Archive | Love and Dating

“Financial Infidelity” Isn’t Cheating

Not long ago, The New York Times reported a list of “money disorders” linked to our economy. Overspending. Underspending (hoarding); serial borrowing (we all know what that is); financial enabling (too much money forked over to adult kids); and so forth. Stars like Wynona Judd (overspending), admitted to once buying too many cars and Harleys, but doesn’t anymore.  

But “financial infidelity” caught my eye: “Cheating on a spouse by spending and lying about it.”

Oh dear: Is that a disorder?  If I told my spouse what, say, a new ski helmet costs (which I won’t buy, but still, mine is a little shaky on my head), he’d wonder about my sanity, not to mention the new goggles required to fit over that ski helmet. I repeat: I’m not doing it, so don’t call Richard and tell him I’m cheating on him). Continue Reading →

Share

Watch Out For Love’s Changing Landscape!

Right after the new year and just before Valentine’s Day, I always like to get the feel of what’s going on with love and marriage across the nation,  and to make a few predictions for the coming year.  Here they are: Love in 2012.

1. Everyone of all ages will be dating like mad.  An unprecedented 110-million singles in America means that they—not married people–now make up the majority of households. And they’re dating! Millions of adults of all ages—30s through 70s–are  between marriages, against marrying, or on the way to remarriages.

 2. We will become increasinglystarry-eyed about marriage, even as we become increasingly disenchanted, skittish and cynical about it. It is a psychological fact that we long for, and idealize,institutions that promise safety and security. The military. The church. Marriage. Anything that was once reliable but is now increasingly fragile, and even endangered, is a prime target for our nostalgia.  I predict that, even as we divorce more often. sooner and more bitterly, we will increasingly  long for the “good old days” when marriage lasted forever. Because it so rarely does. Continue Reading →

Share

Prenups

A woman who appeared on my cable show not long ago revealed, when I announced that fifty percent of all American women will live with or marry a man with children, the following (familiar, alas) story.

She’s close to retirement and has been saving for years. Her adult son doesn’t need money, so her small stash supports the household she shares with her boyfriend of five years, a twice-divorced man  whose money mostly goes to his two young children by his second wife. My guest agreed to this arrangement, feeling strongly that his children should be his first priority, and that they could manage their household expenses together.. BUT, she says, “in  this protracted downturn, none of his money goes to our household; it all goes to his (second) ex-wife’s. I’m wondering where to draw the line. He does, after all, live here. He did, after all, make a financial commitment, albeit a small one, to our life together.”

Continue Reading →

Share

Ambivalence

A group of young men were complaining to me the other night about their live-in girlfriends. “In three months, my fiancée has been home nine nights out of sixty-two,” Elliott said. “The other nights she’s playing tennis, learning French, seeing her friends.”

“That’s terrific,” I said.

“What’s so terrific? I never see her.”

So I got to thinking about the difference between a man’s desire for more “space” and a woman’s. We ‘ll readily call his “commitmentphobia,” “intimacy problems” and “terror of dependence.” We (make that I) champion hers as “autonomy,”  “independence” and “growth.” I think it’s because for so long, a man’s “I need more space,” was a creepy code phrase for “I’m outtahere.”  A woman, though, tends to mean that she needs more independence, more room for growth and self-expansion within the relationship. 

Continue Reading →

Share

Sexy Parents, Sanctimonious Kids

 I wrote a long time ago, in response to the fact that so many women were leaving their marriages:  “In the past 25 years women have bloomed. How can we still be talking about fitting modern wives back into an ancient institution, rather than enlarging an ancient institution to make room for modern wives?” I said this on television shows, much to the horror of many hosts, who got so mad that women were leaving (and not men, as I suppose they thought was better). that they blamed me for writing about it.  

 Well they must be really mad now, because America isn’t even a married culture anymore.  That picture of ourselves talk-show hosts and politicians and so many others insist on—the happily married American couple–is a very nice picture, but it has little to do with us in the US. No, as I’ve said a million times, we’re now a dating culture. What’s more, the Pew Research Center points out that nearly four-in-ten survey respondents in the 2010 Census said they believed that marriage is becoming obsolete.

Continue Reading →

Share

“Honey, I want some…SPACE!”

More evidence that women’s attitudes toward  marriage have changed dramatically: The Pew  Research Center, which analyzes census data,  confirms what I’ve been hearing from  women:  the desire to make their own self-expansion as important as it has always been for men and children.

