As I pen what is sure to be my greatest work yet I sit in a coffee shop awaiting the arrival of a long-time acquaintance. This individual is someone I knew briefly in a past life at my first agency just after college. We’d lost touch some time after he moved on from his internship to get swallowed up in the world of limited graphic design careers in southern Minnesota. He has since moved on to a fairly successful UX path that led him to the Minneapolis pool I drown in.
It’s been ten years since The Game exposed/extolled the world of manipulative men known as pickup artists. A nice, round anniversary around which Strauss carefully timed the release of his most recent book The Truth. He’s been running the regular promotional circuit, podcasts, magazines, etc., for the past few months. The entire thing seems part a return to respectable journalism and part apology tour. Though, to be fair, he’s had plenty of journalistic success in the intervening years. But, that’s neither here nor there as he goes on to make yet another buck off the lessons he’s learned at the expense of countless women.
I did it! I’ve been married for a whole year. Go meeeee! Or us I suppose. I guess The One™ has contributed a little bit. And now that I’ve been married for a full 365 days, I’m full of wisdom and advice and bullshit. And today, dear reader, I share those bullshit lessons with you. They may just put you on the path to a happier marriage. Because obviously I know everything there is to know at this point. You’re welcome.
In the the nearly two decades since becoming a woman or whatever, I’ve come to realize that surviving PMS sometimes means leaning into the odd slew of emotions the hits hard for one or two days each month. Melancholy, despondency, anxiety — you know, all the good ones — blend together to leave me feeling just delightful. When this happens I’ve decided it’s best to wallow in the sad. My favorite way of really languishing is to watch movies designed to make me blue.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time assessing the importance of Valentine’s day and what it means for the single among us. My opinion, more often than not, rested somewhere between Valentine’s sucks hard! and I love Valentine’s day; it gives me an excuse to wear pink and have a fancy “we hate men” dinner with my friends. And now, I’ve found The One™, so it’s totally different. There are bluebirds that swirl around me every February 14th. I receive entire menageries of stuffed animals and gardens of roses. Everyone in the world knows how in love I am.
My chosen career (and the fact that it’s 2016) means I’m often immersed in talks of big data, analytics, A/B/ testing, etc., etc. Unfortunately I never took the time to test out my marketing data learnings in my dating life. Well, maybe not unfortunately in a grander sense because things worked out okay for me, but if I had applied my professional data skills to my online dating experiments, they may have turned out differently. Or at the very least I could have gleaned some insights more interesting than “men on Christian dating sites are bizarre.”
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?
Over the years I’ve leaned heavily on my friendships to get me through bad boyfriends, extended periods of singlehood, job loss, moves, family issues, and a million other things. Because I am a real person and that is what real people do. So already this post is a whole lot of nothing. I only bring up these obvious statements because, once again, I’ve been taking stock of my friendship portfolio over the past week or so.
After engagement number one, but long before meeting The One™, I began my longest relationship to date. It started off on uncertain footing as many of these things do. In fact, the first time I brought my special someone home I stared into those big green eyes and wept to think that this was all the romance I had in store for me. At a fresh 24 years of age, I imagined all my opportunity for love had been squandered on the wrong men and no one would ever want to spend their life with someone who had nearly gotten married.
This is the first Christmas Eve spent with just me and my dude. It’s stirring lots of thoughts and feelings, because everything stirs lots of thoughts and feelings in me. Yes, it’s the first year we’ll spend as a couple entwined by the bonds of paperwork, but honestly the Mrs. label doesn’t feel that different. It’s that we’re celebrating an evening traditionally reserved for family as just us two.