Sunday, September 25, 2011

How serious is serious?

September 25, 2011

Good afternoon, friends,

Have you ever wondered how the adjective “serious” ever became attached to the noun “relationship” as in “serious relationship”? Can a “serious relationship” be distinguished reliably from an “un-serious relationship,” or whatever the proper form of the antonym might be? What makes us say “serious relationship” when we think we sight this phenomena in the everydayness of ordinary life?

And then, further complication, are all “good” relationships by definition “serious” relationships?

I use “good” to define a relationship in which the well-being of all participants is respected and nourished. When I say “serious relationship,” I mean a good relationship to which an element of covenant has been consciously deliberately added by consensus of the participants. What do you mean when you use these common phrases when talking about relationships, your own and those of others you observe?

It seems to me that this “seriousness” business leads inevitably to an odd but logical question that we rarely face straight on: do I really want to be taken seriously enough by another individual that my well-being becomes the object of that person’s on-going respect and investment?

It is, of course, human nature to be quite pleased when our wants and needs become the object of another’s attention and we consequently become the recipient of their resources. But it becomes quite another matter when it is I, the other self, that becomes the entity of value, and my well-being as the "valuable other" becomes the primary focus in the relationship.

It can be quite disconcerting to discover that without conscious awareness I have arrived at a place in a relationship in which at times nourishing my well-being assumes greater important to my partner than indulging my wants.

Thinking with you about the absurdity of our humanness in which we say: please, please give me what I want—but, in doing so, don’t, for pity’s sake, take me seriously enough to consider if what I want leads to my well-being.

See you next week.


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