Over the past two days I’ve watched this video at least ten times. It’s an interview with an amazing woman named Roberta Haze, a 73 year old costume designer and former Broadway dancer. In it she discusses her views on life, love, sex, monogamy, one night stands, dating younger guys (her current boyfriend is 40), pussy tucks, Paz de la Huerta–all the important stuff, basically. Everything she says is just so perfect and honest and wise, and every time I watch it I feel more inspired by her words. I genuinely believe that if everyone thought like her the world would be a happier, more loving, more sane place.
My favorite part of the film is when Roberta talks about love, and how a key to a good relationship is being able to accept that everyone expresses their love in different ways, and that you can’t teach someone the right way to care about you. She says, “I’m trying to learn, at 73, to believe and feel and internalize that somebody loves me their way.” She say that being able to do this involves trust, and that even if your partner isn’t doing the demonstrative things that you have in your agenda, that you have to “let them love you the way they love you, not the way that you want to be loved.” (She goes deeper into it than that, so I suggest you just watch the video.)
I think this is such important advice. Love is complex–it doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and we can’t expect it to. We’ve heard it our entire lives: you can’t change people. But gosh, sometimes the impulse to try is just so strong. It’s so easy to get mad at our boyfriends/girlfriends for not acting the way we want them to act toward us, or showing us affection in the ways that we deem right.
Sometimes, when you’re in a relationship, it’s tempting to take on the role of the victim. We convince ourselves that it’s always our partner–never us–who doesn’t care enough, who is lazy, who was late, who started the argument, who was being rude or stupid or neglectful. But maybe, if we looked a little closer, we’d begin to notice the more understated things they do that we regularly overlook, simply because they’re not things that we immediately consider to be declarations of love.
Recently, my boyfriend and I got into an argument, prompted by my claim that he never goes out of his way to do nice things for me. I argued that I’m always doing special things for him that I wouldn’t do for just anyone–bringing him dinner, buying him books for no reason, rubbing his head for hours, etc. When I asked him what he ever does for me, he replied, “Well, I talk to you.” My initial response, as you can probably imagine, was something like “Wow, great, who cares.” As someone who constantly talks about my feelings and problems to everyone, and who spends every day blogging the intimate details of my life to an audience of anonymous strangers, the idea of simply “opening up” didn’t seem all that special to me. But then later on, when I thought about it more, I realized that he and I are inherently different in this way. He barely talks to anyone; he’s generally quite awkward, standoffish and Aspergerey. Like he’s the kind of person for whom a casual greeting with an acquaintance is a profoundly uneasy experience. However, before our argument, I guess I just never took the time to think about it. I didn’t consider that simply confiding in me could be perceived as a form of his affection, because it’s not the way that I do things. But now, post Roberta Haze enlightenment, I’m beginning to better appreciate that I get to be the receiver of his thoughts and feelings, and although they might not be gift wrapped, they are still valuable. Does that make sense?
And this doesn’t just apply to boyfriends or girlfriends, but it goes for friends and parents and siblings too. And I know it may sound obvious, but it’s good to remind ourselves not to criticize the people we love just because they don’t think and act exactly like we do, ya know?
Oh my god, I started crying while typing this. What is wrong with me? I hope I’m getting my period otherwise this is just embarrassing.
OK… Dr. Phil-like rant over :)