I would if I could, but I’ve got a boyfriend back home

Once again, I am grateful to those of you who sent in comments and emails in relation to my previous post.

What you are about to read may not be as easily palatable as you may prefer. However, it is a life scenario which needs to be confronted with the highest level of care and maturity one’s emotions would permit. What I will attempt to capture (in what is hopefully a nutshell) is not a generalization of long-distance relationships but rather an analysis of a dilemma which many of us face during our youth and the manner in which it affects our decision-making in later years.

As adults, we often find it reasonable to conclude that higher importance should be attached to the challenges we face within our own age groups. Parents seldom admit that the issues their children face can compare to the problems of maintaining a household and supporting a family. Married couples rarely remember the troubles of courtship and the petty woes of childhood love. Working professionals hardly notice the stress and sacrifice of young students. The pattern is always clear in each example. As we grow older, we forget the lessons we learn and the hardships we overcome during our childhoods and the impact they have on the rest of our lives.

The transition from teenager to young adult is never appreciated as a truly transformative period in an individual’s life. Many of us consider this period as “just another phase” in life. The truth however is that this period often “makes or breaks” an individual’s quality and forges a path in a direction which is rarely amendable. It is the exact point in which the moth is set to emerge from the cocoon. It is within this volatile timeframe, that we find the curious notion of “young love”. One may immediately question the writer’s choice of subject matter, but I pray that one does read on.

It is no coincidence that Shakespeare preferred the eternal iconic figures of love – Romeo and Juliet to be teenagers. So it is difficult to comprehend why society fails to appreciate the gravity and importance of life decisions made by young people. One clear example of this lack of empathy relates to the decision of continuing in a long-distance relationship when one of the parties has selected to pursue higher studies abroad. Make no mistake that this decision is often a life altering one which may even determine the ultimate happiness of the individuals involved.

This is the point at which the reader would be tempted to say “so what?”

Well, my issue is one which deals with fidelity in long-distance relationships and the expectations of such that is placed on the parties concerned. A question arises as to whether it is legitimate to expect, for example, a girl of 18 who ventures into a foreign country to spend three or four years of her life, to be faithful to her boyfriend in Colombo. It is not a question of what ought to be the ideal scenario, but rather one which challenges the conventional wisdom behind compelling one individual to be obligated to another who resides a thousand miles away. I stress on the words ‘pressure’ and ‘obligation’ since where this arrangement is completely voluntary, one cannot question the success of the relationship. It must be admitted however, that the possibilities of a relationship lasting on the shoulders of these two words alone are very slender.

It is under these very circumstances that the temptation of infidelity arises. I am in no way justifying infidelity. Infidelity stems from a deep-rooted habit of selfishness which should not only be discouraged but also abhorred in its entirety. However, notwithstanding our personal sentiments towards it, infidelity may be explained by the context in which it takes place. So rather than providing fertile soil for the seeds of infidelity to grow, it is far wiser to refrain altogether from placing our so-called loved ones in these precarious positions. To be precise, it is my opinion that individuals should not be obligated to remain faithful when it is “too hard” to do so. The results always lead to either a clandestine compromise or complete breakdown in the relationship concerned. Thus it seems clear that long-distance relationships should be reserved for those serious about commitment, since a relationship which perpetuates solely due to obligation can only result in hurt and loss of both trust as well as pride.

A male friend of mine faces this exact dilemma. In determining the question of whether or not he should enter into a long-distance relationship with a girl who intends to enter university abroad, he has decided that the expectations of such a relationship placed on someone who intends to explore an entire new world pertaining to campus life, is simply unfair. I agree with this notion entirely and find that the honorable approach to adopt is one of patience and selflessness. There is no justification in succumbing to the fears of losing someone, at the expense of curtailing his or her freedom against her true preference. Though many of us will remain faithful to someone waiting for us back home, the majority will rather have had utilized that opportunity to explore new frontiers. It may be argued that staying faithful merely on the strength of obligation only results in resentment and often leads to regret. Besides, the truth is that no one really wants a pining boyfriend back home.

In conclusion, I can only chastise society as a whole for placing these numerous conditions on our youth. Whether it is reserving social acceptance for those in committed relationships, or establishing age deadlines for marriage, the list of pressures on the young people of today grow ever longer. The result of this social conditioning has been the immergence of a confused, discontent and disoriented generation that finds life as a whole one tiresome and mundane experience. The coffee is brewing, it’s time we all smelt it.

Thank you for reading.


~ by Archangel on March 27, 2007.

89 Responses to “I would if I could, but I’ve got a boyfriend back home”

  1. on your points, i would firstly wish to deal the premise that we forget the pressures of the past, when faced with the worries of today.

    I’t is true that we attach the greatest importance to the challenges we face in the present. This stands to reason, due to the fact that it is only the disisions made in the present that can affect us in the future. However, what must be undestood is that we develop in phases. Thus the problems faced in our youth, petty as they may seem in the present, actuaaly help us when it comes to facing the issues of today. Consider for example, a child who faces the pressure of exams, or a starn father. The lessons he learns from them, he carries on to his adult life, and these same lessons enable him to deal with work deadlines, and/or a cranky boss. we are continusly laying the groundwork with our present problems, in order to face the issues of tomorrow better.

    Now that i dealt with that, i have to admit that the whole ‘long distance’ debate is based on insecurity, on the part of the party who wants it the most. (remember, it is not only the person who is going abroad that is susseptable to infidelity, it can even be the party who stays back)

    I can only speak on my own experiences, whereby in my late teens (now many moons ago) i embarked on, what was for me, THE biggest adventure of my life, i.e. living alone, abroad. I had a relationship with a girl, who used almost every trick in the emotional backmailers handbook, to make me vow that i would remain true to her, in such a foreign environment.

