Girls’ depiction of young love raises some ethical questions about the management of romantic relationships. Romantic love is philosophically opaque and needless to say people’s opinions about managing it vary quite drastically.
Often, the advice older couples give to young couples is the importance of honesty for the maintenance of the relationship. Honesty is said to aid emotional intimacy, which is a feature of romantic relationships especially. Honesty is thought to be one of the most important features of romantic relationships; yet, we know that the maintenance of romantic relationships can also involve dishonesty and selective truth-telling. The conversation around honesty in romantic relationships focuses on authenticity and inauthenticity. In other words, being honest with your partner or partners is authentic and being dishonest is inauthentic. Things are much more complicated than this. The romantic relationships in the show depicts these complexities.
There are currently, I think, three love stories: Hannah and Adam, Marnie and (Old Man) Ray and what looks like a flourishing love triangle between Marnie, Ray, and Shoshanna (Ray’s ex).
Hannah and Adam’s relationship is a complete puzzle to viewers. Before Adam’s character became more fully formed, he was just Hannah’s unemployed, sexual partner with violent tendencies. Now, he is a big part of Hannah’s life and more of his dimensions have been exposed. So, his character and his intentions are unknown to us. On the other hand, Hannah’s opaqueness is a highlight of the series. Notably, she is frequently dishonest with Adam. It is just not clear how we are meant to feel about their relationship.We, as viewers, know that Hannah seems uninterested in the idea of marriage or commitments that seem seriously binding, while at the same time wanting desperately to be loved. Given the talk about marriage they had in the current episode, it seems Hannah might be open to marriage with Adam. Adam does not know this about her it seems. She is not always down right dishonest with him, but instead her intentions sometimes seem unclear to herself.
The idea of Marnie and Ray as a couple is an awkward surprise. Whether Marnie actually likes Ray or not is still questionable. For our purposes, I want us to consider Marnie’s avoidance of Ray’s wanting to be in a “real” relationship. She has been completely fine with being intimate and confiding in him but is reluctant to be his girlfriend. Given that Marnie tells Ray that she basically has no interest in a romantic relationship with him but was still upset by the end of the relationship, it seems that she does not know what she actually wants from Ray.
How can Hannah or Marnie be honest when they do not seem aware of their own intentions?