Objectively, is a single person more free than one in a romantic relationship?

Suppose I make a promise to you. Then I've taken on a commitment. If I promise to drive you to the airport at 2:00 tomorrow, then I'm not free to do something else at 2:00 tomorrow. That is, I'm not free if I take my promise seriously. Of course, in another sense I'm free as a bird: I could just break my promise. Insofar as I'm not free, it's because I've bound myself, so to speak. But unless you've extracted the promise under duress, I took on the commitment freely, and taking on and keeping commitments is one of the ways we exercise and demonstrate our freedom.

There's not just one thing we mean when we say someone is free. If you're locked up, you're not free to leave for external reasons. If you don't have certain capacities, then for internal reasons, you're not free to do things that call for them. (In that sense, I'm not free to sing the high F in the Queen of the Night's aria from the Magic Flute.) And then there's not being free because of restrictions you impose on yourself by choice. But taking on commitments doesn't shrink your free will, even if it restricts your freedom in another sense.

On to romance. If you're in a romantic relationship, that likely means you've made commitments. (By the way: the commitment doesn't have to be spoken out loud to be real. There are many ways for people to come to an understanding.) All the comments above apply here. If you care about your commitments, then in one sense, you're not free to go out and try to pick people up at bars on Saturday night. In that sense, you're less free than you might have been. But in the normal course of things, you made the commitment freely, and sticking to it is an exercise of your freedom.

So in one sense, someone in a romantic relationship is less free, and an another sense s/he's as free as the next person. I'm not sure there's a lot to be gained by trying to tally up these apples and oranges, but someone who'd let this rather abstract worry enter into their romantic life is someone who should consider staying single --- not for their own sake but for the sake of their potential romantic partners.

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