Women want more space in their relationships. Yes, I know, we used to mock men for saying they wanted more “space”– because it was such a cowardly euphemism for  “I’m outtahere.”  But women mean it differently: They don’t necessarily want to leave their relationships,  but they definitely want to expand; to flourish inside their relationships, just as men always have.  Hearing the word “space,” though, men tend to hear the worst: they hear the ambivalence; they  hear what they call women’s  “commitmentphobia.” Funny: That’s the very word women once used to describe their ambivalent, skittish boyfriends, the men who didn’t want to get married. 

Continue Reading →

Share

Women Surfing the Edge of Change

That an entire book has to be written about the way in which the French put pleasure first in their lives–a pleasure gleaned from a lovely long lunch; a good cheese; a natural (as opposed to a creepy or inappropriate) flirtation, makes me sad that our culture comes out so unfavorably.  It’s true that in our culture, “pleasure” seems to be a code word for sex, not a joy we breathe, not the expansive emotion, as the late William Safire wrote in his language column in The Times many years ago, “that suffuses one who has been gratified or stroked; it’s a good feeling, whether physical or intellectual.”

Continue Reading →

Share

The One Who Can Walk, Wins: The Power of the Least Interested, Part 7

In a new relationship, and maybe even in a not-so-new one, the person less dependent on the other, less in love, perhaps–holds the power.  One way the least interested wields power is simply by refusing to become more interested.

To wit: A study I set up featuring a youngish couple I was seeing for therapy, one in a rather old-fashioned dynamic. I was getting my graduate degree at the time.

The wife, Madeline, came in saying that she felt “powerless” in her marriage. Her husband, Frank, made all the decisions, she said. He might be oblivious to this fact, she added,, and might want to believe otherwise, but their lives revolved around his desires, not hers. She felt this truth passionately, but had difficulty articulating the myriad ways in which her powerlessness was manifested—and how it diminished her. From what they ate for dinner to what they saw at the movies, she felt she had little say. Why? “Because I don’t decide how we spend the money, nor do I have access to our money.” Continue Reading →

Share

Schools, Too, Are Like Love: The Power of the Least Interested, part 5

So if this kid doesn’t want to be in school, and the teacher wants him to be, who wins?  Welcome to The Power of The Least Interested inside the school room.

Teacher workshops, trainings and discussions often focus on how to make reluctant high school students become more interested in learning. Engaging students becomes, of course, the job of the teacher, who is struggling not only to prove to these disinterested kids that learning is interesting, but also to gain acceptance. The onus is on the teacher to pull the uninterested student into the relationship and into the world of learning—and until she accomplishes this, her less interested students have power over her (and, often, over her career!).  National programs like the Critical Friends Group, which supports and encourages teachers, are proof that the least interested—the kids—hold the power. It’s not the children who come together to figure out how to deal with the most interested, but rather, the teachers in need of the enormous support, encouragement and confidence-building necessary to tackle the powerful! And teachers often use Critical Friends Group as an opportunity to discuss successful methods for engaging students while sharing tricks of the trade. Continue Reading →

Share

As in Handbags, So In Love–The Power of The Least Interested — Part 3

Victoria Beckham’s pink Birkin bag–I think it’s crocodile– is just one of many of her gorgeous Birkin bags. But watch: The Power of the Least Interested applies to getting an Hermes Bag in pretty much the same way as it applies to getting  a guy.

It’s called the scarcity principle in purchasing, and Hermes is great at employing it. The Hermes Birkin bag, above,  like its sister bag, the slightly smaller “Kelly” bag, is always waitlisted because of its alleged scarcity (“They’re each handmade,” the company explains). Whether Hermes can or cannot summon the deft hands of bag-makers and crocodile-finders round the globe to work more quickly begs the question of why these bags are so hard to get.  If it were about supply and demand, they’d  simply increase supply to meet demand– but it’s not. It’s about the Power of the Least Interested. Who desires the handbag sale more–you, the potential owner, or Hermes? Hermes would like you to think it’s you. Company president Robert Chavez announced in the September 2005 issue of “W” Magazine, soon after I’d noticed the connection between love and handbags, that the wait list for Kellys and Birkins was absolutely closed at all Hermes stores across the globe.. “It may open up in a year or two,” he said then, “but there are no guarantees.”

Continue Reading →

Share

UA-22388103-2