Turning 35 and A Great Relationship Analogy

Today I’m turning 35. I can hardly believe it. There’s something substantial about this age. It feels like I’m a real adult in the prime of my life. And the government must think so too, because, guys, I’m eligible to run for President now. Ha!

Anyway, birthday aside- I wanted to share something my co-worker told me yesterday that resonated.

I work in the film industry as a website editor, and my passion is screenwriting and television writing. Yesterday, my co-worker made an amazing analogy between what makes a successful film and what makes a successful relationship. Here goes the gist of what she said…

A film is ultimately art, right? The end goal is to make the audience feel something, touch their hearts in some way (even if it’s terrifying someone, as in the case of a horror movie). When I write, it’s to make people laugh and understand our shared humanity and maybe make them feel less alone. That’s what a good movie or TV show does for me.

But making films is also a business. You need to make money to be able to continue making films. The whole art and commerce thing…

So my co-worker’s analogy was this – the relationship between art and film is similar to the one between your heart and your head in a romantic partnership. Your heart may love the person you’re with, but your head may say that person is unhealthy for you. Ultimately, you want to find someone that you both love and is logically right for you.

heart head

Advertisements

Does Getting Older Make You Like Romantic Comedies Less?

I saw Notting Hill a few days ago for the first time and I didn’t like it. To be fair, I was working on something on my computer at the same time so wasn’t giving it my absolute undivided attention, but I figured with a romantic comedy like Notting Hill, I probably wouldn’t need to. But maybe I actually did need to.

When I went through the online lists of everyone’s favorite romantic comedies, Notting Hill was on every list. I used to love romantic comedies but hadn’t watched many in awhile so I thought I’d get caught up this summer. Yet, everything about Notting Hill bothered me.

In a nutshell, Notting Hill is about an extremely famous actress played by Julia Roberts who walks into a bookstore in -gasp!- in Notting Hill and ends up meeting the owner of the store- a shy, very bookish (of course) and very single beta male played by Hugh Grant. They would have had a brief encounter and then would have never met again except that Hugh Grant’s character- by insane coincidence- literally runs into Julia’s character the next day and spills orange juice on her blouse, forcing her to go to his apt to change shirts. Thus begins their love story, with a first surprise kiss at his apt.

I don’t know why I found this whole tale so hard to swallow, or at least why it annoyed me so much. Many things about the movie bothered me that I don’t think would’ve bothered me in the past. The biggest issue I had was this:

Julia Roberts’ famous actress character pursued Hugh Grant’ character almost THE ENTIRE TIME. That’s why I called Hugh Grant’s character a beta male earlier- he never really took initiative to pursue her until the absolute very end. First of all, I don’t really believe this- the famous actress goes completely out of her way to pursue the bookish bookstore owner who doesn’t seem that into her? Also, I just can’t see this working in real life- is Julia going to mainly pursue him the entire relationship? Is Hugh ever going to take action? Especially if he couldn’t even take action most of the movie when a famous and funny and beautiful actress makes it ridiculously clear how into him she is. She even says one of the most famous lines in movie history to him:

large (1)

“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”…Swoon…

But Hugh still rejects Julia! To be fair, he’s hot. Maybe you get a pass if you’re hot. I guess he can meet anyone he wants even though he doesn’t seem to want to date and seems to prefer reading books to getting on Tinder. And it’s 1999 so he doesn’t have access to Tinder, to be fair.

But Julia is hot too. And famous. She can also presumably have anyone she wants. Maybe she only wants what she can’t have? Okay I guess I can understand that. Dammit, the ultimate quandary of women everywhere- wanting what we can’t have. Don’t we all, Julia. Don’t we all.

