Thursday, September 19, 2019

Obsessing about Love

Today we examine two letters, both sent to New York Magazine’s advice columnist, Ask Polly. Both were written by fans of the column, both addressed the same topic, both were authored by women. In both cases the women are obsessed with love. Or better, they are obsessing over whether they are sufficiently lovable. So much for not depending on a man for anything....

If you don’t get it, think that it’s a girl thing. I am not even being facetious. Regardless of whether or not their boyfriends love them enough, these women are defining themselves as beings who live for love. Which identifies them as women… in perhaps the only terms that they are still allowed to use.

Since Polly’s advice, as always, is well worth ignoring I will focus on the letters. They provide us with a glimpse at the lives that young women are leading in America today. 
Both writers are suffering because they are not sure that their boyfriends love them. They would do better to allow daisy petals to decide the issue definitively, but, no, they are worried that they are not well enough loved. And they are even more worried about losing said boyfriends.

Beyond that sentimental indulgence, we know very little about the women in question. But, we will remark to them, because no one seems to care enough to mention it, that the issue is not how much he loves you. The issue is, does he want to marry you? He can love you to distraction and allow himself to be consumed by his adult version of an adolescent passion, but if he does not or cannot or will not marry you, why do you care about what he feels? Haven’t you learned by now that men are not run by their feelings?

Perhaps these thoroughly modern liberated women do not care about getting married. Or want so badly to be married that they cannot allow themselves to think it. But then, they should not bemoan a lack of commitment when they are not interested in having a committed relationship. Without a public ceremonial connection, they are putting their faith in sentiment. It is a bad idea to put your faith in sentiment.

But, if marriage is the issue, then social and economic factors enter the frame. Examine the first letter, written by a successful creative woman, who describes her boyfriend in terms that would apply well to a girlfriend. She does not depend on him for any material advantage, so she depends desperately on him for emotional sustenance.

She seems clearly to be more successful than he. He seems to be more empathetic, or should it be pathetic? She wants to know how much he loves her, but she more likely wants to convince herself that her grand success has not written her out of the marriage market. She does not say so, because she is not allowed, but feminism did not tell her that a very successful and prominent woman will have far more difficulty finding a suitable spouse. And now she is paying the price. 

She deals with it by making herself  as girly as she can, by showing herself to be consumed by the passions that would befit an adolescent girl. You might say that she is trying to get in touch with her inner teenage girl… and you would not be far off.

Here is the letter she wrote to Polly. See if you agree with  my analysis:

What an amazing piece I stumbled upon of yours! Game changer. Inspiring. I want to be the person you described. The hard part is, I am in so many ways. I have a full life. I have been very successful (as you can see if you Google my name) in my creative career. I have many friends and I work on myself constantly. I am very social and hard working. Despite all this, a man’s love seems to be all that truly matters to me.

I still can’t stop obsessing over whoever I’m in a relationship with. I have analyzed and known this about myself forever, but no matter what I try, I can’t seem to kick the need for reassurance that my boyfriend loves me.

Your article at least helped me this morning when I was stuck circling obsessive thoughts about my boyfriend and taking to Google again to try and relieve some of this madness.

My boyfriend is amazing and open and communicative and talks me through my fears and anxiety, but nothing seems like enough. He is the most secure person I’ve been with — unafraid of communication. He openly says he thinks we’re a good team and asks me what I need in the moments I’m sad.

I don’t know how to stop the cycling loop in my brain that thinks of him and wonders if he still loves me enough or if he’ll leave me soon. It’s always there, even when he talks me through my fears. God, I wish there was an answer.

Can’t Stop Obsessing About My Boyfriend

Imagine being involved with a woman who constantly displays her insecurity and vulnerability and who keeps begging to be treated like a woman. If she has to go to such lengths, we must conclude that said boyfriend is something of a deadbeat, leeching off of her until he finds a better meal ticket. If he is functionally insolvent or does not want to walk in her shadow, he is unlikely to marry her. 

For your edification, I will also share the letter that CSOAMB found so illuminating. It dates to several years ago. Again, the letter writer is a Polly fan… which might explain why she and CSOAMB are emotionally unstable and socially unmoored:

I really enjoy reading your letters because most often the core of your response is to love yourself, to let yourself sparkle, to be you — and for a short while after reading I feel this sense of excitement and joie de vivre where I think “YES! I am going to love myself. I will find my passion. I will be happy!” and it soon fades.

What I’m trying to figure out is how to truly want happiness and to love myself — because the way I see it now is similar to quitting smoking. I float around saying “I want to love myself, I really do, but —” and then find myself in the same sad state I’ve always been in.

A big part of it, I feel, is that instead of focusing on me, I’ve always put my focus and love on somebody else. From a very young age, I had crushes, and would focus on that person. What that person likes. What makes that person happy. What I can do for that person. How I can be attractive to that person. How I can make that person love me.
And as I grew older, that transferred into all my relationships. To the point where, right now, I am fully obsessed with my partner.

We’ve been dating for two years and I still spend nearly every moment of my day thinking about him. Wondering what he’s doing. Who is he talking to. What is he doing on social media. (I literally will check his Twitter and Instagram and Facebook almost a hundred times a day.) Wondering why he liked that girl’s post but he didn’t like my post. Wondering why he doesn’t send me heart emoji in our text conversations anymore. Wondering how the hell he has his life so put together and can focus on his career and bettering himself when all I can focus on is him.

I’ve tried a few methods of trying to take my focus off him and put it on me, including saying out loud “It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, what are YOU doing?” but it never seems to work.

It drives me mental for two reasons — (1) because I want to be a full, self-sufficient person who has a drive for life and has actual real-life passions, and (2) because I want to have a healthy relationship where I am not constantly grasping onto my partner wondering when/if he will let me go because I am holding too tight. (He doesn’t know how bad my obsession is, but I’m sure he can sense it as much as I pretend to be “cool.”)

What I’m trying to ask is — how do I actually make myself want to focus on me and love myself?


Who Am I Even?

Does this remind you of the old Woody Allen line about solo sex: sex with someone you love?

This letter writer, WAIE has bought a basic therapy culture mistake. Being who you are is meaningless. If you are indulge in such a quest you are going to sign up for endless therapy, because worrying about who you really, really are is a dead end. You will never be satisfied.

The truth is, you can never really know what another person feels about you. You can know the extent of his commitment. You can know whether or not your love has been socialized and domesticated. You can know whether your lives are in sync. You can know whether or not you share regular couples routines. You should care about the open signs of commitment. And you should pay attention to the way your friends and family see said individual. But, don’t trust your feelings… and better yet, never trust his feelings.

It’s not about your being. It’s about his and your good character. An individual who is not trustworthy, loyal or reliable can love you to the depths of his marrow… and it will never suffice. 

As for the therapy culture notion, promulgated by feminism, that a woman who loves herself will be eminently loveable to the perfect male being, one would imagine that after five decades of feminism, women would have learned better. Unfortunately, the therapy culture has turned this dumb idea into an article of faith. And women who bought it are suffering. 

It is a genuinely sad state of affairs. It’s another chapter in the tales of the emotionally overwrought. When you discard social institutions and codes of proper behavior, the only thing you have left is your feelings. Or your lust. You will be afloat in the ocean of emotion, watching your boat sail off into the distance, without a lift vest, without any good prospects or outcomes in sight. 

1 comment:

UbuMaccabee said...

She’s going to find her ‘skittles man’ sooner or later.