Girlfriends & the arrow of time


“I want a girlfriend, too” says this barely legal teen from the anime Please Teacher. You’d think people would outgrow that want when they grow old enough to marry, but evidently not.

First off, let me preface this by saying that this is not a declaration of hate toward those I write about here.  Some of my best friends have girlfriends.  Well, at least one, but some very likable acquaintances too.  And in so far as I may seem to assert my smug superiority, remember that it is not mine, but belongs to all of humankind, reaching back to the dawn of civilization, and is free to receive by all who wish to be worthy of it, and even me who am not.

Now, as I said above, it is natural for a young boy to want a girlfriend. I don’t think I need to go into much more detail about that, at least today.  What I find disturbing is people aged 25, 30, or even 40, casually talking about their “girlfriend” or “boyfriend”.  And I don’t mean this merely in a linguistic sense, that they should say “womanfriend” or “manfriend” instead.  Although I suppose that would kind of highlight one aspect of this.

Basically what I react to is the lying, which I suppose is really a form of hypocrisy. This  fits with the phrase being quite common in the USA, whereas European languages tend to go for a somewhat more realistic phrase like “lover”, “fiancée” or here in Norway “kjæreste” (“dearest”) which used to be another word for fiancé/e.  Although I have seen the word corresponding to “girlfriend” seeping in here too, to some degree, probably because of the cultural wind from the west. Mostly we Scandinavians use the word “samboer” (cohabitant) however, if actually living together rather than just visiting.

Is the girlfriend just a girl who is also a friend?  Rarely, except sometimes when used by straight women.  Rather, it usually refers to some kind of informal or temporary spouse, or nearly so.  Sometimes an actual fiancée. Sometimes a part-time spouse, though I’d say that is rather uncommon.  Anyway, there is usually sex and some degree of mingled economy.

So why this immature name and, in some cases, immature behavior?  I can see how this took root among people whose main anchor in life was the next fix of their illegal drug. If I remember correctly, it was in this or some related milieu it first started to take off here in Norway.  But when I see it on a forum dedicated to self-improvement and personal growth, I have to wonder how it got this far.  What is wrong with following the simple basic regulations for civilized life that we have had since the Bronze Age at the very least?

I had started thinking about this before I left the city and went home.  I was still thinking about it as I was mowing the lawn (again!), and I asked myself once again: “Why can’t they just marry?”

At that point my mowing had brought me all the way to the hedge that separates me from the neighbors, and without planning to eavesdrop, I could not help hear the woman on the other side of the hedge ask someone: “Why can’t they just marry?”  I mowed on and did not get the full explanation, but evidently it was not quite that simple.

Well, evidently it isn’t quite that simple, and I suppose the childlike name of the relationship gives some clue as to why.   Despite being old enough that biologically they could have grandchildren, people are still “not ready” for the commitment of marriage. They are ready for the sex and the quarreling and frequently for having babies, though. WTF? And I mean that quite literally.

Here in Scandinavia there are certain tax and welfare incentives for single parents to remain single, but since long ago this only applies if they don’t have any children with the person they are currently living with. So there is the perverse situation that if you have a child together, you get richly rewarded for breaking up.  Evidently the mostly socialist governments we have had over the past generation felt that it is important that a child not grow up with both its biological parents. Anyone else, just not the actual parent.  I won’t elaborate on the idiocy of the Left this time, however.  Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see how crazy that policy is.  But even in the face of losing their tax breaks and welfare, there are numerous couples who stay together. But marry? No way.

Note that I am not the biggest ever fan of marriage.  I see duonormativity as way overhyped. You will never find the person who can make you happy, because you ARE the person who can make you happy.  Well, not counting God I suppose, but I think even God would do that mainly by changing you into a person who did happiness-promoting things instead of unhappiness-promoting things.  In fact, pretending to be a Christian or Jew or Hindu or Buddhist (probably moderate Muslim as well) and living according to their tenets would probably make the average person happier even if he did not for a moment believe in the supernatural.

But pretending to be a barely legal teenager when you’re old enough to have grandkids is unlikely to make you happy, nor those around you.

Of course, you may vehemently disagree with most of the above.  That does not really bother me, since my happiness or lack thereof is very much unrelated to your marital status.  I’m not one of the “OMG your gaiety / polygamy / fornication is threatening my marriage GTFO!” types, although who knows how much of that comes from me not being married in the first place. One would assume that we singles threaten people’s marriage a lot more than e.g. gays do, unless one is (or is married to) a very bi-curious person.

But even if you disagree with me (and good luck with that), you have to admit that it is kind of cool to have my neighbor voicing my thoughts without even seeing me. Scratch up one more for time reversal!

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