First, I should probably warn you up-front that this will likely be one of my fuzzy brained posts. Not because I don’t know what I mean, but because I can’t grab onto the right words.
The other night I was at a dinner party and listening to friends give another friend dating advice. She, the friend getting the advice, was on the defensive as she was being told (perhaps, rightly so) that she needed to lay down the law. Play to win. And all I could think of is, the guy she’s with probably isn’t going to treat her any better. Ever. She can follow the advice. Withhold affection. Not be there when he wants her. But he doesn’t sound the type to fall in line. He sounds the lazy type who will move on to the next woman who will put up with his crap.
And (maybe) good riddance. Who am I or anyone but the woman/friend in question to say?
Our friend absolutely deserves better. She should have someone in her life who treats her well, all of the time. Always. But if she’s getting what she wants out of the relationship, and she’s willing to make her peace with his laziness and mixed messages, then that’s her business. And if she wants to vent about it, I’m here to listen. No matter what.
We are all tragically flawed creatures. All of us. We are selfish, insecure, needy, vain, high-strung, myopic, neurotic, shallow and cruel. And I’m just getting started.
We humans really do suck. As a species.
And yet we’re drawn towards each other. Not just for sex, but for love and companionship, too. I, btw, think of those as 3 very separate needs (sex, love and companionship) and believe it’s rare and magical to find a single person who can fulfill all 3.
The fact that people form romantic relationships, for the short term or the long term, I think that’s pretty amazing. Yes, we are social creatures and this is how we’ve developed as a species. But maintaining these relationships takes compromise and patience and work.
None of it is easy.
And yet somehow, we’re in this weird place where admitting confusion, sadness or frustration about the very real difficulties of making relationships work is usually met with fairly simplistic advice. From everyone. Girlfriends, gay best friends, dating bloggers, relatives. Everyone has an easy answer to your latest romantic issue. And the answers are always given in the forms of to-dos. Be aloof. Play the game. Dump him.
In my extremely humble opinion (and here is why I am not, usually, among the advice givers) the real “answer” is rarely simple and doesn’t come with a simple to-do. Each of us has to decide what we want, really want, each and every day of our lives. We each have to decide what will make us happy. Or as happy as we can be. This is a choice we have to make for ourselves, over and over.
It’s not one choice, but a collection of choices. Every decision we make, every second we are alive, we are making this choice, repeatedly. Sorry, I know, fuzzy-brained.
And then, whatever choices we’ve made, we have to make peace with them.
So one day, the lazy, mixed-message boy who’s good in bed might be enough for my friend. She might choose to be with him because he meets her needs. For that day. And then the next day, or the next year, she might decide something else. Or not. As far as I see it, her only to-do is to make a choice and make peace with her choice.
I’m not sure if any of that will make sense to anyone but me, but at least I know I tried…
Have I mentioned how little sleep I’ve had recently? Peace isn’t easy for me.
Tags: advice, choice, sex