    My personal veiw on the matter were that, while i was immensily fond of her at the time, it just did not seem feasible to promise something i didnt know i could do.

    And whilst i did promise, i increasingly found it hard to keep to my promise, to the extent where i ended up cheating on her.

    is this the norm? or am i just a jerk? i wont use this forum to cry you a river on my old relationships, suffice to say that she did do the same to me. I bear her no grudge, neither does she to me.

    The moral of this story is that, with the risk of sounding like an old uncle, unless there is something more tangible than just ‘one’ person to bind you, i.e. marriage, kids, fidility in seperate environments is just not possible. Unless you are BUTT ugly and your partner is the best you can ever get!

    But to sum up, do i feel bad about what i did? No. i dont, it was an experience, i would have regreted it if i didnt, and she did it too.
    would i reccomend long distance love to anyone? No.
    would it continue to happen? Yes. but those are life’s experiences, so while the pain of failure is bad at the time, it will only make you stronger in the futture.
    So its not such a bad thing, like old uncles always say, you live, you learn…
    hope i made sense:)

  2. ranil, you are truly an old soul.

  3. ADD??? U actually have a soul after all! I quite liked ur post! But one thing u got wrong. It’s the menfolk that have problems in staying faithful. Most girlfriends would NEVER cheat! No matter what!
    Oh no, i see ranil has found his way into this post as well. Sad. Sniff sniff. I hope things work out for u, ranil. Sniff sniff. (please!!)

  4. Dear ADD, as a suggestion, could you please put a disclaimer on your blog, indicating that only people of average and above average intelligence, cam insert their comments…
    Is a bell, thats a hint…. why don’t you take up some other pastime… like cooking?
    Furthermore, the only reason you (and i assume that you assume that you fall into the said category of being a ‘faithful girlfriend) would not cheat on your boyfriend, is probably cos, your boyfriend is either a figment of your turgid imagination, or your BUTT ugly, normal people, in such a situation, would be hard pressed to conform to such a lofty goal.
    Like the writer said, the coffee is brewing, smell it!

  5. If there’s a minimum IQ, what r u doing here???
    What a horrid judge of character u r. yes, i must look like a beast to be faithful. heaven’s forbid! there can never be a pretty girl who doesn’t cheat. and wut experience wud u hav with pretty girls anyway?
    ADD will never listen to ur nonsense.
    fanny….??? u can’t be serious.

  6. stay out of this is a bell. This is between ranil and me. Or between me and myself the way things are going. 😦

  7. This blog is full of generalizations, right from the top, with ADD and his crafty qualifications, all the way down to us lowly blog trolls. Of course one should not forget the other unfortunate intruders like is a bell with her brazen “most girlfriends would never cheat” type school girl insight.

    Initially I was left wondering if what is said here ultimately has any value, since ADD’s categories and comments come with such qualifications that finally what is written remains true as an observation only of each writer possibly extending narrowly out to his or her inner circle of friends. Ultimately its only a voyeuristic impulse that keeps one interested in reading what has been said in an attempt to dissect not wide social commentary, but each individuals outlook and personality.

    Yet, at the end of the day, I thank ADD for his thoughts as I’m left pondering as to if there really does exist any truly universally applicable social commentary or critique. Possibly another aspect of our collective existence that makes ‘us’ such an intriguing subject.

    Still, I challenge you ADD to take a few more risks and look to more broadly base your criticism. Your shock tactics may just yield something more useful to us all than a general conclusion on humanity that applies to all you produce.

  8. “Most girlfriends would NEVER cheat!” hahaha…what crap! I know plenty of girls including an ex who cheated while on long distance…both sexes do it, though the reasons are usually in my experience different. Guys (by this I probably mean buggers) get drunk, start chatting up some random bird and things happen and thats it. With the girls that I’ve seen cheating they needed someone to ‘talk’ to, since the kolla was nowhere around. They usually end up talking to a bugger in disguise…who then works it so they get in their pants eventually, usually when the girl’s at her weakest, after a fight with the kolla, etc.

    Everybody’s human, infidelity happens…there’s no excuse for it, but what really sucks is when people (both guys and girls) lie afterwards. Somehow accepting what happened, that it was a mistake and the relationship is over seems to be a hard concept to understand..

  9. The fact that N just hit the nail on the head of the recent implosion of one my friend’s long term relationships with no obvious way he could be describing the same incident leads me to wonder if we’re all just evil…
    well not ALL of us. Certainly not the buggers anyhow…

  10. Ok, so it seems there are a few insecure women out there who drift once in a way. sue me. but no one can deny that wut N said abt guys getting drunk and cheating happens WAY MORE than wut he said abt girls wanting to talk and ending up cheating.
    Fanny, he’s all yours! G.R.O.B.R!

  11. i wonder what Evil would say about bob’s earlier comment 🙂

  12. I never said it happens way more often, from what I’ve seen it’s pretty even terrain on the cheating grounds between the sexes. I said the reasons are different.

    I’m sure Evil’ pretty comfortable in his evillness and not get threatened by the prevalence of it in all of us 🙂

  13. Have you ever paused to wonder about whether the social conditioning you complain about is society’s way of making us all conform to the larger goal of perpetuating social structures like marriage for instance, and thus are to be embraced as the pillars of a stable society. A society with the freedom of the wild ass cannot be good. Get behind the status quo.

  14. @is a bell
    i’m sorry to burst your bubble. Most of the cases i know where a long distance relationship has not worked is because the female in the relationship cheated.

    that being said, i totally agree with this article in that the period during which either a girl or a guy goes to university is the formative stage of their lives. especially someone from a country like sri lanka, living with parents they have up to that point had no opportunity to find out who they are and what their likes and dislikes are.