Also, another annoying moment occurs where Hugh’s sister suddenly announces to her family and friends that she’s getting married- even though she’s single and hasn’t been dating anybody. Everyone is shocked and no one can figure out what’s going on. But then the sister leans over and whispers to Hugh’s roommate (who has otherwise been shown in the movie as an annoying drunk nutcase who wanders outside in his underwear) that she has picked him to marry. He bravely says okay. This could be cute if it didn’t seem like the relationship would end so badly in the long run. It would start off as another case of the woman taking complete initiative and then would more than likely be that way the entire marriage…which might not last that long at that rate. Because in this case the future groom doesn’t have the ability to take care of himself never mind the ability to be in a long term relationship with another person.

Could my analysis of this movie be way too harsh? Am I just more into fairness in relationships now that I’m older? Am I cynical because of all my past relationships? Am I too aware of red flags..so now seeing them, even in romantic comedies, causes me to squirm? (and not in a good way)? Could these be the main issues I’m having with Notting Hill? …None of this actually being the fault of the movie?

Come to think of it, while I was writing this blogpost, I actually felt tempted to rewatch Notting Hill, even though I just saw it a few days ago. I remember some of the funnier moments now that most of my annoyance and cynicism is out of my system. Notting Hill has been growing on me with time and a bit of distance- and I think some distance and possibly a healthy love of escapism are what’s needed for movies like this to work. You see, I really do like romantic comedies.

3-Notting-Hill-quotes

Le sigh

 

 

Would You Take a Dating Sabbatical?

I read about the concept of “dating fasts” in a recent NY Times Wedding announcement and was immediately intrigued. Basically, you take 6 months or longer and you abstain from dating and romance to focus on yourself and your personal growth. One might decide to participate in a dating fast if she/he finds herself/himself in a holding pattern in relationships, dating the same types of people over and over again.

Pastor Craig Holliday, a minister of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn, who suggested a dating fast to the groom (pre meeting his now wife) in the above article, said this about why someone might want to take a dating fast:

It’s important because unless you begin to identify the areas in your own life that you need help in, by God’s grace, then all you will do is jump from one bad relationship to the next because you have brought these problems with you.

So, when I deep some research into this concept of abstaining from dating, it seemed very strongly linked to religion. However, I think it’s a useful idea for secular folks as well. I recently read a quote I loved and it applies to dating and this idea of taking a sabbatical to re-assess:

images.jpeg

We can’t always be ‘on’ and looking for love. It just doesn’t work that way. Sometimes our minds aren’t in a romantic place – we have to accept that romance isn’t an everyday thing. During our downtimes from dating, we can discover a great deal about ourselves – who we are as individuals; what excites us and motivates us, and ultimately, what we want in a relationship and what we can give.

I love the idea of a dating fast. But at nearly 33, I’m not sure I want to take a 6 month one. Seems a bit long when I’m hoping for children and a family. But I do love the idea, and maybe a month wouldn’t be too bad an idea.

Would you ever take a dating sabbatical?

A Crazy Relationship Study

Do you know that old Woody Allen quote, “I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member”? I love the quote because it so perfectly describes something so many of us experience, this somewhat deep rooted feeling of not being good enough, especially when it comes to dating. Do you ever find yourself attracted to people who aren’t interested in you? Or perhaps you’re simply not attracted to people who come on too strong and tell you how great you are?

Well, I read a fascinating relationship study the other day that reminded me of this quote. The study was done at the University of Virginia with female undergraduates. The subjects were shown Facebook profiles of attractive, ”likeable” men and then, the researchers told the women how the men felt about them.

One group of women were told that four men liked them the most, a second group were told that these men rated them as average, and a third group heard that the men might like them.

And guess what happened? Well, as you might think, women were more attracted to men who found them attractive than men who rated them average. That makes sense. But here’s what was crazy.  The women who found the men most attractive were in the third group – where they were told the men might like them.

I thought that was interesting. Is it because women also like the chase? Do we want a chance to “win someone over”? Is it because we’re ambivalent about ourselves and therefore are attracted to people who feel similarly? Unknown

Is Dating In Your Thirties A Zero Sum Game?

It’s funny- I didn’t even know what a zero sum game was until recently…and now I’m obsessed with the term and how it can apply to life.

