How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘intimate 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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Married Women Will Seek Lovers Too

There is a proverb, “As you have made your bed, so you must lie in it,” which is simply a lie. If I have made my bed uncomfortably, please God. I will make it again.
—G. K. Chesterton

What is it that motivates a wife to take a lover? Those acts, which in retrospect come to be recognized as decisions, have a multiplicity of roots. Some wives are pushed toward an affair by an unsatisfactory marriage. The really unlucky ones are those who were unhappy with their husbands from the start, either because they picked a man with whom they could never be compatible or because they discovered too late that they were not really the marrying kind.

Marriage Day

Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)

Other wives have had a period of marital happiness, but later find their marriages stultifying and unrewarding. Sometimes, the women have changed; sometimes, their husbands have. A girl who married very young may have found exactly the kind of husband she wanted, only to later change her mind. She may have selected exactly the kind of nice boy who seemed ideal when she was seventeen and then found at twenty-seven that nice boys are boring. Alternatively, the man may have himself changed with time.

In Fear of Flying, Erica Jong has her heroine lament, “I longed for him as he was when I first met him. The man he had become was disappointing.” In conventional wedlock, the emphasis was on the “lock.” Once a husband had won his wife, she was, in effect, his chattel and she had, virtually, no other options but to remain his wife. He could rest on his laurels until they rusted and still be assured of her presence.

In modern marriage, the relationship is more one of a voluntary partnership. Neither husband nor wife is obligated to stay married—and so neither can become totally secure and complacent that once a mate has been won, that individual will remain his or her possession for life. A husband or wife must not only convince a mate to want to marry but must also continually convince him or her to want to stay married.

Waiting for a husband to change and for a deteriorated relationship to rehabilitate itself is indeed an exercise of faith. In many cases, it is a lot like Waiting for Godot who, in the Samuel Beckett play, never shows up even though the watchful and undeterred Valdimir and Estragon wait and wait and wait for him to come.

In pharmacology, there is a category of drugs called palliatives. They do not cure what is wrong with you, but they mitigate some of the symptoms and make you feel better. They are anodynes which relieve distress or pain and soothe the mind and feelings.

In a marriage, there may come a point where a wife has accumulated a whole bale of last straws. Taking a lover may be a desperate palliative before chucking the whole unfulfilling enterprise.

Lovers: The Young Man as Protégé

Girls we love for what they are; young men for what they promise to be.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If one of the positive aspects about an older man is that he may assume the role of mentor, one of the positive aspects of being with a younger man is that, for a change, you may get to be the mentor. There is an intrinsic satisfaction in having a protégé who admires you and who wants to learn from you.

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore at the 2010 Time...

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women who are in the arts or are involved in creative work are very likely to encounter a young lover who will become a protégé: the young actor who wants to learn to act, the blossoming painter or dancer or writer, the apprentice in any number of fields. Accepting a young man as a protégé assumes that the older woman involved has some valuable knowledge to impart; she is, in some way, in a position to offer real assistance in the form of advice or perhaps more direct sponsorship. She becomes, in effect, a patron.

How do you feel about being in the role of mentor or patron? There is this aspect to consider: there are many circumstances in which teachers are paid to teach. Tutors or coaches or professors are considered to be working, and they deserve to be paid for that work. Often, they are not paid very well, but they are always paid something. Teaching and learning, master and pupil are complementary roles, but when did you ever hear of someone who was paid to learn? In the long run, being the one who learns is more interesting and more fun. So if you are cast in the role of unpaid teacher, you may easily become bored when you find that you are not learning very much and impatient with constantly being the wise person who explains and illustrates things she already knows to a young lover who is an eager protégé.

In tomorrow’s post I will discuss some of  the potential troubles you may possibly encounter in a relationship with a younger man.

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