ to such an extent that in many spheres of life the concept of "normality" has become practically meaningless. Third, the conflicts and problems with which modern life seems to surround us cannot be blamed upon individuals.

Our society is full of conflicts and inconsistencies. It is time we stopped talking about the mentally sick individuals who cannot adjust themselves to society. Perhaps it is society itself which is the patient.

The modern youth must admit to himself that he is merely making the best possible adjustment under existing conditions; that this is essentially experimental and subject to change. He must learn to throw off that paralyzing sense of guilt and of failure which so many people continue to feel, even after they have literally done their best. He must learn to manage his life as he plays a game, striving always for excellence and success, but taking his failures humorously and courageously. Certainly we need this kind of "maturity"; but let us not think of it as something which comes automatically with natural growth and years; it is a matter of personal temperament plus training.

Technique of Harmony in Modern Marriage

In a sense the conflict between a man and a woman is at its height when they mate. The process of mating, of yielding to attraction, of overcoming repulsion, of working through a series of countervailing forces is the process we now call adjustment. It is at the point when this adjustment reaches a balance that marriage may be said fairly to begin.

The point which is not usually stressed is the fact that there is no single moment at which a balance is struck and when that balance becomes permanent. Though the stress is less than during courtship or early marriage, the process is continuous, varying in tempo and degree, but always present. It is always possible, if the process fails, for love to become hatred; indeed an especially favorable soil for hatred exists where there has been a prior love. Acquaintances do not hate; they merely part. People who have no adjustment to each other, that is, whose personalities are so far apart that the adjustment process never takes place, are too indifferent to each other to excite any violent emotion.

If we do not accept the hypothesis that the relationship of man and woman is a conflict, we may at least concede that the process of marriage, once the strictly physical phase has become subordinate to the intellectual process, involves a continuous balancing of opposite interests, opposite tastes and opposite ideas. This is too often pictured as life in which one or both give up interests which they hold very dear. Indeed, that is sometimes the case; we all know marriages where one has been entirely subjected to the other. Domination may fit the psychological needs of one partner just as slavery may fit the needs of the other and in such a case the arrangement is a satisfactory one for the individuals concerned. But there is always the danger that the slave will rebel. A husband or wife who tries to reduce his partner to complete subjection, who asks him to sacrifice all his heart's desires, must bear in mind that the worm will turn. There is no hatred or resentment more bitter than that of the rebellious slave.

Actually marriage can be and should be an evolution by which each adopts interests which were formerly foreign. The result should be not that each is limited by the other, but that each is expanded by the other. If there is any quality of defeat in this mythical conflict, the conquered should find not that he has lost a province, but that he has become a member of a larger kingdom. This idea has no novelty except as applied to marriage. Certainly every religion in the world has proceeded from the theory that by acknowledging subjection to a spiritual ideal the individual discovered that his life was not narrowed, but enlarged; certainly by giving up some individual idiosyncrasies men have discovered that their range was not limited but increased. In the closest and most intimate relationships the same result can be achieved; and the result of the assumed conflict which has been so often depicted in literature as a bitter and destructive tragedy can, and in fact usually does, become a development increasing the radius of both lives. Each is himself, but more than himself because he has become a part of the other. Gilbert Chesterton once observed that while it may be conceded to mathematicians that two and two make four, a human relationship of one and one makes more nearly a thousand times one--which is why the world in spite of its many and obvious disadvantages will probably always return to monogamy.

While marriage is a social institution, it is also the most personal, intimate, and comprehensive human relationship. It is therefore natural that man should center many of his most important and tenacious dreams around his mate. In the mind of every man and every woman who enters marriage there is usually a pretty complete mental picture of what his wife or her husband "ought" to be like.

This dream picture is for the most part an unconscious one. True, almost anyone would be able to write down some of the qualifications for an ideal partner according to his way of thinking. But that list would include but a small part of his dream picture. The rest is formed of emotional needs and sense impressions, unconscious, unformulated, halfforgotten.

Speaking in simple terms, an individual has behind him the impressions he has formed of his parents' marriage and other marriages he may have observed. From these he has drawn conclusions which lead him to emulate or to despise the examples he has seen. These conclusions might best be called "reactions," which merely means that they are not logically and categorically worked out. A trivial example may serve to illustrate the point.

