In Pocket’s Best of 2020 [getpocket.com] list I came across this article on The People Who Prioritize Friendship over Marriage [theatlantic.com]. Interesting article, you should read it.
A couple of random poorly connected thoughts on this:
- I’ve pontificated before on this blog about an idea that is related to this. In this post on The Separation of Marriage and Civil Union [confusion.cc] (five years before the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodge [wikipedia.org], legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the US). I noted that Marriage is a religious idea and in a secular state, like America with the constitutional separation of church and state, it would be better to leave marriage to religions and out of state matters. To do this you need to remove any distinctions, advantages and disadvantages of being married from law. Replace the religious idea of marriage with a secular idea of a civil union (or some other phrase if that is too loaded) such that any legal or commercial issues which are today based on marriage would be instead based on civil union. Whats more a civil union, is not a romantic thing and need not be between romantic partners, so it could be between friends as described in The Atlantic’s article. The article comes close to the same idea:
[Elizabeth Brake, a philosophy professor at Rice University whose research focuses on marriage, love, and sex], takes issue not just with cultural norms that elevate romantic relationships above platonic ones, but also with the special status that governments confer on romantic relationships. Whereas access to marriage currently hinges on (assumed) sexual activity, Brake argues that caregiving, which she says is “absolutely crucial to our survival,” is a more sensible basis for legal recognition. She proposes that states limit the rights of marriage to only the benefits that support caregiving, such as special immigration eligibility and hospital visitation rights. Because sexual attraction is irrelevant to Brake’s marriage model, friends would be eligible.Rhaina Cohen in The People Who Prioritize Friendship Over Marriage [theatlantic.com], published in The Atlantic.
- I’ve always heard that the most successful, long term, marriages are those that begin or become close friendships. So breaking the idea of life-long legal entanglement from the idea of romantic love and opening it to friendship seems like a good idea.
- Despite #1 and #2… I can’t even begin to imagine the changes to day-to-day society that would need to happen for this to be normal. Imagine you are ‘married’ to someone, living with them, I assume, but at the same time have a legal civil union with a lifelong friend. If you die the friend is the main beneficiary (unless your Will say otherwise). You could jointly file takes with someone you are not living with? And who might be living with someone else also? What rights and duties are their with respect to kids from any marriages the two people in a civil union have? And you don’t need to get married to have kids —you don’t need to be married today but it’s still the norm, if there are no legal benefits to being married then maybe people will stop doing it unless they are highly religious. There are so many little things, the traditional idea of what a marriage is is so ingrained, even with the opening of marriage to same-sex couples…
- Urban Dictionary has a few definitions of Hetero Life Mate [urbandictionary.com], including one that says “A best friend who is so close, that were they not to match your sexual orientation, you would be married to them. Other sexual orientations may use “homo lifemate” or equivalent.” Pointing out that if there can be hetero lifemates there must also be homo lifemates. So maybe we need a better, less bigoted term. Another definition for Hetero Life Mate on Urban Dictionary notes that it’s basically a synonym for “Platonic Soulmate” [urbandictionary.com].
- And finally, Kevin Smith had this shit figured out in the View Askewniverse [wikipedia.org] at least by 1999 in Dogma and maybe way back in 1994 in Clerks:
Oh, I’m Jay, and this is my hetero-lifemate Silent Bob.Jay, in Dogma [quotes.net].
Maybe Platonic Soulmate is a better term than Hetero Lifemate, given to the issue of bigotry and the use of hetero and homo… but as a lifelong fan of Kevin Smiths movies I’m sticking with Hetero Lifemate. And I confess I wrote this whole post just so I could quote Jay.