52: Long-term non-commitment

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
52: Long-term non-commitment


Today, we’re talking about long term non-commitment

The seven-year itch — real? imagined? socially constructed? human nature?

Show notes and links:
When the embers grow cold (The Economist)
Novelty and the Brain: Why New Things Make Us Feel So Good (Lifehacker)
In Defense of Boredom: 200 Years of Ideas on the Virtues of Not-Doing from Some of Humanity’s Greatest Minds (Brain Pickings)

Full episode text

In 1955, the term “seven year itch” went from a colloquialism to a full-fledged social force with a Marilyn Monroe film adaptation of a play by George Axelrod. Now, the term “seven year itch” is generally used to refer to the fact that satisfaction in any long-term commitment would tend to drop after about seven years.

Of course, it varies by country and social expectations. In a study of rich OCED countries reported on by The Economist, the average marriage that ends in divorce lasts just over 13 years – with Italy the outlier at almost 17 years, America at 8 years, and Qatar at just under 5 (but also with a very low divorce rate in general).

In many ways, though, the human brain is built for seeking out novelty. In fact, novelty itself makes us feel very, very good. Yet just because it makes us feel good doesn’t mean it’s always good for us. In fact, Brain Pickings does an excellent job of pointing out that boredom is, in fact, an essential element for creativity and reflection.