Photo: Ryan Dorsett
It's a good and bad thing to be considered an expert in love. I don't think there's any point in pretending that you get to be an expert by meeting your soul mate early on, going through a few meaningful ups and downs, marrying in a cloud of good taste or even in a meteor shower of funk and crunk, and then dying, 50 or 60 years later, having had a faithful and fulfilling love life. We don't call those people experts. We call them lucky.
People like me, who write about lust and love in fiction and nonfiction, who have clearly made several important and completely necessary detours in their private life, people who have more than one wedding ring in their jewelry box, these people we call experts.
Here's the heart and the head of it: Know yourself, know the other, and face the truth about yourselves.
What "Know Yourself" Means
Here's what I noticed after 25 years of being a psychotherapist and 55 years of being a person: There is just about no point in complaining about another person. Not because other people aren't annoying. (My God, there are people who've been put on this earth just to make me roll my eyes and mutter disapprovingly. In my family, as a matter of fact, "other people" is the standard explanation for almost all misfortune.) But because—especially in intimate relationships—the complaint about Him or Her will, unfortunately and inevitably, wind its way around to You.
He's often late, which is inconsiderate = I fear not being sufficiently appreciated. Thanks, Dad.
He thinks about his needs first, and mine second = If you express your needs, no one will love you. Thanks, Mom.
Your partner's faults are real (I'm on your side here) and various and even grievous, but those are their faults and, frankly, we're here to talk about you...and me.
We Hear You!