hooked-up blog“I have to leave by 8 pm. I have to meet Stephanie,” is what my girlfriend told someone she was hanging out with the other day.

To which the other person responded, “Oh, are you going to get in trouble if you’re late.”

“No, we agreed to meet at home to spend time together,” my girlfriend replied, a bit flummoxed.

I don’t get this idea of punitive relationships. I mean, of course I get it, I’ve been in relationships where my partner has tracked my every move and monitored all my activities and friendships, but that is captivity and domestic abuse.

I’m talking about healthy adult relationships that almost no one seems to have. The kind of relationship where you don’t see your girlfriend all day, but are so thrilled to see her at the end of it, at her place, your place, a hotel, your shared space, wherever. You are giddy at the prospect of just being in her presence.

At least that’s how I feel about my gal. I cannot wait to get off from my sucky job to meet her for diner or a show or come back to our shared abode to write, cook, clean, relax or whatever, knowing she’ll be home in one hour or 10 hours. The anticipation!

I cannot imagine controlling her time or punishing her for doing her own activities, writing, going out for whatever reason, seeing her own friends or doing whatever she damn well needs to carve out her own life.

This world is plagued by other people telling us to do this, don’t do that. Follow me and you’ll be happy. Give me money to tell you how to live your life. Spend money and you’ll be happy. Having things will make you feel good.

We all know that you are not an adult unless you: buy a house, accumulate material objects, purchase a fancy car (or any car at all), throw a lavish wedding, buy designer clothes, purchase your groceries at a gourmet food store, decorate your mortgaged house according to House Beautiful or Apartment Therapy, go out to dinner several times a week and order an expensive bottle of wine…

It’s all bullshit really. Having material possessions is not what it’s all about. Things won’t make you happy. Things might distract you from an unhappiness that hinges on something else altogether, but things will never fulfill you.

Listening too hard to what others say and do and tell you to think is not going to ultimately make you feel good, happy or fulfilled. Others’ prescriptions for happiness are null and void as far as I’m concerned. We must all find our own way.

That is why I would never dream of caging my beautiful and precious girlfriend, putting her on a leash — or a GPS device would be the equivalent in 2012.

No, she will not be “in trouble” with me if she doesn’t do this or do that. I am her lover, friend and family, not her jailer.

Punitive ideas about relationships say so much about the people who espouse negative approaches to relationships and nothing at all about the people to whom they are speaking or questioning.