    At university, living along, with others their age, socializing and making real life decisions that mold those four years of that person all go into them realizing what they really want. That included what they want in their future partner.

    I went to university in sri lanka, but what i though i wanted during my college years are completely different from what i know that i want now. unless both people go through that phase together growing with each other, Having a long distance relationship during that phase of a persons exploratory years where they develop their persona’s independent of their partner is just asking for disaster.

    Just my 2 cents….

  15. I like stringhoppers and kiri hodhi myself.

  16. but really on the subject of Western food – would you agree that Dominoes Pizza is better than Pizza Hut? I’m starting a save the dominoes pizza campaign – please join this worthy effort! Mail me at aiguntakaya@gmail.com to be a part of this endeavour. Or just let me know on this post. Thanks.

  17. rumour sayeth that Dominoes may have to shut. Can you imagine the horrors of no Mexican fireball pizza? And breadsticks and cheese? I close my eyes in pain at the thought…!

  18. and anyway i think ranil is a cool guy.

  19. Dear Is a bell, since you absolutly insist in taking part in this discussion, i fear that no amount of insistence on my part can affect your dogged determination. Whether this insistence is mearly a flickering rage against the dying of your interlectual light, is something you would have to come to terms with yourself… i wish you all the best.

    However, i fear that i must redicule your childish, ‘sweet vally high’ outlook on life affected, premise that more women cheat than men. This is in affect, a ‘male chauvanistic’ outlook on life, you either seem to think that women have a stronger moral fiber than men (!) or that women have fewer sexual needs than men (which is a old male chavanistic premise that has long been discarded), or you have been locked up in a cage and have developed your personality through the aid of your imaginary friends…. either way, its a stupid premise and should be discarded as being the drivel that it is…

    BTW, fanny, as flattered as i am, i must insist that ‘ranil’ is all anyone knows about me, after all this is a blog, and we have the ability to express our true feelings, unfettered as we might be by our history, lets keep it this way… But thanks for the support:)

  20. Solla, have you ever thought of why we should be compelled to conform to the “larger goal of perpetuating social structures” in the first place?
    Your argument rests on the presumption that social conditioning leads to a stable society. However, history has proved this to be wrong, since every attempt to suppress the notion of freedom has resulted in rebellion.
    Futile as it may be, this is my little rebellion against what I view as one form of suppression i.e. social conditioning.
    Thank you for reading.

  21. Archangel you said it just before I did. Yes…the whole ‘cheating is bad’ school of thought stems from the imposed social strictures derived from a lifetime of religion, Victorian value systems and the like.

    However, all of those are merely euphemisms for egos. For instance your wife/girlfriend if she is not with you at this very moment could, potentially, be getting rammed from behind by a truckload of Australians. But if she touches up her make for when you do meet her…you’ll never know. And then it doesn’t matter.

    The fact remains that cheating, more than anything, is a blow to the ego. It is especially hard to take from those who we have been accustomed to pandering our ego by default, i.e. – being our significant other.

    Monogamy is an elusive goal. Foreign shores diminish the size of the said goal and makes it almost impossible to shoot into. Anonymity and unaccountability are invaluable tools in the art of philandering.

    Why should we therefore, stick to the socially accepted norms? Because it’s too much hassle to break them openly. The opportunity cost not worth it.

    More specifically in the context that you analyse it in, I think a lot of problems would be solved if women, like Is a Bell, put out a bit more in the formative years…as I’m sure ranil will testicle…errr, fy to.

  22. we often mistake social positioning, with social conditioning. For example, the social positons taken up by various cultures, and sub cultures, were a direct result of some form of social rebellion, for example, the hippy culture was a result of the conformist, post war sociaty of the time. A pressing need to differentiate created that outcome.

    What happens then , is that individuals, out of some need for peer acceptance, find a need to conform to that social position, without having the ‘need’ to do so.

    Social positions are not the problem, we cannot live in a void, (and the need to conform to some lofty relationship goal could vary well be a social position that the last few decades have brought about, which could have (all assumptions here) sprung from the need to differentiate from the free love concept of the ’60)

    We should just realize that doing a particuler thing, or acting in a particuler way, is not the problem, its thinking that one ‘ought’ to act in this way…

    Differentiate, if you want to…viva ‘la revolucion!!!

  23. you mean your real name isn’t ranil??
    I thought it was so cute. Like a teddy bear

  24. I’m no wedded to the idea that all social conditioning necessarily results in a more stable society. All laws do not make a more stable society either, but a system of laws in necessarily a part of any stable society. Likewise, I would posit that a system of social ‘conditioners’ would be necessary for the maintenance of stability and to prevent a reversion back to the hunter gatherer age and before that where the freedom of the wild ass held sway.

    I think you uncharacteristically fall prey to sweeping over generalizations without any qualifiers when you say that any suppression of freedom results in dissent. May I remind you that the suppression of certain freedom(s) is necessary in the pursuit of securing greater and more valuable freedom(s). The question is thus not whether freedom has been forsaken, but rather, in what cause has it been forsaken? Is it worth it? I would conclude by suggesting that a fair balancing act would thus require at least an idea of what society would look like if the freedom of the wild ass prevailed. Are you willing to pursue this investigation?

  25. “The suppression of some freedoms are necessary for securing greater freedom” ?????….. the clarion call for all budding fascist societies….

  26. The suppression of the freedom to go rape any woman may be suppressed in the pursuit of securing the freedom of the woman to screw only those whom she wants to screw. Fascist??

