Ah, Love

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It occurred to me this morning that our concept of love might be struggling to go back around to the historical mean — and not the sensible part of the historical mean — but the easier, and less civilized part.

Look, our entire concept of romantic love as shaping and creating your entire life was partly a construct of the same wonderful Rousseaunian philosophy of the “natural man”.  If you’ve ever read Tess D’Ubervilles, not to mention suffered through Effie Briest in German with a slightly deranged teacher, you are aware that the “natural” philosophers of the 18th century more or less invented the concept that you should abandon everything for love and reshape your whole life around it.  Also, that there was only one true love, and you couldn’t really have another.

I’m not a hundred percent sure who came up with the idea of soul mates, because mostly I hear it from new agers, and minutes later there is something about my aura and crystals and such.

Note I’m not saying love doesn’t exist. I’m also not saying that soul mates don’t exist.

I’m saying the idea of them being a single person, cohalescing into a unit, and if you marry/elope with that person you’ll be happy your whole life is recent. Also a bit delusional.  Mostly because life — and humans — aren’t like that.  Though it does make fine poetry.

Because it’s a weird and idealistic thing, it has more or less been sloughed off from the culture, while we still hold onto the shape of it. We’ve returned to the more familiar — Shakespeare would recognize it — shape of love as infatuation and love as really good sex, while retaining the idea that we should drop everything to follow this.

Which is sort of a one-paragraph explanation of the divorce crisis.

Recently I bought — because my friend Dorothy keeps talking about it! — the seven love languages, which I think I’ll pass on to son and lovely fiance.

It’s not that Dan and I don’t have different love languages — considering how different our cultures are the amazing thing is that we meet somewhere in the middle — because we do.  Our upbringing was markedly different, particularly his being from New England.  I remember the first time I raised my voice in enthusiasm in the deserted grocery store at 2 am and got told not to make a scene. I thought he’d lost his mind.  (Robert’s lovely fiance is dealing with this too, from the other side, since my family has evolved over time and the fact Marshall and I have hearing problems to communicate in shouts, and in very loud shouts when enthusiastic.  The other day Robert and I were upstairs discussing books; she was downstairs, and she came running up to see why we were about to kill each other. We weren’t. In fact, we were in VIOLENT agreement.)

It’s more that we’ve (mostly) already learned to communicate.  The fact that the portion of Portugal I come from has a strong substrate of English culture, or that dad’s family behaves more like that, and love is expressed (when not in high flung poetry, which is a family affliction) by doing things your spouse needs/wants, or preparing elaborate surprises for your love doesn’t hurt.

I read the whole “you’ll be fascinated by each other for two years, and the end of that can feel like the end of love, but isn’t” was a “duh.”

Because of course, we’ve gone through it, and no marriage survives over 30 years without you figuring out that feeling was completely wrong, and you actually still love each other, it’s just not the crazy lust of early marriage. Which is just that, lust.

I find the fact that traditionally published romances have regressed from romantic love (an unsustainable and often silly ideal, but more conducive to leading to the idea that love remains after lust) to lust-love is probably worse for society, over all.

I gave up on contemporary romances ten seconds after I discovered them. Look, I (rarely but sometimes) read erotica.  I’ve even written erotica (once and weird as the guidelines were it must happen between a married couple.)  But erotica is its own thing and has an honesty of its own.  It’s the confusion between “he’s great in bed” and “I’m in love” that bothers me.

I also eventually gave up on regency romances published by traditional presses. First all the women were suffragettes or proto-suffragettes (if there had been that many, you wouldn’t have been able to move for them), all the ladies ran shelters for abused women, (regency ladies were encouraged to be charitable, but their concept of “deserving” was different. I have no problem believing some of them would run charities for abused women, I have problems believing that ALL of them would or that their concept of abuse was the same as ours. (It wasn’t even the same in the village. A man who controlled your every movement would be considered an admirable pater-familias with a care for his women folk (blame that Arab occupation.)  Here people would tell you to leave him. (Often with reason. No, not every time. Look, other people’s marriages are totally opaque from outside. No, I wouldn’t be happy being controlled. Neither would my husband, because I tend to run the other way when pushed. But I know women where their husband is their mobile/detachable sanity unit. They relinquish control because they need the structure. I know men in those relationships too. I truly don’t judge. The human heart is complicated. And the human soul more so. I’ll just say for such units, it’s heartbreaking when the sane one dies.)

Second of all, even in regency romances, it was all about the sex anymore, as though writers (or more likely publishers) had completely forgotten the psychological game of wooing or the romantic ideal.  When I came across the regency where a stranger takes a virgin from zero to anal sex on a terrace outside a ball, that was it for me and traditional regencies.

Mind you, I still read them.  In my rotation regency romances are usually for “I’m exhausted, just finished a book, don’t feel so well.” They’re most of them so predictable they don’t hold up well to “I’m okay now, and I want something stimulating.”  They’re relaxa-reads.  But I read “Sweet”or “traditional”regencies on Amazon. Mostly on Kindle Unlimited. Which is good because one can’t re-read Heyer forever, just like one can’t just re-read Heinlein forever.

Anyway, it’s entirely possible all this is because of the de-Christianizing of the west, with the concomitant fall of the ideas of duty. Or it can be the same reason we don’t have big families: we’re too rich.

Used to be, particularly for women, you needed a family structure so you wouldn’t find yourself old without anyone to care for you.  I think it’s stupid to have replaced that with money and government, but hey… who am I to say anything. (I just don’t think government will be there to look after my generation, not that way.  And money… we’re in for interesting times.  Not that single women as a rule have tons of savings.)

It used to be man and wife had to learn to be a team after the lust faded (not that some of us don’t still have a lot of fun, even at our advanced age, but if you’re married you remember the weekends where somehow there was no time to get out of bed.  Usually the first 2 to 4 years.  And you weren’t sleeping.) because they were an economic unit, there wasn’t a ton of ways for women to earn a living outside the home (though most worked at some craft inside the home) and there would be a passel of kids more likely to survive if you were together.

And through that, you learned the real love.  You know “Love is patient, love is kind.”  Even though humans aren’t naturally any of that, you learn to be.  You have to, to stay together and not miserable.

And somewhere around year 10 or so, you find what you have is better than the lust years.  You have trust, you have confidence, you have someone that allows you to not watch your back all the time. You can say “you and me against the world.”  And the whole is much, much better than the sum of its parts.  We discover new interests together.  We find that even, you know, going for a drive and nowhere in particular is fun so long as we’re together.  You find even the things you liked doing before are better now, because there’s two of you and over the years the person has learned to understand your sense of humor.  You can make each other laugh with a look. You can encourage each other’s pursuits.  You can reach higher.

But if you think love is really good sex, you’ll never get there.

I like Valentine’s day because it’s a memory of the way things used to be before love was all about sex.  I have a stash of cards somewhere that my husband has sent me for Valentine’s and my birthday (yes, they usually have cats on them. Deal.)

And that kind of love is necessary to rebuild a healthy society. Even if our money and wealth as a society allows to ignore the necessity of a partnership.  Remembering that love is more than the appetites we share with dogs might help create healthier families.

Not that I think there’s only “One person” for any of us.  Okay, some of us are really weird, and even finding one person was a miracle. But there’s a lot of people in the world, and there are probably one or two others in the right age range with whom we could be happy.

As for “soulmates” I have a few.  You will know them. They’re the relatives/old friends you suddenly meet for the first time. (Some of mine are regular commenters here. You know who you are.) They’re one of the few persuasive arguments for reincarnation, but that’s not necessary to explain it.  As RES (that wallaby!) says, the soul is not bound by time and space. Perhaps when you meet your soul mates you just remember knowing and loving them in the future.

It’s just that sort of love is no tied in, nor should it be to romantic love or sex. These people are just companions on our journey to forever, but trust me, I don’t want to sleep with them.

If you’re doing things right — I have a lot of young friends, not just older son, marrying this year and I want them to know this — your spouse is far more than that.

Your spouse is, or should be a real safe space. The person who sees you with no social mask on, the person to whom you can reveal your fears and anger, and who will still love you despite all that.  Your spouse is the person who sees all of you and who, when you’re down on yourself, can also say “But you’re so strong.”  Or just “but I still love you.”  Because Peterson is right and all of us hate ourselves a little, having seen us naked too many times.  Our spouse is the one who sees, but forgives or doesn’t even know there’s something to forgive, but just loves and accepts.

As such a marriage is invaluable, long term.  Because human life is tragic.  And all of us, at some time, will be poorer, sadder and definitely uglier and often horribly ill as we age.  I’d say it’s necessary for sanity and not to fall into bitterness to know at least one person loves us through it all.

Which is worth the times when you had to make an effort to understand, or when it “felt” like there was nothing between you (feelings are treacherous. And just because you can’t feel an emotion it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  When tired or sick I don’t feel much of anything, and I don’t think I’m unique.)

