True love is rare. Life is short. And human beings have incredible powers of self-deception.
There’s a regular at my bar who has herpes simplex and is having difficulty finding love. I like the guy. He has an interesting story. (I believe everybody has 1 great novel inside of them…if they only took the time to put it down.) I’m often his shrink when the bartenders are busy.
Joe Smo wants to find true love again SO MUCH…he’s 31 and has been dating like a fiend. But it’s difficult when your pool is mostly limited to other people who have annual outbreaks on their private parts. Luckily, there’s a website where people with herpes can meet. It’s called OKputrid. (Joke.)
Joe has an ex-wife who has full custody of their two kids. In his early 20s he traveled the world with an Emo band (until they kicked him out for inadequate keyboard skills). When he met his future wife she was in college. They fell head over herpes in love (she was ok with him transferring the venereal disease). Joe was now about to join the military. During basic training his future wife wrote him everyday (41 times). They moved to Hawaii together and life was going to be perfect and wonderful amongst the cool, island breezes.
Then Mrs. Smo got bored. Perhaps she was a little too excited to begin with? After having two children…things changed.
Obviously, my perspective is biased through the storytelling-lens of (often drunk) heartbroken Joe, but I can read people and situations fairly well despite a lack of details, and it sounded like Mrs. Smo became a cruel, conniving, rapacious cunt.
She lied, cheated, and deceived. She brought men back home who were “just friends,” flirted with them in front of the kids, and stayed late at their apartments. Poor Joe was still desperately in love with Mrs. Smo and didn’t know what to do. He still wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. And think of the children! Joe grew up in a broken home and didn’t want the same for his boy and his girl. But this rapacious cunt was treating him worse and worse. The walls were closing in…the fuse was getting shorter…
Begin soap opera violent drama. Joe lost his shit. He took to the bottle. There were fights, yelling, the police were called. Joe was almost kicked out of the military, but due to a previous flawless record, he was demoted to a desk job at a gym.
Mr. and Mrs. Smo went to court. Joe lost the kids. Now he struggles to see them once every couple of months. This past Valentine’s Day, he was in the bar by himself muttering under his breath and in tears, texting his ex-wife nasty things.
We all know the justice system favors the mother in these instances. The judge doesn’t care about Joe catching his wife kissing another man at 1am on a street corner when she said she was just taking a dog for a walk. The judge cares about Joe screaming in the middle of the night, waking up the neighbors, and throwing plates against the wall. YOU RUINED OUR MARRIAGE YOU SELFISH WHORE!
Now Joe is trying to find love again. But it’s difficult to meet someone spontaneously and then have to drop the herpes bomb. How soon should he tell a girl? 2nd date? 3rd? As they kiss in the elevator?
Yesterday, he told me about a promising date in which he drove to Delaware (2 hours) to go on (they met on the herpes site). He thought the girl was pretty and nice, but the fire wasn’t there. Joe wondered if he would ever find the kind of love that he had with his first wife again, where they just KNEW it was right and jumped right in.
Hmm, but how they did know it was just right?
First, I told Joe that love is rare. He may have found it in the past, but he has to be prepare to never have it again. Perhaps the first love was a byproduct of the reckless hopefulness of his youth?
It’s a pity that our society says that everyone can/should find love. Marriages that work and deep, true love are the exceptions, not the rules. I think if we all thought this way much suffering would be alleviated and more love would be found.
Then I thought:
Yes, Human beings are masters of self-deception. How easily it is for many people to convince themselves that their significant other is the “one.” I think much of it is biological.
If you read my Death on Wednesday Morning philosophy post, you will remember that I discussed peoples’ mental susceptibility for religion and believing in God. There is also a susceptibility towards lock down love. The first person you consistently fuck and date IS THE ONE NO DOUBTS OR QUESTIONS ASKED. Life is nice and pleasant that way if both people are on the same, simple page.
“You got the blinders on?”
“Yes, you too?”
“Yes. To the grave!”
This lock down love susceptibility goes hand in hand with religion. People who marry their first loves have also fascinated and confused me because I wonder, “How do they know what they like if they haven’t dated other people? How are they not curious? How do they separate the good qualities of the person with the pleasurable, love-blinded show in general? Why do they throw away their life on the first person who comes around who is nice and makes them feel good?
Because not only are people afraid of the dark, most people are afraid to be alone.
But hovering above self-deceptions and the rarity of true love is this: time is short and the clock is ticking. You can’t keep on saying “the grass is always greener on the other side,” and never get to the other side! The phrase “nobody’s perfect” is often a justification for people to reconcile to themselves their shitty partners. But if you keep searching and discarding rather than compromising and accepting your entire life, pushing and pushing…what’s the point? Maybe Wilma with all her flaws would have made you happy…
I’m not a relationship guru by any means, but the last cliche thing I told Joe was this:
You can’t be desperately pining for love. You’re either gonna scare the great girls away or attract ones that are gonna be bat-shit crazy and hurt you again. You have to get yourself right first before anything will work.
“Yeah…you’re right, the problem is, after a date, I’m always worried if the girl had a good time or not.”
“Nay, Joe Smo, nay. A part of you can think this, but the bigger part has to ask yourself whether YOU had a good time. Whether the girl resonated with YOUR standards…which brings me to my final two points…
1.) Standards/values: Relationships are confusing and complicated. And timing plays a big part. But I think all you can do (or at least I’m gonna do) to navigate this fog is know deep down how you look at the world, what you value, and who you are. Those things take time and effort to understand, but the better you can grasp it, the better chance you have of recognizing someone who is similar/has reached similar conclusions about life. For example, I value curiosity and someone who never stops learning, hard work and striving towards something…kindness, intelligence, reflection, strength, endurance, exploring…these things are personal to me, are unspoken and felt, and don’t pass away with time.
2.) Patience: I may never find what I consider “true love,” but I’m willing to wait. There’s a chance I may die before I find this person…but I’d rather wait and search than settle for someone who doesn’t share the things that make me who I am.
Joe paid the check and left the bar. As he walked away I thought, “We pay for things we do in this life. If someone destroys you like Joe’s ex-wife and you survive it, I really believe you are stronger and better on the other side. When someone/something fucks you over…something inside broadens/opens up. I hope Joe figures out who he is, deep down, and finds someone who can set him on fire…
“But Jesus Christ,” I couldn’t help but mutter under my breath, “I’m glad I don’t have fucking herpes.”