The definition of a zero sum game can be found all over the internet, but it took me awhile to really GET the phrase. I put a definition link above and you can also find official and very thorough definitions here and here and here.

But if you don’t feel like clicking those links, here’s my definition: A zero sum game basically means that in order for one person to win, the other MUST lose. Tennis is a great example of a zero sum game. If Federer won a match against Djokovoch, Djokovich HAS TO lose. If Djokovich won a game against Federer, Federer MUST lose.

But can the zero sum game definition be used in the dating world? If I’m dating you, and I really like you, and you decide not to date me anymore and ghost after 4 dates (remind me to one day write another post all about ghosting), it seems possible that I have lost this round of dating you, and you have won. If I start dating a new person and he falls for me, but I suddenly feel that he and I are not working well together, so I stop seeing him and make him sad, then it seems I have won this dating round, and he has lost.

In a zero sum game, there are a finite number of prizes. So if there is only one prize and two players, only one person can win the prize. The other person, therefore loses the prize. My prize win (+1) plus your prize loss (-1) equals zero.

+1 + -1 = 0  And that is where the phrase ZERO sum game comes from.

If dating was a zero sum game, we can maybe define the winner’s prize as walking away with an uncracked heart, plus a moderately peaceful (perhaps even relieved), mental state. The loser, therefore,  CANNOT get the uncracked heart and peaceful outlook- the winner already took that. In a zero sum dating game, the loser ends up with no prize, or a negative prize: broken heart and saddened mental state.

I think dating CAN be zero sum, but it actually never has to be.Interestingly enough, though I’ve gone on what seems like an inordinate amount of dates in the past few months, with possibly enough material for my own comedy show, I don’t think that dating has to ever be a zero sum game. And the trick to stopping that loser/winner zero sum game from playing out in the dating world is simple:

  1. Change the prize

Perhaps your prizes from dating are:

a) Getting a relationship  ….or

b) Meeting someone who will fulfill your every dream    ….or

c) Getting out of dating someone you don’t like in the most peaceful, easy way possible, YAY!

I think the prizes can instead be something like

a) Getting to know and understand a new person better  ….or

b) Getting to know and understand yourself better  …..or

c) Getting to know about new things and places you never knew about before

…and you will always automatically win.

In this way, even if and when you stop dating someone, and even if your heart is breaking and you can’t stop eating ice cream iand crying in front of your television, you still win. Even if you just ran away and hope to never see your date again as long as you live, you still win. You learned about yourself, you learned about another person (good or bad, it still counts as knowledge). Hopefully you even discovered a new place.

And if the other person had the same prizes, defined above, as you, they will also win! That means there will suddenly be more than one prize to go around in the dating game, thus turning dating into a positive sum game!

Much of life isn’t a zero sum game. We don’t need others to lose in order for us to win. In dating, as in finding happiness, as in friendship, as in love, multiple people can win at the same time. It can all become a multiplier game instead.

Just make sure you choose the right prizes.

zero-as-infinity1

Has A Breakup Nearly Destroyed You In Your Thirties?

My friend Seth went through a really bad breakup a few years back. When I say bad, I mean horrendous. Bad to the point that it took him almost two years to get over it…and during that time he was anxious almost every day and couldn’t sleep. His anxiety about the breakup permeated every corner of his thoughts and dreams…and turned the act of sleeping into a constant nightmare.

I remember meeting up with him during this time and barely recognizing him. He felt like a shell of the boisterous, smiley person he usually is. Seth is a self-employed composer and lyricist who is always extremely creative and prolific, writing songs at all hours of the day and night, playing piano at auditions, and presenting showcases of his work. He even has his own webseries.

However, during the years after his breakup, he was on so many different anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills that he could barely function…and he’s the type of person who normally never even drinks coffee because it makes him jittery. Both Seth’s nights and days were wrecked, first by his ex’s departure, and then by the constant anxiety and even panic attacks that just wouldn’t go away.

My friend Seth and I in better times.