We need to take the ashes of the “natural love” and the crazy illusion of “lust-love” and build something, perhaps on the foundations of chivalrous love, the foundations of honor and duty.

Because man (or woman, even) were not meant to be alone.  And while it’s possible to have great platonic love for my friends (I do. Agape, not eros) I don’t and can’t demand they consume their life to have my back when I’m attacked, or support me when I’m down.  Some of them would, but there’s a limit. They have their own lives, their own loves.

And I’m very glad I have mine.  I’m very glad my husband married me almost 34 years ago now.  I’m even more glad that we stuck together through some truly horrible times, even the times when it felt like we couldn’t raise the emotions anymore.

Because it’s a joy to wake up every morning and find him by my side.  And I know he has my back and believes in me even when I don’t.  And I’m ready to do battle for him too, when he needs it. (My being the unstable Latin he often has to grab the back of my shirt and pull me back when I deem battle should be engaged.)

I’m glad I have him, and he’s for keeps, and it’s me and him against the world. And I have a place I can let my hair down, or indeed metaphorically speaking, shave my head and run around setting fire to things, and it will be understood.

The journey would be unbearable without a companion.

 

 

255 responses to “Ah, Love

  1. I do believe in “sole mates” but I also believe that, like rocks in a polisher, it usually takes a significant number of years of bumping two souls together to get them to fit properly.

    Harrumph. Kids these days, wanting instant everything and unwilling to put in the effort to learn the compromises necessary to be fit for human companionship.

    • I do believe in “sole mates”

      So, a pair of shoes?

      • Sigh. Cannot even blame that on Autocorrupt. Oh! Dr. Freud, will you please do something about my fingers: they’ve acquired minds of their own.

        And no, nothing to do with footwear but everything to do with being a singular – sole – mate.

      • Married flatfish.

    • /agree

      Helps if you start with a pretty good fit, but if you work at it….

    • And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in like wise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May, in something to constrain him to some manner of thing more in that month than in any other month, for divers causes. For then all herbs and trees renew a man and woman, and likewise lovers call again to their mind old gentleness and old service, and many kind deeds that were forgotten by negligence. For like as winter rasure doth alway arase and deface green summer, so fareth it by unstable love in man and woman. For in many persons there is no stability; for we may see all day, for a little blast of winter’s rasure, anon we shall deface and lay apart true love for little or nought, that cost much thing; this is no wisdom nor stability, but it is feebleness of nature and great disworship, whosomever useth this. Therefore, like as May month flowereth and flourisheth in many gardens, so in like wise let every man of worship flourish his heart in this world, first unto God, and next unto the joy of them that he promised his faith unto; for there was never worshipful man or worshipful woman, but they loved one better than another; and worship in arms may never be foiled, but first reserve the honour to God, and secondly the quarrel must come of thy lady: and such love I call virtuous love.

      But nowadays men can not love seven night but they must have all their desires: that love may not endure by reason; for where they be soon accorded and hasty heat, soon it cooleth. Right so fareth love nowadays, soon hot soon cold: this is no stability. But the old love was not so; men and women could love together seven years, and no licours lusts were between them, and then was love, truth, and faithfulness: and lo, in like wise was used love in King Arthur’s days. Wherefore I liken love nowadays unto summer and winter; for like as the one is hot and the other cold, so fareth love nowadays; therefore all ye that be lovers call unto your remembrance the month of May, like as did Queen Guenever, for whom I make here a little mention, that while she lived she was a true lover, and therefore she had a good end.

      ― Thomas Malory

  2. We seem to be sharing the group mind again, only you said it way better than I did over at Mad Genius Club.

    And I’m not quite sure what it means that the Husband and I went almost straight to “old married” and have been happily that way for over 16 years now.

    • Dan and I were driving SIL nuts within a month of being married, by being… “old married.”

    • One soon-to-be married-to-eachother set of teachers was doing the “married couple disagreement” thing last weekend, and his daughter was sighing and rolling ehr eyes. I smiled and said, “Just wait. My parents have been married [redacted] years and they still do that, just different topic.”

      The daughter rolled her eyes again and muttered something like “Oh ghawd” and tried to slide out of the bottom of the booth.

    • Heh, same here.

      Oh my goodness. I just realized Rhys and I have been together as a couple (and yeah, went straight to ‘old married’ pretty much) for 15 years come our next anniversary.

    • The first time I met my late wife in person (we’d known each other online for 3-4 months) she was maid of honor and I was a groomsman for another couple who had met on the same online service and were getting married in my town. In the course of preparing for the festivities, I cut myself rather badly. I bandaged it and went to the wedding. After the wedding, she noticed that blood was starting to seep through the bandage and badgered me until we went to the emergency room. (She wanted to be sure that I actually went.) While waiting to be seen we were still arguing about whether I needed to be there or not.

      When the nurse called me up to the counter to clarify something in the paperwork he asked how long we had been married, and we explained that this was the first time we had met in person. He looked at us, grinned, and said “Well, you FIGHT like an old married couple!”

  3. I think after four years of losing Otto that I am finally growing some of my soul back. I do think that when you find someone you can live and laugh with that you somehow grow together like old trees planted closely together. I think I’m one of those who has only been able to find one. I have always been wary of lust especially when I realized that if I fell for that trap, I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I wanted to do… I still found Otto. Yes, there was lust, love, laughing, and hope. I miss that–

    • I suspect that the “one true pairing” factor is exacerbated by the fact our society “enjoys” such mobility that, by middle age, most of us are severed from families and childhood friends, so that our spouse is the one with whom most of our memories, jokes and experiences have been shared.

      That seems sadly isolating.

      • Yep. You either bring friends with you when you have to move or try to fill it with internet. Not a good thing.

      • That could be true… but being an introvert, I was more comfortable with another introvert than with my family … plus other things. So I see what you are saying…

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I mentioned Georgette Heyer’s A Civil Contract over on Mad Genius Club (in Kate’s post).

    Oh, the main male character had a “one true love” but married another out of duty.

    By the end of the book, he realized that his wife was a better person than his “one true love” and he had fallen in love with his wife. 😀

    • Yes, that’s one of my favorites of Heyer’s stories — discovering what truly makes a desirable spouse, rather than the juvenile romantic fantasies.

    • That’s now become rather a trope in romances, especially regencies. The “marriage of convenience/duty that becomes a love match”, I mean. Which doesn’t mean that the trendsetter who began the trope shouldn’t be honored for it, of course.

      • That one is actually more believable than most of those.

        • Certainly more historically accurate, just based on what I have read. One gets the sense that more than one couple were pleasantly surprised to have an arranged match become a love match. And then there are a few… well, Margaret of Tyrol comes to mind. The parents get some credit for that disaster. *sigh*

        • I’ve seen several that are “I am/was indifferent to this person, but now that she *belongs* to me, my indifference has turned to protectiveness” which also makes sense to me, from a psychological perspective. It’s the same principle as “once I have tried on or handled this piece of clothing/article in a store, I feel differently about it than the other, similar areticles stacked alongside it.”

      • Long has been. It’s a very convenient trope in that it combines a reason why the characters can’t just walk away from the problem AND gives them a reason to resent each other.

      • Beauty and the Beast?

        *******
        Not my area of expertise, but I’ve been informed by folklore/romance novel type historians that Beauty going ‘into his house’ meant that he didn’t actually have to ask her to marry him at all. (Was part of a discussion of shifting cultural norms and culture changes changing a story, sorry I don’t remember where.)

  5. “Not that I think there’s only “One person” for any of us. Okay, some of us are really weird, and even finding one person was a miracle. But there’s a lot of people in the world, and there are probably one or two others in the right age range with whom we could be happy.”

    This is the lesson I try to teach the unmarried people around me. There’s no Perfect Spouse ™, just people who would be easier or harder to live with. And as I learned a very hard way, just because you meet someone whom would be an easier spouse to live with, it doesn’t mean you have to divorce and remarry to be happy. It’s okay to meet someone and recognize that you could have been a couple, and in fact, you may well have that experience multiple times. But all marriages take work, and sometimes needing to work harder for it makes it all the more rewarding.

    • A marriage is an agreement, a contract. You make promises to each other, usually in front of witnesses. Almost every set of marriage vows I’ve heard, or read go with the usual, “for richer or poorer, better or worse, ’til death do us part.” So short of one being an unrepentant spouse beater, child abuser, familial murderer, there’s no real justification to terminate the marriage.
      Is my wife my soul mate? Probably not, as I understand the concept. But I said what I meant, and meant what I said, when I stood up there in my grey suit with her in her white dress. 33 years later, and yes, not always smooth sailing, and not wildly insane, head-over-heels-whoopee, even from the beginning; but comfort, humor, and mostly trust in most areas (Just don’t let her make investment or retirement funding decisions!)

