and I fight about the STUPIDEST shit. Yesterday, it was her against
the fact that I canceled plans on my one of my best (and coincidentally
ex-gf) friends in an attempt to see her (which fell through), and
she didn't want me "using that against her" or something
later. Right? It sucks. Those fights suck. I'm still trying to hone
my "don't use logic, use i'm fucking pissed" sense about
these things per your FAQ. But we're still together after months of
on and off, happy and sad, yadda yadda yadda. You know the stuff.
do I/we put up with each other because we feel some commitment/connection/love
for the other person, or because we are just stubborn perfectionists
and giving up/walking away/ generally losing the relationship battle
isn't in our nature?
Is there a
way I can differentiate from what I'm committing to out of love (assuming
I feel it), and what I do out of habit/personality? I'm trying to
figure out if I'm fighting this losing battle because I care about
her/us, or because I desperately don't want to lose, or
because I'm afraid I won't find anyone better. If it matters, this
is the longest, most intimate relationship I've ever had (almost a
year) and I've never fought with anyone in my life as much as I fight
Okay, there are
several layers here. The first layer is obvious and universal and
relates to a question you did not ask: which is why do you guys fight
so often about such stupid shit? The answer, which everyone knows
and does not believe, is that two human beings engaged in doing anything
together whatsoever are supposed to spend the entire doing things
together time period fighting intensely over single stupid fucking
thing you can possibly imagine.
By this I do not
mean that two people in love should spend their lives fighting with
each other over trivia. I mean two people of any sort.
brothers. Two sisters. Two neighbors. Two classmates. Two friends.
Two anything. Now, nobody can actually live this way, so what people
do in order to survive is figure out how not to do things together!
So, for example,
a pair of people who have been married for a long time may figure
out that when they are in the same car together, they are not actually
going somewhere together. Actually, one person is driving and another
person is fantasizing about ways to spend money. They are not spending
their lives raising children together. Instead, they are each in turn
waiting impatiently while the other one fucks up raising children.
An old retired man will figure out that when his wife is making a
sandwich for him, they are not actually making lunch together,
and therefore he better keep his fucking mouth shut if he ever wants
to eat again.
Even sex is
not something that two people do together if they want to live
through it in a pleasant and enjoyable fashion and experience it again
with the same person. A wise and prudent person learns that her husband
does not need to know the details of all the people that she fantasy-fucks
while he is laboring away and the wise and prudent husband is not
letting his wife know the thoughts that are going through his mind
during this crucial bonding period or why.
And so it goes.
For siblings, neighbors, friends, even people and their dogs. A dog
owner with any brains learns that he is not walking with his dog.
He is walking behind his dog while his dog sniffs things that seemingly
ought better to be left unsniffed. They are not doing the same thing.
that if you want to get anything done with someone you work with,
you'll damn well figure out how not to do it with the person you're
working with. I had a writing partner for years. We greatly enjoyed
working with each other because we figured out how to produce most
of our work without actually writing it together. When we had to write
it together, we fought about every single word. When
things went well, we sometimes fought about who should get the credit
for it. Fortunately, our fights were hilarious good fun and when we
fought about credit, we would always insist that it was the other
one who deserved it. But the principle remains: We were able to get
things written because we sat down right next to each other and still
managed to not be writing together. We took turns writing while the
other one pretended she was interested.
pathetic and yet entirely understandable sense, you and your GF have
simply not yet figured out (after almost a year) how not to do things
The fight you
described is a classic example. Your girlfriend was informing you
that the two of you were NOT making a joint decision about who you
would spend time with. You were making your own fucking decision joker,
so don't go blaming it on her!
It can take awhile
to figure out how not to do things together. It takes some people
decades. Others never figure it out. But until you figure it out,
you will continue to fight over everything imaginable and some things
you can't even identify.
At this point,
a little light bulb should be going on over your head. Not a physical
material light bulb because that is wasteful of electricity (unless
you are using one of those new energy-efficient bulbs, then it is
okay), but a cartoon light bulb, such as one sees in
The cartoon light
bulb should be appearing as a metaphorical indicator of your vast
and hitherto unused intelligence. Of course!
This is why you
described the dilemma in the terms that you did. You knew instinctively
that there was a battle for control going on that neither of you wanted
to lose. The battle for control will go away when you stop trying
to do things together.
