A post that's way too short for its complicated topic:
"Giving up" on marriage or romantic relationships is often seen as the most pathetic, rock-bottom thing that someone could do in our culture. Depending on the circles in which you socialize, it could be much worse than giving up on your education, career, religion, the pursuit you are most talented at, or pretty much anything else. Isn't that odd? But although it might sound even odder, I think my problem is that I haven't given up enough. Let me explain. I don't think there's anything wrong with giving up on marriage etc., as long as you can feel like this was your choice. But I think it can cause a lot of psychological turmoil when you try to move on, but have nothing to move on to. I learned this very clearly when my term at a certain job ended. I had lofty ideas about "moving on" and going on to better things, but since I actually had no idea what those things were, I ended up extremely frustrated. Actually, the whole concept seems to be a theme in my life. And it's the same thing with marriage etc. When there's no clear alternative to it, it can be hard to give up completely. So you're left in this weird mental netherworld.
As we've seen, I haven't exactly been adept at creating, or even defining, the "alternative relationships" I talk about. But does the alternative need to be a relationship at all? Marriage etc is such a huge pressure that a shadowy, inarticulate goal can't go up against it. I think this is true, but I don't know how to visualize it. At least I know there are others muddling through the same thing with me. I'll muse some more on this, and see if I can come up with anything more useful.