Love is Not Enough - by Mark Manson

Published 7/3/14 on markmanson.net

In 1967, John Lennon wrote a song called, “All You Need is Love.” He also beat both of his wives, abandoned one of his children, verbally abused his gay Jewish manager with homophobic and anti-semitic slurs, and once had a camera crew film him lying naked in his bed for an entire day.

Thirty-five years later, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails wrote a song called “Love is Not Enough.” Reznor, despite being famous for his shocking stage performances and his grotesque and disturbing videos, abstained from all drugs and alcohol, married one woman, had two children with her, and then cancelled entire albums and tours so that he could stay home and be a good husband and father.

One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not.

In our culture, many of us idealize love. We see it as some lofty cure-all for all of life’s problems. Our movies and our stories and our history all celebrate it as life’s ultimate goal, the final solution for all of our pain and struggle. And because we idealize love, we overestimate it. As a result, our relationships pay a price.

When we believe that “all we need is love,” then like Lennon, we’re more likely to ignore fundamental values such as respect, humility and commitment towards the people we care about. After all, if love solves everything, then why bother with all the other stuff — all of the hard stuff?

But if, like Reznor, we believe that “love is not enough,” then we understand thathealthy relationships require more than pure emotion or lofty passions. We understand that there are things more important in our lives and our relationships than simply being in love. And the success of our relationships hinges on these deeper and more important values.

THREE HARSH TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE

The problem with idealizing love is that it causes us to develop unrealistic expectations about what love actually is and what it can do for us. These unrealistic expectations then sabotage the very relationships we hold dear in the first place. Allow me to illustrate:

1. Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who doesn’t treat us well, who makes us feel worse about ourselves, who doesn’t hold the same respect for us as we do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to bring us down with them.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to our own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews that clash with our own sense of reality.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.

That may sound paradoxical, but it’s true.

When I think of all of the disastrous relationships I’ve seen or people have emailed me about, many (or most) of them were entered into on the basis of emotion — they felt that “spark” and so they just dove in head first. Forget that he was a born-again Christian alcoholic and she was an acid-dropping bisexual necrophiliac. It just felt right.

And then six months later, when she’s throwing his shit out onto the lawn and he’s praying to Jesus twelve times a day for her salvation, they look around and wonder, “Gee, where did it go wrong?”

The truth is, it went wrong before it even began.

When dating and looking for a partner, you must use not only your heart, but your mind. Yes, you want to find someone who makes your heart flutter and your farts smell like cherry popsicles. But you also need to evaluate a person’s values, how they treat themselves, how they treat those close to them, their ambitions and their worldviews in general. Because if you fall in love with someone who is incompatible with you…well, as the ski instructor from South Park once said, you’re going to have a bad time.

2. Love does not solve your relationship problems. My first girlfriend and I were madly in love with each other. We also lived in different cities, had no money to see each other, had families who hated each other, and went through weekly bouts of meaningless drama and fighting.

And every time we fought, we’d come back to each other the next day and make up and remind each other how crazy we were about one another and that none of those little things matter because we’re omg sooooooo in love and we’ll find a way to work it out and everything will be great, just you wait and see. Our love made us feel like we were overcoming our issues, when on a practical level, absolutely nothing had changed.

As you can imagine, none of our problems got resolved. The fights repeated themselves. The arguments got worse. Our inability to ever see each other hung around our necks like an albatross. We were both self-absorbed to the point where we couldn’t even communicate that effectively. Hours and hours talking on the phone with nothing actually said. Looking back, there was no hope that it was going to last. Yet we kept it up for three fucking years!

After all, love conquers all, right?

Unsurprisingly, that relationship burst into flames and crashed like the Hindenburg being doused in jet fuel. The break up was ugly. And the big lesson I took away from it was this: while love may make you feel better about your relationship problems, it doesn’t actually solve any of your relationship problems.

The roller coaster of emotions can be intoxicating, each high feeling even more important and more valid than the one before, but unless there’s a stable and practical foundation beneath your feet, that rising tide of emotion will eventually come and wash it all away.

3. Love is not always worth sacrificing yourself. One of the defining characteristics of loving someone is that you are able to think outside of yourself and your own needs to help care for another person and their needs as well.

But the question that doesn’t get asked often enough is exactly what are you sacrificing, and is it worth it?

