X’s Advice Column

This is an unusual post for me. Someone asked me for advice that I wish I could give everyone.

“Romantic love is a mental illness. But it’s a pleasurable one.” – Fran Lebowitz

“It is not love that makes a relationship complicated; it’s the people in it who do.”

A secret for younger people to adopt: if you’re interested in someone, the truth is that you should just say so, simply and without ambush. All mature people will respond rationally to such interest. Those who don’t aren’t people you’d have success with anyway. It’s never going to be easy to put this into practice. Even the most beautiful and outwardly successful people find themselves tongue-tied and filled with doubt. If it’s hard for them, it ain’t going to be easy for you, either. If you wait until you’re older or when you think you have a handle on things, it will be too late. Life’s intense muck will trap you into indecision and inaction. And yes, you’re going to get shot down for reasons that are entirely out of your control. But guess what? You’re living an authentic life, and you’ll find the people you need by being authentic. If you express interest, you are sharing YOUR feelings and opinion, which is always a healthy practice if you’re doing it responsibly. It takes a lot of practice to handle rejection, and possibly only sociopaths are unbothered by it; it hurts us all to varying degrees. But I can tell you that the answer to every unasked question is “No.”

“I suspect the secret of personal attraction is locked up in our unique imperfections, flaws and frailties.” – Hugh Mackay

“I don’t always know when someone is attracted to me, but when I do, it’s two years later.”

No matter which course you choose, some people are going to dislike you for no reason that you can control. Some people think that Tom Cruise is ugly – or that Lada Gaga isn’t pretty. If they have detractors, there’s no chance in Hell that you’re not going to have them, too. Even if only 1 in 100 people accept your interest, that’s a lot of possible friends or romantic entanglements. Many people you find attractive will be filled with so much self-doubt and dubious past experiences that it will be difficult for them to accept your truth at face value. As people age, this tendency strangles most people.

“I know I’m a handful, but that’s why you got two hands.”

There is no such thing as universal beauty. More importantly, there isn’t one for attraction either. Much of what we overthink boils down to some intangible feeling we have about someone else. A big part of the beauty might be obvious; that’s not always the case. For every taste and preference, there is a fan. Thin, oversized, bald, prominent nose, mustache (man or woman), tastes vary wildly. It helps to remember that you shouldn’t assume that anyone has a fixed idea of attractiveness, especially compared to everyone else. No matter who you are, it’s overwhelmingly probable that someone thinks you’re interesting. If they tell you so, take note.

“Relationships all start with, “Can we talk?” and end up with, “We need to talk.”

It isn’t about relationships. This is about attraction. A secret that will violate a lot of what you think you know is this: you don’t have to buy expensive presents, plan complicated meals, or jump through the hoops you think you do to spend time with someone. Just tell the other person your interest and intentions. That’s it. If they feel the same, you’re going to shortcut all the needless roundabouts to shared time and presence. And if you’re lucky, the attraction will blossom into mutual affection. At a minimum, you’ll get to know another person. You might both mutually flee in terror, but that’s beyond your control at the beginning. You not only have to break the ice, but you also have to dive headlong into the water to find out.

“He gave her a look that you could have poured on a waffle.” – Ring Lardner

“One rarely falls in love without being as much attracted to what is interestingly wrong with someone as what is objectively healthy.”
― Alain de Botton

Love, X

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