I tend to write more about sex than love, given that I feel pretty confident in my boning abilities. But I’m sitting here writing this in a Tribe Called Quest t-shirt, alone in my bed with my cat by my side, so I think it’s safe to say I haven’t really nailed down the whole relationship thing yet. Also of note: my day consisted of interviewing a porn star, seeing my therapist, impulsively getting a new piercing, attending a Buddhist meditation group, and capping the day off with Nymphomaniac Vol. I… so heed my advice as you see fit. Speaking of the interview with the porn star, there’s a very sexy article coming soon, so, until then, enjoy my insomniac rants of a few things I’ve learned about relationships in the past year.
1. If you’re unsure of what to do, don’t do anything yet. Humans are selfish. Some display it in relationships through pulling away and acting distant, others through codependence and clinging. Trying to mesh two lives is going to be difficult. Problems will arise and doubt will set in. If you are experiencing conflict, perhaps a break up is in order, or perhaps it is just a rough patch. Yet an impulsive break-up you haven’t entirely thought through can lead to confusion, guilt, and regret when the reality sets in you’ve lost someone.
2. Never trust anything a man says when he has a boner—especially if he’s drunk. Ask him to repeat it you soberly in the light of day outside of a sexual scenario.
3. The cruelest thing you can do is ignore someone. If, say, I’ve given a person from an online dating site my phone number after a few messages, only to realize I’m not actually interested in seeing them, ignoring their text is probably still rude but acceptable. But if you’ve had any emotional connection with someone, yet want to end things, an explanation is simply good manners. Even if I’ve only been on a date or two with a person and realize there is no chemistry yet they persist, I’ve learned to give the courtesy of a simple “I’m not as ready to be dating as I thought I was” or “I simply didn’t feel romantic chemistry but truly wish you nothing but the best.”
4. Pay attention to your instincts. The first time I slept with someone very dear to my heart—my longest relationship to date, in fact—I noticed a mole on his back. A voice in my head said “I know this mole. I love this mole. I’m going to see a lot of it.” I eventually ended up convincing him to have it removed because I was scared he was going to get skin cancer, but the point remains. The same is true in the other direction. If early on we sense someone may not be the right fit and ignore red flags in the rush of excitement of a new relationship then it blows up in our face, you may find yourself in a face-palm as the line from the Bob Dylan song “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” plays over in your mind “You just kind of wasted my time a little bit…”
5. There are two sides to every story and both parties are always responsible. I don’t care who broke up with who, who said or did what. It’s a relationship; the success and failure depends on both.
6. We’re humans not entirely in control and must be humble of this fact. I don’t care if you’re Christian, a Satanist, an atheist or a Rastafarian—there are forces at work beyond our control. I don’t care if you’re monogamous, polyamorous, married or only been dating for a few months. You can’t control another human being or navigate everything with willpower or wishes. People fall out of love. You meet someone new. People die. Shit happens. Nothing you can do but roll with it.
7. Angelina Jolie, my hero and sexual fantasy, once said of her break-up with Billy Bob Thornton: “It’s scary, but I think it can happen when you don’t know yourself yet.” I have friends who married young and grew and discovered themselves with their partner, but my idol has a point. It’s pretty hard to know what sort of partner you see yourself with when you’re still struggling to figure out exactly who you are.
8. If you step back and think about what you love about a person, you may realize it’s actually what you whine about the most. Their carefree nature that frustrates you when it comes to lack of planning vacations. Their conflicting music taste or the obscene amount of toilet paper (guilty) someone uses. As Robin Williams’ character says in Good Will Hunting, recalling his deceased wife farting so loudly she would wake herself up, “Ah, that’s the good stuff.”
9. Boomerangs exist. These are the people you’ve fought with and thought you may never see again, but—romantic or not—find a way back into your life. If it feels right, if the love—in whatever form—remains, welcome it. Accept the good and embrace the love that life gives you.
10. Forgive. Forgive yourself for hurting others. Forgive those who have hurt you. We are but animals, still horny, dumb and evolving, dealing with our own shit and trying to figure it all out. There’s nothing more romantically repelling than bitterness or becoming jaded. Compassion is difficult, much more difficult than harboring animosity, but a truly beautiful and freeing thing.
Photo courtesy of City of Sleep