Dear Steve,

I’d like to ask about something I have realized over the years but never understood. My rule has always been: the one who cares the least about the relationship, rules the relationship. I’ve proven it over and over without fail. Any time I cared even a little bit more than the women I dated, they would immediately begin unrolling the scroll of demands that must be met to ensure their happiness. The scroll was immediately put away if I realized that I was caring too much and added another baseball night to my schedule. Is this just an independent discovery of the idea about pursuing that which retreats from us?
One last thing, I dated a woman and found she didn’t practice this rule, so I married her.

Because I’m feeling mystical today, I’m going to open the nearest book to a random page in the hope that I will find an answer to your question. That book happens to be the Portable World Bible. Let’s see what it says…

“And the man said, the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat”.

Okay, so I can’t find any connection. Let’s move on.

In New Guinea, there’s a word, mokita, which means ‘the truth that everybody knows but nobody speaks.’ There should be a word for the truth that everybody knows, but some people refuse to acknowledge. I like the word shamma-lamma-ding-dong. One of the most common shamma-lamma-ding-dongs occurs in relationships like the one you describe above, where one person is more attached than the other. And yes, the one who is less attached rules the relationship and gets her way most of the time.

Most people in these relationships avoid admitting any power disparity because it would be too painful. If you’re the master, you don’t want to admit it for two reasons. One, you might have to give up some of your power in the interest of fairness. Two, you might have to change your self-image (especially if you’re a person who prides herself on being even-handed and fair, when in truth, you’re selfish and demanding). If you’re the servant, you don’t want to admit it for two reasons. One, you might piss off your master (masters hate to admit they’re mastering anyone). Two, you might have to change your self-image (especially if you’re one of those people who thinks you have good self-esteem, when in truth, you’re a total pansy). When two people get together who don’t want to speak a truth they both should know, you have one big-ass shamma-lamma-ding-dong.

Is this just another example of people pursuing that which retreats from them? Sure, why not. Mostly, it’s an example of economics. If people are willing to pay 500 dollars for a pair of shoes, shoemakers will charge 500 dollars. If someone is willing to let his partner push him around, his partner will push him around. Some people are more focused on their careers, friends and/or hobbies than they are on romantic relationships.

Two people like that can date each other, but they won’t last very long. Fortunately, there are plenty of other people who are more focused on their relationships than on their careers, friends or hobbies. These people sacrifice their own interests to help their lucky narcissist partners pursue theirs.

A friend once told me that in every relationship there is a gardener and a rose. I’ve often found this to be true. I’ve also discovered a good way of finding the rose. Ask a couple if they have a gardener/rose type relationship. The person who answers ‘yes’ is the gardener, the person who answers ‘no’ is the rose (most roses deny being roses).

The whole gardener/rose thing reminds me of gardens, which reminds me of the Garden of Eden. Perhaps there is a connection between the above quote and your question. Maybe if Adam had been more focused on his career (which was gardening), he wouldn’t have felt such a strong need for female companionship. Just think of all the trouble he could have avoided.


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