Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Real Simple's "Love Rules"

In the issue of Real Simple delivered to my apartment today, there's an article ("Love Rules") which examines common beliefs about love and relationships. They picked 13 "rules" and then had nine "experts"—including a founder of the dating site I use—discuss them. Since some are about marriage and/or kids, I will exclude those from my musings; I will, however, work through about ten over the next few days. Here are the first four.

1. Say "I love you" every day.
I think this is really important but, as psychologist Nancy Kalish says in the article, "it should be said often but it should be said sincerely, so it means something. Not just “Good-bye. Love you.” I think this is a good thing to keep in mind for a lot of words and phrases (curse words, in particular).

2. Play hard to get.
What's the point? I'm not in the business of wasting people's time. I completely agree with Sam Yagan, the co-founder of an online dating service: "Playing hard to get starts the relationship off on a deceptive foot. If you want your relationship to be based on trust, honesty, and communication, why would you begin it like that?"

3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Short absences, perhaps. Long-term ones, I don't know. If we're talking a business trip or vacation, something with a definite end, I think I could handle it. If it's a nebulous, "I'll be away for a while and I don't know when I'll return" kind of thing, I think I'd have to do some serious soul-searching (as would, I think, the other person in the relationship).

Sociologist Pepper Schwartz had this to say on the matter: "To a point—and then absence makes the heart go roaming. You need a steady diet of intimacy and the other person’s presence to remember why you’re in the relationship. If you don’t see each other often enough, you can start to lead parallel lives instead of lives that intersect."

4. You can learn to love someone.
I'm going to agree with Greg Behrendt (co-author of He's Just Not That Into You) on this one: "No, that sounds like settling. I don’t believe in settling, because it’s not fair to the person you’re with or yourself. It’s not like settling on an apartment you don’t love but can live with." I think this is how I felt about Sandy. I really wanted to be in a relationship with him and he was giving signs that he wanted to be in a relationship with me, so I fooled myself into thinking that it would be great, but really I don't think it ever would have moved from like to love.

Next time I'll tackle these points:

5. Never go to bed angry.
6. There is such a thing as love at first sight.
7. Always keep him guessing.
8. You can never be too close.

Until then, I'll leave you with yet another reference to cougars. It's a title of a Craigslist post that I came upon tonight: TENDER PREY WAITING FOR A HUNGRY COUGAR - 35. What is it with cougars all of a sudden?


Superquail said...

Playing hard to get is bullshit to me. My mother basically believed that any girl who wasn't playing hard to get was a total slut. But if society creates a system by which a girl is expected to flee before a a guy she likes, then what does she do when she encounters a guy she doesn't like? It becomes the same reaction which means that a guy can honestly claim that he had no idea whether she was in to him or not.

This is the bedrock of so many conflicts between the sexes. It spirals out of control from there.

As for "learning to love someone" I have definitely been taken in by that myth. I believed that relationships were supposed to be a lot of work. Now I have learned that only bad relationships feel like work, good ones feel effortless.

Katie said...

Note to self: SQ's life lessons are invaluable, especially today's: only bad relationships feel like work, good ones feel effortless.

Ily said...

Hmm, I thought there were no rules to love...

I wonder what the answer to #3 would be in a country where arranged marriages are common, and people get married for different reasons than we do. I bet they'd say the opposite, which is interesting.

On abscence, I think that if you love someone, absence is painful, and if you don't care about someone, you forget them after awhile. Oddly enough, I think this works better on inanimate objects, like that food from your childhood that you remember as being amazing, but when you try it again it isn't really that great.

Anyway, I like this series, it's totally something I'd write about myself.

Katie said...

Ily, I mentioned your comment to a co-worker whose husband is Bengali and she was telling me what most participants in arranged marriages feel on this subject (learning to love someone). She said that usually they expect marriage to be a companionship that may grow into friendship and perhaps even love.

So yes, I think you're right: different people from different places may have a range of feelings about the issue.