  27. I’ve decided that ranil is probably a really old guy trying to chat up young girls on this blog. There are dating chatrooms for that!! Dont make ADD’s blog into ur little “adult” play ground! Fanny and u shud just get a room or something!

  28. please leave the words “women” and “screw” out of the same sentence and, when possible, the same post. According to recent postings on many blogs not abiding by this rule would leave one stigmatized as an underfucked male chauvinist for it.
    Apparently the careful suppression of your freedom of expression in this context is warranted to ensure the happy existence of others.
    Solla and Ranil, you have been warned.

  29. That’s an interesting point, Solla. I think I might agree with your general point after all. However, your general point remains inapplicable to my specific point. (Refer disclaimer that I am writing about a specific life scenario)
    If one is to apply your theory to my scenario, your assertion would be that compulsion towards fidelity is a justified suppression of freedom in order to uphold a greater good (which is in your case the institution of marriage). This is untenable.
    Or is that what you were really talking about? I think I’ve made made my point clear.
    Thank your for reading.

  30. Dear solla, firstly, there is no ‘freedom’ to rape. there is a freedom to chat up, love and marry who ever you want. i think for you mate. the line between true ‘freedom’ and morality, social responsibilit, and almost everything else, are blurred, the ‘absolute freedom’, was never intended to be a precuser to anarchy….
    and dear is a bell, your still here? amazing!, the unmentionable, in dogged pursuit of the unattainable!!!

  31. Ranil, when you dogmatically assert that there is no freedom to rape, I’m assuming you mean that the freedom to strip, spread, enter and discharge is qualified by the freedom of certain others to keep their floral or feline features intact.

    Archangel, I’m saying that the social conditioning that compels people to think twice about sleeping around due for instance to the stigma that attaches to that behaviour, creates a society in which intra marriage fidelity is more likely. It generates a social ‘norm’ that minimises the risk of infidelity in marriage. Given that adultery remains one of the biggest causes for divorce, and given that divorce subjects children to an unstable family environment, I think my point may stand after all.

    Enforcer, I’ll stay on my toes. Can’t have any crazy bitches calling me a MCP.

  32. i disagree with the bloke who said cheating is mostly a blow to the ego.. i wonder if he would feel the same if his wife cheated on him 🙂

  33. Dear Solla, please remember that simplicity is a virtue. The art of eloquence is as a vehicle to carry your main arguments accross.

    Otherwise, as is evident by your use of the language, your convoluted phrases meary meander accross a desolute landscape, desperatly in scearch of an idea.

    As is also evident, when they do occasionally come accross an idea, they bear it merry away, only to have it killed by overexposure…

    The moral of this is, unless you can express yourself cleary, remember that silence is also a virtue.

  34. Dear Ranil, please remember if you can’t comprehend the simple idea concerning the trading of liberties for the sake of maximising society’s aggregate liberties, you can just say so, and I’ll be happy to give you a small lesson.

  35. Dear solla, please read your comment again, ask yourself.. how verbose do i really want to be, and try putting your comments in a less convoluted from.

    Using big words does not mean your clever, it means you have access to a dictionary, and dont know how to use it…

    P.s. you never trade liberties and expect to live in a ‘ free democracy’, if at all, you curtail there function, so as not to infringe on others liberties. furthermore, when your liberties affect the freedom and space of others, they no longer remain as ‘liberties’.

  36. Sophist, not sure I agree either with your assertion that ‘cheating is a blow to your ego’..actually no, wait I do agree but it’s not as simple as that. It’s also a blow to the trust you showed in a person. If you were simply happy that your girlfriend was hot and happy that all your friends are envious, then yes cheating would be a blow to the ego. If however you appreciate ur girlfriend for other factors such as who she is (no I am not a bleeding heart romantic, hotness is just not everything as I’ve discovered many a time) then the act of cheating would be a blow to your sense of trust and just basic human decency.

  37. Ranil, perhaps you’re improving in that you show an ability, albeit in a postscript, to engage a fairly popular argument.

    May I ask you, without trading insults, what distinction lies between the trading of liberties and the trading of the function of liberties. It seems to be self evident to me that the value of liberty exists only in its function and not in the abstract ontological existence of the same.

    “when your liberties affect the freedom and space of others, they no longer remain as ‘liberties'”

    I’m trying to make sense of what you have said here. You know, coherence is a virtue too you know. But I guess what you’re trying to say, in your own way is that in practice, a ‘liberty’ in the sense that you have used it in the beginning of that rather confusing sentence, can be qualified, abridged or restricted when it interferes with the liberties of others. I’m glad you believe this. It was my original point.

  38. * the point you seemed to think was a precursor to fascism.

  39. With all due respect, Solla, I feel that you have watered down your original position significantly. Please read carefully.
    No one disputes the notion of “my liberty ends where your nose begins”. That it a universally accepted principle and was not challenged in manner whatsoever in my post. I fear we are referring to two different extremes.
    Challenging social conditioning needn’t compromise the principle that liberty can only be exercised while respecting the liberty of others. However, by challenging social conditioning, one strives to prevent the unnecessary restriction of liberty.
    It is necessary that we constantly monitor these restrictions on liberty and reevaluate the rational behind each restriction. If we adopt a conformist approach, such as the one you originally adopted, then there may be room for the situation to spiral into fascism. Thus, Ranil has a valid point in terms of the consequences of your original assertion.
    Thank you for reading.

  40. I am glad that unlike the SL Cricket team, I have succeeded. My intention was to coax you and others of a similar mindframe to monitor the social conditioners and evaluate their value, in terms of their utility in maintaining relative social stability, and thus increase our aggregate freedoms. A proper evaluation of relative value is only possible if one were to consider the impact on society of the absence of that social conditioner. I urge you to consider this question. In the absence of such an investigation into the value and utility of the social conditioner of ‘fidelity’, I find it strange that you reject that conditioner merely on the premise that it curtails some liberties.

