Twelve Anti-Rules For Love

Love will always outwit our fixes. It will always overflow the boundaries that we raise to enclose it. It's in the basic nature of love to be temperamental. Our era is trying to deny this.

It's trying to turn love into something that's rationally controllable. [...] Not only is it doomed to fail, but it cheats romance of its enchantment. It turns love into just another page in our investment portfolio. Supposedly, the more prudently we invest, the higher the profits. But, actually, the opposite is the case. In love, it's those who take the biggest risks who reap the biggest gains. Sometimes they lose everything. But when they win, they win the jackpot.

So, no rules. But here are some potent anti-rules to hold up to the self-help vampires lurking in the shadows:

1. Stop trying so hard.

Give up your efforts to force love into a self-help cast. It will never fit, no matter how much you struggle. The only thing you'll achieve are blisters in your brain. And love is not a Rubik's Cube either. You can't solve its riddles by clicking the red, blue, green, yellow, etc., pieces neatly into place. You'll only get blisters on your fingers. So give yourself the heavenly permission to let love do the heavy lifting all by itself. Not only will this feel great, but it will save you a fortune in therapist and manicure fees.

2. Stop being so cautious.

Love is one of those human experiences where caution is overrated. If you want to be safe, go shopping at Zara with your best friend. The worst that can happen to you there is that you won't be able to resist the adorable little black dress on sale. But when it comes to love, don't expect caution to get you anywhere. Applying caution to love is like driving uphill with your emergency brake on. You might be able to keep going for a while, but eventually, you'll need to find a mechanic.

3. Stop analyzing your every move.

The more time you spend analyzing your love life, the less time you'll have left for loving. You'll give yourself a splitting headache. So save yourself the trouble and don't try to think it through. Except, of course, when you start to get that sinking feel- ing in the pit of your stomach that tells you that something is seriously wrong. If you begin to feel injured, damaged, offended, or nauseated, feel free to think yourself right out the door.

4. Stop expecting your guy to act like a caveman.

Unless, of course, you're ready to be dragged through the city streets by your hair. The great thing is that when you stop insist- ing that your guy is the direct descendant of an ape, you might end up with someone as glossy as Gossip Girl's Nate. Okay. Maybe not the actual Nate. But someone who is willing to furrow his brow, flash a smile, and chatter away just like the real one.

5. Stop apologizing for being strong.

This one is worth repeating like a mantra: Stop apologizing for being strong and self-sufficient. Men worth dating are much more likely to want precisely these qualities than artificial displays of feminine neediness. There isn't much that's more pathetic than guys who need to put women down in order to convince themselves of their masculine valor. Who needs these guys?

6. Stop being afraid to have needs and vulnerabilities.

Being strong doesn't mean that you're Supergirl, or even Lois Lane. You have needs. You have vulnerabilities. You even have episodes of hopelessness. You have moments when you want a strong shoulder to lean on. But so does your guy. Having someone compassionate to turn to during times of breakdown is worth more than Superman's red cape. Your guy knows this as well as you do. That's why he's with you.

Twelve Anti-Rules For LoveS

7. Stop running after guys who don't want you.

There's no point in pursuing a reluctant man. You'll only get a cramp in your side. And then your heart starts to hurt. You'll lose your confidence. You'll begin to doubt your desirability. You'll get your hair done so often that half of it falls out. Your friends start plotting an intervention. Before they get to it, it's time to stage your own. If you need to fly to Moscow to stop chasing that guy, do so. You absolutely deserve a man who meets you halfway.

8. Stop looking for a guy without issues.

Everyone has issues. And guys with some complicated ones are often more interesting than those whose main issue is choosing the right pair of loafers in the morning. Do you require your- self to be completely free of issues-completely devoid of doubts, anxieties, insecurities, uncertainties, and ambivalences? No? So I thought. Why, then, would you expect your guy to be like a newborn babe with no history or human hesitation?

9. Stop manipulating the guy you love.

Focus on building a complex character. Make some money. Get going with your career. Learn Italian. Take up cross-country skiing. Bake five thousand cookies. Hand them out to everyone from your boss to the cute FedEx delivery guy. If you need a project, treat your life like a work of art. Try to make a masterpiece out of it. But don't do this to the guy you're dating. Once he realizes that you've turned your relationship into a papier-mâché project, he'll resent you. A lot.

10. Stop regretting every false step you ever took.

It's hard to get things right in love. People get hurt. You get hurt. You end up hurting your guy. No matter how much you try to protect yourself from such mishaps, they happen. They happen if you're actually loving rather than just playing house with someone you kind of like. Missing your step, and even missing your way, is part of love's reality. It forces you to reassess the path you're on. It asks you to make some modifications. This is its way of shaping your soul.

11. Stop thinking of loss as a pure loss.

Keep in mind that we rarely lose valuable things without getting something in return. The payback may be slow in coming. And some- times it's hard to even recognize it as such. But if you wait long enough, even the worst loss is likely to bring a com- pensation. If nothing else, it purifies your character so that when the next hot guy comes along, you'll have enough charisma to magnetize him. He'll be so smitten that he'll fly you to Tahiti on a vacation for two. You'll pay for the hotel room, of course. You're not a charity case. Not you.

Was that twelve of them? No? Only eleven? Well, this one deserves double-billing: Stop trying so hard. There you go. These are your twelve anti-rules. They won't guarantee your everlasting happiness. They won't even guarantee a ring on your finger. And, alas, they definitely won't guarantee that Tom Welling will super-speed to your side when the going gets tough. But they'll guarantee that you will have lived. Boldly. Bravely. Audaciously. Like a true lover.

The above is an excerpt from The Case For Falling in Love, by Mari Ruti, Ph.D., published by Sourcebooks Casablanca. Republished with permission.

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