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10 Terrible Techniques for Falling in Love

By Amanda Mae Meyncke | Guides | December 27, 2012 | Comments ()


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"She had reluctantly accepted suffering as an inevitable component of deep passion, and was resigned to putting her feelings at risk. If you asked her what it was she was gambling her emotions on to win, she would not have been able to say. She knew what she didn't want, however..." - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I am unlucky in love. That's not entirely true, but it certainly has a ring to it. I've been very happy at times with different people, but I often find myself at odds with reality, in love with someone too late, liking entirely the wrong person, or attracted to some kind of identical male version of my own personality. I think they call this condition "life" and there's really no cure for it but to keep trying new tacks, and being ever sure of what it is that you do not want.

I used to have an unfortunate habit of liking someone intensely, deciding that they were the only one for me, and awkwardly spending as much time as possible with them hoping that they would fall in love with how wonderful I am, instead of boldly asking them out. I cut to the chase now, and ask guys out. No more wondering, no more fretting about whether you're doing the right skit or if you're seeming charming enough. For instance, one night many months ago when I was dropping my then boyfriend off at his home I was staring out the window, trying to look pensive and lovely, sort of a wistful expression on my face and he looked at me lovingly and said "You know, you look just like Gene Hackman in this light." So tread carefully, gentle reader, when trying to be impressive, it rarely works out the way you hope it will.

Asking people out is not for the faint of heart. The last time I asked someone out for a friendly cup of coffee, this person waited five days to respond and then told me he'd rather "Keep things on a professional level." Yowza! I used to worry more about such things, especially things that hurt my feelings, but there's no time for such nonsense. As I told someone else, sitting in a car crying my eyes out to a man who couldn't love me the way I need to be loved, wholly and without reservations, "Why would you ever want to live with a surfeit of love when there is so much love to give?" I'm really terrible at letting go of the people I have loved. Which gives people from the past a dark and disappointing power over your life. That I still think of any of them is something I need to work on, allowing that my love for them cannot bridge the gap between us and cannot cover their lack of love for me.

But everything teaches, if you let it, and you learn to be generous no matter the cost, trying not to let anyone unlearn you along the way. With all that in mind, I turned to my friend the Internet to see if they could help me figure out where I got into trouble. Oh what wonderful resources I discovered, including this article that advises, among other things, the wearing of a bracelet that reads "SINGLE" to let a boy know you're single and not being "too nice" or people will think you're fake and that one should "be an all around great person" as if such a thing was possible.

1. Changing Yourself to Become Someone They Like

Clueless

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Cher (Alicia Silverstone) does her best to become the sort of girl that the man of her dreams could fall in love with, and let's face it, we'd get all interested in the environment if it meant we could talk about blue fin tuna decline with Paul Rudd. Cher does her best, but it turns out that she's pretty terrible at changing who she is, and while she never makes any enormous leaps, she adjusts course slightly, which is often all that any of us need. Also, though there's a lot of grumbling and handwringing over the idea of changing yourself for another person, it's sort of sweet to think of being inspired towards bettering ourselves. To want to seek the good in life together is a lovely sentiment, before everything descends into weekend long Deadwood marathons and eating the same ramen meal eight times in a row.

2. Kissing a Mirror

Annie Hall

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I've often had the brilliant idea that it is best to love someone who shares not some but all of your interests, including books, movies, music, food, museums and sartorial choices. While this works out brilliantly when it comes to fascinating dates and amusing gifts for birthdays or the holidays, this unfortunate idea makes you blind to your own personal defects and causes you to loathe those things in your beloved that you despise in yourself. Without any means of reparation. Loving someone just like you is also the easy way out. Loving someone who is good for us, who makes us stronger and brighter is difficult at times, but differences are necessary for growth and love.

Honorable Mention: Before Sunrise/Before Sunset

3. Inappropriate Ages

Rushmore

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While I've never fallen in love with someone wildly outside my age range, I concede the possibility that it seems like a pretty terrible idea for longevity in love.

