For the Right to Be Different

By | 05/09/2016

Love and freedom encounter another peculiar barrier, which is cultural conditioning. For the record, I’ve been very clear in stating that I don’t believe that external pressure is as strong as most people do; they speak of society and its impositions as if it were a boogeyman straight out of our childhood. Nevertheless, human groups create habits that are transmitted from generation to generation, throughout the centuries, and people become used to them from childhood; it just seems they have to adjust, without thought or dissension, as if these mores were inescapable. In cultures such as ours, the strongest characteristic of these social habits, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, is the tendency to homogenize—everyone is expected to live in the very same way and follow the very same rituals.

People seem to really take to heart the idea that we’re all alike and should, therefore, live in the same way. And that becomes sort of a conditioned reflex, so acting in any other way makes people anxious, surrounded by a fear they can’t define. Even though people are so different from each other, it’s visible to the naked eye, this idea of sameness has established how couples should live—even though this belief also clearly exacerbates both intolerance to different opinions and discontent with a situation that, despite society’s ideal, is very common.

If we are able to admit what our eyes can plainly see, that is, that we’re all different, we have to acknowledge that the fact that we all feel compelled to live the same way is ludicrous. And, what’s more, that this way of life is not mandatory at all, and holds no water. Here’s a simple example, just to clarify what I’m saying: our culture states that couples who love each other sleep in the same bed, evidently in the same room and, if possible, go to bed and wake up at the same time. So if a man who snores marries a woman who is not a deep sleeper, they’ll have to go through decades of reciprocal torment. She’ll be unable to sleep and he’ll be elbowed nightly to quit snoring. A couple in which a woman feels cold at night and wants to sleep with a thick blanket, yet her husband runs hot, will have heating issues forever.

All of this keeps happening, yet many of these households actually have guestrooms, for guests that never come! Nobody seems to have a clue they could live much better if each had their own room. When they finally realize the truth, they’re afraid to mention it, because it might be the cause of an argument; after all, we’re told that couples that sleep in separate bedrooms are going through a hard time and are about to get divorced. Even when a couple chooses to sleep in the same room, but in separate beds, it’s easily seen as a “bad sign.” We can’t admit it might just be a wise solution to different nocturnal habits, and much more satisfying than insisting on sharing a bed, with all the compromise and animosity that might come with it.

So, that said, it’s time to see things as they truly are: how we are like, and how our partner is. There is no reason to live the same way everyone else does; there are multiple possibilities, and each couple should find the way that works best for them. Even if they do actually enjoy spooning to sleep—but this is just one of many choices.

Tradução: Amanda Morris