Posts Tagged: relationships

Lady Tip: You Never Know What’s Going on In Someone Else’s Relationship

Have I ever told you guys about my friend Dan? He is, truly, a fount of wisdom. He is a champion singer, a world-class hugger, and really good at creating joke Pinterest boards to cheer me up when I was stressed out about wedding planning (H’s and my wedding date was NOT INTENTIONALLY 4/20 and it was the subject of much hilarity for everyone).

But also, he gives some killer advice. A few years ago, he offhandedly said something that really stuck with me: You never know what’s going on in someone else’s relationship.

And what did he mean by that? Well, we probably all have a friend who’s dating someone we just don’t get. Maybe your BFF’s boyfriend is super boring, and you don’t know why she isn’t with someone funnier. Or maybe the most motivated person you know is married to someone who has seemingly no ambition. These are both made up examples, for the record. I’m not trying to out anyone’s relationship through my blog like a weirdo. Anyway, you might look at those relationships and think, “Why are they even together?”

But the thing is, you never know what’s going on in someone else’s relationship. Not everyone wants the same things as you! Maybe to you the most important thing in a romantic partner is a sense of humor. But to your friend, that might not matter at all. Maybe the most important thing to her is stability. Or, even though you might not ever want to marry someone who isn’t a hard worker, your friend might be way more concerned with marrying someone who’s good-natured. Or good-looking. Or rich. Basically, you’ll never understand what other people see in each other, and that’s okay. It’s easy to look at a couple and think, “Why in God’s name are they together?” I mean, I’ve totally thought that before. But love is strange, as the music of the past tells us.

Of course, this goes both ways. Sometimes the people you think have the best relationships actually have the worst ones. Something I’ve discovered is that the people who are the most demonstrative on social media are usually the one with the most problems. For example, I once knew a guy who was always writing over-the-top sweet things on his girlfriend’s Facebook wall. They were a totally cute couple, and I figured they had a perfect relationship. I even felt bad that my boyfriend didn’t write sappy things on my Facebook wall. But then one day I heard him arguing on the phone with his girlfriend, and I found out that he only wrote those things because they got in constant fights and she wanted public validation to make their relationship seem healthy. Which is, obviously, messed up. Facebook should be a place to post pictures of your pets and confuse your relatives with sarcastic statuses, not a place to stabilize your relationship.

Basically, you never know what’s going on between two other people. It might not make sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to them. And if you need any more great advice about relationships…get your own Dan. I’m not letting you have mine.

Lady Tip: Live By Yourself (At Least Once)

Okay, so I fully realize that this lady tip isn’t possibly for everyone. Maybe you live in a city where it’s financially impossible to live by yourself, or maybe you’re in a long-term relationship and you can’t exactly just move out. But still, I think living by yourself is an experience everyone should have.

Part of my belief in this is that I am not good with roommates. I wish that I was, because I’d love nothing more than to have a wacky sitcom life where my house is always full of weirdos and crazy situations are always happening. But, much as I love sitcoms, I don’t actually want to live with Balki. I’m like Cousin Larry, but if he never had a Balki to lighten him up. I’ve had good roommate experiences–for example, my freshman year of college my terrible roommate moved out and my friend Liz moved in, and we had a semester of non-stop (for me, anyway!) fun with her then-boyfriend and our BFF Dan. Honestly, I think back on that experience as one of the most fun times of my life, and it happened in a dorm. But overall? I’m not a good person to live with. I need massive amounts of alone-time. I don’t like anyone watching me, knowing what I’m doing, or judging what I eat. I want to listen to the Doobie Brothers loudly if the spirit moves me and, frankly, I don’t want to be judged for that. I like to leave my stuff everywhere, but I don’t want anyone to touch my stuff!

So when I had the chance to live by myself post-college, I jumped on it. I had to live with my parents for the first six months out of college, and that was really a great lesson in Why I Should Never Live With My Parents. They are great people and I like them a lot, but our lifestyles are really, really not compatible. I could’ve moved in with H., but he was living about in hour away in a town that he hated, and I wasn’t super-keen to move there just so I could hate it, too. So I got a tiny, weird apartment all by myself as soon as I got a job. It was wood-paneled (yikes), my neighbor smoked so much that the hallway smelled like an ash tray constantly, and the oven was so tiny that my cookie sheets wouldn’t even fit in it. But did I care? No way.