In loving relationships, it’s normal for both people to occasionally sacrifice their own desires, their own needs, and their own time for one another. I would argue that this is normal and healthy and a big part of what makes a relationship so great.

But when it comes to sacrificing one’s self-respect, one’s dignity, one’s physical body, one’s ambitions and life purpose, just to be with someone, then that same love becomes problematic. A loving relationship is supposed to supplement our individual identity, not damage it or replace it. If we find ourselves in situations where we’re tolerating disrespectful or abusive behavior, then that’s essentially what we’re doing: we’re allowing our love to consume us and negate us, and if we’re not careful, it will leave us as a shell of the person we once were.

THE FRIENDSHIP TEST

One of the oldest pieces of relationship advice in the book is, “You and your partner should be best friends.” Most people look at that piece of advice in the positive: I should spend time with my partner like I do my best friend; I should communicate openly with my partner like I do with my best friend; I should have fun with my partner like I do with my best friend.

But people should also look at it in the negative: Would you tolerate your partner’s negative behaviors in your best friend?

Amazingly, when we ask ourselves this question honestly, in most unhealthy andcodependent relationships, the answer is “no.”

I know a young woman who just got married. She was madly in love with her husband. And despite the fact that he had been “between jobs” for more than a year, showed no interest in planning the wedding, often ditched her to take surfing trips with his friends, and her friends and family raised not-so-subtle concerns about him, she happily married him anyway.

But once the emotional high of the wedding wore off, reality set in. A year into their marriage, he’s still “between jobs,” he trashes the house while she’s at work, gets angry if she doesn’t cook dinner for him, and any time she complains he tells her that she’s “spoiled” and “arrogant.” Oh, and he still ditches her to take surfing trips with his friends.

And she got into this situation because she ignored all three of the harsh truths above. She idealized love. Despite being slapped in the face by all of the red flags he raised while dating him, she believed that their love signaled relationship compatibility. It didn’t. When her friends and family raised concerns leading up to the wedding, she believed that their love would solve their problems eventually. It didn’t. And now that everything had fallen into a steaming shit heap, she approached her friends for advice on how she could sacrifice herself even more to make it work.

And the truth is, it won’t.

Why do we tolerate behavior in our romantic relationships that we would never ever, ever tolerate in our friendships?

Imagine if your best friend moved in with you, trashed your place, refused to get a job or pay rent, demanded you cook dinner for them, and got angry and yelled at you any time you complained. That friendship would be over faster than Paris Hilton’s acting career.

Or another situation: a man’s girlfriend who was so jealous that she demanded passwords to all of his accounts and insisted on accompanying him on his business trips to make sure he wasn’t tempted by other women. His life was practically under 24/7 surveillance and you could see it wearing on his self-esteem. His self-worth dropped to nothing. She didn’t trust him to do anything. So he quit trusting himself to do anything.

Yet he stays with her! Why? Because he’s in love!

Remember this: The only way you can fully enjoy the love in your life is to choose to make something else more important in your life than love.

You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.

But your self-respect is. So is your dignity. So is your ability to trust. There can potentially be many loves throughout your life, but once you lose your self-respect, your dignity or your ability to trust, they are very hard to get back.

Love is a wonderful experience. It’s one of the greatest experiences life has to offer. And it is something everyone should aspire to feel and enjoy.

But like any other experience, it can be healthy or unhealthy. Like any other experience, it cannot be allowed to define us, our identities or our life purpose. We cannot let it consume us. We cannot sacrifice our identities and self-worth to it. Because the moment we do that, we lose love and we lose ourselves.

Because you need more in life than love. Love is great. Love is necessary. Love is beautiful. But love is not enough.

Why Flappy Bird Rules!

Am I the only one who sees the genius behind Flappy Birds? Forget the talk of the creator making tens of thousands a day on the game and how it “ruined” his life. So much so that he removed it from App stores. Or the fact that it’s such a simplistic game. There are far worse copycats now on the App store. But people hate on it because they say it’s pointless, not creative, visually lackluster, and all together frustrating. But so can countless level after level of Galaga, Pole Position, Frogger, or any game of the 70’s and 80’s.