Honorable Mention: Harold and Maude

4. The Best Friend

When Harry Met Sally

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"I've got to ask her out without actually asking her out. One step forward, two steps back, that's the key to progress." - Peep Show

Trying to turn the best friend into the boyfriend is a time honored technique espoused by just about every movie, as it turns out. Though I can't say I particularly approve of it as it's never actually worked for most people I know -- except one of my professors spoke about how he'd always had this best friend named Susan, and when they were going off to college he thought to himself "You know, I hope whoever Susan ends up marrying doesn't mind if we're still friends." And then a bit later thought "Wait, I could marry Susan and cut out the middle man." Which is of course the best plan, and they've been happily married for ages. So then again, grasping at straws has made me think maybe this isn't such a terrible plan!

Honorable Mention: 13 Going on 30, Made of Honor, Just Friends and seriously every movie ever

5. The Crazy Person

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Falling in love with someone "exciting" and "different" often seems to lead to one being involved in crimes and murders or worse. What can seem thrilling or interesting (dating a pot dealer! who keeps large sums of money in his glove box! ha ha no I never did this, it's hypothetical wink wink maybe who knows 2007 was a very weird year!) can often turn out to be destructive and demoralizing. Plus, patching it up with someone who is always flinging themselves about the room moaning or who is living in a constant state of paranoia is exhausting.

Honorable Mention: Raising Arizona and Fear

6. Stalking

The Loved Ones

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I've only ever stalked one guy in my life, some many years ago, which seems like a remarkably reasonable number to me, all things considered. And mostly it happened because I got delusional like crazy about the fact that he loved the band Smog and was an ardent fan of Flannery O'Connor. Normally a fairly reasonable person, I sent him a message through last.fm and set about finding out everything I could about this poor mild mannered boy from Georgia. The strangest thing was the compulsion I felt, the things I found myself doing as if I was not the one doing it, sending long emails and trolling his old livejournals. He, being either crazy himself, or sort of afraid for his life, I'm still not sure which, accepted my insane attempts at worshiping his perfection and tolerated my ardent attention but remained creeped out (as well he should have been. Like I said, I can't quite explain what happened). He still says hello to me now and then, though I've long since realized he's a nightmare and I'm a nightmare and obviously no, just no, no, never, no. Still, I would never go as far as the ladies on this list, I limited myself, even in those days, to penning lengthy emails and carefully worded IMs.

Honorable Mentions: Fatal Attraction, Play Misty For Me, Misery and Swimfan

7. Falling in Love with a Gay Guy

A Single Man

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There's nothing less productive to a working romance than falling in love with someone who will never be interested in you. In any way. At all. Because they do not like women. Not that they don't like you, you're lovely. But no, they don't like you at all. Like that.

Honorable Mention: Chasing Amy

8. Liking the Wrong Person

Broadcast News

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Holly Hunter is one heck of a capable news lady, except she has a certain weakness for beautiful, accomplished men who aren't quite right for her. I hear you, darling. She spends much of her time wanting William Hurt to love her and ignoring the absolute perfection of Al Brooks, who is much more on her level. Who doesn't melt for Al Brooks saying "I love you, how's that for burying the lede?"

9. Waiting Too Long and Hoping for the Best

Young Adult

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"I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing, keep my options open. And that's suicide. By tiny, tiny increments." - High Fidelity

You can't postpone happiness, you can't keep people and things on the backburner and hope that they'll keep until you're ready for them. You can't swoop in and out of people's lives, expecting them to stay as you left them, waiting patiently for you to get your act together and come back and love them. People don't exist in a steady realm, a constant state of being. People are always changing, becoming something else when you look away for even a moment, which is why it's foolish to say "If we're not married to anyone else when we're 40..." because that isn't how it works. Always be a Plan A kind of person.