    • I also believe that there are any number of potential spouses, with whom one might make a very happy and long marriage with any of them. Encountered at the right time, in the right place – and pow- good fit. Bags of happiness as partners for a lifetime.
      The one perfect soulmate thing, and the restless search for the spouse with all the wonderful attributes has probably kept a lot of men and women from having happy marriages with a ‘good enough’ partner.
      (Note: I, alas, am not the absolute best person to advise on this. I withdrew personally from the lists matrimonial upon being essentially deserted by the father of my daughter, in order to ensure that she had a secure childhood and to protect myself from being emotionally savaged again. But I have observed plenty of satisfactory and happy marriages among my circle of friends, and in my own family.)

      • “The one perfect soulmate thing, and the restless search for the spouse with all the wonderful attributes has probably kept a lot of men and women from having happy marriages with a ‘good enough’ partner.”

        Yep, both in the sense of “I can’t settle down with you; you’re not perfect!” and “the cocaine-addict phase of love has worn off and I see that you’re not perfect; bye!”

  6. The meaning of love (Yes, I’m in a mood):

    • I utterly despised Wham. Nice, bouncy tunes with slit-your-own-throat depressing lyrics (coming out at a time when I really didn’t need that).

      • Snark aside, when I wrote “The Unmasking” I fully intended to have a strong romantic element in it. And yes, the characters were completely agreeable to having a romantic interest in each other. However, they had to get quite firm with me that they would not act on that interest just yet. They were working a case together and were entirely too professional to get “involved” until the case was over. So, “sparks,” yes. “Sparking,” no. (And apparently there’s a new slang meaning that has superceded the old slang meaning.)

      • I only really know one (other than the one you posted, which I’ll switch the radio station to get away from), but…

        “Why did you go out dancing without meeeee!? You should have brought me! It’s no fair that you went out and had fun without me, come on, bring me with you next time!

        “Wait… now? Come on, who wants to go dancing? That’s stupid, just stay here in bed with me, that’s a girl.”

        (…yeah, my mental canon has her dumping him and moving on to the Flashdance album. >.>)

        • When you look at it in the context of the rest of their stuff–which was all about really bad relationships or breakups–you come to realize that it wasn’t “dancing” (at least not vertical dancing) that was going on. That was merely a euphemism.

          • In which case… “My buddy told me you were having sex with other people! That’s not fair, that’s not right, you should be doing it with me instead! Come on, just TELL ME the next time you need it, I’ll be there for you!”

            “…well, yes, I know what I said, but come *on*, it’s not really that important, is it?”

            It… at least, it doesn’t seem to make the guy look any better? I mean, break it off with her or don’t, she’s given you cause, but as things stand at the end of the song she’s not the one leaving you hanging on like a yo-yo. >.>;

      • Patrick Chester

        I found Wham to be tolerable when featured in the Deadpool movie.

  7. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I think this may be related to the idea that our culture has a wrong understanding of the mechanisms of sexual preference.

    This thing of older couples having a strong preference for each other makes a lot of sense if sexual preference is at least partly learned.

    Predestination in love affairs via the sole mate model and predestination in love affairs via the innate unchanging congenital sexual preference model seem fairly similar. And different from the model that one could divide a population into degrees of potential compatibility, that several strongly compatible exist, that one may even find a few that are available, and that the stuff on which happiness is based depends on learning, trust, cooperation, effort and patience.

    • “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

      Took me years to realize what the were singing. Damn hearing handicap.

      • My sister and another Catholic girl always gave each other the high-five when Billy Joel was singing, “You Catholic girls start much too late.”

  8. Reblogged this on The Writer in Black and commented:
    Wanting to write something about today but, well, considering how foul my mood is, better to use someone else’s words.

    • I do try (really) not to push my own ever so minor blog here, but it seems my entry for today might fit here. Then again, maybe it would be best to stick to plain water today and not risk intoxicants, even decidedly not sweet ones. Anyway: The Antidote to Valentine’s Day.

      • I have no idea as to why, but the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail was bothering my brain yesterday. I think I had one in my lifetime and found it disgustingly sweet (and I love me some sweet), but the memory wouldn’t let go. OTOH, I was plowing some really nasty wet snow; perhaps the liqueur could be tolerable in a snow cone?

        Not going to try something better. No alcohol because medications. At least one deserves the “drink and die” warning…

        • The Harvey Wallbanger is not known as a great cocktail. I have one every great once in a while, but more as a reminder of how things have improved since the 1970’s when it was still a somewhat common cultural reference.

  9. I’m not a hundred percent sure who came up with the idea of soul mates, because mostly I hear it from new agers, and minutes later there is something about my aura and crystals and such.

    An aunt, the wife of youngest brother-in-law was attempted to engage The Daughter in conversation during a visit.  The Aunt seemed to think that the women should have their own conversation.  Several topics failed utterly as The Daughter really would have preferred to join in the conversation the men were having, which were about things she found interesting, like science.

    As The Daughter wasn’t particularly interested in clothes and does not subscribe to any ‘proper’ views on women’s suppression, etc..  Things were not going well.  Things began to come to a head when The Daughter expressed the novel view that if a Muslim woman chose to wear a hijab or burka what business was it of hers to demand otherwise.  She even was able to cite a friend who taught in Afghanistan who appreciated the anonymity that the covering provided when she was out shopping.  This infuriated the Aunt.  

    The go round continued down hill until the subject of jewelry came up.  The Daughter, who  does jewelry work, on thinking she had the opening for something that interested her excitedly pulled a Fire Mountain catalog out of her bag to share with her Aunt.  The Aunt proceeded to pontificate on the powers of various stones.  The Daughter basically told her that that was nonsense that she did not care to entertain.  

    The attempts at conversation ended. 

    (Note: The irony that the woman who spoke of the suppression of women insisted on segregated conversation and choose the topics she did was not lost on The Daughter.)

    • Oh, but stones DO have some powers. Properly grown ruby can lase, and well cleaved quartz resonates wonderfully.

      • Not to mention the power to change the mind of a woman from “Hell, no” to “have at it!”

          • Some of us a weirder. I break loose from time to time.

            • I break loose from time to time, too, which is why I carry kitchen matches with me. Unlike some politicians I do not believe mine smell like rose blossoms, even when I’ve been eating rose hips. (Rose nods in agreement about that.)

              • Wrll, yes, but that us because hips don’t lie.

                Our command PT this past Wednesday was a Zumba class. I was standing one person behind my CO, near to the front of the class, so I didn’t get to see a lot of the rest of my colleagues.

                There is apparently a video, however.

      • I am sure that The Daughter was aware — that’s science, and therefore interesting to her. That certainly was not what The Aunt was peddling.

    • SheSellsSeashells

      As a fellow Fire Mountain junkie and jewelry-maker (seed beads in my case) I give you this story to pass on to your daughter re: crystal crazies.

      I make teeny-tiny amulet bags, AKA “fancy shiny pouches”, and generally put a little metal charm in each one. At one show, a woman with that unmedicated look in her eyes came up to my booth and started removing the charm from each and every bag, sliding a small tumbled amethyst into it, and repeating the process after careful examination. After finally picking one, she handed it to us, held up the amethyst proudly, and announced “Stacia likes it.”

      Boggled does not begin to describe my reaction. Nowadays “Stacia” is family code for pants-on-head crazy.

      • Ah, the ‘healing power of crystals’! My lady went through a phase of that, but more as cosplay than seriously.

        I will say this; if belief in something nonsensical helps you get better, more power to you. Just don’t expect me to pay for it, unless you are my sweetie. And I’ve got mine, thanks. But the placebo effect is real. The mind, if (IF) you can engage the gears properly (and it’s hit and miss, and grear grinding ain’t good) can work wonders for you, especially if your problems are mental. It’s,very true that such problems are ‘all inmyour head’, but that doesn’t make them dismissable. That makes them damned hard to come to grips with.

        • Best line from the Harry Potter series:
          “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

          The problem our young Socialists have is they think that means whatever they believe is real, regardless of the way the rest of the universe operates.

        • The placebo effect is real, but it is not certain, and while it seems it can sometimes produce actual verifiable miracles most times the effect is much more subdued. So it can help, but do not rely only on it.

          I guess most people just can’t believe fully enough. Especially those of us in the west and when it’s something like crystals or other recent newage stuff. Should have grown up with the belief, so that a curse might kill you – and even then it doesn’t always work. And when it comes to the newage group most of them don’t really have the discipline they’d need to achieve something like getting rid of cancer without any medical help, because if or when it works at all for somebody who doesn’t have unshakeable belief in some shaman (and even those who grew up in those societies don’t necessarily have that…) it seems to need a rather disciplined approach, including some equivalent of hours of daily meditation. Not ten minutes and then a beer and back to internet. 😀

          (And no, I am NOT going to pay for it, not for myself or for any stranger because that damned meditation done for free at home should damn well work at least as well as some pricey something done to you by some probably phony anyway guru… and there are enough of free advice how to meditate online that you should be able to learn that for free too. If you are disciplined enough to actually follow that advice. Okay, might pay for some nice crystals. Because they are pretty and I like them for that)

        • If you believe in yourself, follow your dreams and hold on to your star….You’ll still drop dead from that puff adder bite, just saying.

