How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘interpersonal relationships’

Finding Love: Making Mistakes

Love is like mushrooms: One doesn’t know if they belong to the bad sort until it is too late.
—Tristan Bernard

When you are assessing a man as a potential friend or lover, you unfortunately don’t have a crystal ball to tell you the truth about him. You cannot look into his past or know what he is thinking or use second sight to second-guess him. Nevertheless, you do form an impression; and right or wrong, you have to act on that impression.

Most often, your instinctive reactions to someone are sound; but sometimes, you will make a mistake. When you’re wrong, there are two kinds of mistakes you can make. Suppose, for a moment, that there was an omniscient person, a fairy godmother to advise and decide just which men out there are right for you and which are not. To keep it simple, let’s just divide them into good prospects and bad prospects.

One mistake you could make would be to pick a false positive—that is, you could pick someone who seemed like a good prospect but who, in fact, turns out to be a loser, a turkey, a real dud. The wonderful traits you thought you saw might have been wildly exaggerated in your mind or maybe even made up entirely. It ‘s in this sense that people say love is blind. It sees things that aren’t there and refuses to see alarming signals that are there.

English: A site and time specific stencil from...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Alternatively, a second kind of mistake you could make is to not pick a false negative—that is, you reject someone who would have been great. The fairy godmother is saying, “Go for it, girl! I conjured him up just for you.” You are saying, “Forget it! I can’t stand men with buckteeth!” A false negative is someone whom you reject before you have a chance to realize that he might have been a good prospect after all.

To put the same dilemma in a different way: with false positives, you start out thinking that someone is pure gold and then discover that he is actually made of brass. Not only made of brass but with feet of clay as well. You’ve said yes too soon, and you are disappointed and disillusioned. With false negatives, you reject a prospective lover who seems to be made of brass. Underneath, however, he’s really made of gold; and you never discovered it, or discovered it too late. If you had not been so quick to say no, you might have found a worthwhile friend, if not a lover.

Sadly, you never even get to know what you should have done because although you might wonder what would’ve happened if you had done this or done that, you can never know. The amount of risks you take depends on your personality and your options.

If you’re very attractive, sort of a princess who has many suitors swarming around, then you can be very picky. A few lost false negatives won’t bother you as there are many more where they came from, and you can be very
sure of not getting a false positive. However, if you are not quite a princess but rather an ordinary stepsister of a princess, then you may be more reluctant to waste your opportunities and more ready to take chances.

Taking chances involves taking risks, but as the American philosopher Elbert Hubbard, in his famous Scrap Book, warns, “The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing that you will make a mistake.”

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The Captive Wife

Age has left me lonely, as lonely as a wife.
—Jadah Vaughn

As often happens in marriages, the presence of a spouse may take away the joys of solitude without replacing them with the joys of companionship. When this happens, both the husband and wife may be distressed and lonely. The husband, however, usually has more resources to cope with the situation. Men in general tend to have more freedom of movement and more control of their time. If a married man is lonely, he can easily go out by himself or out with the boys, and he is not judged harshly for having done so or for having enjoyed himself. Whereas, if a married women is lonely, she cannot as readily take herself out to find companionship even if she has a car and an independent spirit, even if she can find a babysitter, and even if she can afford one.

A single woman who is on her own and who feels at loose ends can call a friend. She can go to a movie or go shopping or take a trip or any of a variety of other plans. A married woman who is on her own, and who feels at loose ends, anticipates that her husband, as part of his commitment to the marital relationship, will provide her with the companionship she desires. However, she often finds that she waits and waits. She waits for him to come home, she waits for him to get ready to go to bed, and in the morning she waits for him to get up and out of the shower. Her time is often organized around the possibility of his making time for her, and she soon gets very tired of waiting. And when she does, she will seek companionship elsewhere: perhaps from her friends or her family or, perhaps, from a lover.

English: Logo for the US television show Despe...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

When you listen to the complaints of wives, they often say, “He never takes me anywhere.” An obvious query in response to this is, “Well, why don’t you ever take yourself anywhere?” Often, however, she does not really have that option.

