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Life is unfair.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Impervious to Advice, Addicted to Love

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 30, 2009

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When women are hooked on the wrong kind of love, they often want advice for the wrong reasons, which explains why sometimes good advice is worse than no advice at all. Oddly, giving romantic advice to friends is sort of like dating itself; if it doesn’t stick after a few attempts, then stop wasting your time.
Dr. Lastname

I’ve given my closest girlfriend the same advice a million times, and a million times, she’s passively ignored me, so I’ll say straight away that my goal is to give advice she’ll actually listen to. The problem she always comes to me with is this (and in her mind, it isn’t a problem, at least at first): said friend is in a band, and because of that, she’s always on the road, and in her travels she meets these guys (either randomly for one night or for a few weeks at a time if they’re touring with her band, that kind of thing), and every so often she falls for one of these guys and wants to find a way to have a real relationship with him, even though it’s logistically impossible in the long term due to the fact they live in one place and she lives in another (never mind that they’re usually too young, too drunk, too full of themselves, etc). I tell her those things, but she insists her feelings (which is what made me think I should write you!) can’t be ignored, that guy-of-the-moment gives her butterflies and she can’t remember being this excited about anyone. It’s only a matter of time before things go horribly wrong (he stops returning her texts/calls, starts being a jerk to her, take your pick), and then she’s sad, tells me she should have listened to me, and wonders why she’s so dumb about guys. I, too, wonder, but I’m sure you’ve got it all figured out.

Instead of asking yourself what’s wrong with your advice because it hasn’t got through to her after a million times, ask yourself whether there’s any hope of her hearing your advice. Ever. And not because she has tinnitus.

Because the sad thing is, when it comes to the thrill of romance, some people are addicted to those “butterflies” and want to embrace that sensation, no matter how many times they’ve been burned. They love love, whether it’s real or phony, and regardless of how long it takes them to recover, or what else they lose while recuperating. Love is blind, your friend is deaf and dumb.

And yes, like all addictions, it can be terribly harmful and make sufferers irresponsible and self-centered. She has no control over it, and you certainly don’t, so it’s time to start singin’ a new tune, as it were. Or really, no tune at all.

With your friend’s particular disorder, a sort of emotional ADD, you’re probably doing more harm than good by listening to the same old crap over and over; by offering the attention of a concerned friend, you’re giving her more opportunity to talk about love and feelings and play the role of foolish, free, expressive romantic child to your worried, overly responsible unhappy adult. She’s getting nowhere, and you’re getting annoyed. So stop.

A better goal is to stay clear of her problem when it makes her self-absorbed or foolish, and offer help when and only when it’s likely to do good.

If you have a need to offer advice, figure out a way to get paid for it. Actually, if she’s managed to turn some of her excess feelings into songs, you’re probably already owed some royalties.

Compose a statement to protect yourself from over-involvement the next time your friend wants to share her giddy anticipation of future happiness. “I’m always interested in hearing about someone who might be a good friend or partner for you because of the qualities you think they have to offer, but making a big deal of their attractiveness by itself is stupid and I don’t want to talk about it.”

My little sister and I are only a year apart and really close—we’re also roommates—so I think I know more about her love life than most sisters would, and vice versa. She likes to make fun of me for being so conservative, because I believe in real dates, having doors held open for me, the whole thing, and she insists that she just wants to have fun and randomly hooks up with guys all the time. The thing is though, and what she won’t admit, is that she doesn’t just want to have fun. The morning after a one night stand she tries to act all cool, but when the guy doesn’t call in the next few days, she gets annoyed. Then she starts asking me all these absurd questions, like what it meant that he ignored her when she saw him at the bar, or if the fact he talked to her means he’s interested in hanging out again, and no matter what I say (usually something like, “it meant nothing, you said yourself it was a one night stand and there’s nothing there”), she doesn’t let it go until the guy is really rude to her or she finds another victim. I try to tell her that there’s nothing wrong with wanting a boyfriend, but she thinks I’m just projecting. My goal is to get her out of denial and stop torturing herself (and me).

Your sister must be closely related to the woman above who is in love with being in love and deliberately avoids thinking, looking, or being in the same universe as anything that would interfere with her loving feelings. Even if she won’t admit those loving feelings are there.

As you see it, your goal is to get your sister to admit that she cares about her casual dates more than she lets on, because she always suffers afterwards. But perhaps it’s time for you to face some facts of your own; namely that it’s not a message she’s ready to hear, and that her suffering may be, for the time being at least, unavoidable. They say denial is a river in Egypt, but in this case, the current runs both ways.

It’s hard to watch your sister suffer when she’s also your roommate, and then persist in asking dumb questions that convey her suffering. Unfortunately, you can’t ease her pain by answering her questions, and even trying is unhelpful because it suggests to her that someone has an answer, when there is no answer.

Worse, she may hear your criticism as telling her she screwed up a relationship and drove someone away, which will make her more defensive and impervious to logic.

You’ve made your point with her: in so many words, fucking around with fucking causes her pain, and she’d do better and become stronger by learning to tolerate loneliness and/or sexual frustration until she finds someone better.

From your point of view, it’s not a matter of being conservative or a free spirit, but accepting the way your feelings happen to respond and making the best of it. She can’t do that, and that’s what you need to accept.

A better goal—you’d do the same if she were an addict—is to pull away from her a little bit when she’s being self-destructive. No more advice, no sympathy, just go about your business. When you’re at an impasse with someone you love, it’s best to quietly agree to disagree. Or, if she’s really harping on it, leave the room.

Prepare a statement that expresses support while discouraging topics you think are stupid. “You’re a great person and you deserve someone worthwhile and you’ll probably do better and have more emotional energy available if you stop fucking around. And that’s all I have to say. Ooh, ‘Greek’ is on!”

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