          (slightly paraphrased there…)

      • Stacia’s person was removing the charms you had attached to each bag, not just the bag in which Stacia was intending to make her home? That is some brass.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          Yeah. I’m used to charm-removal, but usually only from the grade-school crowd, and I’m USED to that. (It’s cute on seven-year-old girls going SQUEE!! Not so much on unmedicated adults.)

  10. I love romances where it’s two old friends who happen to be a man and a woman realizing that they love each other in that way after all. Because that was the way I would have preferred it to happen to me (never did in any way, I do have some major trust issues I’m afraid) – build the trust and caring first, leave the sexual for later.

    There just aren’t that many of those stories around. I get it, it’s rather easier to write an exiting story when you start from the “meeting an interesting stranger, instant attraction, but no idea what kind of person he is and if you even want something to happen except waaants seeexx reaally bad with him oh my god what now” and proceed from that, the “old friends” is probably easiest when it starts from the “oh he/she met somebody and is starting a relationship—- oh my god, I don’t want him/her to!” and funny hijinks follow as the person who just only now realized that tries to win the old friend sort of back but this time as a lover.

    There have been those stories where it’s just two old friends, one of whom is maybe a bit more aware that there is also some sexual tension, finally getting together that way because they face some risky situations together due to some adventure they end up in, but then the main plot is usually that adventure.

    But yep, when it comes to modern romance it’s almost always written as something where the SEX!!! part is the most important one. As if a romantic relationship could not work at all unless the sex is AMAZING all the time and every time. And as if a marriage could not work at all unless it’s always very romantic (and great sex comes first). Even if there have been enough well known great romances which started more as a business relationship, him marrying her because he or her or one or both of their families wanted the relationship for the sake of money or business contacts or political ones.

    • I wonder what will be the long term influence of the Harry Potter books, where both (main) boys discover their “mates” under their noses all along. Harry’s pursuit of Cho Chang blinding him to the virtues of Ginny, while Ron has to be smacked upside his head with the Hermione clue bat would seem to suggest to at least some readers that relationships are developed, that they don’t arrive in a bolt of lightning.

    • Mum had a friend who got married to her oldest friend. The friend proposed to her with “We should get married.” After listening to her rant about her latest breakup; and she’d had several.

      The woman countered that she doesn’t love him that way, and his response was “I don’t love you that way either, but we’re both getting older, and we’ve been friends this long so I don’t see us not being friends in the future either. We get along and are good company, which would make a better marriage than most people’s.”

      She tried to counter with ‘But you don’t know me,” and he proceeded to list all her flaws and positive attributes. It included “But I don’t know how to cook,” and his response was “So? I do.” She was rubbish at keeping house, laundry, etc, but that was fine, he could do all those things.

      He basically trounced every single argument she had (if she had no interest in sex with him that was fine, etc) and it got to the point she had no arguments left and said she’d think about it and fled to talk to my mum about the whole surreal encounter.

      And as she talked to my Mum, the woman realized that her friend was right, and she didn’t have a good reason for a ‘no’ because she had in her head come to the conclusion he was right, they’d get along and keep each other company, which is what you’d look for in your older years.

      So they got married. And Mum said she reckoned it must have developed into love for each other because the woman got pregnant (to her surprise) and they had a daughter.

      I remember that my Mum said that her friend “would fall apart now if something happened to him.”

      For me, that was the lesson that if I was going to marry someone, it’d be one of my friends that I could get along with and whose flaws I could forgive, ignore and live with.

      • That’s kind of what i’m hoping for, and is the reason I statted attending cons more often. Find somebody I’m compatible with in the “likes and values the same things” kind of way, and see what develops from there. Spending so much of my career overseas, and being an introverted Odd to boot, it’s been hard just to meet folks from the tribe. But, I have three and a half years (or so) until a bit more freedom to move, so we’ll see. I’m also kind of set on my ways at this point, so who knows.

        • I met Rhys online, on a webcomic forum. I got seriously lucky.

          Sometimes I wonder if he wouldn’t be happier with someone else, given how much bad luck we’ve had in life (we’ve lost babies, I’ve health issues now) and then he goes no, and tells me about some of the home dramas he hears about at work. (Because he hasn’t any complaints on the same, he’s become Agony Uncle.)

        • wait… you’re single? Kindly contact me off list. (Look, I know three young men looking and while you’re likely too old for one of them…)

          • Shall I message you on Facebook? Because yes, single and looking.

            • Raises hand. I know of a nice young man. Age, almost 30. Has a good job. Non judgemental extended family. Believe it or not, based on nieces experiences, both should be on a list. OTOH small immediate family, huge extended family.

              Yes. Little prejudice. But if Sarah wants me to pass my & his information on through her.

              • Why not? It’s time we women of middle years started bringing Odd younguns together.
                Too much alone isn’t good.

                • 😉 okay then.

                  • Well, it is.
                    I’ve informed younger son I’m going to find him a nice girl…. 😛

                    • I have some nieces who are single … good job at Nike, other is a teacher. Don’t hold their parents politics against them. Love my little sister, but darn Stanford. Both parents are engineer’s. Guess can complain about HP SF climate there. They are in WA now.

                    • Available evidence suggests that such persons are more likely to hold their politics against their suitor than a suitor is to hold your nieces politics against them.

                      This is not because boys will ignore trivia as politics when in proximity to a hot gal but because it is inherent in the politics of conservatives (as differentiated from right-wingers) to not make the political personal, while modern liberals are prone to exalt politics über alles.

                    • Matchmaker, matchmaker find me a catch… (There was reference to fiddler on the roof, no?). Oddly (no pun intended) I have two odd daughters in their early 20’s. Ones an 8th grade math teacher and the other is a newly minted mechanical/aeronautical engineer, Both redheads. Neither has had other than a brief almost boyfriend. Elder girl went to a Christian school so the pickings were slim (5 women to each man and the men are rather gun shy given the proclivities of some of the ladies of the evangelical bent to knock them down and haul them off to the alter). Younger girl went to an engineering school 4-1 men to women. Plenty of males but running joke was in finding a boyfriend the odds were good but the goods were odd.

                      It seems something is seriously wrong with the 20-30 something male population. It’s not just my daughters, but many of their peers can NOT get a man to commit even to dating long term. And the Odds have just totally left the field of play basically giving up. This feels like what is reported in Japan that the whole populace seems to have gone asexual with respect to other humans. Have we so suppressed the natural male instincts with feedback in schooling that they’re like the protagonist in “A Clockwork Orange” and the Skinner box that is our society has made them feel ill rather than interested any time a thought about members of the opposite sex is mentioned?

                    • Dear sir, contact me off list. I have a son in his early/mid twenties almost done (stupid college scheduling) with dual mechanical/electrical degrees with aerospace minor who has a ridiculous (and admitted) weakness for redheads and is serious if weird about his faith (He was always the mystical one. Yes, he’s a Catholic, but the pope is a commie, so who the heck knows where that is going). And I’m about ready to auction him off.
                      We can introduce them and even if they “only” become friends it’s good for both their souls.
                      I know it helped Robert through a very dark patch of his life to become friends online with RES’s daughter.

                    • something is seriously wrong with the 20-30 something male population.

                      No, something is wrong with a culture in which the 20-30 something male population is unwilling/unable to commit to wife and family. I recommend Dr. Helen’s Men On Strike for depressing reading, or just visit her page at PJM: https://pjmedia.com/drhelen/

                      The messages taken by our male population is that they are at best useless and more probably toxic, that in any argument with a woman he is presumed wrong, and that what marriage and family offers him is a lifetime of economic servitude. The wonder is not that so few men want to commit, it is that any do commit.

                    • I know my kids refuse to date IN COLLEGE for fear of false rape accusations.
                      Robert only formed a relationship after extensive long-distance friendship convinced him THIS woman is trustworthy.

                    • The signals are jacked up.

                      You know the whole “the only girls around want to hook up” thing from 20-30 years back, at which time I’ll note a large number of ladies HERE were told that, sometimes by guys they were desperately trying to catch the attention of?

                      As best I can tell, same thing now, but for dudes. The “I don’t want to sleep with you, I want to date you” signal for dudes got hijacked to “You have a pulse, I wanna jump your bones, now.”

                    • or “if she doesnt want to jump your bones, now, she’s not interested in you”

                  • Well, the new generation of Odds ain’t gonna spawn itself, m’dear. Come here. We’ll have some tea together and talk about the young people we know.