As the  journalist Lawrence Jaqua asks, “Why is it that in public, a woman without a man looks forlorn, but a man without a woman looks romantic?” Most people view women out on their own differently from men out on their own, especially in small or conservative communities. Women are certainly viewed differently anywhere if they are out on their own late at night. Often, when a woman does go out alone, she receives so much of the wrong kind of attention that the spotlight interferes with her enjoyment. A wife can go by herself to the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon, but if she goes to a sports bar by herself on Saturday afternoon or to a cocktail lounge by herself on Saturday night, she is conspicuous and seems to be making a come-on statement by her very presence. If a woman goes out, she is supposed to be escorted. If a wife goes out, her escort is supposed to be her husband. If he is seldom available, she will indeed be lonely—lonely and housebound.

Such a woman needs a lover.

Being Single Can Be Lonely

The couples wander two by two,
A giant Noah’s ark, a zoo,
Not one by one or three by four
But two by two, no less, no more.
—Jadah Vaughn, “Cagemates”

The Western world is organized socially around the premise of a husband-wife pair. Traditionally, almost all activities that are done in the evening or on weekends are programmed to be done by a two-person, man-woman team. This arbitrary organization is not typical of all societies and, indeed, is not typical of our own for adolescents or for the elderly. In the adult years, however, the fact that most people are part of a couple is readily translated into the idea that most people should be. While this viewpoint has been changing slowly over the past several decades, it still influences the behavior of many adults.

The need for companionship may be somewhat more important for women than for men in that their activities are more constrained by social norms, which make some things more comfortable when done with a male escort. A man, being free to take the initiative, is less constrained and can often hustle up someone at the last minute to do things with. A woman can as well; but more often than not, it is more difficult, especially when it comes to activities that take place in the evening or extend late into the night.

One Is a Lonely Number

One Is a Lonely Number (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to go to the movies, you can always go by yourself and hold your own hand. Or you can go with a friend, and he or she may share your popcorn, but they do not hold your hand and they do not engender in you feelings of romance. Wanting a romantic evening of dinner and a movie may sound like a trivial goal, but in some instances, it may be quite a legitimate motive for taking a lover or even for getting married.

Hostesses have been taught that a proper dinner table should be balanced, meaning that there should be an equal number of men and women. Canadian author Merle Shain observed, “Being single can feel like playing musical chairs, and every time they stop the music, you’re the one who’s out.” Unmarried adults are often left out of social activities not so much from a sense of disapproval as from a residual concern that there will be an unbalanced sex ratio.

Having a lover gives a woman access to a companion who is on tap, so to speak, and who can readily be conscripted to take part in a number of activities such as weddings and bar mitzvahs, in addition to making love. Access to an escort is a problem which a wife does not have to face. Alas, thinking that all your married friends have it made is much the same kind of error of generalization that married women make in thinking that all their single friends have it made. Just remember that the greener grass you yearn for on the other side of the fence may be nothing more than artificial turf.

Picking a Lover: The You and Me That Is Us

Lovers seldom get bored with each other because they are always talking about themselves.
—François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims

It is nice to have a lover who talks. It is even nicer to have a lover who talks to you and with you about himself and about you and about the two of you together. A lover who talks about both Love and Life, with a capital L. He does not have to be a great philosopher; but it is gratifying if he is a man who has, at least, examined his own life, has thought about the relationships in it and what they have meant. Having reflected on that, he will be able to be equally reflective about a possible relationship with you.

Talking with a lover is especially important because the role of lover is a relatively new one and consequently is more ambiguous and unstructured than that of husband or boyfriend, for example. The two of you have the freedom—and therefore, the necessity—to make up your own rules. Talking about feelings is both a way of creating and of expressing them, and the experience becomes more real and more memorable.

The stereotype would have it that women want to talk and men want to get on with it: get drunk, get laid, get back to the game. Perhaps many do just that, and many will chat you up for the quite deliberate purpose of getting you to lie down.

Latin Lovers (1953 film)

If you can find a lover who can talk and who likes to talk, you have found a man who can help you grow and a man who, perhaps, can also be a friend. I do not suggest that constant analysis of interpersonal dynamics is necessarily good. Analysis, yes; constant analysis, no. It is also important to recognize that if positive words can create a mood, then negative words can and will destroy it. If you are about to make love or are making love or have just made love, the last thing that is needed right then is clinical analysis. The more clinical the conversation about who did what to whom and about what should have been done, the more you distance yourself and your partner from what you are feeling. You become self-conscious and objective rather than free and spontaneous. It is important for lovers to discuss the clinical aspects of their lovemaking. Being able to do so openly and honestly greatly facilitates sexual adjustment. Such postmortems, however, should be held while dressed and seated upright in the living room, with no immediate intention of putting theory into practice.

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