  41. Well, now we’re talking. If this was indeed your original intention, then salutations, my friend.
    I find the value and utility of the social condition of fidelity inadequate when measured against the unstable relationships that arise out of an obligation-driven arrangement. Fidelity is counterproductive when it comes in the form of a social conditioning. It needs to be completely voluntary since the frustration or resentment that may arise negatively impacts on the sustainability of the relationship. If we truly wish to safeguard the institution of marriage, then we must ensure that our relationships are based on the voluntary notion of trust rather than compulsion towards fidelity.
    Thank you for reading.

  42. While I agree that marriage should be based on trust and other assorted truisms, it is not apparent that a social conditioner will immediately have the kind of counterproductive effect that you fear. On the one hand, what is the source of the trust that you speak of? Where do you get the idea that one should be able to trust one’s partner to be faithful? I hope the the point is clear – I’ll spell it out anyway. The content of the trust that you instinctively seem to seek out in a marriage is based on social conditioning. They are thus not mutually exclusive.

    Secondly, a social conditioner that ‘compels’ fidelity operates within a person, or finds its source internally, given that we all assimilate social values. Your ‘voice of dissent’ in this post is also an expression of some social idea or conditioner. So the idea that one should be faithful operates as the person’s own idea, their personal ‘commitment’ as it were, in their pursuit of trying to be a better person.

    I think the drawbacks v the benefits of the social conditioners thus must be analyzed without a mere reliance on perceived psychological responses from society alone. Perhaps you should question whether the notion of trust within a relationship can even exist without the social conditioner of fidelity you so abhor.

  43. Dear Solla, i order to arrest any possible degeniration of this conversation, let me ask you a small question. Do you belive that ‘liberties’ are absolutes, or do you belive that the vary quality of a liberty, is what makes us assume it to be so. i.e. the freedom of free speach is only a freedom, upto and untill it affects the privacy, or sensitivity of another. Or is free speech an absolute, and no matter the hurt coaused etc. it will remain as a a ‘freedom’.
    p.s. answers as to the freedom/liberty itself, and do not colour your answers with reference to ‘trading of liberties’… is you answers this, then perhaps we might be able to move on… if you cant, it’s trading insults again, and it does get monotonous.

  44. go ranil! WIll you join my dominoes pizza list?

  45. anyway you’re cool

  46. anyway i think you’re cool!

  47. i think i’m falling in love with you

  48. pizza heaven!

  49. isn’t ADD Attention Deficit Disorder?

  50. Intellectual jargon in my opinion. Are we still talking about cheating girlfriends? I think sum of u have read up on some philosophy nonsense and r reproducing it here. But i also think none of u really know wut u r talking about! But full points for confusing us lessor readers. (boo hoo)

  51. isn’t it hilarious how nobody, save myself, ever engages is a bell?

  52. Disco Bob was up all night watching the cricket, and now feels a tad DiscomBobulated after reading all the highfalutin verbosity posted here. There seem to be many divergent arguments here, and Disco Bob, despite his morning head, will try to summarise the most interesting of them before going further. Hopefully our pet airhead Is a Bell will be able to follow it more easily than the ‘intellectual jargon’ above.

    First is the argument by Archangel that the pressure placed on young lovers to be faithful, despite the barriers imposed by distance, is an unnecessary and harmful form of social conditioning. Fidelity is fine if voluntary; if not, the young lovers should be free to sow their wild oats, and shame on society for expecting anything different.

    Solla disagrees, because he feels that a system of social conditioners is integral to the stability of society. The pressure for all couples to remain faithful results in stigma for those who do not; this stigma obstructs adultery, leading to less divorce, happier kids and a more wholesome society.

    It seems to Disco Bob that the argument between Archangel and Solla is based upon a difference in perspective. Solla seems to be a latter day Bentham who believes that the greater good of society should take precedence over the well being of the individuals concerned; Archangel feels the pain of the young lovers obligated to remain faithful, and challenges the conventional wisdom that expects fidelity.

    At this point, Disco Bob would like to ask a question: how strongly does ‘conventional wisdom’ impact the decisions young lovers make? In his post, Archangel referred to Romeo and Juliet: a story of two rebellious teenagers braving society’s wrath to get into each other’s pants. While this is an extreme case, in Disco Bob’s experience, young lovers aren’t particularly concerned about conventional wisdom. Walk around Nugegoda after tuition classes close and prove me wrong.

    Solla argues that social conditioners are internalised and operate within a person to ensure their conformity; a Freudian suppression of the id by the super ego. It’s a very good point, but it doesn’t make allowances for internal rebellion. Presumably, a social conditioner exists which bars a girl’s breasts being publicly fondled. Clearly then, the horny teenagers Disco Bob saw on Railway Avenue last Saturday evening had successfully rebelled against their internal nannies.

    Which, rather convolutedly, brings Disco Bob to his point. He thinks it unlikely that young couples care too much about what society expects of them. If they do, then he buys Solla’s argument that they have internalised this particular form of social conditioning. He strongly believes that rebellion against this internal compulsion is essential for the evolution of an individual.

    Consider: throughout our lives we imbibe a plethora of things that society wants us to believe. If we accept them unquestioningly, we become social drones. If we rebel against them collectively (in ‘movements’), which Ranil alluded to much earlier, we become someone else’s puppets. Rebelling against our own internal compulsions, particularly those that arise due to social conditioners, is part of growing up, part of maturing, part of evolving as an individual, distinct from the herd. If one must suffer to achieve that, so be it. It is healthier for the individual in the long run, and that is what matters. Disco Bob cares not for Bentham; let Society eat cake.

