I probably should keep all this in my diary. I have no real authority when it comes to relationships, but I do have a number of experiences, observations, and suppositions I can lay out about how the heart beats.
First, I will not write about people other people should NOT love. It’s pointless. The minute a person is told, “He’s a rat,” or “She’s batty,” the doomed attraction begins. I’m going to write about “the right one.” I do not believe in perfect matches. People are imperfect, and to have the idea that there is a perfect person can lead to unending disappointment. Further, thinking there is only ONE means if that one does not work out, it is over. Get out of the pool. This does not sound like a fun option for anyone.
Since we can agree there is no such thing as a “perfect match,” only a suitable sweetheart, we can also agree that a life-long love can still do things to drive a partner crazy. I have compiled a short list of personality types that are likely to do just that, and I give a bit of advice on how to cope with each.
The Needy Sweetie
“Human beings have a powerful need for connectedness”( Townsend).
Some people have not had an easy time in relationships. Sometimes they come from broken homes. Sometimes they come from non-broken homes that are limping along trying to make the best of it. For people who have never had much affirmation in their lives, relationships make them nervous. They fret about whether they are loved enough, about whether they are offering enough love, about whether they have chosen the right gift, right outfit, right time. All that worry can be tiring. Worse, they constantly DEMAND attention. They may need affirmation. “Your hair looks great today!” They may need reassurance. “Of course I liked the cookies. I’m eating them.” They may need an answer. “Why must I say I love you every time you say it? Can’t you just say it for the sake of saying it?”
The hardest part of dealing with this type of darling comes from the high octane emotional baggage these people carry. Because of their doubts and the scars of the past, half the time they are seeking therapy as much as love. Seeking therapy means improvement is possible.
Scheduling and organization helps the Needy Sweetie. Plan daily or weekly times to concentrate on giving these dear ones plenty of sickeningly sweet attention. Keep a calendar of corny anniversaries and fun things to share. Eventually this practice will lead to the lover’s greater confidence and a (sometimes greatly) reduced need for attention.
The Bold Holder
“How many fond fools serve mad jealousy!”(Shakespeare)
Even God Almighty has been described as jealous, so it should not be a surprise when a young person feels the same righteous need to own a love, or becomes a lover who acts like everyone around his girl should be slapped. The possessive personality makes it difficult for a couple to go out much, especially to separate social occasions. The resentment brought on by petty jealousy can make anyone uncomfortable at parties. The more possessive the personality of a sweetheart, the more he or she might resist social or public events. This can become a truly unhealthy tendency, and should be discouraged. Jealous lovers also tend to make more mistakes when commenting on their partners’ appearances. They suggest outfit changes which simply crosses the line into overbearing. “What do you mean you don’t like what I’m wearing? I didn’t ask you.”
Every possessive lover should be forced to watch a film version of Othello and then be required to write an essay about where the Moor went wrong. Failing that intervention, force the jealous person to hold hands and sit on the hood of a car talking for at least eight hours until dawn, and his arm is burning, and his palm feels like wet bread dough, and his back starts to spasm. That should force him to loosen his grip a little.
The Silent Sugar
“A man…failed to hear his lover’s silent cries and was now willing to wait until she comes back”(Jackson)
Reticent or shy people are rarely so with their loved ones. True stoics, however, can be frustrating in relationships. First, their single syllable responses to open questions that are intended to begin the healthy exchange of information and life experience can be maaaaaaddening! No one who asks at the beginning of a date, “How was your day?” is looking for the answer, “Fine.” This type of heartthrob may be behaving this way for one of two reasons.
First, he or she may be more interested in physical (rather than emotional) affection. It is one of the mystical ways to play the “let’s kiss” game. One could imagine the other’s thoughts. “I’m not going to say a word. I’m just going to stare and stare and stare, and eventually this chatterbox is going to run out of things to say, and when that happens….BAM! We’re kissing.” This could be considered an admirable strategy for early in the relationship, but eventually things will have to get informational.
