Over the course of my romantic adventures I’ve heard a number of platitudes, but none so damaging as, “relationships are work.” Those three words kept me holding onto a handful of relationships that simply were not worth holding onto. All the work I put into them left me exhausted, miserable and feeling like a failure when it ultimately didn’t pay off.
“He loved her so much. He was never a violent person.” “They were inseparable, I can’t believe this happened.” “He was such a kind person, he would never harm a soul.” We hear these refrains every time someone falls victim to domestic violence. There’s always someone available to claim they know the accused and the situation well enough to know that some sort of demonic possession would have to come into play to lead to such a tragedy.
All summer (and the one before) there has been talk of Suicide Squad and the many colorful characters it features. The most colorful and most talked about these being Harley Quinn. Her costume, the actress who portrays her, and her backstory have been covered extensively. The latter topic takes us through the sordid beginnings of Harley Quinn and her relationship with the Joker, a demented boyfriend who ensnares the brilliant psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel through manipulation, abuse and a vat of acid. Hooray.
One of the most pivotal moments in a relationship is the introduction to the family. If it goes poorly, the couple has an uphill battle ahead if they choose to continue the relationship. If it goes well, everyone gets to live happily ever after. If it goes really well, wedding plans can commence. But what happens if your family falls for your honeybun and you aren’t quite sure Mendelssohn's March is in your future? Or worse yet, you fall out of love and decide to end the relationship?
This line from Julieanne Smolinski’s essay The Funny Thing About Abusive Relationships neatly summed up the dilemma I’ve struggled to address internally and externally since my first experience with an abusive relationship all the way through what was my very last. How does a strong woman end up in such a position of weakness?
One of the trickiest things to deal with in relationships, especially early on, is the truth about feelings. Stereotypes suggest ladies should hold them in lest she spook Him. Man-types are thought to feign emotions in order to reach their destination (i.e., her pants). In a perfect world, people would just be honest with each other and accept that honesty as they work toward building a relationship together. But that doesn’t always happen and sometimes the honesty isn’t enough to stake claim over the moral high ground.
We live in a Post-The Game world and regardless of whether or not Strauss renounced his ridiculous tactics as “objectifying and horrifying” the world he exposed is still alive and well. There are pickup artist communities crawling all over the dank crevasses of the interwebs. And the notions fostered within those communities ooze out into the world, wreaking havoc and leaving broken people in their wake.
A million years ago I read this article entitled Your Boyfriend is Not Your Friend, and I was livid. At the time, I had just started to date my person, but I was already offended by the idea that I couldn’t consider him a friend. In fact friendship was essentially how our relationship began. As time wore on, I even dared to hope that we would be the bestest of friends throughout our lives. I understand the central thesis of the article was relatively reasonable. You should have friends outside your significant other and you can’t expect to get everything from a single person.
One thing I’ve learned from revitalizing this blog is that some relationship problems ring true from year to year. Couple to couple. Three years ago, I wrote this about my inability to give my boy of the month anything resembling space. In the years since I’ve become much better about this little quirk. Partly because I’ve finally been able to hold down a dude for longer than a year and a half. Partly because I took Big Sister Morgan’s sage advice. Partly, because after nearly 30 years getting set in my individualistic ways, I began to need my own breathing room. Partly because I'm lying to myself and to you.
All this chatter about Ashley Madison has led to some interesting/infuriating/ad nauseum discussions about relationships and cheating. The defenses of public-ish figures caught in the honey trap range from a very special Mark Driscoll Real-Marriage brand of victim blaming to Shaggy’s perfectly articulated “it wasn’t me.” My favorite, and the one I’ll address here is the age-old “It was just for funsies. I looked, but I didn’t touch.” Anecdotally and sorta newsly this lame ass excuse is presumed to have legs according to what I presume is skeevy men.