A friend of mine was telling me that she was experiencing some difficulty in getting her young son, aged six, to help in making his bed. "But," said the little boy, "Daddy doesn't make his own bed. You make it for him." The little boy will forget his remark; when he applies for a marriage license at the age of twenty-five, he will not be saying to himself, "I expect my wife to make my bed for me." But somewhere in the back of his mind he can see his mother making his father's bed; that, along with myriad other impressions, goes to make his mental picture of what he expects a wife to do. The illustration is here used only to make clear that the pattern of our dreams is made up of thousands of unconsidered trifles like this.

This pattern of our expectations and of our needs, like marriage itself, is many-sided. It is concerned with what the man and woman shall wear, what they shall eat, the kind of house they shall live in, the kind of friends they shall have, what they shall spend their money on, what is man's work, what is woman's work, how they shall bring up their children. Above all, it is concerned with what part each shall play in loving, supporting, comforting, or hating the other through the great and small fears, failures, successes, irritations, satisfactions, tragedies, and joys of life.

When two people marry, they bring their dreams with them. Marriage involves the meeting of two dreams with a state of facts. Matching the dream with dream, and both with the realities, is the essence of adjustment. This is a continuous process; it begins with courtship; it continues through marriage; it is not ended even by divorce. Our parents meant something very like it when they spoke of the necessity of give and take in marriage, although they assumed a set of principles governing that give and take which today are not always accepted.

It would be absurd to pretend that anyone knows much about the process. The cardinal fact that we have vastly increased our knowledge of the physical development of man is matched by the equally important fact that our knowledge of his mental, psychological, and spiritual functioning is hazy in the extreme. But we do have some information, collected from realms as diverse as anthropology and poetry, history and biology. From these we can, at least, make certain hypotheses--sophisticated guesses, if you choose, as to this process of adjustment.

Romance and Realism in Love and Marriage

There is a tendency in our day to describe love as "realistic" if it is individual, physiological, and without ideals. Sexual intercourse, according to this view, is not social intercourse. To believe that physical expression of love inevitably involves two personalities, each with its own rich and inescapable history, is considered "romantic."

Surely here is some confusion of terms.

The way of romance has always been the way of oversimplification, the way of fitting complicated reality into a single pattern or ideal. The way of realism has always demanded an honest attempt to consider even complex and puzzling factors. So it is interesting that at least a part of the thinking of our time is calling "realistic" that which is an obvious over-simplification of the relationship between men and women. The over-simplification is understandable in a time of doubt and change. There is much to be said for it: at least that it sharpens issues. But over-simplification it remains, and therefore romance.

The "truth" about love and its possibilities lies still in the region of unsettled questions. What we do not know, and what perhaps we need most to know, is how much of human conduct is biologically inevitable from the moment of conception on, and how much is determined by cultural patterns or social inheritance. The answers are not all in; indeed, we are only beginning to ask the questions.

At the same time, we must all continue to act in this area of uncertainty, even though still blindly. But blindness as such is not necessarily a virtue, and what attempts have been made toward the light are presumably helpful. To follow them far may even require a sort of high courage in the presence of mirrors.

But courage has always rated fairly high among the romantic virtues. What follows might even be described as an attempt to show that, in a certain sense, realism in matters of love is less a destruction of castles in the air than an attempt to build foundations under them. It may, indeed, offer the best way in which so-called romantic values can be realized.

Steps in Love and Courtship

What is true love? How can it be found? Should love be a prerequisite for marriage? Must its thrills and inspiration eventually wear off?

Such are the questions in the minds of young people facing marriage. There are no ready-made answers but rather a background of information and suggestive ideas which will help the student work out his own answers. These, in the last analysis, must be individual.

We shall first analyze love psychologically, that is, mainly in terms of individual experience and behavior; then sociologically, that is, in terms of the group and the relations between persons. But both analyses will be sociological in a broader sense, namely in the sense that we shall recognize the constant influence of the cultural environment. By this we mean the general atmosphere of customs, mores, social values, and common ideas which surrounds every person and gives pattern to his development despite the enormous variations of personal circumstances.