Seth and me in later, happier times.

Have you ever gone through a breakup that leaves you reeling for far longer than you think it should? Have you ever felt like you were the only one who just couldn’t let it go? Did you think you were going to marry the person who left, or did the person end up leaving the marriage you already had? Have you ever had even your absolute best friends wonder when you were going to get over it? This happens to people way more often than you think.

There’s no set timeline on grief, and a breakup is legitimately a loss. Breakups can feel kind of like mini deaths that you have to grieve and eventually move on from. Any act of grieving can take quite awhile, leading to intense discomfort, especially around your friends and family who may just want you to ‘get over it.’

It’s hard to just get over something on a timeline, and the time needed for grieving any particular loss is personal and unknown.This recovery time includes breakups as well as deaths- any type of loss can take a very long time to get over, really. Sometimes grief can even go away for awhile and then return as an intense sneak attack!

When Seth finally started to recover, and even during his grieving process, he attempted to open up to others about what he was going through. Little by little, he heard similar stories from friends who experienced similar breakups that brought them to the ground.

Seth and I after his recovery, when I directed his concert, Broadway Meows, benefitting the Humane Society

Seth and me after his recovery. I directed his Humane Society benefit concert, Broadway Meows

Seth realized how helpful it was to have friends around him and people who understood his situation. And it was extremely helpful to realize that other people had gone through similar situations after a breakup.

So he wrote a book to share his experiences.

download (8)

The book is called Sleep. Write. Nowand it chronicles his entire spiral into depression and insomnia after the breakup, and his very, very slow recovery. The book is breathtakingly open and vulnerable regarding the painful moments that occur after a breakup, from the embarrassing (private journal entries of positive affirmations that all don’t work) to the horrendous (loss of friends after recovery ‘took too long’ and he was ‘still too obsessed with her’) to the hilarious and touching (how his cat helped him through some of his darkest moments.)

I highly recommend Sleep.Write. Now, and it’s easy to grab on Amazon. The book is an amazing read for anyone who’s gone through or is going through a traumatizing breakup and feels alone. Remember, grieving takes time and it can take a lot more time than you think it will. Breakups are a natural part of life (you can’t marry everyone you date!) and rejection happens to everyone.

Always remember- you are not alone.

 11173372_884124814958909_1589487851339907414_n

A Crazy Marriage Statistic Courtesy of Aziz Ansari

Comedian Aziz Ansari has partnered up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to write a book on modern dating titled Modern Romance. Ansari has been doing tons of press for the book, and in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, he shared a “stat that rocked his world” – about marriage. The statistic was that in 1967, a study was done that revealed that 76% of women would marry someone they were not romantically in love with. Is that crazy or what? At first I was blown away, but when I started thinking about it, in the 1960’s, wo41LaBpUJBHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_men of marrying age would have been raised by homemaker mothers and influenced in many ways by the culture of the 1950’s, which were their formative years.

Playing the devil’s advocate here, maybe it’s not so crazy to marry someone you’re not romantically in love with. when you really think about it. Especially in light of the success of many arranged marriages. Sometimes, the passion grows over time. I know a few people whose first few dates with their future husbands were lackluster, but their relationships ended up evolving into something more passionate. I’ve been watching their stellar show on FYI (owned by A&E) called Marriage at First Sight and it’s highly addictive. Have you seen it? I’m only on Season 1, and I know there’s some major controversy in Season 2, but so far, I’m loving it. The premise is that strangers are paired up together by a sociologist, sexologist and a psychologist based on extensive questionnaires they all take before they are matched up.

M5A2vKrHp6E.market_maxres

I like the show because it feels real and more about the psychological principles behind making a relationship work, as opposed to cheap thrills reality entertainment. I’m going to have to keep watching to see if any of the three couples in Season 1 make it work!

Going back to the study Ansari referenced, what do you think about the statistic (the percentage of women who would marry someone they’re not romantically interested in).  What do you think the percentage would be if the study was done today?

%d bloggers like this: