You went out three nights ago, had a great time on the date, and no word. What do you do? Call her or him? Email? Wait? You probably call your best friend (who happens to also be single – doesn’t that say something?) and ask them what to do. Thus begins the strategy ritual, where thinking through the relationship replaces living through it. Do love strategies get you who you want or do you end up getting who you don’t want?
Strategy became a popular buzzword in our culture within the last 10 to 15 years. It typically referenced business movement and analysis but it permeated the urban landscape when relationships became the stuff of strategy and innuendo. A strategy is designed to get us desired results. In business, we can dissect many components, compartmentalize the business sectors and generate a blueprint to be followed through to success or failure. The thinking is that success is the result more often than failure and thus strategies serve the business community well.
In love, or attempts at loving others, there is much the same notion that strategizing moves and inferences will create successful encounters. As such, we hide things about ourselves in the discovery phase, overlook things about others, and create “half-truths” and even outright lies to move the relationship the way we desire. We also become more strategic about designing love than responding to or being open to love. It’s as if we have decided to play God with relationships, deciding what they will or won’t be before they even have the chance to ripen and unfold. Does getting the person whom we want and strategize ultimately make us happy? I don’t believe so.
Strategies are designed to give us a desired outcome. Attaining those outcomes establishes us as good planners. Little is left to chance, and so there aren’t a lot of possible outcomes, which haven’t been addressed. In love, the more we get what we planned, the less we believe it is real. We have become so talented at manipulating relationships that we lose the joy of being chosen by another. When that ring is ultimately placed on the finger, it’s a passionless experience where we know we orchestrated events perfectly and now we have to live with our desired outcome. It’s hard to determine that free will played a role in the outcome and I will forever doubt the integrity of the relationship. It looks great on paper and in the society section of the newspaper, but sitting across from my other half – well that just doesn’t feel as comfortable.
If my desired outcome is to be chosen and loved freely by another, I just negotiated myself right out of that deal. In the process of getting the person I wanted, there was one important thing missing – the person. I objectified them to the point of knowing exactly the pedigree I sought – the looks, professional stamina, perception in the community and on and on. Now I would find myself living with the perfect person, void of the perfect emotional expression – love. And then there are the many things I created as half-truths about myself in the experience that now must be forever hidden from my other half. Worrying about “being myself” replaces living freely and authentically.
Mergers between two people can be more successfully orchestrated through strategy than true love. And if you’re looking for a merger that makes sense, try it. Those will be the couples seen at restaurants on a Friday or Saturday night who show little joy at their company, but have reports and periodicals to share with their spouse.
The celebration of life becomes mired down in petty urban relationship myths we live by and renders me on the other side of true love when I think through and plot and scheme the details of love. I think I’ll take the bumps and bruises of rejection and imperfection and look for a person who appreciates and loves me for the goofy things I do and the unique aspects of me. I might not end up on the cover of Town and Country – in fact, I am pretty sure I won’t, but the odds are also better that I won’t end up in a deadbeat relationship in which both of us race from the dinner table, set impeccably with Christofle silverware and Wedgewood china, to get on the internet and see which fantasy lover has written an email tonight.