In my last post, I proposed a philosophy of extreme prudishness in response to my fondness for affairs. In this post, I would like to explain why this is a reasonable response.
As I said, I enjoy (reading about) affairs when their forbidden nature proves their passion. Given the value I place on that passion, I would like to construct my life in such a way that I have a chance at finding a similar degree of it. Modern American society does little to help in this regard: given how easy and socially inexpensive it is to pursue any sort of romantic involvement, it is difficult to know that doing so is more than just a whim. Even if you think that you would risk life and limb for someone, you can’t really be sure unless being with them actually constitutes some risk.
A friend of mine recently suggested that bachelor parties should inflict pain upon the groom, to ensure that he only marries if he really loves the woman in question. I agree with this, and believe we should extend the same attitude to dating and falling in love. Although these things are all good, they would be much better if they were more socially expensive, because we would not then pursue them so frivolously.
The affairs in Madame Bovary are not exciting, precisely because the characters are sticking to the script rather than stepping outside of it for their love. In the same way, our permissive and risk-averse hookup culture strips all romantic significance from our actions.
In writing this post I invite everyone to mock me mercilessly if I ever demonstrate mushy sentiments, appear to be in love, or marry. This is not a declaration that I will never do these things, or that if I do, I will do them in a more sincere or passionate way than anyone else; however, I do hope that this minor social cost will discourage me from cultivating mediocre romances merely out of loneliness or boredom. I’m sure I will regret this invitation, but hopefully, it will at least prove an interesting social experiment.