Soul-Mate Mania

| November / December 2004

Heightened expectations of love and intimacy have created the new "superrelationship." Is it working?

When the Massachusetts Supreme Court made history earlier this year by legalizing gay marriage, it based its decision on the idea that marriage is about intimacy, not procreation. For many people, the scary part of this equation isn't the same-sex variable -- it's the notion that marriage, despite its less-than-enviable success rate, is still seen as the final frontier when it comes to forging intimacy. Many married couples might consider themselves blissfully intimate, but judging by recent trends -- everything from the rise of cuddle parties to the recent spike in divorces among older couples ("the 37-year itch," as The New York Times dubbed it) -- it does seem that people today are craving new forms of intimacy. We looked around and here's what we found. -- The Editors

I can't remember if I actually proposed to my high school sweetheart in those delirious months between graduation and my induction into the U.S. Air Force in February 1970. Our courtship, after all, was the sort of adolescent rite of passage common to the times -- the clumsy passion of drive-in movies, the semisacred promise of exchanging class rings -- and our eventual engagement and marriage were less a product of romantic ritual than one of community routine.