Honorable Mention: Gone with the Wind, High Fidelity

10. Being Yourself

Say Anything

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Everyone has this hope that it all comes together and you meet someone who gets your jokes and loves to laugh and wants to say the right things to you when your grandmother dies and tells you you're beautiful and commits to working hard side by side and thinks about the future and plans, but not too much and a million other sundry details, but most of all likes all of your light and your dark. It's possible to like someone as they are, once we are satisfied with loving ourselves for who we are, we no longer need to project and change and dilute and configure others. Happiness is infectious and the most contented people that I know are the happiest.

And actually, this isn't a terrible technique at all. It's really the only one there is.

Honorable Mention: The Princess Diaries, 10 Things I Hate About You


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • SeaParkFire

    I LOVE Peep Show. that is all

  • The history of my love life is fairly short and a bit brutal. I think it's best summed up by the relationship I shared with my stalker.

    Back in high school, I was stalked with some rather creepy dedication by a girl I'd been friends with for a while. It apparently started when she decided she might be bisexual, and my refusal to be her experiment grew into an obsession. For about three months, she was there at all time: she greeted me when I arrived at school, walked me to class, met me at lunch, walked me to class again, met me after class and walked me to the next, and met me when school let out to say good night. Then she either sent an IM as soon as I signed online, called, or walked several miles to my house to make sure I was ok if I wasn't online and the phone was tied up. She got jealous if I paid too much attention to someone else and tried to firmly discourage any interest in my direction. It never got violent or threatening, but it was pretty intense. It only ended by a combination of carefully freezing her out of my life and graduating and moving out of town.

    Move forward about three years, and we saw each other again at a mutual friend's party. Some discussion about the past made us decide we'd both changed and grown, and maybe a relationship would be worth a shot. My defense: I was 20 years old, I'd been without a date for the whole of my life, and I was lonely and well, if she'd stalked me once upon a time, she really cared about me, right?

    I'm completely aware of how much is wrong with that. Moving on.

    We talked on the phone pretty much daily for about two weeks, at which point she sent me an email telling me she had gotten back together with an ex of hers.

    So that's the true story of how I got dumped by my own stalker.

    By email, no less.

  • aroorda

    I hate hate hate hate x 100000 Young Adult. Such an immature, irrational, rude and generally distasteful woman. Yet she's supposed to be the person I'm rooting for. I'm all for anti-heroes, hell I'm still rooting for Walt. But I can not STAND Charlize Theron's character in the movie. To be honest I tried to block that movie out of my head (thus why I don't know the main character's name.) I love Diablo Cody and Up In the Air was one of my favorite feel bad flicks of 2010. But that movie sucked so hard. SOOOOOO HARD.

  • apsutter

    Wow...I literally just watched this 2 days ago and I already can't remember her name. Her character was completely insane, for real. You're so right about her immaturity and she was so rude! It baffles me as to how someone could live to be 38 and have such a varied life that she had and still be so emotionally stunted and over-whelmingly narcissistic. Her character was just a truly awful human being with no redeeming qualities. That being said I don't know if it was Diablo's intent for Charlize to be the one we were rooting for. It seemed like it for a second because she has realization of how shitty she is but then she does a complete about face and flees back to her old life. But the very last shot of the movie pretty much sums up her existence for me. She's 38, jobless, has no close family or friends, no partner to love and be loved by, aimless, hard hearted and completely alone. Can you imagine a worse fate for your life? I truly cannot.
    I mainly watched it because Patton Oswalt was in it and I will always love that tiny little hobbit of a man. His character was the only one I was really rooting for (and Buddy's wife.) Loved how he was the voice of reason and tried to drag her dumb ass into reality. Oh, and made Star Wars bourbon!
    Side note: Later that night as I was falling asleep and thinking the movie over all I could think was that if I was the supposed "winner" of my graduating class by being the ghostwriter for a cancelled book series living in the "Minni-apple" while being divorced and bitter, I would kill myself. Seriously. That's their definition of winning? Wow...I spent way too much time analyzing this movie lol

  • DominaNefret

    I am the crazy person. That has never deterred anyone from loving me anyway.
    I have the opposite problem; all of my best friends are in love with me, which is intensely frustrating because what I really need is my best friends, not to be pined over. I love the three of them dearly, but they are my best friends, I can't see them as more than that.

