Have you ever been in love? I have. It's fun! People ask, "Have you ever been in love?" and you get to say, "Yes. Yes I have." There's other good stuff, too, but I don't have to explain that to you. You've seen the terrible movies and heard the awful songs.
I've been in love. I've been married. I'm getting divorced, and I've learned a few things I can share with you about the stupid things people do when they fall in love. And I first feel comfortable doing it because of something I recently heard Gene Wilder say.
No, not that.
It was something he said in an old interview about the difference between "personal" and "private." Paraphrasing, he said the interviewer could ask him anything personal, because all of his thoughts and feelings and beliefs and values were "personal." However, he clarified, he wouldn't discuss what was "private," as in names, dates, times -- specific events of his life. I realized that even though I'd never put it that eloquently, that has always been my yardstick for sharing as well. And with that firmly in mind, here are four stupid things I've learned people do when they fall in love.
#4. Look for Flaws in the People We're Not Dating
So you and your boyfriend/girlfriend have been together for a while now and things are going really well. Super. You're starting to think this could be it. It's time to commit. It's time to settle down with this special person who likes Shaun of the Dead just as much as you, who also hates peanut butter and jelly, who likes it when you do that thing with the thing in bed.
Yep, all the tell-tale signs of a solid marriage are there.
Now what? Well, if you're like most people, you're going to start wondering about the possibility of never being with someone else romantically ever again. This is it. This is the one for you. You're getting married and you can't have anyone else. So what do you do? How do you ensure that your mate is the best person for you? Well, one option is looking at everyone else around you and quickly discerning why they're not as cool as the person you love.
You can scan the subways like the Terminator: "Fat ass, annoying laugh, weird teeth, grating voice, selfish demeanor, rude, too tall, too short, likes Dave Matthews Band ..."
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I don't really have to explain why this is stupid, do I? Quite simply, if you need to tear down every other possible mate who crosses your line of vision, then you have some serious misgivings about your partner, or you're not emotionally mature enough to be committing to someone. It's true, there are other hot, kind, funny people out there besides the person you're dating:
And some of them look adorable in their Ziggy Stardust, Esq. costume.
But that's not the point. You're never going to get clarity about your future mate by tearing other people down. The only things that matter are you and your potential partner and how you work together. For example, knowing that you hate tofu and vegetables will only get you so far in your decision about whether or not to eat chicken parm every night for the rest of your life. (The metaphor was sponsored by the American Society for the Frequent Eating of Chicken Parm.)
#3. Ignore Flaws, or Imagine They'll Change
So you got your partner, and he/she is awesome ... mostly. Well, that makes sense. After all, no one's perfect, and even if you're not looking for perfection, no one's perfectly imperfect in the exact way you are, so, yeah, the best you can hope for is "awesome mostly." But you have to be careful about the parts that aren't right. I mean, are you just upset that your boyfriend hates sandwiches when you're all about picnics? Then yeah, I'm pretty sure you two will soldier through that one.
But what if it's something more? What if only one of you wants kids or one of you is a hard-drinking, carousing bastard or one of you rarely bathes?
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Or all of the above?
Then that might be a more serious problem. And yet we're so content with the rest of our special little friend that we make excuses. "Oh, he'll grow out of it," or "Well, she probably won't be like this forever," or "I'm sure one day her vestigial penis will fall off and there'll be a perfectly functional vagina there." These are the kinds of rationalizations that only lovers make. Unfortunately, they're also the exact kind of lies that ultimately destroy love.
Don't walk into a commitment with expectations of change. This is it. This is who you're going to commit to. If that's not good enough, shut up and get going.