                • Sigh. I hesitate to do this, because the Daughter Unit would absolutely kill me if she knew I were doing it … but she’s another Odd. Late-30ish, USMC veteran, community and family oriented. Military brat, Catholic HS education. A drop-out from higher education, a single-minded teetotaler, artist and sort-of-intent on growing her own business. Reasonably attractive, physically.
                  She had a bruising encounter last year with a guy who checked all the boxes, but later did the fade-out.
                  Not that I want to convert the second bedroom into a home office and work space … but I want to see my daughter happy.

                  • Sigh. Yes, too. Son will likely stop talking to me …

                    Almost 30. Chemistry Degree. Eagle Scout. Works swing shift for local large cabinet building company as supervisor … Likes working with his hands.

                    We know roommates would raise holy heck (& then some) if he suddenly disappeared. He’s always available for pet sitting on short notice. In addition he knows his roommates are never skipping out on him & not paying their share … did threaten to sell the house & not leave forwarding address, but he knows they’d never follow through …

          • Hey, any of those single young men Mormon, by any chance…? 😉 (Alas, I am also single and looking. Alas, I’m also about to turn 39… :p)

            • Alas, the only young mormon male of my acquaintance is getting married, I think, today. Also more than 10 years younger than you.

              • Heh, yeah, that is the issue: the single ones tend to be quite a lot younger than me these days.

                Of course, it would help if I moved away from Nowhere, Wyoming. (I plan to…)

            • So’m I. In September. Not necessarily looking for a Mormon male, even or especially, not one with a great rack. I tend towards Christian agnosticism myself.

      • +1.

        Be friends. Then date.

  11. Well said Sarah! Wishing you and Dan the best. One thing I’d like to add. I’ve told my wife many times that when I look at her, I see the beautiful young woman I married. I think that’s true of many men, but women, who can be hypercritical of their looks, find it hard to believe. Of course I also see a better looking, younger man when I look in the mirror, but who you gonna’ believe, the truth or your lying mind.

  12. Or it can be the same reason we don’t have big families: we’re too rich.

    I used to be bemused by the ‘how much it costs to raise a child’ articles that would turn up.  I didn’t realize that every child who did not receive music, dance, gymnastics lessons and were not involved in inter-mural sports would be lost to the world.  Or that they would required braces and extensive tutoring.  Who decided that one could not survive without summer camp?  Who knew that it was requirement to be given a brand new car at the age of sixteen? 

    I knew a lot of kids growing up who would argued in favor of that last one. 

    • My kids ruined us on books, I’ll have you know.

      • As if I didn’t understand?

      • Dear Mother, the *oncet* suggested to her wee lad that he go to the library, they have more books there (she worked there at the time).

        Thereafter the problem was extricating said lad from the library when the time came. You pick your battles. Or they will be picked for you. *chuckle*

        • We both utilized the library (The Daughter, to her delight, discovered inter-library lending early) and purchased books.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            There was a lovely and HUGE bookstore in Atlanta when I was a kid. It had a treehouse right in the middle of the kids’s section.

            My parents would drop me off in the treehouse and repair to the cafe upstairs on date nights. They knew 1) I wouldn’t cause trouble and 2) it would take an earthquake to get me to leave that treehouse voluntarily, save for the occasional more-books foray. Then they paid their “rent” to the bookstore by letting me pick out two books per hour I’d been up there. Fond memories. 🙂

          • I remember one of the times Robert (who had become obsessed with chem (sixth? grade) had asked for a bunch of college-level books from interlibrary loan and — I don’t remember why — the librarian was having trouble finding them/corralling them.
            This was inexplicably my fault, so she turned to me and asked me why my son didn’t just get these books from his college library.
            “Well, because he’s eleven and in middle school, ma’am.”
            In her defense he was six feet tall. STILL.

            • Ah the joys of training up new librarians. 

              Yes, she may take out as many books as she can carry.  Yes, I know that is a lot of books. We’ll be back next week when she has read them to do this again.  Am I aware that she has chosen books from the adult stacks and some are higher level science?  Yes, those are just the kind of books to interest her, thank you.

              The librarians who knew her would stand by with bemused looks.  

              Most of the librarians, once they got to know her, were very helpful.  It was one of The Daughter’s favorite librarians that recommended the short story collection where she discovered Diana Wynne Jones.  She was also the one who told The Daughter about inter-library loans. 

    • That same attitude goes a long way towards explaining the support that millenials and younger have for socialism. You see, momma and daddy’s pockets only go so deep as does their patience with freeloading offspring.
      But the government has this endless money well that will grant their every wish and desire don’t you know.
      Of course as the Iron Lady once famously remarked, “sooner or later you always run out of other peoples money.”

      • Of course as the Iron Lady once famously remarked, `sooner or later you always run out of other peoples money.`

        As the Labour Party said in reply (albeit, not in public), “In the meantime, you can make off with a lot of loot.”

    • Car? Given? Sixteen? Good grief, I didn’t have a license until I was 18…and bought a car from my own pocket when I was a junior in college.

      Those years were HARD. But hard times make hard men.

      • We got a “kid car” when I was 15.5 or so– it wasn’t MY car, it was “Oh thank goodness now you can drive everyone to school instead of having an hour+ bus ride each way, and by the way you’ll be doing the local shopping and picking up from practice.”

        Much better gas mileage than the four door, extended bed Ford pickup, much easier to park, and meant they didn’t lose the car while the kids were at school AND we all had a lot more time to help while we were really useful help.

        ****

        Of course, after I left for the Navy, they ended up selling the kid car, and buying my sister and brother a Kia each… grumblegrumblegrumble.

        • I didn’t get a car until I was 19, & had to pay for it myself (well first one I did … after I wreaked it, had help on the second one).

          I wasn’t planning on the son getting a car when he was 16. Dad had a different idea. Yes he got a 2004 Hyundai when he got his drivers license at 16 in 2005. It was 17 months old with 48,000 miles. FYI he still drives it.

          We’d bought it new so dad could drive between Randle WA & Eugene OR. Home on Friday’s, back to work for the week at what we called O-god-30 AM. Hey, the savings from gas cost VS our other options bought the car.

          To actually get the car the rules were:

          1) Dad had to be transferred back to Eugene area, or retired (duh).
          2) Kid had to have his drivers’ license (also duh).
          3) Kid had to have 3.5 GPA
          4) Eagle earned.

          Dad got transferred back just before kid’s Eagle Council Board of Review. Kid still had to wait about 4 months for requirement 2; he took the test in the car.

          To keep it. No tickets. Far as I know, he still doesn’t have any.

          • Chance to brag:
            I have ONE ticket, which was deferred.

            I pulled over to let a (turned out to be cop) and another vehicle merge into the flow of traffic.

            ….apparently his evidence wasn’t that good, because they suspended it in a no-show as long as I didn’t get another ticket. The gas to make it to the hearing would’ve cost more than the suspended ticket.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Well, I got out of “tickets” IMO for one reason, I was always polite to the cop.

              Of course, in some cases I politely asked the cop “was I going too fast”. 😀

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Of course, for many years in Danville, the cops that I was polite to knew one or both of my parents. 😉

                • I went to Danville High with the son of the then-Sheriff. I think he’s since taken over as sheriff.

            • I got my first at age 50, so far only ticket, for failure to use my turn signal on a right turn, on a red light … on the last day of the month. Sent a letter in with the fine. Got a return check for 3/4 of the fine

              Hubby can’t say that. He gets a ticket about every 3 or 4 years. He’s had a streak lately. I think it has been 10 years since the last one. But then he got his first one at …. age 8; something about running go carts on the street, his brother was 13.

              The most fun one was getting pulled over on Hwy 58, east bound just out of Oakridge. Hubby started speeding up before the official 55 sign. Going up hill, pickup dragging trailer. My comment as he rolled down the window & I was getting the insurance & registration out of the glove box was “going to have to frame this one. No one will believe we got a speeding ticket pulling the trailer going up hill.” Hubby got a warning. Then to top it off. The officer was the brother of the contractor that bought in-laws Motorhome after FIL died, 19 years before; guy was still using it.

  13. All we’ve learned about human sexuality (eros, not philia nor storge) refutes the idea of “one true” love. Variations in female attraction according to phases of her cycle (yes, only ciswomen naturally have cycles; pull your knickers outta your cleft and get over it) strongly suggest there is a material component to the soul’s desires.


    Used to be that Society admitted this and even found humour in it.

  14. Love, in a similar way to Art, is often misunderstood because people only see the surface and don’t realize all the work and practice that has to go into it to do it well. In both cases the inexperienced often get frustrated because they think they should be able to do it perfectly the first time out.

  15. no marriage survives over 30 years without you figuring out that feeling was completely wrong, and you actually still love each other, it’s just not the crazy lust of early marriage.


    Popular culture used to know about that, too. I blame Rock ‘n’ Roll, which is mostly a music of adolescent angst.

    • Contrary to the Beatles, Love is not all you need. You need duty, too. Duty, devotion, gets you through the transition from Lust to Love.