Because it was mine. Just mine. The feeling of having your own place that only you are responsible for is hard to explain. It’s liberating and scary all at the same time. If something breaks, you have to fix it (or live with it, as the case may be). If your next door neighbor is having sex and bumping their bed against the wall that your bed is also against and the vibrations actually wake you up, you don’t have another person to commiserate with. You have to pay all your bills and all your rent. If there are dishes in the sink, you can’t blame anyone else. If it smells like brussels sprouts, well, that’s because you decided to roast brussels sprouts. Every problem is yours.

On the flip side…everything is yours. The total silence when you come home from work, the food in the fridge, the girly curtains. No one’s going to stop you from watching American Idol in your pajamas. No one’s going to make fun of you for eating an egg sandwich three nights in a row. No one’s going to move your stuff.

And in those long, quiet nights, I can promise you, you will access reserves of strength you didn’t know you had. And I don’t just mean because it’s scary to hear noises and not be able to send someone else out to check on them. But because it’s lonely, sometimes, to live on your own. You don’t have someone else to talk to. You don’t have someone to share your opinion with after you watch a show. You can’t read that Jezebel article out loud to anyone or share your leftovers or steal someone else’s deodorant if you run out. When you turn to talk to someone, you’re only met with yourself.

I’m very happy to live with my husband now. I lived by myself for about four years, and I was ready to have another person around. But I’m so absolutely glad I lived by myself for as long as I did, and I know I would’ve regretted it if I didn’t. It was often hard to explain to people why I lived by myself, when I could’ve (probably should’ve) lived with H. The benefits of being alone, of sometimes being lonely, can be hard to explain. So, yeah, I’m happy here where I am, writing this blog post on the couch as I hear H. walking around upstairs. But I wouldn’t give up those years of living alone for anything.

Image of man who can play his violin AS LOUD AS HE WANTS via Flickr

Lady Tip #17: NEVER Get Involved in Someone Else’s Dating Life

When I was in junior high and high school, I didn’t have boyfriends. Like at all. Ever. My friends, however, were absolutely gorgeous girls who always had boyfriends. As is the way with these things, I was the one they called when they had problems. Never mind the logic involved with asking the one girl who’s never had a boyfriend to dish out advice about love. I actually did give some great advice, in my not-so-humble opinion. I like to think this is because I’m innately wise, but I’m pretty sure it’s just because I’d watched a lot of TV, read a lot of books, and skimmed a lot of advice columns, which all prepared me to deal with just about any sort of love trauma. I’d dash off a few quick lines of counsel via AIM (this was the early 2000s) or email and my friends would type back, “You’re so good at giving advice!” before going off on their Saturday night dates and leaving me home alone with my constant dates, Louder Than Bombs and my journal.

Even now that I’m an adult with my very own love life, people still come to me with their problems a lot. And you know what? I love it. I’m relatively sure it isn’t my sublime wisdom that keeps people talking to me–instead, it’s my genuine interest and concern about their problems. I can’t help but love drama–it’s the writer in me. So, naturally, when a friend asks for my advice in matters of the heart, I’m all too happy to give it. However, I’m here to tell you just how easily that can blow up in your face.

On multiple occasions, I’ve been approached by both halves of a couple or would-be couple and asked for advice. For a amateur therapist and egomaniac like myself, this is some sweet, sweet nectar. How flattering! I’m so trusted! you’ll think to yourself. And then you’ll kind of feel like God. You know everything about how two people feel about each other, but they don’t know! It’s like watching a romantic comedy that only you know about.

Well, hold your metaphorical horses, missy, because the heart bomb’s a-tickin’. Sure, everything seems great now, but when this coupling doesn’t work out (as it inevitably won’t, because if these people were truly right for each other they probably wouldn’t need your advice), you’ll be left feeling guilty, stupid, or both.

