Updated: Aug 20, 2021
What is it about obligation that makes people want to run the other way, while at the same time craving someone that they can be obligated to for a long fucking time? A lifetime, if we’re going with what some of your vows said and if you’re lucky enough to stick to 'em.
I was recently watching “Terms of Endearment” and there's a moment where Jack Nicholson says, “I'm starting to feel an obligation here and it's making things tough”. He continues by saying, “My shot at being the right kind of man isn't as good as I was hoping for” and in that moment, you actually don't see him as this jerk-off player, but as a genuine man. A man who's able to face the facts more so than most and knows when to walk away. He’s the guy who tells her straight up, “I just want to be clear, I’m seeing other women” and instead of hating him you just kind of love him for it, even if he is a drunk who sleeps with multiple younger women. He somehow still seems the least entrapped, when you compare him to the husband that's cheating on his wife, while the same wife is cheating on him with some guy from the bank. At the end of the day, Jack treated this woman with love and whether it’s his own insecurities or built up walls that make him walk away, he stays true to who he is.
The reason this movie won 5 oscars is because it uncovers the darker truths that no one wants to look at or talk about, in regards to love, relationships and death. It paints the cold, hard truth of what most marriages look like, which is puppy love in the beginning and still loads of love in the end, but not before tons of mistakes are made. This film shows that people can have affairs and still be madly in love with the one they chose to spend their lives with...I think, maybe... It also shows how affairs can create too much space in relationships, where the time talking and just being together has been taken up by the time you're spending, talking and being with someone else.
I think in all relationships, it comes down to what your pain point is. What can you withstand? The more you can resist the urge to leave and instead choose to stay and choose to love, then the longer it’ll last. But again, it’s a matter of picking your poison and how much you can take, in order to build your little house of love. Note that when I’m talking about what you can withstand, I don't just mean someone cheating on you. I'm talking about when your partner becomes apathetic, stops trying to date you, or stops reminding you that you're beautiful. There are ebbs and flows in any relationship and people's wants and needs change and grow as time goes by. It all comes down to whether or not you can nourish each other as the years pass, because once you give up, the grass starts to look pretty damn green on the other side and that’s when things get sticky.
Whether you're in a relationship, single, or like Jack Nicholson and living more like a sightseer when it comes to relationships, it's all about picking your poison.
When you’re with someone, you have a partner, someone to help change air filters, carry up the groceries and give you a hug when you come home. When you’re single you do it all solo, listen to whatever music you want and get used to walking into an empty home. In a relationship, you always have a sidekick. When you’re single, you have the option to go and find one, or some, if you feel up to it. Again, it’s about picking your poison and in the end no one is ever happy all of the time, despite what their instagram posts may make you believe.
Sure when you think about it, it's a little whacky that people who are in a relationship made the conscious choice to sleep with one person for... like... ever, while at the same time, people who are single may not even get to sleep with the same person more than once, even if they want to. Both sides are whacked, let's face it.
People who are in relationships may have the urge to sleep with someone, but have to stop themselves or deal with the guilt later. They could also have a conversation about how they can open it up to new people and figure out how to be okay with it all, while still choosing each other.
People who are single have to put in more work, on a regular basis, when it comes to meeting people and can sleep with whoever they want, but in the end, stopping themselves from doing that, might save them from feeling shitty later.
People in relationships may only be able to sleep with each other, but it nourishes a love unlike any other.
People who are single could love for a second, keep it to themselves and choose to move on, as not to get stuck in the monotony of what lies ahead, which I guess just nourishes variety.
There’s more talking and compromising in relationships, but when you’re single there’s more silence and exemption.
Everyone wants to be loved and have someone they can call on, but it all comes down to PICKING. YOUR. POISON. I’m sorry that sentence ends with the word poison, while we're also talking about love, but it's the cold hard truth.
In this movie, John Lithgow says, “I’m just so grateful I get to feel this way again” in regards to their new love affair, which gives us a peek into the side of affairs that we rarely get to see… the good side. The side of an affair that gives someone a renewed sense of confidence and excitement. This moment made me smile, but also made me sad, because it was a hard look into simple, human nature. You meet, you fall for someone, your love grows bigger than you ever imagined, but should you stay forever, you may never feel that brand new rush of meeting someone new, ever again. You may also never feel the need to meet someone new, because you wake up choosing the same person everyday and you're happy with that, truly.
I can’t say which side is more rewarding... the welcome obligation or the chosen freedom. I can say that both sides contain love, just different kinds. They both contain moments of loneliness, just different kinds. They both contain hardships, just different kinds. The both contain a sort of poison, just different kinds.
No matter what, matters of the heart will always wind up being inexplicable and it all comes down to making sure you treat yours and the hearts around you with honesty and respect. Whether your relationship status looks a lot like those around you or not, should make no difference in how happy you can see yourself. The kind of poison that doesn’t kill ya, will always make you stronger. So, pick one or a few and never forget to love in the process, because it’s true what they say. All you need is love.