    Therefore, Archangel: let us not rage against social conditioners. Let us celebrate them as something to be overcome, and let us hope they remain in place so that they may be overcome. Growing up isn’t easy. Let’s hope it remains that way.

  53. Disco Bob apologises for the prolixity of the post above. He couldn’t be bothered rereading it, let alone condensing it. He is also appalled by Mahela’s captaincy. We clearly don’t live in a perfect world…

  54. Solla, I now understand where your problem lies. Your definition of “social conditioning” seems to capture all forms of natural inclinations. I ask you, can a mother’s natural inclination towards caring for her young be explained by social conditioning alone?
    Though I admit this is still a reasonable definition, it must be borne in mind that I was strictly referring to forms of social conditioning that are contradictory to natural inclinations of an individual. Once again I stress that my post is not a generalization but a scenario analysis. Further, there is also the dichotomy of group inclinations vs. individual inclinations. I refer only to a scenario where the former impinges on the latter. (Bearing in mind that the impingement is not reasonably necessary)
    I speak of social conditioning against a young girl’s natural inclination towards exploring her new environment. While I challenge this type of conditioning, it is equally plausible to extend my arguments to include the influence of campus fraternal life which may condition another young girl against her natural inclination towards fidelity. Both forms of conditioning must be abhorred.
    Thank you for reading.

  55. And we wonder why lawyers don’t get invited to normal people’s parties….sigh. Prolixity is a plague, and it has descened upon several houses by the looks of things.

    N…I see your point. Completely. But the loss of trust, breakdown of ‘human decency’, can all be traced back to that blow to the Freudian ego. ‘How could she do this to ME?’ is often the initial response. Perhaps we are simplifying the usage of the world ego in this instance?

  56. Disco, that was an insightful comment. The intention of my post was only to invite the reader to think of these competing forces of social conditioning and individual impulse. If the reader, as you say, engages in a personal appraisal of these two competing forces and attempts to break free from action devoid of thought, I feel I have succeeded.
    Thank you for reading.

  57. ranil, the only reason ppl dont bother to engage me is coz all of u have this little boy’s club going on. Sach’s comments about sexism seems to be proven right here on this blog. ADD, i’m convinced now that u must be a man. No woman will be so picky with her responses. U disappoint me.

  58. Is a Bell, if it is a response you desire, then you have now got your wish. I fear your insinuations are unfounded though.
    The reason I did not respond to your every comment is that there was no burning issue that required a response. Perhaps if you can direct me specifically to some issue you want me to address, I may be able to accommodate your desire to obtain some level of attention.
    Thank you for reading.

  59. Dear Disco, firstly, let me congratulate you on a fantastic sypnosis of what was truning out to be a rather convoluted argument. I would also wish to state that i whole heartedly concure with your premise.

    Stating which, i would also wish to reply to your assertation that “If we rebel against them collectively (in ‘movements’), which Ranil alluded to much earlier, we become someone else’s puppets”.

    Involment in a collective rebellion per se, does not make us puppets, due to the fact that a collective rebellion, is mearly a extension of a personal rebellion. i.e. we all hate the same things, we all, individually seek to rebel against them, we rebel in almost the same way, leading to a ‘collective’ rebellion.

    We only become puppets, when, seeing this collective rebellion, we want to be a part of such, without having the need to do so. i.e. people who thought the hippy movement was cool and tool part in the said movement in order to appease their yearning for peer acceptance.

    The distinction, i hope you will agree, is an important one.

  60. Finally! yes, pls tell me why u seem to choose the girl as the cheating party in ur little scenario? My point was that girls are less likely to cheat. Ur post would have been even better if u had chosen a male as the culprit. That’s all…

  61. Ranil, Disco Bob notes your distinction. A collective movement as an aggregation of individual rebellions is certainly different from the herd following one black sheep because she’s cool. Disco Bob, being a cynical bastard, assumed the latter scenario to be so much more common that he conflated the two in his earlier comment. He agrees very much that the distinction is important, and thanks you for pointing it out.

    Is a Bell, ‘The unmentionable in dogged pursuit of the unattainable’ you may well be, but Disco Bob finds your presence a soothing reminder of a less complex world, and is beginning to feel particularly avuncular towards you. Keep up the good work!

  62. Disco Bob, your blind belief in the therapeutic value of dissent, protest and rebellion is a bit disconcerting. First, I’m not sure how you conclude that all rebellions have the effect of shaping the individual for the better. Surely, there must be a standard for weeding out the good rebellions from the bad ones. The ones that offer some individual or social utility. Secondly, I’m not convinced your brushing aside of communitarian concerns as irrelevant is helpful. I could only buy the individualist bias if it could be demonstrated that a system that values individualist concerns will always be more beneficial to society, given that the ‘rest of society’ are a bunch of individuals with their own individualist concerns. It seems to emerge therefore that an ‘individualist’ philosophy that ignores the greater social good is merely a selfish theory masquerading as a social system with no consideration of its value to individuals across the board.

    Archangel, I think your post in response to mine highlights your problem. There are multiple social conditioners that play on an individual. There are also multiple ‘natural’ inclinations. We need to determine which conditioners and resultant inclinations are useful to individuals who make up society in creating stable, healthy society. I sincerely hope we can move on to discussing the utility of the social conditioner of ‘fidelity’ and avoid these peripheral questions on whether conditioners per se are to be abhorred. I have been urging this view from the outset but sadly, none seems willing to seriously consider the question of the utility of the conditioner in question.