Once you understand the physics of the game, therein lies the genius of Flappy Bird. The game allows absolutely no room for error, so that it takes constant focus and steady nerves to keep going in the game. Any hint of nervousness, twitchy fingers, or wandering concentration, and your game is over. In a world where ADD runs rampant, blinking and vibrating cellphones litter dining tables, checking FB is followed by checking IG followed by checking Pintrest followed by checking Tumblr, and “refresh” buttons are hit every 5 minutes, the ability to channel your attention and maintain focus is seldom found in people of our digital age. So while you think you’re getting stupider playing Flappy Bird, you’re actually developing an ability to sharpen your focus and attention that you’ll need in school/work/life.

Say what you will, but I’d rather spend 5 minutes trying to get to 100 on Flappy Birds than reading countless meme’s that try to relate to my into emo, looking at IG posts of food, or surfing for porn (sometimes).

I read an article recently about the only country with a declining population is Japan. There were multiple reasons that were given for this, but it reinforced my questioning of whether or not I really want kids. Is that wrong of me? Are we really put here with the intention of procreation? Am I really equipped to deal with a child who will grow up thinking a Kardashian is an role model and Tinder is how you find love? Is that selfish of me? 

youmightfindyourself

youmightfindyourself:

By: Sara Eckel
NY Times, January 2, 2014

When my then-boyfriend Mark lost the lease on his Brooklyn apartment, moving in together made good sense. We were in our 40s, both battle-scarred from decades of romantic unhappiness, and had finally found the relationship we had longed for our entire lives. So even though the timing was bad (we had been dating for only six months), we knew where this was headed. Why wait?

“I’m ready to take it to the next level,” said Mark, while cooking chicken paprikash in his soon-to-expire apartment.

I watched this sweet, handsome man sauté onions, and my heart turned upside down. After two decades of dating guys who could barely commit to next week, here was a wonderful man who wanted to be with me, plain and simple.

I was thrilled — and terrified. Sure, Mark and I were having a glorious time: weekends picking apples in the Pennsylvania countryside, brunches at his favorite Mexican diner. But living together was different. Or at least I thought it would be. I couldn’t know for sure. Because, to my deep embarrassment, I was nearly 40 and had never shared a home with a boyfriend.

For most of my adult life, I was unattached. I spent my 30s with a slowly escalating fear that I would never find a partner. My anxiety wasn’t merely about getting older and supposedly less desirable in our youth-obsessed culture. I also worried that my single years were shaping me, hardening me into a woman too finicky and insular for a lifetime partnership.

I had noticed that friends going through breakups often took solace in the fact that they had learned from those failed romances. They had acquired important skills such as how to be vulnerable, how to set boundaries, how to listen and how to speak up. They had learned the art of compromise and forgiveness and how to love someone even when you don’t always like them. Through practice and repetition, they were mastering this exquisite, complicated dance, cultivating wisdom and muscle memory that could be successfully applied to future relationships.

I was glad my friends had found an upside to their heartache, but statements like those also made me nervous. If one learned how to have a happy partnership by trial and error, then I was missing crucial on-the-job training.

Even so, when it came to the particular question of whether Mark and I should move in together, I knew my concerns were valid. “It’s too soon, and for the wrong reason,” I told my friend Paul at a bar one night.

He shook his head, looked at the ceiling and said, “No wonder you’re single.”

I stared at the bar, furious. How dare he take my very reasonable reservation and turn it into a pathology! Soon we were having the kind of bitter argument that makes other patrons glance your way with wide, curious eyes.

Once we had cooled down, I explained how hard it is to be a longtime singleton, how people assume some deep psychological issue is preventing you from finding a partner, rather than allow that maybe you just haven’t met the right person.

Paul listened, apologized and we ordered another round.

Later, I thought about it. Paul may have been unfair, but he also wouldn’t have upset me if part of me didn’t think he was right.

So I took the leap: I asked Mark to move in with me. If I was truly an intractable spinster, I might as well find out now.

Mark said yes, and on a sunny May morning six weeks later, he moved into my small one-bedroom apartment. I sat on my — our — bed and watched him hang his clothes in the closet I had just cleared, feeling like someone who had talked her way into a job she wasn’t quite qualified for. I didn’t know what was ahead, only that it would be difficult, but worth it.

That was nearly eight years ago. I’m still waiting for the part where it gets hard, still waiting for the “work.”

O.K., that’s not completely true. Like anyone, we have conflicts. He has punched walls. I have walked out the front door and circled the block. But I can count those kinds of fights on one hand.