Read More

The Role of Choice In Love

The essential core of our individuality is not fashioned from our opinions and experiences; it is not founded upon our temperament, but rather upon something more subtle, more ethereal and independent of these. We are, more than anything else, an innate system of preferences and distastes. Each of us bears within himself his own system, which to a greater or lesser degree is like that of the next fellow, and is always rigged and ready, like a battery of likes and dislikes, to set us in motion pro or contra something. The heart, an acceptance and rejection machine, is the foundation of our personality. Before knowing a total situation we find ourselves gravitating in one particular direction, toward certain particular values. Thanks to this, we are exceedingly wise about situations in which our preferred values are brought into play, and blind about others in which different, whether equal or superior, values exist which are alien to our sensibilities.

I wish to add to this idea, which is vigorously supported today by a whole group of philosophers, a second which I have not yet seen mentioned.

It is understandable that in living together with our fellow man nothing interests us so much as discovering what is his range of values, his system of preferences, for this constitutes the ultimate root of his being and the source of his character. Similarly, the historian who wishes to understand an epoch must, first of all, compile a list of the predominant values of the men of that time. Otherwise, the facts and statements which the documents of that age reveal to him will be a dead letter, an enigma and a charade, as are the words and acts of our fellow man if we have not penetrated beneath them and caught a glimpse of what values they serve in his secret self. This self, this nucleus of the heart, is, in fact, concealed to a great extent, even from ourselves who bear it within us--or, rather, who are borne by it. It acts in the subterranean penumbra, in the cellar of one's personality, and it is as difficult for us to perceive as it is to see the span of ground upon which our feet step. Neither can the pupil of an eye view itself. A good part of our lives, moreover, consists in the best-intentioned comedy which we ourselves play for our own benefit. We feign temperaments which are not our own, and we feign them in all sincerity, not to deceive others, but to enhance ourselves in our own eyes. Impersonators of ourselves, we speak and act under the motivation of superficial influences which the social environment or our will exercises upon our organism and which for the moment supplant our authentic lives. If the reader devotes a while to analyzing himself, he will discover with surprise --perhaps with fright--that a great part of "his" opinions and feelings are not his own, that they have not sprung spontaneously from his own personal self, but are instead stray ones, dropped from the social environment into his innermost valley, as dust from the road falls upon the traveler.

Acts and words are not, then, the best clues for identifying a neighbor's intimate secrets. Both are capable of being controlled and feigned. The thief who has made his fortune through crime can one fine day perform a philanthropic act, but he is still a thief. Instead of analyzing words and acts, it is better to notice what seems less important: gesture and facial expression. For the very reason that they are unpremeditated, they reveal information about profound secrets and generally reflect them with exactness.

Respecting feelings

One of the major sources of conflict in intimate relationships is the fact that two partners are likely to have quite different feelings about some things. The conflict thus serves to bring these different feelings into the open, but in many cases it will not do anything to change them. You may be tempted to assume that this means that conflict is pointless. If a husband and wife have different feelings about something, argue about it, and still have different feelings, what, you may well ask, is gained from the conflict?

To answer these questions we must first understand that changing your partner's attitudes and feeling should not be the primary goal of conflict. A person feels what he or she feels, and being told (or telling yourself) that it is wrong to feel that way doesn't do much to change it. The feelings remain, and added to them is a sense of guilt for feeling that way in the first place. If either partner were to be pressured into renouncing his or her feelings as a result of conflict, that partner would be surrendering an authentic part of himself or herself. (On the other hand, we do not mean to suggest that people do not sometimes genuinely learn, as a result of conflict, that their feelings were wrong. Most people have had the experience of getting into an argument with someone and admitting in the course of the conflict, "You know, you're right; I don't know why I let myself get so worked up about that. I guess I wasn't thinking straight; I just got carried away.")


If we cannot reasonably expect one of the partners to renounce his or her feelings, what does the conflict accomplish? If we recognize that conflict often arises from the fact that an ongoing relationship has numerous goals that sometimes are mutually exclusive, we can see that conflict can help bridge this gap as long as each partner realizes that it is important to respect the other's feelings. If the two of them simply denounce each other for being selfish, they will only make the situation worse.

But if as a result of the conflict they come to a fuller appreciation of each other's feelings, they will be better able to navigate the difficult periods in their relationship. Many situations of conflict persist throughout a relationship. The important thing is not to make conflicts go away. It is to appreciate and respect each other's feelings so that you and your partner can approach your problems as something you are struggling with together rather than as something that is driving you apart.