Posted: 20 July 2009 at 9:39pm | IP Logged
Since people have brought up issues like dating and roommates. I wanted to clarify some misconceptions and assumptions about western culture.
Compatibility is essential in a successful marriage or long term relationship. The two people need to share some sort of common interests, goals etc. The concept of dating is that two people spend some time together to figure out if they indeed have something in common to have a long term relationship.
Many conservative cultures view this as frivolous and meaningless relationships. However, this is not so. Western cultures typically do not have the system of arranged marriages etc. Each person is expected to find their own spouse. So instead of family collectively looking at a series of potential matches and picking one, the individual is responsible for it. When two individuals meet and like each other, they go out for dinner, movies, or some common interest activities like bowling etc to get to know each other and see if they want to move forward in a long term relationship. Just like an arranged marriage may have simultaneous talks with two or three potential matches to pick the right one, a person may simultaneously date more than one person to see who is the best match.
Of course western culture is much more open about sex and pre-marital sex is prevalent. Many people will have one night stands or date casually. That is just one aspect of dating, and the aspect that is usually portrayed. There is a large section of western culture that also adheres to cultural values similar to that of the east. Many times family and friends will try introducing people to someone they think they might like. Many people are part of religious and cultural groups that promote platonic dating, loosely similar to arranged marriages. Dating sites like e-harmony, are actually very similar in structure to marriage sites like shaadi.com. Instead of family looking for suitable family, its individual looking for suitable individual.
In essence its the same process of courtship and relationship building, east is more collective about it, west is more individualistic about it.
Coming onto the second issue - roommates. Roommates are completely different from live-in relationship. A live-in is when two people who are romantically involved choose to live together, often sharing stuff like a married couple, but without marrying. Roommate system is when two or more people share an apartment or a house. This arrangement is usually platonic. Most people will move out on their own for school, work etc. Unless they are well to do it usually is impossible to afford an apartment on your own. People will choose to share with friends, acquaintances, or through some roommate agency. Yes there are times when a male/female roommates do develop into romantic relationships, many people who share rooms with oppsite sex usually have very strong policies about not dating or getting involved with roommates.
For some reason a lot of eastern cultures are fixated on the fact that a male and female can never be friends. However, as Kal-El mentioned there is the much loved as well as much dreaded 'friend zone'. Men and women will have friend zones. A person in a friend zone is someone you perceive simply as a buddy, a platonic mate. The boundaries are drawn and its impossible for you to perceive them in a different way. People will often put roommates, coworkers, and people whom they have hung out with as friends into that category. Men and women may have crushes on roommates or one of their buddies and worry about getting put into the friend zone. Most roommate arrangements tend to have several ground rules etc. Two people of opposite sex can share a house, apartment or even a room and view each other as friends. This is very common place in the United States. Another aspect is that people have personal preferences in relationships, a certain type they date - they usually choose roommates who is a buddy type and someone whom they will most likely not fall for. A lot of people are also very aloof roommates who will not even communicate with roommates and just remain distant.
As for attachments - When you share a house with someone for a very long time, you are bound to get exceptionally close emotionally. For some that may translate into falling for someone. However, that is not the case. In fact even same sex straight roommates get emotionally attached. The characters of Joey and Chandler were the source of a lot of humor on friends, due to their close friendship and often husband/wife like behavior. They often would get very emotionally posessive and jealous when one of them was in a relationship. Its simply attachment, that people experience. We get attached to family when we live with them, roommates are like family and people develop attachments to roommates. Men have been surprised at how they got attached to their roommates, Many people have said leaving a roommate of several years was as emotionally overwhelming as a break up. This maybe a form of familial love, but its not a romantic interest. So just because the two people happen to be the opposte sex does not mean its automatically love or romance. The risk of falling for someone is there. Also its not always the girl who suffers due to it. Joey fell in love with Rachel, but she viewed him just as a friend. In seventh heaven Matt Camden falls for a roommate and mistakenly makes a move and ends up being kicked out.
So live-in is very starkly different from roommates. In a live-in there is a romantic relationship pre-existing. Attachment already exists. Physical intimacy exists and there are no ground rules to prevent or prohibit it. Two people in a relationship choose to live together for intimacy and getting to know each other.