Mostly, I have been shocked to discover how easy it is to live with and, now, be married to Mark.

My husband and I didn’t calcify as we grew older. Instead, as I believe most people do, we became less selfish and more patient, quicker to admit when we’re wrong, more apt to notice when the other person needs some space. I understand, in a way I never could have in my 20s, that sometimes the best way to resolve a conflict is to go in the other room and read a magazine for a while.

And there’s nothing like two decades of loneliness to make you appreciate a spouse. Sure, we annoy each other sometimes. Mark has lost countless hours of his life waiting for me to find my keys, and I will never agree that it’s O.K. to use dish towels to mop up spills on the floor.

But Mark also makes me laugh every day, has fascinating insights about everything from 1970s cop shows to campaign finance reform, and he gives me his unwavering support whenever an editor rejects my work or an acquaintance treats me shabbily. Compare this with the stresses of longtime singlehood — the bad dates, the condescending relatives, the Sunday nights — and you can deal with a few stained dish towels.

If you have lived alone for two decades, it also means you can’t subconsciously (or directly) blame your partner if your professional or creative life hasn’t worked out as well as you had hoped. Whatever career and financial mistakes I’ve made (and there have been some doozies) are mine and mine alone. When you meet your partner at 40, there’s no mental backtracking: “I could have been a senior V.P. by now if we hadn’t moved to Tucson for his job,” or “I could have been a rock star if I hadn’t had to cover everyone’s health insurance.”

Most important, I’ve realized I never needed a long boyfriend résumé for the experience. In the 20 years before I met Mark, I learned a lot of hard lessons: how to be a self-respecting adult in a world that often treats single people like feckless teenagers; how to stand at cocktail parties while my friends’ in-laws asked me if I had a boyfriend; how to have warm, friendly dinners with strangers I had met online, as we delicately tried to determine whether or not we could possibly share our lives together, and how to come home to an empty apartment after a rotten day at work.

I realize these less-than-giddy examples may conjure up those deadly words: “desperate” and “pathetic.” But I wasn’t desperate. If I had been desperate, I would have settled for a relationship I felt ambivalent about because I was afraid to be alone. Instead, I learned to relax into the open space of my quiet home and unknown future. I also learned there is a difference between feeling something unpleasant (loneliness, longing) and being something shameful.

Being a single person searching for love teaches you that not everything is under your control. You can’t control whether the person you’ve fallen for will call. You can’t force yourself to have feelings for the nice guy your best friend fixed you up with. You have no way to know whether attending this or that event — a co-worker’s art opening, a neighbor’s housewarming — will lead to the chance encounter that will forever alter your life. You simply learn to do your best, and leave it at that.

Relationships are work, but so is being single, and I became pretty good at it.

Even though Mark and I don’t fight much, several years ago we had one that made me wonder if this was the end. It began as an innocuous argument over vacation time, or lack thereof, but it somehow unleashed long-brewing resentments that escalated and culminated into two harsh, staccato syllables. It felt like a car crash: plunging into darkness, time stopping. I sat up straight on our bed, heart thumping, wondering if the life we had built together was going to come tumbling down.

In that moment, the future was vast, black, unknowable. But I wasn’t afraid. Splitting up would be awful, but I would manage.

I didn’t panic or try to make the moment any different from what it was. I simply sat in that untethered space, two angry people not speaking to each other, without any knowledge of what was on the other side.

After a time, it could have been minutes or hours, Mark took my hand and squeezed, and I squeezed back. We would get through this one, and most likely others. I didn’t have relationship experience, but I had life experience of another kind. That has turned out to be just as good.

It is not surprising that in a culture that has overdosed on confidence and swagger, we have little appreciation for understanding the importance of humility.

False confidence forms the foundation of our individual and collective distorted reality. We lie to young people with phony affirmation. We’ve spent the past 30 years handing out participation trophies, masking our insecurities with overpriced Air Jordans, cheap, gaudy jewelry and prescription, mood-altering drugs and baiting our youth to create and live in fraudulent realities they can now construct on Facebook and Instagram.

We’ve produced a generation that values swagger over self-awareness and humility. We wrongly believe confidence is more essential to success than humility.

Jason Whitlock (ESPN)

1112pm
1112pm:

 
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

1112pm:

 

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.


The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.


The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.