Once in high school, two friends of mine liked each other and came to me for advice. “Go for it! You’re perfect for each other!” I gleefully advised. Well, turns out they weren’t, and when they broke up, they both ended up hating me (one for a brief period, the other for a significantly longer period). One of them accused me of hacking into their emails, which is laughable for a lot of reasons, mainly that I can’t even figure out how to download albums, let alone hack into an email account.

You’d think I would learn, but I rarely learn from my own mistakes.

A couple of years ago, one of my best friends (let’s call her Rachel) realized that one of her friends (let’s call him Ross) had a thing for her. She talked to me about it and I was all set to live vicariously through her. Then I got an e-mail from Ross. Ross and I weren’t friends, per se, but we were friendly. He poured his heart out to me via Gmail, and it was like the arc of a sitcom. In my expert opinion, they were perfect for each other! I mean, yeah, sure he had a girlfriend, but big deal. This was going to work out and never have any problems, ever!

Okay, back up. Here’s where I should have pumped those breaks. It is super, super inappropriate to give romantic advice to anyone, let alone both halves of a couple.

To my credit, I steered clear of flat out telling Ross what to do. But I did tell him that he should do his girlfriend a favor and break up with her, because yikes.

Anyway, you can probably guess what happened next. Yep. His girlfriend read his email because this was, obviously, a relationship with some trust issues. And his girlfriend read all those things I said about how he should really set her free instead of emotionally cheating on her.

And this coupling did not end up working out. It was for the best. Rachel’s now engaged to a great dude, and Ross is still with that girl. You know, the one I’ve never met who probably hates me. So that’s a thing I have to feel guilty about for basically forever.

Now, when people tell me about their romantic dramas, I generally just listen and share my own experiences. And if both halves of a would-be couple ever try to talk to me again, I’m going to politely but firmly remove myself from the situation, because damn girl! Inappropriate! Sure, I love love and hearing about people falling in love and getting those heart flutterings vicariously, but it really shouldn’t go any further than listening.

And just in general, “You should probably talk to him about this,” is always good and neutral advice to give a lady friend in any relationship situation.

Playing matchmaker almost literally never works out, so just save everyone around you some heartbreak and keep your opinions to yourself. And even if it’s just one of your girlfriends asking for advice, tread carefully. You never know when she’s going to get in another argument with her dude and mention that YOU told her he’s being a total dick. That doesn’t tend to go over well. I’ve had friends’ boyfriends hate me just because they thought I was giving their girlfriends advice.

What about you guys? Have you ever been involved in a situation like this? How did you handle it? And, most importantly, did anyone ever accuse you of hacking into their email account? Let me know in the comments!

*Picture of Steve Harvey because he’s someone who can get involved in other people’s dating lives and make bank. We are not Steve Harvey, so we shouldn’t try to be Steve Harvey. We ESPECIALLY shouldn’t try to wear Steve Harvey’s suits.

The Quickest Way to Piss People Off Is to Not Get Married

In December, H. and I will have been together 7 years. And we are not married, a fact that every person I know reminds me of constantly.

I’m not saying we’re never going to get married. In fact, it will probably happen sooner rather than later. But people asking me when I’m going to get married bothers me, and it isn’t because I have problems with the institution of marriage itself (although that can be pretty problematic!) or the state of my relationship with my boyfriend (which is pretty swell!). Instead, my problem with people asking “When are you getting married?” is best summed up in two questions: “How is this your business?” and “Why do I have to get married?”

Growing up, I never dreamed of getting married. I assumed I would, because I grew up in a culture with a pretty traditional view of families, but it wasn’t something I daydreamed about. I never dressed up as a bride for Halloween. I didn’t “play house” much with other kids–mostly because because I rarely played with other children and preferred to hang out by myself, reading. Instead, I daydreamed about writing my first book (dorky but true).

Then, in high school, I became convinced I’d never get married. I simply could not imagine myself being happy as a married person. Let’s be real—I didn’t have any boyfriends (not even weird ones!) in high school, so it’s not like people were lining up to propose. But when I saw girls I knew getting married, like, right out of high school, I knew I would never do that. I saw myself as an adult living alone, being vaguely “artisitic,” probably wearing several jewel-toned scarves. I saw myself with a cat I named after a feminist writer, knowing things about wine, and entertaining many, many temperamental and volatile men who would inspire me to write the tempestuous prose and poetry I’d become known for. I saw myself being weird and alone and happy.

