These two cartoons illustrate the lack of social consensus on clear guidelines in romantic relationships these days. Unfortunately, a great deal of emotional pain can be the result. With Josh and his co-worker, there is no sense of the wrongness of a “sordid affair” or the betrayal of their respective spouses – only the practical. The woman is saying, “We shouldn’t do this because we’d make a mess of it.” It isn’t clear if she is referring to the “collateral damage” of the affair becoming known and the spouses being hurt or if she is more narrowly concerned about their work production slipping and their careers suffering. One suspects the latter. The second cartoon shows how quickly couples can become sexually involved, with no idea of where the relationship is headed. A lot of younger people (high school on up) and some middle-aged people speak of “hooking-up”. What this refers to is sexual relations with no expectation of any kind of relationship. It could well be that that is exactly the question this woman is asking. Getting sexually involved in a relationship in hopes that it will lead to a more long lasting relationship is usually a bad idea. The person with the “hopes” (more frequently the woman, but by no means exclusively so) is usually disappointed and left with a feeling of loneliness, being used and sometimes a sexually transmitted disease. Ironically the other person is lonely too, but less aware of it. For both people there is an emptiness in “hooking-up”. There is no real relationship, no genuine intimacy, nothing afterwards. The moment is shared, but there is no sense of a past or future together. Both people have used each other for a brief, temporary physical need, only to go their separate ways, just as alone as before.