Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Life Less Ordinary

This exchange takes place in the film “A Life Less Ordinary” (which I think is HIGHLY underrated, incidentally... although it is not what this post is about):

Al: Nice-looking woman.

Robert: She isn't my type.

Al: What are you talking about? Look at yourself.You're nothing. You're nobody. You're wanted in connection with a violent crime. You're cleaning the floor of a diner. She is an intelligent, passionate, beautiful, rich woman. The issue of whether or not she's your type is not one that you're likely to have to resolve in this world... or, indeed, the next, since she will be going to some heaven for glamorous pussy, and you will be cleaning the floor of a diner in hell.

Robert: I guess so.

Al: So WHY are you even THINKING about it?

Al makes a good point, my friends.

I don’t understand men who go into a relationship with a woman and - in spite of all evidence to the contrary - assume they are in control, that they have the upper hand. As if all women are so desperate to get a rock on their finger and a warm body in their bed that men think they have some intrinsic mystical power over us. Some men seem to believe that just because they are running around with male genitalia, they are special and powerful (bad news, boys, you are one amongst millions and statistically unlikely to be the most impressive specimen to cross our paths). I have no idea why, but I meet so many women who are insecure for no good reason and so many men who are supremely confident for - again - no good reason.

We’ve all seen it - the lopsided relationship. I mean, sometimes the less attractive or less outwardly impressive of the two is also an incredible, amazing and brilliant person and the relationship ISN’T lopsided. We’re just not seeing the whole picture. But I have seen far too many women in seriously lopsided relationships just because they have no concept of their own value.

A close female friend is in a decidedly lopsided dating situation. She is pretty, intelligent, very funny and incredibly good natured. She is gainfully employed, not skinny but of a good average weight, has a nice family and tons of close and (need I say it?) fantastic friends. She is dating a man who is very short, plain, ten years older than her, earns a middle-of-the-road wage, has a weird co-dependent relationship with his ex-wife and a poorly arranged childcare plan for his 2 year old child. None of these things would be remotely relevant if he were a really great person, but he is in no way remarkable. He isn't even unusually clever. She just likes him. I don’t know why. This would be all very well and fine but for some reason he is in the driver’s seat. He dangles the possibility of making her his “official” girlfriend in front of her, he refuses to tell his ex-wife she exists, and he says he can’t introduce her to his friends because he hasn’t got any.

How does this happen? Whether this commitment phobic, blah little man deems my sweet, vivacious 20-something friend worthy of holding onto was a situation unlikely to come up in this or any other lifetime. For some bizarre reason, however, it has. And he’s wasting time telling her that he’s still thinking about it and needling her with jokes about how crazy SHE is about HIM. Like some half-mad little relationship Napoleon, he bungles all over the place, thrilled to be the conqueror and completely oblivious that she is about ten minutes away from ditching him. And what’s worse, she HASN’T ditched him already. I don’t even know which if them is crazier at this point.

Once a relationship reaches a point where it is sufficiently lopsided that either party has “the upper hand,” it is doomed. Relationships that become power struggles don’t last (unless you’re into that kind of thing and relegate it to the bedroom) or they certainly SHOULDN'T. Sure, there are minor power struggles in every aspect of everyday life, but as soon as I know that I am without a doubt in CONTROL in a dating situation OR as soon as the other person tries to exert CONTROL... well, that’s it for me.

In the meantime, I want to walk up and smack this irritating little man on the head and say, "Wake up to yourself! She's amazing. You're a schmo. Either mortgage your soul trying to keep and deserve her or go the hell away!"


  1. I love that you used the word schmo...

    I'm sure it's equally as crazy that it's now almost 2 weeks later and she hasn't walked but if it's any consolation she intends to... He made her cry today and that's not ok...

    So keep your chin up, cause your friend is smart enough to give things her best shot but walk away before she looses her self and what she's about over a man who's proven himself to be not worth it.

  2. Fast forward 9 months... The friend is rid of the "schmo" and in love with a wonderful man who makes her happier than she's ever been. But she still finds it funny that the schmo hasn't changed. He's dating a woman for a few months, they talk and decide it's a "relationship" but when he talks about her to other people he doesn't use her name or "my girlfriend" it's still "the girl i'm seeing".... I think schmo's are giving the rest of mankind a bad name...