You will end up
essentially negotiating who is doing what when and the two of you
will stop trying to do them at the same time. You'll do grown-up and
intensely unininteresting things like "set boundaries,"
"stop scraping on each other's last nerves," "stop
accidentally hurting each other's feelings over incomprehensibly tiny
decisions," "negotiate important decisions as separate adults
with full and equal respect for each other's opinions." Or
the deal. Not too long ago I saw a young married couple with an infant
child fighting over opening the trunk of their car. You would
think that there is not much to opening the trunk of a car. Little
area for dispute there, you might think. But oh, you'd be wrong. Not
only is there room for dispute, the woman in question said out loud
that "Maybe we ought to just get a divorce." This is
Not fun, but normal.
Because when people get together, their wily Sex Brains often cajole,
manipulate and coerce them into attempting to Do Things Together
as a means of establishing precedent for the Cooperative Enterprise
of Joint Survival while ensuring that the little wriggling human
bundles that carry their Joint Genes do not die.
Now, you may consciously
or unconsciously think "I am in no way planning to produce little
wriggling human bundles of Joint Genes with my current girlfriend,
so there is no need whatsoever for Cooperative Enterprises of any
sort. It's just silly and painful!" And you might even be right
if you consciously or unconsciously think this way.
But tough. Because
the wily Sex Brain perceives the need for Practice Painful Cooperative
Enterprises, and almost as soon as you start sleeping with someone
it will trick you into setting them up. I have been duped by the wily
Sex Brain in this fashion many a time, and it took me quite awhile
to catch on to the game. The fact that I ever did somewhat amazes
me. But I did and have established through Close Observation and Intensive
Personal Research that it is possible to avoid Cooperation almost
entirely if you remove love and affection from the equation. But
who wants to do that?
Well, maybe you.
But you need at least a smattering of decent information before you
can make this decision. So let's lay out your choices. They are:
A) Difficult Intimacy
or B) Diffident Indifference.
Either will work.
Difficult Intimacy, as you might imagine, is Difficult. It involves
getting to know another person so thoroughly that you can finish their
sentences and know their thoughts while sleeping, driving, making
love, cooking bacon, or watching TV in a hotel room 3000 miles away.
You can only get to know a person this thoroughly by fighting with
them intensely and repeatedly until you have exchanged enough Conflict
Chemicals that half the chemicals in your body are theirs anyway.
This is also known as the That Lady Looks Just Like Her Dog
syndrome. In other words, given enough intimacy two people of opposite
sexes (or even the same sex in some cases) will start to look just
like each other, which is kind of scary if you think about it really
hard because it hardly ever turns out that the ugly one looks more
like the beautiful one but more often vice versa.
You just fight your way through hell often enough and you'll Establish
Difficult Intimacy sooner or later, usually later. And then, in a
really hilarious and terrible twist of fate, you'll do the Marriage
Flip, in which you both completely change at the same time, and you
have to do the same thing all over again. Just in case you are wondering,
this is the Secret to a Happy Marriage; namely, about 14 years or
so of Near-Constant Unhappiness. Sometimes it only takes about 7 years,
but never less than that. It works really well, and if you happen
to find True Love, I highly recommend it.
on the other hand, is almost exactly the same, except with a different
outcome. In the Diffident Indifference Plan, practiced in most Western
marriages, the two parties simply learn, after being bludgeoned by
Repeated Unbearable Irritation until they give up all hope of Difficult
Intimacy, to Never Cooperate and to retreat to their separate corners
and live their lifes. Then, after awhile they realize, or one of them
realizes (usually the female) that hell, There Is No Intimacy Here,
and she leaves to go search for it somewhere else, the foolish woman.
Since you are
under no obligation at the moment to get married or even stick with
the person you are with for another week, you can try either or both
plans. You can practice Difficult Intimacy or practice Diffident Indifference.
Depends on how bad you want to quit fighting. Or...
It depends on
the answer to the question you really asked, which is whether or not
you are fighting out of Love or out of Stubbornness or some other
Personality Trait, such as Wanting Always to Be Right. The answer
to which will surprise you, as they say on my local news every fucking
night and they are always wrong, it never surprises me. And perhaps
you won't be surprised either. But you'll never know unless you click
it Love or Is it Something Else?