How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘relationship advise’

Single Men, Married Men, and Sorta Married Men

No man worth having is true to his wife, or can be true to his wife, or ever was, or ever will be so.
—Sir John Vanbrugh, The Relapse
The world is always more complex than it first seems. At first glance, it would be natural to consider single men, and perhaps married men as well, as potential lovers. Among single men, we could include those who have never married as well as the divorced and the widowed.

Cover of "Married Men"

Cover of Married Men

Alas, it is not that simple. A man who is separated is still technically married in that he cannot yet remarry. However, he usually thinks and acts single and is socially considered that way.

A man who is living with someone is outwardly viewed as a married man by society even if he is not legally married. The U.S. census calls him a POSLQ, which is ungainly bureaucratese for “persons of the opposite sex sharing living quarters.” He is, perhaps, not quite a common-law husband, which is a matter-of-legal definition, but he is certainly more than a boyfriend.

To make matters even more complex, there are also degrees of being married. Some men seem to be “barely married” in that they come and go as they please and, in general, act as if they were single in spite of a wife and children who technically live in the same place with them. On the other hand, some men are “dreadfully married” in that their wife is a constant presence to be taken into account whether she happens to be physically present or not.

If you’re a single woman who selects a single man as a lover, you’ll find that he presents  no real problems. In this permissive day and age, lovers can be quite open about their affair, and few people are likely to object openly. The end point of the affair is also open: it could easily lead to marriage, or it could easily not. The situation is balanced and relatively uncomplicated.

If you’re a married woman with a single man as a lover, you’ll find that he presents a number of advantages. If you’re constrained by when your husband gets home or by when you can get a babysitter (and many other domestic details), your lover can arrange his time to suit your erratic schedule. The disadvantage is that in a very short time, he will resent having to do so. Men are used to being the ones who make arrangements and call the shots even in such trivial ways as deciding the time for a date. The married woman with an unmarried paramour reverses the roles and must do so with considerable tact. Conveniently, the unmarried man has to live some place; and often, his own home will provide a safe and opportune location for the affair.

The unmarried lover of a married woman is in a relatively powerful position in that his relationship is not balanced by a relationship with a wife. Almost always, that means he will exercise his right to have other women, just as you, as a married woman, have another man. The jealousy you may experience is made twice as hard because you have no legitimate grounds for complaint and because you are never exactly sure whom you should be jealous of or why. On the other hand, with a married man, his wife provides a clear-cut target for any jealousy you might feel.

The most common kinds of affairs, however, involve two other possible combinations: a single woman with a married man and a married woman with a married man. The subject of upcoming posts.

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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.”

Lovers Are Not For Everyone

Women keep a special corner of their hearts for sins they have never committed.
—Cornelia Otis Skinner

There are many circumstances under which a modern woman might decide that having a lover would increase her quality of life and would bring her a great deal of joy and satisfaction. It does not follow, however, that this is a decision that would be right for all women all of the time. At least three kinds of women will not be interested in the prospect of taking a lover: the woman with homophilic tendencies, the contented celibate wife, and the (presumably contented) wife in a traditional marriage.

Women as Lovers

Women as Lovers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some women who are seeking a lover are not seeking a man at all but are instead looking for another woman. The sexual revolution and the new permissiveness have made the lesbian option an increasingly acceptable alternative to traditional marriage. Some women may be exclusively homosexual. Others who are basically heterosexual may, under special circumstances, find themselves in what amounts to a homosexual encounter. Or they may wish to have a woman lover in addition to a husband or male lovers. However, the focus of my blog happens to be on picking a lover who is a man. It may well be that many of the same principles would also apply to picking a lover who is a woman. The examples in my posts happen to be male oriented: their application is a matter of personal preference and taste.

To borrow a slogan from another context: “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.”

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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