Second, the quiet one may be engaging in passive aggression, more commonly called the SILENT TREATMENT. This is a method of sucking all the joy and sound out of a room until the other person agrees to whatever is being disputed. It can be devastatingly effective, but should never be used for frivolous purposes. If a partner leans too heavily on this method of getting his or her way, it may lead to a frosty decade in a loveless marriage—Heaven forfend.
To help the silent love become more voluble, offer rewards for long sentences. Every time information comes from him or her freely, hand over a ten dollar bill. If that doesn’t work, buy a parrot and teach it to talk.
The Divine Devotee
“He detects a tone of condescension in a woman who refers to her husband as ‘sweetie’”(Kakutani).
Some people cannot help but consider themselves a bit above the company. In a conjugate this can confound. To be loved and looked down on at once feels strange, but it happens all the time. Both men and women engage in this kind of thing. “It’s a good thing you’re pretty,” followed by an indulgent chuckle. “Well, at least you’re trying,” with a shake of the head. This behavior is not intended to offend. It is offered with love, and it can be totally obnoxious. This character will offer advice WITHOUT BEING ASKED. Even when asked for advice, a lover should try to demure from giving it. “I’m not sure, darling. What do you think is best?” These fatheads can even tease a person about his or her politics, or car maintenance, or religious beliefs, or vacation plans. The worst manifestation of this perspective will end in an imperative sentence. “Just tell the guy blah-blah-blah.”
Usually there are two cures for the worst offences from these dimwits. The first cure is to ignore it. Eventually, he or she will be caught in his or her own stupidity, and some of the ego will deflate. Another way is to scare the officious right out of him. The minute he opens his mouth, try screaming, “AM I SLAPPING YOU?! If I need your help, you’ll know it when I start slapping you.”
The Proud Paramour
“Public displays of affection are all distracting”(Peterson).
Some people feel every other person on earth should know a love has begun. Never mind that romance, eros, sweat equity is a private matter. These people want to hold hands, kiss on the lips, grind parts against parts when others are LOOKING. One nice feature of this shortcoming arrives in the form of extravagant gifts sent so that everyone in the vicinity knows “THIS ONE IS TAKEN!”
The down side comes when this person thinks his or her lover should be super proud just to have a pet name assigned. Everybody would want that, right? The worst of these dreamboats will participate in wet clothing contests. Look, only people who are unattached should participate in wet t-shirt, or short, or (gross) thong contests. If a date wants to do this, put him or her on the “one time only” list. If a designated someone does this, discuss the possibility of moving to separate cities.
In Any Case
“What business have you, miss, with preference and aversion? They don’t become a young woman; and you ought to know, that as both always wear off, ’tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion”(Sheridan).
However, in all cases, love covers a multitude of sins. Paul wrote that, and he’s right. To love is to forgive. Learn to cope with the other person’s weakness. Work together to build true devotion, and do not give up on a person just because that person does something irritating. We cannot expect anyone to be always and forever and endlessly appealing. Eventually we will notice that person needs to take a shower, or close his mouth when chewing. She will need to curtail sending thirty-five texts a day. He will need to stop wanting to punch every guy in the bar. Two people can show love without holding hands all the time. Eventually what makes me crazy about that other person will change a little, and I will change as well. Here’s to all of us learning to tolerate our valentines.
Jackson, Gary. “Anthony Hamilton.” Hollywood Reporter. 25 Apr. 2006: 101. eLibrary. Web. 16 Sep. 2013.
Kakutani, Michiko. “Listening for Clues to Mind’s Mysteries.” New York Times. 09 Jul. 2013: C1. eLibrary. Web. 16 Sep. 2013.
Peterson, Diane. “Concertgoers: Mind Your Manners.” Tribune Business News [Santa Rosa, CA] 9 Aug. 2013: n. pag. ELibrary. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
Shakespeare, William. Comedy of Errors. MIT, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
Sheridan, Richard B. “The Rivals.” Project Gutenburg. 6 Mar. 2008. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
Townsend, Katharine C., McWhirter, Benedict T.. “Connectedness: A Review of the Literature With Implications for Counseling, Assessment, and Research.” Journal of Counseling and Development 2(2005):191. eLibrary. Web. 16 Sep. 2013.