Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Books and their covers. Under the covers.

They say one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and the older I get, well that just turns out to be true, over and over again.  Some pulpy paperbacks, no matter how you dress them up and send them to market, are still unsavory.  And some people, no matter how delicious they seem to be at first blush, are tasteless.  You have to spend quality time with a book to really know its contents.  The same is true of people, people.


I have friends, who have, now again, found themselves tumbling head over backside into romance-novels-of-a-relationship with what looks to be a good thing.  They meet someone online, in a watering hole or through friends and before you know it, the couple is comparing themselves to characters found in Jane Austen or Emily Bronte love stories.  [Personally, I’d rather be Sheherazade, the girl taking time to tell the stories for a thousand and one nights, and then falling in love.]  It’s not that I don’t believe in love’s lightning strikes.  I’m a romantic at heart, too.  But in relationships where the romance is on the fast track, more akin to a half-hour weekly television season than the stuff of great novels (which take time. I write. I know), how do you really know what you’re getting?  Feel free to correct me, but if you go too fast, that might be one short story from altar to alimony.


See, in a swift courtship, it can be difficult to determine a person’s true character. Studies (you know how I loves me some studies) have shown that in the beginning of a new relationship (whether business, friendship or romantic) people are on their “best behavior” – and that’s lovely.  But this sticky-sweet honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever.  Eventually, we all (myself included) stop putting the cap back on the toothpaste, whispering daily sweet nothing’s about nothing and

leaving our shoes or underwear in the middle of the floor (that last one is NOT me).  Folks start to show their true, not-so-Technicolor, colors.  It takes time to decide what we can and can’t visualize as the rest of our lives with someone.


You don’t want to wake up one day and realize the person sleeping next to you is a hypocrite, do you?  Children (and adults, too) look so innocent when they’re sleeping.  In fact, I don’t doubt that that little girl that had that little curl, right in the middle of her forehead in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem was indeed horrid, but I bet when she was passed out, she was an angel.  Or at least, looked like one. 


Author William Hazlitt said, “Asleep, nobody is a hypocrite.”  Yes, but if their eyes are open and they’re walkin’ and talkin’ – chances are you’ll discover their character, but it takes time.  Even the wolf cannot keep the wool on forever and in time reveals his/her fangs.  That, right there, is why experts suggest that courtships last longer than the expiration date on a can of unopened tomato paste (18 months, for those that don’t know) before jumping into marriage.  Don’t be mad at me.  I don’t make the rules.  I just read ‘em.  In studies done by people who are experts about this kinda stuff.


According to anthropologist Helen Fisher PhD over at Rutgers University, love is divided into three categories that involve different brain systems: 1) Lust (the craving for physical gratification); 2) Attraction (or romantic/passionate euphoric love when things are going well and wicked mood swings when they ain’t); and 3) Attachment (the sense of calm stability of a long-term partner).  Not surprisingly, all three are driven by hormones: androgens, estrogens, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin.  Oh, Roxy Music how right you were when you sang, “Love is a Drug.”  It most certainly is.


To that end, when you are in love, I think it is best that you think of yourself as an addict who requires intervention.  Seriously, one should look to others that love you to help make an objective decision about your life partner.  While I’m still conflicted about the concept of arranged marriages, I do believe that the people who have loved you longest can objectively determine whether or not you’re being a donkey’s rumpus about your future stablemate (had I followed this advice ma’self in years past, I might not have made the acquaintance of two divorce attorneys).


To help us all out in this matter (‘cause I’m not immune to love’s intoxicating effects, either), I’ve sussed out some pointers from studies done by those above-mentioned people who are experts about this kinda stuff:


Do your family or friends dislike him/her?

Make sure to subject Mr./Ms. Right to everyone you know as soon as possible and often.  Don’t hide your object of affection away from the people who might see the warning signs that you can’t see or choose to flat out ignore.  Other people are not gummed up with feelings of infatuation and will probably (and honestly) calls ‘em like they sees ‘em.  Suck it up and take their comments into consideration.


Does your mate want a physical relationship too quickly?

If you are being pressured within a few days or weeks of meeting one another, this is a red warning light of the Danger, Will Robinson! kind.  This is a control mechanism and you need to drive away immediately, exhibiting red lights of your own for them to see in their randy rearview mirror.


Are you hearing stories of a bad reputation?

Really?  I have to explain to you that hearing unpleasant things about the person you think you love is wrong?  Sure, they may have nutty hostile exes that spread tales, but if you hear or read things more than once, then you’re an ultramaroon of the stupidest kind for ignoring it.


You hear “I love you” too soon.

Know that the Quickdraw McLove Muffin who falls in love too quickly is likely to fall out just as fast. They are either shallow, immature, unaware of what true love is (which takes months or years to develop, after you realllly know one another) or they’re trying to get you to bite the gummy worm they’ve strategically placed to hook you.  NORMAL people wait awhile before they commit to those three little words.


Are their efforts at love kind of slothful?

Losers are lazy.  When it comes to putting in the time to maintain a healthy relationship, their own needs are more important to them and you are an afterthought.  If they don’t put much effort into your union now (forgetting important dates, giving you cheesy or thoughtless gifts, etc.) they’re not going to later either.


Is your partner abusive to others?

Sure, they might try to be on good behavior with you, but if they are slyly demeaning or judgmental of others or even outright rude (especially to service people), good stinkin’ luck with that.  Eventually, the compass turns to you, my friend.  It is just a matter of time before you become the target of their abusive, critical behavior.


Are you and the love monkey on isolation island?

When did you last hang out with your family or friends?  Love’s losers like to keep you all to themselves, for many reasons.  All of them wrong.


Do you see signs of a paranoid/controlling personality?

If your potential mate goes through your stuff (bills, emails, etc.) like a National Enquirer employee, you know that’s not okay, right?  The Spanish Inquisition was a bad thing.  So, is this.


There are few more pointers from the experts, but really — if you can relate to more than two of the above, you need to reevaluate what (and who) you’re doing. 


I’ve known my current beau since I was a freshman in high school and, even though I feel I know his true character after all that time, I’m still planning to take my time… to see where the story goes.  Eyes wide open.

xo – t.

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” – Dr. Seuss


Hypocrite (noun) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs, virtues, thoughts, feelings, standards, etc.

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