One of the more annoying things about dating is being given unsolicited advice by the smug couples of the world, the most offensive kind being played out platitudes about love. Thanks. I’m sure “my time will come” but when? How? At least say something helpful if you’re going to shove your advice down my throat. And by the way, just because I’m not currently in love doesn’t mean I’ve never experienced it before. I have, thank you very much. And here’s what I learned from my experiences: Falling in love is a wonderful, mystical, magical thing, but it’s complicated and nuanced and rare. Every time you fall in love it’s as unique as a snowflake, so it’s absolutely impossible to generalize with some stale old saying. I humbly request a ban on the following love adages on the grounds that they’re stupid and untrue. Oh, and I give you permission to close your ears the next time you hear these phrases …
“Love happens when you least expect it / when you’re not looking.”
If one more person says this to me, I might scream at them. Maybe some couples out there in the world were genuinely not expecting or looking for love and HUZZAH! they bumped into each other in the fruit aisle and started making out on top of a pile of melons. Maybe they got engaged by the time they got to the checkout. Hooray for them. The rest of us were totally looking. Even if we weren’t actively looking, we had an eye out when we were in the produce aisle. Maybe once we even asked out a check out boy at Trader Joe’s and he turned out to be Amish. Or maybe we went online or asked a friend to set us up or met someone while at a party and asked for their number. All ways I’ve met people. My first really serious boyfriend, whom I loved, was sitting on my couch watching a Lakers game when I walked into the new apartment I was renting. He was friends with my roommate. I didn’t even like him that way for another month or two. Although I might not have actually been expecting to find love on that ratty old couch, I was certainly open to it. Because love isn’t always waiting for you on your couch, you occasionally have to look for it.
So what is it? You should not look for love or you should put yourself out there? What does putting yourself out there mean anyway? It sounds so extreme, like you’re supposed to run naked through the streets screaming “Marry meeeee!!!.” Make up your mind, world. How hard should we be trying to find love? Very, very hard or not at all? I’m confused. Can we just re-label “putting yourself out there” as “making an effort.” So like, if someone is sitting on your couch, you ask him to play game of cards with you. That’s really what I did.
“You can’t help who you fall in love with.”
Oh BS. I should have listened to my best friend when she told me not to fall in love with that much older alcoholic cokehead in college. There was this really nice pre-med dude who brought me a Tori Amos video on our second date and I blew him off to go run around with this drunk asshole. If I had known anything at all I would have helped falling in love with the wrong guy. If he’s taken, treats you like garbage, or you find another woman’s pair of underwear on his floor the first time you spend the night (why did I ignore that?), you should help falling in love with him. You CAN help it. You can walk away. Cut off contact. Acknowledge the foreign pair of panties and GO HOME. Make a loving decision for yourself and choose NOT to love the wrong person because to quote a love adage I actually like, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else?” Can I get an AMEN up in here? Thank you, RuPaul.
“When it’s the real thing, there is nothing you can do to screw it up.”
I had a boss who used to say this to me. He was also pushing 50, never had been married and was a member of a cult. So, I have to consider the source. Point being: Really loving someone does not exempt you from doing stupid things that can completely ruin everything. While I think it’s true that you can’t make love happen if it’s the wrong situation, I can think of plenty of things you can do to screw it up. Love does not exempt you from making mistakes. So watch yourself.
“Follow your heart.”
Oh no. Please don’t do that. Listen to your heart, but consult with your brain. I don’t know about you, but my heart has instructed me to do some really DUMB things when all doped up on oxytocin. I’ve showed up on my share of doorsteps, have done some heinous drunk dialing, and this one time, back in my 20′s, my heart even demanded that I leave my serious relationship with couch boyfriend for a random guy I just met. My only mistake was forgetting to consult my brain who would have been like, “Ami, that’s a DUMB idea.” Ideally, I think you should let your heart and your brain have equal billing in this love thing. You will need them both.
“All you need is love.”
The Beatles are great, but I hate this lyric. I think they were talking about LOVE in the big sense, love of God, family, all human kind. I’m sure my old boss in the cult subscribed to this one. But even he needed other things. Like raw almonds and unfiltered cranberry juice and those weird linen cult suits that look like pajamas and the paycheck to pay for all those cult retreats. No matter who you are or what you believe, the truth is that there are a lot of other things in life that fill you up besides love. Like for instance, you need humor and challenging situations and coffee and undisturbed periods of time to float in the ocean. Or at least, I do.