Lately, I’ve been reading a lot out of Michael Baisden. After seeing his commentary on relationships, which greatly echoed my own opinion on the subject, I decided to read his latest book, Raise Your Hand If You Have Issues, while away on my trip this year. And I found that Michael Baisden and I have a lot of similar opinions.
Baisden is an author, first of all, but above that, he’s a person with solid experience with life and people, and he had gone from writing fiction to writing nonfiction. I don’t have love for self-help books, first of all. Never have and never will. So I read this one out of curiosity, and frankly, I found myself pleasantly surprised.
There’s one particular post on his Facebook page that’s very aptly opened with “Fuck love” and talks very firmly about how people in love, or people who believe they are in love, are ripe to make the worst decisions of their lives. He also mentions, rightly, that some of the best relationships, and marriages, are founded on friendship first, as opposed to love.
I made the one mistake that I had sworn off on making after becoming a Youtube regular: I read the comments. Why, why, oh why do I read the comments?
More than half of the comments were in the vein of how can you say that? Love is everything, and so on and so forth. Me, I slapped myself on the forehead. He voiced an opinion based on 1. experience, 2. interviewing people, and 3. observation, and the mere fact that his opinion was out of their comfort zone had elicited an immediate knee-jerk of how can he say that? On one hand, I understand it: something out of a comfort zone can be, and often is, jarring. But the immediate “what’s wrong with you for saying it” sentiment made me facepalm and shake my head.
What really aggravated me was one woman saying, “We as women aren’t built to think logically where love is concerned” (paraphrase). I’m sorry, but speak for yourself. Nothing annoys me more than when another female makes a statement like that. Those of us who do NOT think with our uteri, ovaries, or hormones take serious umbrage with people who make a blanket assumption that all women think a certain way.
But going back to the original post? Michael Baisden is 100% correct. If you haven’t had the experience that makes you agree with him, then it’s a matter of time until you do. If you go through your entire relationship or marriage without anything that will make you stop and say, “This is not right!”, then you are in the less-than-single-digit percent of people who are truly that lucky. Most of us, however, are not so lucky, and it takes a lot of honesty – with ourselves, first of all – to realize that yes, love screws up a lot of thinking processes. Logic is the first to go, observation second, though you may argue me on that.
Look. I won’t deny that I’m one of those people who had done stupid-as-hell things when I was in love. I’ve done dumb shit when I thought I was in love just as much as when I actually was. However, it taught me that the men were by no means the problem: the problem was how I was processing these feelings and how they were affecting me and my judgment. True fact: I was married. I can honestly say I did love my ex-husband. What I egregiously ignored, however, was that he and I were drastically different people, with equally drastically different ideas about life, who wouldn’t be compatible in any way, shape, or form. Could I have seen it? Yes, I could’ve. But I was in love, and to me, that was enough.
I say this to my younger self now: BULLSHIT. If two people’s core values are at the opposite sides of the globe, not a damn thing can change that. I should have known better, yes, but again – I was in love. My better judgment took a back burner in the name of love. Never again.
I’m also sure that we all know this one person – or more than one – whose relationships went up in flames because of reasons that were obvious to us, but not to them. They asked us for advice while they were in those partnerships, we gave it, and they immediately fired back with “What do you know?” or similar, because we weren’t giving them our instant support. If we asked them, after it was already over, why they stuck around that long, they always answered, “I was in love.”
There’s a reason we say love is blind. It blinds us to people’s faults. It blinds us to obvious incompatibilities. It blinds us to the simple fact that the other person does absolutely nothing to further our own personal growth. It blinds us to the glaringly obvious faults in that other person, or to the small but hugely important fact that you and the other person have vastly different goals and ideas of a relationship. Hormones and pheromones do not help matters. Sometimes, an attraction can be so strong that it overpowers all sense of reason, and the hormones stay at a sustained level to fool the mind into thinking that a great lay is a husband/wife material, when it is simply not the case. Love is blind indeed, and please don’t differentiate between love, lust, and infatuation: all three are equally guilty of pulling the wool over ordinarily sensible people’s eyes.
Love makes fools out of people more often than it gives them their dues. It makes desperate fools out of women and men alike, and fools twice if they keep repeating the same errors over and over again thinking, “This time will be different.” It never works. And there’s always disappointment and resentment, and the “but I thought…” and the “why”. And it’s never different for more than a day.
As I said before, I’m not innocent, but I definitely learned from experience. I have also learned a very valuable lesson our of my experiences: if people show you who they are: believe them. No amount of love changes a person, and love – or the illusion thereof – will keep you from seeing the most absolutely glaring incompatibilities, which will never, ever go away or get “healed” or anything.
Most recently, my friend of over a decade, whom I shall call Neil (pseudonym; all details used with permission) started dating a girl. After three months of things going hunky-dory, he told me that he thought she was The One. I told him, “Neil, it’s been three months only. You and I both know that it’s not enough time, and no matter how you feel about her now, wait and see what happens.” Sure enough, right now Neil is back to being single. Why? Because his then-girlfriend showed her true colors, and Neil saw that they were wholly and completely incompatible. I saw it coming, yes, but that is not important. What was important was that he waited long enough for those true colors to show.
Neil’s experience, as well as my own, is why I firmly agree with Michael Baisden when he says “Fuck love”. Because he’s right. In both my own past experience and observing others, I learned that some of the best relationships and marriages are those between two people who have a solid friendship foundation as its basis. I can draw multiple examples of some of the best couples and families I’ve seen, and they all have one major thing in common: their husband/wife is their best friend, whose core values are completely in sync with one another. They’re the couples who have been married for 20+ years, raised families (or not, if they’re childfree), and they’re so secure in themselves and their relationship that you know that there’s not a damn thing that they don’t know about each other and are not accepting of. They’re the couples people want to be, but those people who want to have the same thing completely disregard that no one who has that sort of a deep, loving, trusting companionship got there on love alone. They got there by outright knowing the person they’re with, which is something that only longtime friendship, acceptance, and growth can create. And this usually means that the “knight in shining armor” thing that most women buy into, as well as the “damsel in distress” thing for men, are no more than a farce, a nice little illusion that has nothing to do with reality.
Don’t get me started on the “damsel in distress” bit. We’re all guilty of having The Mr. or Ms. Fix-Them relationships in our history. I’ve taken in strays before, and if asked if I’d do it again, I’ll be honest: I’d do my best not to, but can’t say it won’t happen. It’s a separate topic altogether, though it directly ties into what I’m saying here.
And if that shatters a few illusion bubbles? GREAT. Fantastic. It ought to. Because we can spare ourselves so much grief and disappointment if we were, first and foremost, honest with ourselves about the people we’re with. Because when you take the hormones, the emotions, and the pheromones out of the equation, the truth is right there in front of you. You usually know it already, even before you realize it.
And while you’re at it, read Michael Baisden’s book. A major eye-opener. http://www.amazon.com/Raise-Your-Hand-Have-Issues-ebook/dp/B00FYU8HPG/