the margins in response to the academic preference for rationality
over emotion. In the same way, Rebecca’s move to West Covina
functions as a decision made in direct contrast to rational decision
making. Pragmatically speaking, Rebecca has followed all of
society’s instructions for achieving happiness, the least of which
includes a high-paying career at a prominent law firm and an Ivy
League education. And yet, she remains totally and completely
unsatisfied with her life, a dilemma that can be potentially
elucidated through an affective theoretical lens. Essentially, affect
theory stems ontologically from the perspective that feelings
matter; they are persuasive, they are real, and they are used in
significant ways to affect decision making in substantial ways.
Ahmed explores how “happiness functions as a promise that
directs us toward certain objects,” a view that necessitates thinking
of affect as “sticky” and capable of producing a rhetorical residue
that sticks to a person long after a decision is made.
Life near Josh in West Covina becomes Rebecca’s
definition of happiness despite the unreliability of the man or the
location to fit her preconceptions, all of which cleverly emphasizes
the problematic aspects of relying on romantic relationships as a
means of happiness. In a piece on individualism within
contemporary romantic relationships, Daniel Santore argues the
ways in which romantic relationships have evolved to encourage
individual agency, “implying that the negotiation of intimacy has
become an increasingly ‘do-it-yourself’ project” (Santore 1202).
Further, he argues, contemporary romantic relationships have
developed into one of the few manageable aspects of an
individual’s life, particularly in the wake of “new uncertainties”
such as “work and psychosocial uncertainty” (Santore 1203). In
this sense, we can understand Rebecca’s quest for happiness (in the
form of a relationship with Josh) as her own sort of do-it-yourself
project undertaken in the midst of the kind of uncertainty that
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