    I've always just done the whole being myself thing. It is amazing how much people fall head over heels for that. I think it can be a problem when it comes to longevity, at least it has been for me. I have always had multiple awesome people liking me simultaneously, and I have never been good at making up my mind. Though, I'm sure the crazy comes into play.

  • Wormer

    Amanda! You are a jewel! This piece just struck a chord with me. I love your open, straight forward honesty and I can't wait to read more by you. Thanks for this humorous piece.

  • Guest

    Wow, I sort of land on all of these. Almost.

    #1 is completely moot, because the last thing in the world The Love of My Life demands of me is changing to suit her. Beyond all common sense and against every Long Odd, I seem to be exactly right as I am; she, of course, is incandescent perfection and has never once needed to not be exactly what she is. So strike #1 right off the bat.

    I fell in love with #4 My Best Friend while in the process of becoming best friends, but entirely by accident. She was someone I simply could not do without, and instantly so. She was the sort of friend you could tell anything to, because if you didn't tell her absolutely everything you wouldn't know for sure if she would stay, and still be your friend, and not knowing that was absolutely unbearable. The first six weeks were a headlong rush into total honesty and aggressive soul-bearing. I needed a friend, and then a best friend, to truly listen to me and *talk* to me--why is real conversation so extinct these days? When did it go so hard to just sit and listen, and be listened to?--so that I could listen back, and truly hear.

    And then, six weeks into this friendship that is stronger now than it ever has been, I fell in love with my best friend. So that happened.

    I'm also a #5 Crazy Person. This woman means so much to me that I simply cannot let go of the surety that it will dissolve in a heartbeat and leave me bereft and skinned to the soul and hopeless and helpless, and so I drive her away almost every 48 hours with The Crazy. Lots and lots of The Crazy. (She would say "cray," because she's Hipper and Cooler and also younger than me, a'la Inappropriate Ages. So, there's that, too.) The Crazy is about 85% Jealousy and 15% Sure I'm The Suck, meaning every other man in the world is smarter and hotter and richer and better than me in every way, so my jealousy leads to #6 Stalking in CSI-like time-wastey ways that drive me absolutely batshit insane and cost me hours and hours and hours of sleep. And never to any avail, because she is exactly what she says she is and always has been, and I'm just now--after a year and some months--starting to trust that. Truly, seriously, completely trust that. But Numbers 5 and 6 have almost sealed our doom time and time again.

    So what to do about #2. My best friend is almost all the things you praise in the litany of Best Bets: She reads more than I do, which is almost inhumanly possible; she's cultured and refined and well-traveled and loves all the same movies and TV shows and nerdy things I do (well, except for something to do with teenage vampires that I refuse to acknowledge exists, much less watch); she loves to cook and drink tea and a million other tiny little Life things that I could spend the rest of my life doing, and hope to Someday. On the surface, and early on, we marveled at how simple it was to like and then love each other because of these shared interests and hobbies and dreams. But you're right, Amanda; easy isn't always best, and what we've discovered over this long stretch of time is that our differences force us to work at this in ways we've never had to work for something before. Intellectually and hobby-wise and culinarily and sartorially we may be kissing a mirror; but *emotionally* we challenge one another to be kinder, calmer, smarter, more loving, more generous of thought and deed, and in every other way simply *better* for one another, and to one another. The similarities of thought and interest brought us together--it was a relationship literally born in a single literary catchphrase--but the painful and particular differences of soul and sensibility keep us constantly challenged and changing.

