"Love: Really Now, There Is No Topic More Depressing" is generally the theme of the Sunday New York Times feature "Modern Love," whose most famous installment chronicled the author's efforts to train her husband as she might any other mammal of above-average intelligence. (Other columns have grappled with how hard it is to get into sex when you're a stripper, the profound sense of alienation that follows an unwanted divorce, how dudes today are irredeemably awful and women could potentially be worse, etc.) Yesterday's installment, the winner of a college essay contest, did not diverge from this theme. The author, a woman born in the late eighties, reflects on a few brief years spent dating noncommittal dudes in New York. "Over the summer there was the Jesuit taking a break from the seminary," she writes. He stopped calling after she refused to sleep with him on their third date. Now, clearly, she probably should have known better, since a dude just out of the seminary is not going to want to fuck around on second base (or whatever) but the overall message was kind of creepy-familiar, reminding me of this one time a friend and sometime fuck-buddy asked of me, "Who made you so cold?"
This was, obviously, a response to his accusation that I seemed "smitten" and wanted a relationship with him, and my assurances that I did not, I just liked making out, and if he didn't believe me he only needed to wait until my workload picked up and I made myself scarce, which is exactly what happened, and, you know, whatever. But I didn't remember how I had become so patient or resigned or how I'd come to enjoy the "Zenlike form of nonattachment" author Marguerite Fields is struggling to perfect because it happened such a goddamn long time ago. And that was depressing; Fuck I am old. (Also depressing: I held my first newspaper job the summer Israel turned fifty.)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my little sister Christina, who is a year ahead of Marguerite in college, did not find this week's 'Modern Love' as depressing as I did. (Christina is different from me in that she does things like getting her eyebrows waxed and going to therapy.) And she penned some words of advice for people who did find the column depressing — and aren't too old to change their habits — which I will excerpt here.)
I'm Moe's sister who is about to graduate from college. Moe asked me to comment upon this week's Modern Love column, a piece much more enjoyable and insightful to read than I had expected since Moe usually makes such relentless fun of the Modern Love feature I stopped reading it.Modern Love: The College Essay Winner [NY Times]
Anyway, as someone who has her fair share of one-night stands and fleeting trainstop encounters, yet is decidedly over my relationship angst, if largely due to the absence of any relationships and the discovery of internet porn.... I would like to give some advice to Marguerite Fields and other women like her. Oh hell we're all like her.
1) Trust your instincts. This is the only thing I learned in therapy. Women have great instincts (the women's intuition!) but we never listen to them. Marguerite Fields, at the end of another unceremonious dumping, writes "[I] tried to remind myself that when we first met I thought he was an arrogant, presumptuous little man." She got bad vibes from the start, and yet Marguerite, a talented and sensitive author who should have known better, proceeded to form a relationship with this man. Why? Because of a little thing I like to term "The Mister Darcy Delusion." I am sure some feminist theorist before me has already coined this term, and if so I apologize, but it's ridiculous that this is your job. The Mister Darcy Delusion is the notion, popularized by the early 19th century author Jane Austen, that the smug asshole who calls you fat at the party is really just a misunderstood studmuffin held in by early 19th century social conventions who will turn into Colin Firth if you give him a chance. Well chicas, Jane Austen died a spinster (thank you, Anne Hathaway) and it's the 21st century, and if he looks like a prick and he talks like a prick and he walks like a prick, well, chances are you've had sex with him.
2) Read "The Rules." It's a stupid book, yes, but it's a reminder that you can take control of your relationships at least partially by a) getting a life b) taking a shower and c) not calling back immediately after he calls and going all crazy on his ass.
3) Only go out for guys that you think are hot. Most women tend to chase after guys that they think are physically unattractive under them is guided assumption that said guy will be so grateful to have scored a Hot Chick that he will be true forever. THIS NEVER HAPPENS. Ugly guys always get laid more, and they are often the biggest assholes about it because they are so insecure that girls keep hooking up with them out of pity. This is a time when our human evolution truly runs counter to our own efficient natural instincts. Ladies, right this wronged system and only chase after guys that you think are LEGIT cute so you don't have to lie to your friends and be like "But he has a really great personality," when what you mean is "It's weird how he makes me feel so terrible about myself when he's the ugly one."