And then I met H. when I was 19, and we’ve been together ever since. You’d think this might be cause for celebration, and it is for me! But it’s not for almost literally every person I know, including but not limited to family, friends, and complete strangers.

I get asked what I’m waiting for, why I’m not married, why H. hasn’t proposed, why I haven’t forced him to propose, when I’m going to “just do it already,” and various other things. All of these questions are based around a few assumptions:

1. I have to get married.
2. I want to get married but H. will not ask me.
3. It’s normal for one person to force the other person to marry them.
4. Marriage is a box you need to check off your list.
5. If I’m not married it means I’m afraid of something.
6. I sit around all day and wait for H. to propose to me.
7. I am sad and pathetic.

Naturally, quite a few of these assumptions offend me, as a feminist and as a human being. For one, most of them put me in a passive role. Just sittin’ around waitin’ for the proposin’ to happen! Secondly, they assume that I need to complete this task in order to graduate to the next phase of my life. Simply put, this is people foisting their life values onto me, and I don’t appreciate it. A traditional life trajectory (marriage, house, babies) means a lot to some people, but it means very, very little to me. Do I want to have a house someday? Totally, but not anytime soon. Do I want kids? Yes, my biological clock reminds me of this every damn day, but not anytime even remotely soon. And do I want to get married? Sure, but it is not the end all, be all of my existence. There are a lot of things I want out of my life, and marriage is just one of the things on a long list that includes publishing a book, visiting a Scandinavian country, and finally successfully baking bread. And that’s where the assumption that offends me the most comes in. When people ask me these questions, what I hear from them is: Your achievements don’t matter to me. Your job, your friendships, your writing, your hopes, your dreams, your life that you’ve built yourself mean nothing, because you haven’t convinced someone to buy you jewelry and then spend many thousands of dollars on an expensive ceremony.

And as much as I’d like to be a super cool lady who can shrug off the narrow-mindedness of others, I’m just not that self-assured. It does not make me feel good when, unsolicited and on a regular basis, people let me know that my life is not measuring up to a standard I don’t even subscribe to. It’s weird, it’s patriarchal, it’s sexist, it’s dumb, and it’s just plain mean.

And you know what else it is? Really, really rude. In general, I think two questions should always be off limits except between very good friends: “When are you getting married?” and “When are you two having kids?” Both of those questions have the potential to be extremely upsetting! I mean, you guys, you don’t know if the couple you’re talking to had a fight that very morning about getting married. You don’t know if the couple you’re talking to recently found out they can’t have kids. You don’t know if they recently had a miscarriage—I mean, 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, you know? These are just rude, invasive, and nosy questions we should all stop asking.

Luckily for me, my close friends totally understand all of this. They’re a mix of married, single, engaged, and divorced people (divorced people are especially cool about not pressuring others to get married) who don’t see marriage as a just another box to check off on the list of life goals. That’s because my friends are awesome.

But, unfortunately, not everyone’s as cool, so I’ll just have to keep answering “So when are you getting married?” with a mixture of flip responses (“Whenever Drake asks me!”), frustrated answers (“When I feel like it.”), vague pleasantries (“Hahaha, someday!”), and subject changes (“Tell me more about your kids!”). It turns out that lecturing people about how their question offends me is not the best tactic to take when I’m talking to someone I’m probably going to have to see on a regular basis (like my grandma).

I love love. I love romance. I love romantic comedies, even (especially) the ones starring Katherine Heigl. I love reading the 50th anniversary announcements in the newspaper. I love seeing my friends get married! And, when I get married (someday!), you’d better believe I’m going to cry uncontrollably. But there’s a lot more to my life than that. I guess the good thing is that eventually, once I do get married, people will stop asking me about this. Then they’ll move on to asking me when I’m having kids. Something to look forward to!