    #7 may have applied a long, long time ago, but that's another story and none of your business.

    #8 has almost always been the case in my life, always for ill, until I met this Love of My Life. She is in no way, and never shall be, The Wrong Person. I know it, she knows it, it's just down to trusting in it now. Because it's a miracle of Loaves and Fishes proportions.

    "And that’s suicide. By tiny, tiny increments.” #9 is one of those truths that's too painful to look at, like a magnesium flare struck right in your face. Change is inevitable, and it's always a risk. We all either commit to happiness or choose boredom because it's sure, and knowable. #9 is awful, let's just not talk about it.

    And so it's just down to #10. I am never more myself than when I am with her, and that self has never been better. I just told her last night that I've never felt more handsome, more proud of myself, more calm and centered and sure, than when I am with her, and it's true. I am the Greek ideal of my specific self, my unique Jackness, when she is with me, when I am repaired by her presence. That line from Jerry Maguire has been rendered such crap by meaningless repetition and also by Renee Zellweger's stupid round face, but in my case it is absolutely true in its simplicity: I was broken before her, not myself but a dozen fake shadows of him, and she completed me. Put me back together the way I was meant to be built and loved that person with all his myriad faults and fissures. And I didn't even have to stand outside her window with a boombox.

  • No One

    So #5 it is.

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    Lovely post. I'm definitely guilty of #1, 2, and 5. But I kinda sorta married my #4. He wasn't my "best" friend, but certainly a good friend and I honestly think that's what was always missing from my previous attempts at finding love. Someone who knew me, knew the good bits and the crazy bits, knew my dating history (hell, had met half my dating history) and still liked me. Certainly made the awkward getting to know you phase much easier! 8 years and counting.

  • Kballs

    Love is like one of those rubber water-weiner toys that slips out of your hand if you squeeze it too hard. It's difficult to get your hands around, then you have to treat it gently if you want it to stay put. Otherwise it will rocket out of your grip and destroy everything in the immediate vicinity.

  • Virginia Woolferine

    If I were to make a Favorite Internet Things of 2012 list, your Pajiba writings would make the top five. This was, as always, lovely and wise and -- oh, so! -- poignant.

  • Ley

    You're a really great writer. This piece was wonderful! Also, thank you for reminding why I love Say Anything... so much.

  • Alex00

    Wow, I never even caught that High Fidelity line after seeing it. A little scary how relatable that feels thinking on it now.

  • theotherone

    The Ned - using your power to bring dead people back to life even if it is your
    childhood sweetheart (also applies to vampires, zombies, and re-animators).

  • Boothy K

    Seriously, who are you and where have you been all my life? You're writing is gorgeous. This is a wonderful post. Thank you!

    Also: I am guilty of majority of these. I have had a heavy, longing, obsessive heart for years. I have also posed my face/body/hair on many occasions to get noticed and nothing ever came from it. That's why #10 is best, when your motivations and intentions are pure is when the universe delivers.

  • I watched Say Anything for the first time a few days ago. Yeah, I'm a bad pajiban. I thought it was fantastic. The only way that ending might have been better is if the plane blew up. But it earned the happy ending.

  • Rooks

    "I was staring out the window, trying to look pensive and lovely, sort of a wistful expression on my face....”
    "Which gives people from the past a dark and disappointing power over your life."

    Oh, Amanda. I think you just helped me untangle a knot I've been fighting with for ages. Truly, thank you.

  • apsutter

    Hot damn...I still love Kate Winslet with that red hair! I love that movie so very much.

    Also the write up for #9 is absolutely perfect and completely the truth.

  • sjfromsj

    I was on the receiving end of #9 a couple weeks ago. Tried to rekindle a college flame, and I just wasn't feeling it. I think we always had this fantasy that we would come together when we were older and did have our shit together, and everything would be perfect. Unfortunately, though older, neither of us have our shit together, though me more than him, and spending time with him just made me feel like I was a freshman in college again - a place I never want to go back to. I've grown up and changed a lot since then (including career paths). He, on the other hand, was still under the impression that this was the magical reunion we fantasized up until his departure from my apartment. All of the awkward.