      Sometimes Rock remembered that: “I found out Love just ain’t enough, I need Devotion to back it up.”

      • Thing is, duty and devotion do fall under love–if you’re going by the “acting for the good of the other person” definition, rather than the “makes my heart go pitter-patter” definition.

        • Indeed. If you care about someone, and want the best for them, there *will* be conflicts. Because (as far as I know) we don’t always do right by ourselves and sometimes need someone else to apply boot to posterior in getting us moving in the right direction again.

  16. Very nicely put. Thank you.

  17. In my 67 years I’ve had a good many serious relationships, but only two deep and abiding loves. In both cases the women managed to seriously and permanently violate my trust. The first two years in by finding herself a “better” catch. The second by venting her own unhappiness through mental, verbal, and physical abuse. Both times I spent far too long doing everything in my power to try to make things right to no avail.
    So when recently a close friend also betrayed my trust in a most hurtful fashion I simply walked away and severed all ties with her.
    I suppose that makes me a bitter old man, but for just today I think I choose to wallow in a bit of regret for what might have been.

    • You know the parable of the scorpion and the river crossing?

      A lot of perfectly good relationships founder when that happens.

    • Tbh it’s a major liability. Lots of folks my age being taught not to marry or even have romantic interest outside of lust.

      • Not trying to just be as negative cynic. Of coworkers ive had, for every one married I’ve had two not. And usually contentious and long term harmful. And I come from an intact family so already should be more positive toward it than all the children of divorce.

    • *sorrow*
      I wish I could fix it.

  18. I wouldn’t be happy being controlled

    Beloved Spouse and I agree that I have complete control. This is accomplished by never, ever, suggesting Beloved Spouse do anything Beloved Spouse is not already doing/willing to do.

    Never give an order you know will be disobeyed is as important in relationships as any other venue.

    • “How did you make it to 75 years?” the great grandson asked his grandfather, at his 75th wedding anniversary.
      He looks over at his wife, smiled, and said:
      “When we were married, we agreed: in all things small, she decided, in all things big, I would decide. And wouldn’t you know it, in seventy five years there has never been a single big thing?”

      ******
      Seriously, Elf has the final say. Because someone has to have it, and he’s not an idiot– if my eyebrows start going up and there’s time, he tries to find out what information I’m missing that I still disagree. Sometimes we find out there’s a mutual mismatch.

    • I always got the last word in any argument, and that word was “Yes, Dear.”

  19. some of us are really weird, and even finding one person was a miracle

    I suspect that looking for that perfect soul mate causes folk to overlook/reject an awful lot of perfectly adequate mates who, over time, can become that perfect fit.

    • What I said, up-thread. A check-list of perfection in a potential mate is a road-map to eventual appointment’s.

    • The perfect being the enemy of the good? Perish the thought! Why, where would all that perfectly good angst go, if it were thwarted so easily, eh? Politicians and reporters are having a hard enough time as it is!

      *chuckle*

      • The perfect being the enemy of the good is why I have always told people that said they had found a new love online to meet them in person as soon as possible. Because during the time between when they get interested online and the time they actually meet they are building up mental images of each other, and those images are often 90% fantasy.

        -He would never leave the toilet seat up, forget to carry out the trash or put the toilet paper roll on the wrong way. (Abd he’d CERTAINLY never put things in the wrong cabinet in the kitchen.)

        -She would never take over all closet space, fill all available space on flat surfaces in the bathroom with cosmetics and toiletries, or risk strangling you by hanging her pantyhose in the shower to dry.

        Let this go on a few months and each has an image in their mind of the other that no mere mortal can match.

        • I think that WordPress hates me tonight. Every time I want to make a comment it tells me that I haven’t filled out the sign in data correctly. I have to log out or at least change and change back to post another comment.

    • Or alas, you feel that you could never be that perfect match for that person. ‘I am not worthy.’ can be as soul crushing as ‘You are not.’
      Self-hate is as bad an emotion as any other. 😦

  20. In my rotation regency romances are usually for ‘I’m exhausted, just finished a book, don’t feel so well.’

    The summer after my first year of college I had an impacted wisdom tooth removed and the infection got into the jaw muscle, causing it to cramp simulating lockjaw. Over two weeks I lost ten percent of my body weight and experienced an uninterrupted headache near enough to a migraine to be indistinguishable, and I found all that I could read* were Heinlein juveniles and Larry Niven.

    Sometimes you just need popcorn for your eyes.

    *Hey! I was sick and miserable and in mind-numbing pain, not dead! I was going to read.

    • “I found all that I could read* were Heinlein juveniles and Larry Niven.”
      RES you are a Wallaby of exceptional good taste. I have a few things I tend toward when I want “comfort food” reading
      1) Hobbit/Lord of the Rings
      2) Heinlein (especially the juveniles and earlier stuff)
      3) E.E. “Doc” Smith Lensman and Skylark
      4) Humorous SciFi/fantasy ( What Mad Universe, Men in the walls, Expecting someone taller, Flying Sorcerers)
      All of this stuff I read when I first started reading SciFi

  21. “Which is good because one can’t re-read Heyer forever, just like one can’t just re-read Heinlein forever.”

    Wait..what did you just say??

    https://i1.wp.com/www.powerlineblog.com/ed-assets/2019/01/Cat-reading.png?w=748&ssl=1

    • Sigh. Of course I read Heinlein over again about once a year. But it can’t be ALL I read.

      • WHAT IF — someone wrote a book with a Heyer-like plot in a Heinlein-like universe?
        Oh yeah…
        Quite a few of The Dean’s romances would pass muster in a Heyer-universe, and Georgette’s very-independent ladies have some pretty feisty descendants in the Future.

        • Correct me if I am wrong, but weren’t some of the later (Imperial Auditor) tales of Miles Vorkosigan Heyer meets Heinlein? Certainly Bujold admits the Heyer influence (even if it came after the fact) in those stories, and the RAH seems strong i that one.

          • She specifically dedicated A Civil Campaign to Heyer. (As well as several other Grand Dames of excellent stories.)

            And that one–it is my absolute favorite of the series–is very, *very* much a Heyer plot in a scifi setting.

            • The first Bujold book I read was “Diplomatic Immunity”, which I found in the ship’s library. Then, of course, I had to find all the others. I think I read the entire series in about a week and a half. I still use Aral’s discussion about honor in professional development training.

            • Double Star was a very Heyer kind of story. Except there were no twins.

  22. “just like one can’t just re-read Heinlein forever”
    You can’t?
    Well reading ONLY Heinlein would not be good, if that is what you mean.
    But if you don’t re-read Heinlein, how do you discover all the stuff you missed or were too young to see the last time???

  23. I married my best friend at a time in life when I was far to young and dumb to do anything that smart on purpose. The sex was never stellar, and her mental health issues soon ended our attempts. Fortunately for me she is not threatened by porn, and our companionship more than makes up for lack of sex.

    Love, in the romantic sense, comes and goes. Love, in the sense of intense liking, remains at almost all times and when it too fails, we work on getting it back.

    She has helped me grow to the point where my late Father told me that I reminded him of HIS father, whom he idolized.

    The glow from that has carried me through a lot.

    We watched a lot of her co-workers hit their 30’s and panic because they hadn’t found their True Love. We saw them doing dating services and talk about marrying people they had know for less than half a year. And most of them are working on divorce #2 or 3.

    We’ve had dark patches. No cheating, but other problems. We worked on it. We have had good luck with therpists, and kept in mind at all times that a therapist who wantd to force your relationship into a mold needs to be fired.

    *shrug*

    I got lucky.

  24. There are some of us who are just unlucky, just too odd, whatever to have found anyone. That has always been a problem. It is still a large problem.
    I have no idea how to solve it or if it is even possible to solve.
    But it is lonely and sad when you know your blood line ends with you.
    You get to have lots of THINGS.

    • It is sad and lonely, and being married isn’t a guarantee of avoiding it.

      • This. If one’s got to be sad and lonely, might be better to do it on one’s own. Or in the company of one or two good friends.

        • Eh, I’m glad I’m married instead of dealing with being barren on my own.

          I like to analogize us this way: I’m the sail and he’s the keel. Just because I’m the one everyone sees doesn’t mean I could survive without the one they don’t really notice.

    • When we got married, it was too late for kids. It was the first marriage for both of us, and it took a while to do such. We’ve been married 2.5 times the length of our relationship time before marriage, and it’s working.

      (We met at a commercial get-together function. The person behind it had a sideline in Russian mail order brides, but the monthly happehings weren’t sketchy. Met one month, I got shy, attended the next month (she wasn’t there) and we met again the third month. I asked, she said yes, and lots of life has happened together, good, bad and weird. I’m the Odd, mostly. OTOH, she’s not put off by Odds, nor Engineers. 🙂

      TL;DR: It can happen, sometimes in the obvious ways, sometimes in the oddest. Paraphrasing RAH (too tired to look it up): Of course Sometimes the game is rigged, but if you don’t bet you never can win.