This Movie Is The Best Movie: While You Were Sleeping

It’s hard to say what makes the difference between a good romantic comedy and a bad one. The believability of the situation has little to do with it; I love a ridiculous high-concept, and While You Were Sleeping definitely has one. It doesn’t really take creativity–after all, a rom-com always has to be kind of the same story. I think the two things that are most necessary are a) chemistry between the two leads and b) a lead character who wants something besides love. I do not want to watch a character desperately fling her/himself at potential romantic victims for an hour and a half. That’s what my Facebook newsfeed is for. What I need from a romantic comedy is a yearning for something; a family, a baby, a job, a passion, something. While You Were Sleeping definitely has that.

It has a lot more, too. Like Bill Pullman. Let’s get to it!

Anyone who’s ever taken a creative writing course knows that adage, “Show, Don’t Tell.” Well, this movie shows us, repeatedly, just how lonely Sandra Bullock is. She lives alone. She’s working on Christmas in the token booth for the Chicago train station. She has a cat. She talks to her cat. No friends are ever mentioned. Oh, and both of her parents are dead. Such a lonely girl, our Sandy. The one ray of hairy sunshine in her life is Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows.

She sees him everyday as he goes to work, but they never talk. UNTIL! Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows get pushed onto the tracks by some hoodlums who then run away and are never heard from again. Sandra Bullock immediately springs into action and jumps onto the track.

All the while, a train is speeding towards them while deceptively lighthearted music plays and Sandra Bullock says things like, “Please wake up! There’s a train coming toward us! It’s going very fast!” Like, duh, Sandra Bullock, and also move. Finally she rolls both herself and Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows to safety, and that’s where her trouble actually begins.

She goes to visit Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows in the hospital, and through a mix up that could be easily avoided, people start thinking she’s the fiancee. Although she could correct them at any time, she doesn’t, because the 1st rule of Romantic Comedy Club is Never Tell The Truth (Even When It Would Be Very Simple). She ingratiates herself with his family, and no one suspects a thing. Until Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows’ brother Bill Pullman bursts onto the scene, lookin’ like a million bucks in his reversible denim/khaki jacket and his all flannel, all the time shirt collection.

He wears the most unflattering jeans. That jacket is silly (just buy two jackets, Bill. Seriously). He’s old enough to be, if not my dad, at least significantly older than me. And yet I really do not think I’ve ever seen a more attractive romantic lead, ever. Do you need another picture?

Anyway, Bill Pullman and The Jacket are the only ones who suspect something might be up. This is Bill Pullman’s suspicious face:

But you know it’s only a matter of time before he falls in love with Sandra Bullock. Who wouldn’t? America’s Sweetheart, that one. And of course Sandra Bullock falls in love with him. He wants to start a chair making business (OF COURSE HE DOES), he’s wearing the hell out of those jeans, and he growls, like, 95% of his lines. They fall over in the snow!

And then they have what is my FAVORITE romantic comedy moment. It’s the thing where two characters are joking around but then ALL OF A SUDDEN they end up with their faces just an inch apart! And then some drunk guy or inappropriate old man or precocious child says something and they break apart, but it’s too late. They already Had A Moment.

It’s called tension, you guys.
But of course their love can never be, because Sandra Bullock is fake engaged to Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows. In itself that doesn’t make much sense, but it all comes back to Sandra’s desire. That is, her desire for a family. Because Bill Pullman/Petey’s family has already become her family, and she doesn’t want to give that up, even if it means fraudulently marrying some dude who was just in a coma.
Some other stuff happens and blah, blah, blah. The point is things work out with a ring being tossed into a toll booth and oh my God I think I just had a heart attack. Why are we not still talking about how attractive Bill Pullman was? I can’t be the only one who thinks so, right? I get it, Lost Highway was the creepiest movie any of us have ever seen, but damn if he didn’t pay a mean jazz sax.

Yes, Bill Pullman, I WILL marry you.

And I’d say the same about you, Bill.
You can watch the whole thing on Youtube.
It’s a romantic comedy where no one poops on anything or has sex with an animal. Simpler times. Just a guy in a coma and a girl pretending to be his fiancee.

Previously:This Movie Is The Best Movie: Valley Girl