Nothing ruins a career quicker than a sex life, and nothing kills a person’s sense of humour faster than a marriage. Studies have gone to waste and talents have been lost over our obsessive need to find a life partner. We are simply designed that way, programmed to commit, settle and reproduce. We want to fall in love and believe it will last, even though it rarely does. We hope for laughter to never end, but it likely will. We expect unconditional devotion, yet reality might be far from that. Happiness is hard to come by, in turns out, and especially in a relationship. The most sparking romances inevitably end up in boredom, discontent and suppressed rage. Even so, we can’t help ourselves from getting involved in one.  

Multiple factors are influencing our romance mania. To begin with, married people are generally better liked because they raise the illusion of being more caring and giving. Single people, to the contrary, are falsely accused of being socially unskilled and selfish. Society also tends to look down on single or childless people based on the fear that their behaviour is too unpredictable for their own comfort. Religion has imprinted us with some more cultural constraints, and shaped our ideas on premarital encounters for the worse. The Bible and Koran even encourage the death penalty for extramarital disloyalty, and adultery is still a criminal offence in some countries. But above all, we get caught up in relationships because of our need to breed. Whether we like it or not, our hormones often get the better of us. 

When it comes to love, most people fall for good looks, ambition and a good sense of humour. Ironically, it is exactly these characteristics that fade away very quickly once in a relationship. We also pick our spouses based on healthy appearance and fitness to reproduce. This is why men fall for younger women with childbearing hips, and women like broad men who are financially capable of raising a bunch of babies. Some of us are less finicky and choose partners in the same way they do their shopping: impulsive and with a sense of desperation. Our fear of ending up alone is so big that we willingly lower our standards for the time being, in hopes something better will cross our path later down the line. Tinder predates perfectly on the general belief that fortune favours the brave. Keep swiping and you might just find ‘the one’. 

Women prefer to rope men into a relationship before taking the panties off, knowing that butterflies soon dwindle after the clothes come back on. They often establish domestic dependency in the early stage of romancing, so it is less likely he’s gonna take a run for it. This is the reason why most men are still incapable of making a pasta or turning on the washing machine, and why women always offer to do the dishes. They prefer to keep their boyfriends in the dark, so they won’t survive living on their own. Of course, men aren’t innocent either. They generally fall for any woman that teases to take her clothes off, and desire countless rounds of trial and error. But once they get their hands on a pretty and fertile specimen they quite like tying the knots themselves. Men often rush into material constraints, such as buying a house, joining a bank account or getting a pet. Thought being that it is less easy for the woman to disentangle herself. This is why they also like to shower their lady with expensive gifts, in hopes a sense of guilt will keep her from leaving. 

Give and take three years after a couple successfully locked one another down, problems start boiling to the surface. It’s the natural cause of things: people fall in love, blend personal lives, get too close for comfort, become frustrated, and before you know it they can barely stand the sight of each other. Realization kicks in that the person they were happy with before may not be the person they’ll be happy with forever. People suddenly recognize that they have constrained their own freedom and compromised their own dreams for somebody else’s happiness. They blame each other for their own personal failure, disagreements become unbearable, and pots and plates start flying through the living room. At this stage, the break up is only a matter of when instead of whether. 

Soon after people go through their first divorce, they change their focus to sex. After years of deprivation, they now have to urge to be seen again and enjoy life for a while. In theory, you don’t need to have a relationship to own a sex life. The problem that arises at this phase is that most people have an unreasonably high expectation of sex. They assume that the other party knows what they are doing, which is hardly ever the case. Women believe that men can have an erection on demand and find the mysterious G-spot, whereas men are convinced that women always have multiple orgasms and squirt when aroused. A lot of romances have stranded because of misjudged expectations and overall disappointment in bedroom rituals. 

Once people have given up on having a worthy sex life as well, they continue living their social life from the comfort of the couch. Hollywood’s romantic comedies are perfectly designed to entertain aged singles and damaged divorcees. A nerdy girl meets the star quarter back, a poor girl meets prince charming, or a rich girl meets an ex-convict. They fall in love but can’t have each other, for complicated reasons, and end up spending the full duration of the movie trying to work things out. And it always does work out. It somehow comforts us to know from the very start that the story will have a happy ending. Because we want to believe it’s still possible, true love and eternal happiness, despite that it didn’t quite work out that way for ourselves. 

Love songs also give us that false sense of hope, even though they are often written by ultimate bachelors or musicians that went through their fifth divorce. We all know the story of Eric Clapton, who fell in love with George Harrison’s wife. He sang Layla about her, which touched even the most cold-hearted pricks. He couldn’t have her, and the heartache pulled him into a heroin addiction. But even though George Harrison had the prettiest little thing by his side, he couldn’t keep his dick where it belonged. She divorced him, and ended up marrying Eric Clapton after all. He felt like the luckiest man in the world, and wrote another song for her: “Wonderful tonight.” Problem is, she wasn’t the only one looking wonderful that night. He too couldn’t keep his zipper closed when he should have. There is no denying that love songs are beautiful, but they have as little meaning as Hollywood movies do. I think that the song that came closest to reality was by the Rolling Stones: “Because I used to love her, but it’s all over now.” 

When you are still in a relationship when reading this story, not all hope is lost. There are many ways to make it bearable, even in the long run. The easiest way to keep going is with prescription drugs. Anxiety pills, sleeping medication or antidepressants all work great when you lost the will to engage with your partner. There are also drugs in circulation that can make you horny even in the darkest hours of despair. To suppress the symptoms of rage, you could consider practising yoga or meditation. Another useful piece of advice is to give your other half something to keep him or her occupied, such as a PlayStation or hobby voucher, so you get to enjoy a bit more alone-time. And of course there are still the good old swinger clubs and couple counsellors. Because even though love may not be rational or eternal, it does of course exist. And relationships do sometimes last. You may have to face finite disappointments, but you should never give up infinite hope. Wherever the romance takes you, however dark and difficult, there is always light at the end of every tunnel.