Dear Steve,
The italicized phrase above your email address says, “Do you have burning philosophical questions about love and relationships?”, which implies that you might respond, or at least be deeply touched.

So here’s my question, “what is up about love and money?” No, that’s too advanced, let’s begin with one of my simpler burning questions, “what is up with love?”  People ask you out, smile a lot and gaze into your eyes. You spend New Years together, plan a joint vacation, and move in together… and then– boom, they don’t like the way you cut vegetables for shish-kebobs, they don’t think you’re upholding your end of maintaining the house (especially the guest bathroom), and they think you are too intimate with your best friend. They wish you would exercise more and then they start leaving quarter-glasses of orange juice around to dry up. Finally, they stop thinking it’s so important to let you know when they’ll be working late and they start hogging the covers. Why do we do that?

Next time we can talk about love and money.

Recently, my editor told me that my column needed to be edgier, and not so “Hallmark Cardy”. So, allow me to give you an edgy answer; people ask you out, act nice, then get you to move in with them because they smoke crack and gamble, and they’re hoping that you’ll pay for their drug habit and their debts.

Now for the Hallmark Cardy answer – I think people fall in love with the idea of love and not necessarily with an actual person. An actual person smells and leaves things lying around the house. Unfortunately, I think we get many of our ideas about what a relationship is supposed to be from television and movies, which generally suck. (I know, everybody says that, but it’s true, so back off).

In movie relationships, the obstacle to love is usually something like, ‘your father is a gangster and my father is a cop.’ In real life, the big obstacles are, ‘I haven’t accepted my own faults, so your faults bug the shit out of me,’ or, ‘I didn’t get the reinforcement I needed from my family as a child, so I need you to make up for twenty years of neglect?’

Why do we do these things? Lack of self-knowledge. I have said it before, and frankly, I’ll say it again. Most people, even the otherwise humble ones, stridently believe they know their own faults and strengths. But the truth is, seeing your own blindspot is the greatest trick of all. It’s a real job, as serious as ony other job, but most people neglect it.

Someone is single. They want to be in love. As soon as they meet someone that they can fit into their vision of love, they pursue them. But our projections onto other people can’t stand up to the actual facts of living with them. This conflict between perception and reality makes people cranky and petty, and they end up yelling at you about the spare bathroom not being clean.

You have to know what you really want out of a relationship before you get into one. More importantly, you need to know what you are willing to tolerate. Would you rather be with a good looking guy who leaves orange juice lying around, or with a less attractive guy who is neat? You have to prioritize. If you actually hook up with someone who has the top three qualities on your list of necessary qualities, I say forget the other twenty things on your list and be happy you got the top three. The worst thing in the world is to try to change someone. Wait, no, genocide is the worst thing in the world, followed by lite mayonaise. But somewhere near the top of the list of bad things, is trying to change others.

So, when you meet someone, sparks fly, and you move in together, remember this – if you start feeling the need to change someone, change yourself (is that some serious Hallmark Card shit or what).


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Filed under Advice, Love, Philosophy

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