  63. Is a bell, engage the argument or bugger off. If a ‘boy’s club’ means a forum where irrelevant, pathetic and irritatingly uninformed ‘naggings’ based on some half baked version of feminism are not treated seriously, so be it. The blog you have referred to seems to be full of material that perfectly fits my description of what should not be treated seriously in this kind of forum. Don’t even bother saying I’m intolerant and disdainful of free speech.

  64. That was pathetic. I wasn’t even talking to u, I was talking to ADD, but if the hat fits, be my guest!! Dont get so excited! U need to take a chill pill and relax. This is just a blog after all…though it might be a matter of life and death for bored “buggers” like u.

  65. I find your post very thought provoking. My comments are with regard to your opinion on how adults often forget the problems they faced when they are younger and fail to empathize. This is very true and I myself am guilty of this. Having a teenage son, I’ve realized that the insight he has to many issues are sometimes brushed aside because it came from an “inexperienced” mind. But the youth of today often display imagination and a fresh sense of clarity that few adults can boast about. We need to pay these kids more attention not just by listening to what they have to say, but taking them seriously without patronizing them.

  66. Solla, your point on the value of fidelity as a social conditioning has already been dealt with. My opinion is that it has very little value as a social conditioning and I have already presented my reasonings.
    In response to your comment that we “need to determine which conditioners and resultant inclinations are useful to individuals who make up society”, I think it all depends on the context each individual finds him/herself in. It is impossible to generalize or establish any kind of formula as such.
    Is a Bell, I chose the fairer sex as the subject of my post without any motivation to show which of the sexes have greater propensity towards infidelity. I apologize if I stepped on anyone’s toes.
    Thank you for reading.

  67. Ha ha. Sorry if you got hurt bell. But seriously, engage or bugger off.

  68. Solla, your fundamental premise in evaluating any belief system or set of ideals seems to be whether or not it possesses any social utility. Disco Bob does not share your premise; he is a rugged individualist cum libertarian (bordering on anarchist) who places neither society, nor the maintenance of any namby pamby social order, at the apex of his value system. This line of discussion harks back to the argument you had with Ranil much earlier on individual liberty; instead of rehashing that, let’s just agree to disagree.

    One point of clarification, though, is in order. What Disco Bob means by rebellion is not the blind rejection of all that has gone before, but a refusal to blindly accept authority just because it exists and appears sanctified. This could apply to social structures, internalized beliefs, political authorities and school prefects, and so much more besides. The greatest enemy of freedom is not fascism but docility.

  69. Dear disco, Solla. with regard to the premise that a ‘good’ rebellion, is one that has social utility. (correct me if i’m wrong in this assumption Solla but sometimes your ideas get lost in your words.)

    The belief in such a premise, is, as highlighted by Disco, one of personal opinion. Are you a rugged individualist, or one, who’s actions seek to reflect and enhance the greater good.

    However, there is udeniably, a streak in us that, in the flush of youth, makes us wish to differentiate. i.e. every teenager has grown up vowing to never be like there parents…. such rebellions, on there own, are difficult to be perceived as being done for a purely social good. But it does happen.

    Furthermore, these vary teenagers, grow up, to be exactly like there parents. (I know i am generalising, but i suspect that what i say is more the norm than the exception)

    So what therefore is the purpose of rebellion? in that context at least? The flower power generation, most of whom were in there teenage or early twenties during the time (’69-’73), somehow spawned the ‘fuck you, greed is good’ yuppy genration of the ’80? what happened? what went wrong?

    Perhaps, what most rebellions do, is strengthen the vary social order that it seeks to destroy. time, fate (if there is any such thing) the system, slowly erode your propensity to rebel. Making you, at the end, a die hard conformist. The rebellion, and the strength it takes to rebel, is a conformist world, finally sap the strength you took in rebelling in the first place.

    Our parents rebeled, look where we are now! We rebeled, look at us! God knows if rebellion performs a social good by strengthening the system, i dont know if the system even needs to be bolstered, but the evidence points to such…
    Viva la revolucion, viva la system!

  70. Disco, my point was that an individualist position must necessarily consider the ‘individualist’ concerns of every individual in society if you want to maximise the range of choices, liberties and if I may use Rawls’ phrase ‘social goods’ available to all individuals. Seen in this light a true ‘individualist’ position is deeply concerned with rules governing society and ‘namby pamby’ social structures.

    Ranil, I’m sorry if you are dissatisfied with my writing style. I wish i could write as well as you do.

  71. Not dissatisfaction solla, meearly confusion. But if your happy with it, who am i to argue.

  72. Does the confusion have anything to do with the style of writing or the commitment to comprehension of ideas by the reader?

  73. Solla, you do not seem to understand the possibility that individualism in its purest form could be a position that simply does not concern itself with the well being of other individuals. This is not necessarily Disco Bob’s position, but he wishes to draw your attention to it. Your views seem so blinkered by conformity that you are incapable of comprehending that individualism is not “a selfish theory masquerading as a social system”: it is not a social system at all.

    With no malice intended, Disco Bob would like to note his concern about your obsession with social order. While such an obsession ordinarily results only in die-hard conformism, on the odd occasion it spawns a monster who feels obliged to reorder society based on his perception of what it needs. In this light, Disco Bob is particularly worried by your propensity to assume that your personal opinion and value system should form the basis of all discussion.

  74. Dear Solla, i am quite definite that you do raise valid points in your comments, and do so by using a plethora of words and phrases. I can further assure you that my commitment towards comphrehension is enhanced, rather than diminished, by your writing. I would have to, because your ideas are often cunnigly conceiled.

    This is not a harange, and was never meant to be, directed at your intellect, of which i am sure you hold yourself in high esteem.

