“It’s hard to really look at somebody and go: ‘Hey, maybe something nice will happen.’ You just don’t– I know too much about life to have any optimism, because I know even if it’s nice, it’s going to lead to shit. I know that if you smile at somebody and they smile back, you’ve just decided that something shitty is going to happen.” // Louie C.K.
A week ago, a friend of mine offended me in an attempt to be a good friend. I’d made some progress with my crush, who had recently exited a long-term relationship, and called to tell her about it. Instead of the celebration I was looking for, however, I was met with cynicism and caution.
“Just be careful. He may not want another relationship. Don’t get your heart broken.”
I appreciated her concern, but I couldn’t help but feel a little offended. Did she think I was seriously trying to marry the guy after he’d just broken up with his ex? Did she think I was so fragile that I’d burst into tears if nothing became of us? Does she think all men become assholes after a breakup?
These questions aside, the entire matter brings to mind how predictable and inflexible people seem to think relationships are. A relationship – romantic or otherwise – is simply a connection between individuals – each having their own unique personalities, views, dreams, etc. Considering the possible ways two people can connect, it’s foolish to typecast any relationship based off past experiences. Yet, of course, we all do it anyway. Why? Because no one wants to be The Fool…
After years of marriage, a woman’s husband packs his bags and leaves her for another woman with whom he has another family. She feels hurt and betrayed, but she also feels embarrassed and ashamed. How did I not see this coming? What signs did I miss? How could I be so stupid? It’s a blow to her self-confidence to “fail” in a relationship because she feels like she should have known better.
Relationships are not black-and-white. There are no winners and losers. It’s not laugh or cry. Relationships are fluid. Regardless of what happens, your feelings are your choice and there’s always both positives and negatives. (That woman’s divorce may not be fun, but the phenomenal sex over the years didn’t just un-happen.)
Nearly 40 years ago, Candi Staton released a song called, Young Hearts Run Free, in which she says:“Self-preservation is what’s really going on today.” The same holds true in the 21st Century. Many women. like my friend, are too concerned with protecting themselves from something shitty happening to be happy when something not-shitty happens!
Relationships are a game of risk and reward; we take risks hoping to be rewarded. But if you can’t enjoy the rewards, then there’s no point in taking the risks. (The same can be said of anything in life.) Of course, you should be cautious. The Fool is one who actually sees shitty things happening and does nothing to stop them. However, if you can resist the philophobia and accept that sometimes shitty things are unavoidable, you’ll find the not-shitty things are some of the best in the world.