Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Renting Love

I was listening to the musical Rent today, and I started thinking about a lyric from "I'll Cover You":

I think they meant it
When they said you can't buy love,
But I know you can rent it,
A new lease, you are my love...

At least, that's what I think it said. And for some reason it struck me as really profound, because I think Jonathan Larson (the writer) got it right. Because you can't just buy love and have it forever. I know Larson probably meant you "can't buy love" in a monetary sense, which is also true, but it works on another level too, because you can't do one nice thing for someone and expect them to give you love forever. That's not how it works. A relationship, especially a romantic one, is like a contract where both (or however many there are) parties set down terms, and as long as they stick to those terms both benefit.

It's like--Well, when a person rents a house, there's an agreement, right? The tenant can't damage the house or, often, have loud parties, and sometimes the landlord is responsible for keeping up the yard or the fence or whatever. If either party violates the agreement, either they renegotiate or the tenant has to leave. If the tenant can't pay the rent, or damages the house or causes too much trouble, they can't live in the house any more. (Considering the plot of Rent, that part of the analogy is a bit ironic, but go with me here.)

Isn't that like a relationship? In your typical romantic relationship, two people* start out by discussing what they want to be to each other, and how they can be that. Then they try to fulfill the terms of what they've (hopefully) talked about, and as long as they can meet each others' wants and needs, the relationship will continue. But if one person violates the terms--for example, cheats on their partner--either the terms have to be renegotiated, or the relationship will end.

It's not a perfect analogy, considering that there can be an imbalance of power between landlord and tenant--I know landlords can evict tenants without a real reason, or on short notice, especially if the tenant is too impoverished to fight back. But some relationships are like that too. Sometimes one person will start violating the terms of the contract, and will lie about it or just manipulate their partner into accepting their behavior. I think there's an unspoken rule in any relationship that you don't hurt the other person, emotionally or physically**. And if that rule gets broken without serious, genuine reparations, or it gets broken more than once, well...that relationship just shouldn't continue.

Just thought I'd share that with you guys. I might expand on it later. Thanks for reading.

*Or more, but in most cases two, I think.

**Unless you're in a safe environment with a safeword. Or you're boxing partners, I guess, but that probably wouldn't be romantic. (Hm, I bet there's a story in there...)

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