    However, in your verbal meanderings, it is prudent for you to note that lucidity, and the aspiration for such, is severaly affected by a convolution of words, all of which jostle for space and recognition in the little room allocated to it. To better engage your ideas, it is better to aspire for a little bit more simplicity.

    I hope you do not take offence to such. regards,

  75. Disco, thank you for informing me that within humanity there is a streak that cares not for the rest of the human race, and that is obsessed only with its own benefit. I’m sorry for not realising this earlier- it must have been my naivete. This realisation was most enlightening and will revolutionalise my life. Thank you also for the clarification that it is not a social system at all
    and that you don’t agree with it.

    Give that you don’t agree with this form of ‘individualist’ non theory, perhaps you will inform me of why your libertarian cum individualist position still denies that an individualist position necessitates consideration for the individualist concerns of others.

  76. Dear teacher Ranil, I am at a loss for words. Would you please oblige me and pick out a sentence or phrase that falls short of your standard of simplicity, and instruct me towards the paths of lucidity and brevity, by telling me how I could have restructured the offensive sentence/phrase.

  77. Solla, Disco Bob is delighted that he has opened your idealistic eyes to the dreary realities of our imperfect world.

    To clarify once again: the individualist position does not ‘necessitate’ consideration for others’ concerns because it is up to them to ensure that their interests are served. That said, a lack of concern for the individualist concerns of others is not the same as the denial of such concerns.

    Disco Bob is not given to disclosing his personal beliefs on blogs, but perhaps you will find clicking on his name helpful.

  78. Can the individualist position derogate from or sacrifice the interests of others for one’s own benefit? A lack of concern must necessarily mean a willingness to deny, unless any value is seen in the self interest of others.

  79. Solla, the short answer is yes. The long answer is rather more complicated. Disco Bob feels that this argument has already highjacked Archangel’s initial post far too much. That was, after all, a specific scenario analysis; this conversation is highly abstract, far too philosophical, and positively overflowing with intellectual jargon. Poor Is a Bell must be aghast, unless she has run away. Perhaps we should continue this in some other forum?

    Is a Bell, come back! Uncle Disco misses you!

  80. What is the dire need to reinvent the wheel? Hobbes and Locke…not Calvin…have engaged this subject with far more lucid results than we in this ‘boys club’ could ever hope to achieve.

    Social conformity is, by default a suppression of individuality. Outlawing individualism by curbing free speech, laying down dress codes, outlawing extra-relationship sex are all methods of suppressing individual desires in the name of public order.

    This is not a bad thing. Merely that the individualis must find a balance as individualism that will land him in shit is counter productive.

    Which is Archangel’s point. Don’t deviate or conform without thought. Or so I think….

  81. I agree with the tenor and soul of this main post. The predicament of long distance relationship, i believe presents an amplified form of various factors that variously threatens any relationship. The need for space, the craving for experimentation and novelty are present in any relationship. But, the context of a long distant relationship presents fecund space for these forces to operate with optimum tempting force.

  82. In response to the vibrant and thought provoking discussion that has ensued between many of you, I shall begin by thanking you all.
    I agree in general with the comment that conforming to societal requirements is contingent on the context in which each individual finds himself. In this regard, I disagree with the formula which Solla attempts to establish.
    Further, Disco and Ranil have brought out some interesting points on the appropriate time and manner in which one should rebel against conformist tendencies. I once again stand by my initial argument that in every case the individual concerned must appraise the value and utility of the social conditioning against the restriction it places on his natural inclinations. (I thank Solla for initiating this particular discussion).
    I also wish to acknowledge Is a Bell for her comments, which have indeed provided comic relief for many readers who have engaged in this complicated and at times tiresome debate. Much like a funny advertisement amidst a serious drama.
    Thank you for reading.

  83. It seems that all of you are just a bunch of know-it-alls. I’m not sure if ADD himself is a “conformist” or an “individualist” since he always wants to please his majority readers and discriminates against the minority like me. I WILL NOT STOP until i teach each and every one of u that u cannot bully someone into submission. Does that make me a “conformist” or an “individualist”??

  84. it makes you a glutton for punishment

  85. Ha ha, good one bob (the observant one)

  86. Is a Bell, you’re back!

    Disco Bob yearns for you, tragically…

  87. I’m surprised at this sudden change in attitude, disco. Not sure how to respond.
    Bob, no one takes any notice of u, so i dont see why i shud be the one to start.

  88. Agradevaduta, why don’t you limit the size of your posts because you maybe losing some of your readership. Your content however is truly interesting. keep up the good work.

  89. you deplore “selfishness” and it seems noble to do so…
    however, what’s really wrong about beaing selfish? aren’t we all selfish in varying degrees? i am not condoning or promoting selfishness, but just posing a philosophical question here: isn’t it selfish to expect unselfishness?
    But you are right to criticise selfish behaviour; Adam Smith had said: “In competition, individual ambition serves the common good.”
    Adam Smith also pointed out the fundamental bargaining strategy on which most of our personal interactions in the world are based on: ‘give that which I want, and you shall have this which you want’. Consistant and repeated disregard of this principle will undermine business and personal relationships, the world economy and the family unit. So selfishness is a cornerstone of our social stucture, processes, systems, traditions and way of life.
    Yet John Nash pointed out (as in Beautiful mind – but unlike depicted in the movie, it does not completely overthrow what Adam Smith had said) that “the best result will come…from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself…and the group”.
    Selfless behaviour is productive, necessary and useful only within the selfish structure of society where the definitions of all our core social concepts such as growth, development, peace, freedom, equality and even democracy has the concept of individual welfare at their core which in turn has it’s root in selfishness… no?

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