    • Yeah.

      At times.

      Though being alone is generally my go-to trick to avoid loneliness.

  25. “And just because you can’t feel an emotion it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. ”
    Or, just because you can’t express it in socially-conventional fashions.
    As I once explained to a fellow ODD in programming: Geeks don’t usually come with gushy GUIs.

    • This needs to be on a T-shirt. Or something. I’d buy a shirt with “Geeks don’t come with gushy GUIs”

  26. “Recently I bought — because my friend Dorothy keeps talking about it! — the seven love languages, which I think I’ll pass on to son and lovely fiance.”
    AesopSpouse and I went throught the Five Love Languages Book some time ago, and gave copies to all our sons of the adaptation specifically for guys.
    We discovered that the “words of affirmation” didn’t work for either of us when it was expressed in the “way to go!” platitudes of the participation-trophy era, but when modified to express “words of respect” (as in, “that was a very well done job”)* it came even with “acts of service” for both of us.

  27. Valentine’s day is a little depressing for me these days. After my second divorce, I realized that my kids weren’t dealing well with me dating. So I stopped. My kids happiness was (still is) more important to me than my own, and I always assumed that I could start dating again when they got old enough to handle it. Except now, 12 years later, I’ve gotten so used to being single I’m now having trouble figuring out how I would fit anyone into my life, even IF I could remember how to find someone.

    I remember what it was like dating way back when but i can’t even imagine myself acting like that now. It would be ridiculous at my age.

    • Relax. With luck, you will find a friend you want to stay with for the rest of your life. And nothing less is worth marrying. Don’t worry about dating; that can come after. My Lady and I used to go on dates regularly, in spite of being married.

      Less so now, because she has mobility issues.

      I never ‘dated’ as such. And most of the successful marriages I know are people who were friends for a long time. They may have done stuff together, but they didn’t exactly ‘date’.

      • Yep. Started dating, then doing stuff together.

        Romantic proposal, when I’d been laid off:
        Me: “We might as well get married.”
        She: “Yeah. Shall we do it at the courthouse?”
        Me: “Yeah.”

        It worked.

        • Were in same school of college at the university club & micro social groups, even though he was older than me & a few years ahead in the program. After he graduated & during my 4th year, there was a retirement at the same district we both worked at seasonally in different departments.

          Him: Hey that dinner, do you want to go together.
          Me: Sure.
          Get home: One GSD with salmon poisoning. All over the kitchen & bathroom of my studio apartment. He stayed to help me get her into the shower in the bathroom so I could clean her up … while he cleaned the floors. Then he stayed & just held me until I could load her to take her to the vet. Yes. She survived.

          This was April. We were engaged by August. Married in December; 40 years ago. But then we’d known each other for 4 years by then. If I’d have taken him home when we first met, he wouldn’t have survived. He’s 5 years older than I am. I was 17 when I started college (6 weeks short of 18, but still). Guess he just needed me to grow up some 😉

        • My husband and I met on my first day of college in the engineering study lounge. He had the smoothest pickup line ever:
          “Whoa! A woman!”

          • “My husband and I met on my first day of college in the engineering study lounge. He had the smoothest pickup line ever:
            “Whoa! A woman!””

            Forestry … have been the target of that a few times. Hubby & I met through the Forestry Club. We never had classes or worked together until after we were married.

          • “Whoa! A woman!”

            THAT’s what I’m doing wrong… I usually go with:

            “Hey babe; you, me, and a stick of butter.” LOL!

            • I’m fairly sure if younger son found a woman anywhere near his classes, he’d do the same.
              Depending on how barbaric he’s feeling, he might put her under one arm and run with her into the night before anyone else sees her.
              They’re rarer than hair on frogs, women in engineering.

              • At our engineering university, the saying for the women was “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” And mostly Odd, too.

                For the men, it was “the girls are like the parking spaces: if they’re not handicapped, they’re taken.”

                • As noted in one of my posts above that motto on the men still holds true in engineering schools as of 2018 when my younger daughter graduated from the OTHER engineering school in Massachusetts.

                  And having attended the same school when the ratio was 7-1
                  men to women the male observation was also correct (and the handicapped were mostly taken too). There was a reason that the Glee club had a nearly 90 member attendance. We sang with several local Women’s Colleges (almost said Girls schools 🙂 on a regular basis. I luckily met a young lady who lived in a nearby town and as a high school senior came with some of her girl friends to the school to (notionally) visit some other freshman from their school. One roomed next door to me. She decided she liked the school and the undergraduate body (or at least one of them) and so I got to import my OWN woman (and if you believe this was solely my idea I have a bridge and an Amazon HQ to sell you…). This worked so well that I’m still married to that lovely lady nearly 40 years after we met…

        • You crazy impetuous kids!

    • There is that. You pick up habits and stuff and other things — as any potential spouses are — and then there’s the question of whether you could fit together.

  28. Wendy Delmater Thies

    This is the most beautiful valentine I have ever read.

  29. 40 years (last December) with my best friend. Don’t know else how to put it.

  30. Love is … Lust plus Commitment. The lust from heart, and loins. The commitment from brains & will. The choice, daily, to love your beloved. Not to always agree (tho mostly), not to always like the same things (but mostly, or at least enough?), not to always be in the same moods. But to always try to treat the other well.

    Soul mates are made, not found. More science is showing that your thoughts help shape your brain — physically.

    Here’s my own lust enhancing secret: when I see another lovely, I fantasize about wife in a future that is similar to a past love session. It will be 25 years together this year.

    Love – lust and commitment.

  31. I’m not a hundred percent sure who came up with the idea of soul mates, because mostly I hear it from new agers, and minutes later there is something about my aura and crystals and such.

    First reported use is Samuel Taylor Coleridge, context: , “To be happy in Marriage Life, nay … in order not to be miserable, you must have a Soul-mate as well as a House or a Yoke-mate….”

    Founded the Romantic movement, of which I know nothing but the name.

  32. Trust is the most important part of marriage. Would you go into business with someone who said “I will work with you, but only if there are no problems.”? For someone to cover your back, you have to trust them.

    The problem is that none of us are perfect, this is why forgiveness is so important. The problem for men is that women have better memories, so have more to forgive.

    So the marriage vows should ask: “Do you trust this person?” You are looking for a companion on the road of life. Marry your opposite. The hoarder to one who would throw everything out. The writer to the editor. Then learn to see through the eyes of someone who sees what you don’t see.

    • the ‘marry your opposite’ theory, i feel, has major flaws and is a sure route to strife.

      • It sure leads to some bizarre “huh…” moments. Like when I found out that my second wife (absolute City Kid, to my farm boy) couldn’t bring herself to eat a grapefruit that I picked for her, because she had actually seen it on the tree. Seeing food growing on a plant (tree), then picking and eating it was so alien to her that she couldn’t bring herself to even try it. It didn’t cause a fight or anything, because by that point, I was pretty well used to her bizarre City Kid ways. I did point out that every singe grapefruit that she had ever eaten grew on a tree, in the very same way. “But I didn’t have to SEE it!” was her reply. Like seeing food grow was indecent or something.

        • …All I can figure here is that this is somehow, to her, equivalent to my not really wanting to watch a lamb slaughtered…

          ….but I’m still confused.

          • Some people think anything touching anything else is gross. They need hermetic seals between food and nature.

            The latest one is that it is gross to brown something like a pre-baked pretzel directly on an oven rack. Because other pre-cooked pretzels would also be browned on the oven rack, and they would touch each other by proxy.brown

            So the new regulation is to brown all pretzels on a pan. The same pan, all day, or at least for four hours. Because all being cooked in the same pan is different than all being cooked on the same oven rack.

            • I think the mindset is silly; but I am sympathetic to the idea that people should be allowed foibles, not grossed out on purpose. People can be given time to grow out of foibles, unless it is an emergency and they really need to get over it immediately.

          • I figured it was part of that disconnect that City Folk sometimes have only taken to the next level.

            Teacher: “Where does Milk come from?”
            City denizen: “The supermarket!”

            Although, it might have had something to do with the fact that she saw that grapefruit on the tree for weeks, ripening from green to yellow. Outside, where it could get dirty. With zero refrigeration. She didn’t even buy whole grapefruit at the store, she bought already-cut-up grapefruit in a jar from the refrigerator case, so in her eyes, of course grapefruit goes bad without refrigeration.

            Imagine the day she noticed a little bit of chicken poo still stuck on the shell of the fresh eggs I bought (unbeknownst by her) from a farmers market. LOL!!! Good times. She was goofy, but I really did love her.