    So thank you, Amanda, for perfectly verbalizing how I felt about that encounter. This post on the whole is fantastic.

  • Mrs. Julien

    "Just be yourself
    The best, cutest, quietest version of yourself"
    Meryn Cadell The Sweater

    http://www.elyrics.net/read/m/...

  • BobbFrapples

    I think I'm guilty of #2. Dating someone who likes everything you do all of the time gets old.

  • e jerry powell

    I have fallen in love with a great many gay men in my life. Generally a non-productive activity.

    Ironic, right?

  • Idle Primate

    11. Fight Club.

    Be careful of the cray-crays. unless you too are a cray cray

  • Holly

    Damnit, Amanda. Your posts are lovely and articulate and we share the same first name. Don't make me go for #6.

  • When I was trying to dissuade a young man from pursuing me, I was brutally honest about my flaws and my past relationship failures. I was very clear that I had no interest in changing who I am to make someone else happy or attempting to change someone else to fit some mold of the "right" guy. I laid out exactly what I wanted and exactly what I would not accept from someone else (addiction, abuse, disregard, rudeness). It was the first time I was completely honest with both myself and my potential love interest, and it was very cathartic.

    Apparently, that was the right way to go, because we've been married for 20 years.

  • Malin

    Great post, Amanda.

  • vhrico

    What if #10 is a combo of #2, #4 and #5? then it's good thing, right? RIGHT???

  • bombscribe

    I really love this post. Mostly for your personal honesty in your journey for love. I think we all subconsciously remind ourselves of these truths daily, but sometimes - just sometimes - it's good to be reminded outright.

  • Fredo

    You could try #11: lock them in the house and never let them out.

    See: Misery, Audition, Psycho

  • lowercase_ryan

    Great piece. I am guilty of 1,3,4,5,8, and 9.

    And 10 is finally paying off this past month.

    Seriously though, great piece Amanda.

  • cinekat

    Oh, how about meeting your seemingly unattainable crush again 10-20 years later and finding out he felt exactly the same way about you? And being (once again) so flustered you fail to act the second time round too? No? Just me then.

  • linnyloo

    Oh, word. I had a massive crush on a boy in 8th grade, and ran into him at the airport just last year. I felt that familiar swoop in my stomach as soon as I recognized him, and he came over to me and struck up a conversation about the good old days. Right before we parted ways, he paused and said, "I may be misremembering, but I seem to recall that you wrote me the sweetest letter back in the day." I remember thinking 1.) What? I had the nerve to write him a letter? What on earth did it say? and 2.) He remembers a letter I wrote him 15 years ago? Damn, I should've asked him out.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I think everyone experienced something like that one time or another. There was a girl some 10 years back whom I liked. I know now she was interested in me at the same time, but I was an idiot about it. If I'd be to meet her again now, I am sure I'd make the same mistake. I'm just terrible at these things.

  • Scratch McGee

    I love your posts- they're just flat out lovely. As someone on the receiving end of a #9 with failed attempts to make that very point understood, I'm thinking #10 has to indeed be the only way... Thanks for another wonderful post that managed to articulate so much of what scuttles about in my mind.

  • Blake

    11. Stockholm Syndrome.

    See: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Captivity, A Life Less Ordinary, The Getaway and Out Of Sight.

  • Blake

    12. Falling for an Authority Figure (IE: Boss, Teacher, Parental Figure).

    See: Election

  • DominaNefret

    See: Secretary

  • I love this so much, especially the Peep Show quote. The best friend thing, god, been there, flubbed that.

  • Kylie

    Gah! Pajiba is trying to warm my cold heart with that last one. I'm much more of a #9 kind of girl

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