My wife and I were watching one of the episodes of Boston Legal last night. We’ve been binge watching the past couple months. The third time for me, first time for her. It’s one of the best shows in the universe! Anyway, Alan Shore (James Spader) is in the early days of a relationship with a female Judge who tells him that it’s ok if he’s attracted to other women. As long as he channels that attraction to her instead of to them. Taking her at her word, he starts physically flirting with her as he admits he was attracted to another woman. Angry, she pulls away and tells him not to touch her and doesn’t want to speak to him. He goes to sleep wondering what just happened.
Confused, Alan talks about it the next day with Denny Crane (William Shatner), who tells him, “The key to any good relationship is lying. You tell her she’s the only one you find attractive, the only girl you wanna sleep with, the only one you really wanna spend time with. All kinds of garbage they can’t possibly believe. Women count on us to lie to them. How else can they convince themselves that they still look young if we don’t help?”
So the next time Alan sees her, he asks:
Alan Shore: Just so I’m clear… if I’m ever even slightly attracted to another woman, I should just lie about that?
Judge Gloria Weldon: Through your teeth.
Alan Shore: Hm. Really? Why would you tolerate dishonesty from your partner?
Judge Gloria Weldon: I wouldn’t. If I ever catch you lying to me, it’s over.
Alan Shore: But you just…
Judge Gloria Weldon: No. It’s very simple, Alan. When you tell me that you’re not attracted to anybody else but me, it needs to be the truth.
Alan taps his fingers as he lets this sink in.
My wife thought Gloria was crazy. I agreed. Then we started talking about relationships in general. I told her that because women are so irrational, illogical and emotional (something my wife agrees with, so these conversations work out really well for me), men’s involvement with women is often like walking around a minefield. She asked me what I meant.
I stood up and acted it out, moving around the lounge room as if I was gingerly walking through a minefield. You had to be there.
When men navigate their way through relationships with women, it often feels like they’re navigating a minefield. If they take the wrong step, then BOOM! A mine explodes and an argument ensues.
I threw myself onto the couch, as if I was thrown by an exploding mine. It’s amazing I still have all my limbs, I exclaimed! She was laughing.
A man’s job in a relationship with a woman is to learn how to navigate the minefield better. No matter what he does, at some point he’ll do or say the wrong thing, and there’s an explosion. If he’s smart and if he cares about her, he’ll learn what the variety of mines look like, and what triggers them. This is so he can learn how to better avoid them and avoid the explosions.
She asked me why I choose to stick around and navigate the minefield. I told her it’s because the significant rewards are worth the risks.
For many men, however, sometimes the rewards just aren’t worth the risks. And the relationship becomes a hazard that they’d rather not navigate. They exit the field, thankful they don’t have to navigate the mines any more. Some of them decide to avoid minefields altogether, ‘going their own way’. The rest of them look for new minefields to navigate.
My wife pointed out to me that it’s the same for women. I agreed. Many women go through the same thing. They hope or expect that the rewards of their love for the man will be worth the risks of navigating the minefield. And even though occasionally there’s explosions, they hope so survive the damage.
It saddens me when people navigate minefields that are dangerous for their health. It’s great that I can joke about it with my loving and understanding wife, but for many men and women out there, their relationships are filled with explosions. They don’t know how to avoid the mines, or there’s just too many mines to avoid. But they stay in those minefields because that’s what they think they have to do. That’s what love is, right? Until one day they step on the mine that kills them.
Love is a minefield. When we’re with someone we love, we try hard to learn how to navigate the minefield better. But if it gets too bad, we need to learn how to get the hell out. Sometimes the risks just aren’t worth it.
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