      • Right. You need to be opposite in CERTAIN ways. And heck, we’re still more alike than not, both being introverted and well, for lack of a better word “intellectual” (Aka thinking too much.)
        Dan is more outgoing than I (hard to be less, particularly as I get older. My default mode is in my office snarling “let me write.”) Better at keeping social ties. And more confident on my behalf.

        • My wife and I found Harville Hendrix’ book very illuminating on the “marry your opposite” part. He surmises that those of us with childhood issues are naturally attracted to the person of opposite sex who shares the traits we found most troublesome in our more difficult parent. Subconsciously we want to recreate the child-parent relationship, but this time it will work because the other half really loves us. Recognizing that syndrome when it occurs, can be very calming.

          • Dan is not my mom. Thank heavens.

            • Think how much it would simplify those Mothers’ Day phone calls.

            • And my wife is NOT my mom (thank heavens for that and G*d rest my moms soul…). In fact we have sought out people that are quite different from our parents. What seems to work is to have some similarities, but to also have complementary strengths. There are things that my beloved wife finds extremely stressful that I do for her or with her and vice versa. It’s almost a symbiotic relationship when it works right. The thing that can be dangerous is that sometimes people will use that advantage to control their spouse. That’s when things can really go bad. Look at those things that love is not from the passage in 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 and you’ll see how things can get bad.

        • I really like Neil Clark Warren’s (the founder of eHarmony) books on the subject of compatibility and the many dimensions thereof. Some of which were “opposed” and some were complementary, but regardless of which kind, it was important to pair them properly. Complementary dimensions should not be opposite, and vice versa.

      • Marry your opposite for strife, marry the person like you for having all your flaws reinforced. . . life is full of trade-offs.

    • Marry your opposite.

      Marry some one who compliments you and whom you compliment.

      • Head –> desk

        complementary … complement

        Oh the joys of our language, of dyslexia and of not being helped one bit by spell check.

        • Happens. I saw, realized what it was, and went meh.
          Let her who is without typos throw the first stone.

          • Yep. I only get to change my sentence structure when I know the alternative words being displayed aren’t even close. If they are close, then I can be tricked into using the wrong word. Used to bother me, a lot. Being over 60, now … well I know it isn’t a sign of dementia or alzheimer onset because, guess what, NOT new news. It is worse when I’m speaking. Spelling is not the problem, but pronunciation is.

            Anyone gives me a bad time about it? You know what that teenage “Whatever!” + vague wave, is just as irritating when you are over 60 🙂 😉 … Bonus. FYI. Comes under with great power comes great responsibility … use cautiously.

  33. I want to believe in the love that my parents have. It’s a partnership, it’s the sort of thing that there are things that frustrate my Dad about my Mom (Mom doesn’t so much pinch pennies as “extraordinary rendition” pennies) and things that frustrate Mom about Dad (Dad likes to shortcut the OODA loop as much as he can, by trying to be the one to move the Orient cycle to the Observe cycle), but they still love and care about each other.

    Oh, I want passion, eroticism, and a reason to get more limber, but I want that partnership first.

    • For me it’s what my grandparents had. Sixty years, six children, fifteen grandchildren. My grandfather is still the ideal I measure men against, and he is nearing ninety. I’m really hoping to be able to bring someone home to him for his approval before he leaves me. Fortunately he’s still pretyy spry.

    • I want to believe in the love that my parents have. It’s a partnership…
      Oh, I want passion, eroticism, and a reason to get more limber, but I want that partnership first.

      One thing I’ve come to understand…real well…is that there are people who have largely given up (often from a tragically young age) on that “partnership” aspect. They don’t see it as ever happening. There are many reasons of greater or lesser validity why that might be the case but the degree of validity or lack thereof doesn’t change how they feel about it. And, so, having no expectation of that lifelong partnership aspect, they might as well get at least what little bit they can.

      In fiction, this plays a role in the fourth “Sword of Truth” book by Terry Goodkind (“Temple of the Winds”). Kahlan is forced to marry someone other than her “true love” (the main character, Richard) and decides during the wedding night (which must proceed in silence and total darkness for…reasons) that if she can’t have her true love she can at least take some comfort in…that. Only it was her true love and he knew it was her and was very put out at her being so wanton with someone that she thought wasn’t him and… this was the point where I really lost interest in the series. I pressed on through that book and one more but when you lose respect for the main character that’s kind of it for a book.

      • “Sword of Truth” You missed the real reason Kahlan couldn’t wed, or touch really, her true love. Don’t get me wrong, I got really tired of the sub trope too. But since my sister was really into the series, I got the books free; I finished the first series. That part I will give away … turns out True Love was the only thing that allowed them to be together & him not suffer from her magical condition. Since True Love was contingent, part of their partnership …

        • “Sword of Truth” You missed the real reason Kahlan couldn’t wed, or touch really, her true love.

          That was actually resolved by the end of the first or second book (it’s been a while). Apparently, since Richard already had “true love” for her he was immune to her Confessor power. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler at this late date, and as it happened the guy she thought she was being forced to marry was immune for other reasons.) Goodkind then played a lot of games to keep them physically apart until the scene I referenced above.

          Eventually, of course, Richard realized what was going on in her head (by analogy to when he was being held prisoner by those leather clad BDSM women–the books could get a bit strange) but by that time I’d lost all respect for the character.

          • Was it that early in the series? Don’t remember. Been a long time since I’ve read them. Not series I re-read. I vaguely remember, that yes, the reader was aware of the true situation, whether it was explicitly stated or not, but because the two kept getting separated, neither of them were, although they should have been; yes, very irritating. On the other stuff … yea, I skipped a LOT of pages. Probably missed a lot of material besides the scenes I wanted to, but that’s what happens when one skips over material.

          • I recall reading the first book in high school, and being greatly put off both by the nonsense with the whole Richard/Kahlan thing (I was losing my taste for romantic angst even then, heh), and then the whole BDSM thing that just felt way too creepy and voyeuristic for words, at least to teen me. I tried again, years later, and just found it all boring.

          • I bounced off the first book pretty hard. I read the first, but had no desire to read further.

  34. can’t reread Heinlein? hogwash. *clicks starship.pdf

  35. Mum was reminiscing about her first Valentines with my Dad. He was broke, had no money, so he waded into the lagoon (in the University) and got a water lily flower, asked a friend to print out a rose on a stiff paper and wrote a poem.

    In the later years, Valentines was a different thing; he made a point of buying roses for all his female staff; they’d get a single rose with a spray of baby’s breath that we’d be putting together the day before; apparently it cheered them up if they were single, and it was a nice gesture if they weren’t. For Mum he’d get a dozen of her favorite roses (peach colored ones) or beautiful large red ones, and he’d give me half a dozen (before I told him I’d rather chocolate because I could eat them. He lamented that I was prosaic, and I said nooo, route to my heart is stomach nomnom, which made him laugh.)

    It’s from Dad I learned to celebrate Valentines as a celebration of not just romantic love; I gave my friends a rose each back then.

    • I’ll admit that I’ve forbidden dead roses on Valentines and Mothers days. The reason isn’t that I don’t like roses or cut flowers, I do! I like them a lot. But supply and demand is not in the consumer’s favor on those days.

      My husband bought us a couple’s dinner and shooting package this year (though we have to decide when to cash it in). Dinner at the place next to the range and then ammo, gun rentals (if we need them), and a lane. 🙂

      • I love roses too; but a potted rose means I can enjoy it for longer. (Romantic and practical!)

      • (Gah. Touchpad went and poked send.)

        And shooting package! I’m cheerfully jealous because that sounds like so much fun! Enjoy when it happens! ^o^

        I’ve generally told people that I’m easy to shop for: Ask me if there’s a book I’d like to have. Chocolate is also a pretty good present for me.

        I made Rhys an especially yummy home cooked dinner and dessert, because he won’t be home this weekend. He surprised me with chocolates last week. But my real Valentines gift for him I’m hoping will get here soon and references something from our early role-playing online days.

  36. Geoff Withnell

    Re: Love vs lust
    When my wife Michele and I had been married 20 years, an acquaintance said he could not imagine being with only one woman for 20 years. My reply was “There is something to be said for being with a woman who has spent decades learning all your buttons – and how to find them in the dark!” Going on 48 years now, and we still love and lust each other.

  37. Was meaning to mention yesterday, Christianity isn’t much of a hold-out to the “one true love” problem, it just gets rebranded as the “one God intended”. And what if you’re wrong about who that is and make a mistake?

    • Yeah. I struggled with that concept for a long time. Accepting that love is a choice and neither fate nor some feeling of “God’s will” that He never bothers to notarize is enormously helpful.

  38. Violent agreement, heh. Wonderful and touching article. Though I must say after 15 years we are still in mighty lust with each other.

    • It goes on. We know it must stop at some point, because… age? but we’re hoping to have decades yet.

      • Yes it goes on. and some day it will stop as all things this side of heaven must. But on the decades front, for you and all the folks here may it be so, from your lips to the Authors ears…