be patient with love

The Folly of Frak, Yeah!

Recently a friend and frequent reader of this blog forwarded me an article which, if you’ll forgive me, I will sanitize to the phrase “Frak Yeah!” This is by no means out of deference to my own sensibilities, as I could give a fu- ahem. That is to say, I know that many people of a more delicate demeanor read these little bon mots, and I don’t want to be responsible for cousin Nate crying into his cereal in the morning.

At first glance one might think that I would agree with Mark Manson, the author of Frak, Yeah!. His article starts out talking about things like consent, not overthinking things, going with your passion and enthusiastically saying yes to life! In talking about the excess of dating advice (such as “the Rules Girls” or “The Game”) he says:

Much of it gets exceedingly analytical, to the point where some men and women actually spend more time analyzing behaviors than actually, you know, behaving.

Yes! I couldn’t agree more! More doing, less talking about doing (ironic, I know, coming from both me and him who write these kinds of blogs).

Then he begins to elaborate on what he calls “The Law of Frak Yes or No” and begins to lose me – in particular with this statement:

You wouldn’t buy a dog that bites you all the time…You wouldn’t work a job that doesn’t pay you.

Well, actually, yes, I have many friends who have rescue dogs that did, in fact, bite them all the time when they first took them in. And the entire idea of “internships” “apprenticeships” and “volunteering” are based around the idea of working at jobs that don’t pay.

In effect, what Manson is suggesting is the opposite of the famous marshmallow experiment – you know, where kids are told that if they can keep from eating the marshmallow for five minutes, they can get two marshmallows. While there are certainly troubles with the experiment and the supposed conclusions some draw from it, the general feeling is that those who have the patience to wait for two marshmallows have a better set of life skills.

But not according to Mr. Manson! It’s either “Frak, yeah, a marshmallow! NOMNOMNOM!” or else it’s “Frak, no, I don’t want no frakkin’ marshmallow, I’m outta here!” and you slam the door behind you.

I get it. It’s a nice image; throwing it all away or diving headfirst into things, either way. It’s Richard Gere sweeping Deborah Winger off her feet and out of the factory at the end of Officer and a Gentleman. It’s Edward Norton crunching a keyboard into his coworker’s face as he walks out of his job in Fight Club. It’s Cher ditching her fiancé for Nick Cage in Moonstruck.

That’s fine in fiction, and I’m definitely on board that there are times in reality when it’s appropriate. But as a law? As a rule of everyday behavior in relationships? No. For three reasons, and out of respect for Cousin Nate, I’ll sugarcoat them:

It’s Lazy, Short-Sighted, and Cowardly.

Yes, that’s right. I said cowardly. Let’s start with lazy, though. Mr. Manson goes over a long list of “problems” that the “Law of Frak Yes or No supposedly solves. Things like “Always know where you stand with the other person.” or “Consent issues are instantly resolved.” or “No longer be strung along by people who aren’t that into you.

I hate to tell you this, but if the only way you can tell whether or not people are into you – much less what they are consenting to – is that they yell “Frak Yeah!” when they see you, there may be a bit more of socialization work you need to do. Human interactions are complex things, full of subtle interactions and false starts. As is noted by the “strung along” comment, people are often less than trusting, and it takes time for people to open up.

If you insist on Frak Yeah! as the standard for you attention, you are basically saying that you can’t be bothered with the time and effort it requires to get to know someone. “This dog bit me. Back to the pound! I can’t take the time to actually earn her trust. I’ll wait til I find a dog that’s worth my time! You can certainly do that, but you are going to be missing out on not only some great interactions but also selling yourself short on personal development. It’s not just destination, after all, the journey can be quite important too.

Risk a Verse, not Risk-averse

How about that idea of “Always know where you stand with the other person.” Yeah! That would be nice, wouldn’t it? To never have to worry about being hurt, about being misunderstood or of perhaps investing more of yourself into someone else than they are putting into you.

Welcome to the Human Race. Guess what? There are no love meters that measure exact amounts of interest, either emotional or physical, and even if there were they would vacillate wildly. If you only bothered to hang out with the people whose “love meter” matched yours, redlined to “Frak Yeah! all the time, you would be spending time in a psychological treatment center for people with monomania.

You have to risk getting hurt in order to reap the rewards. You can’t really trust someone who doesn’t have the power to hurt you – and part of that is caring about someone even if they don’t care about you. Yes, it sucks to find out you were wrong, but you learned from that experience. It’s like riding a bicycle – you fall off, you get back on, you fall off again, you get back on – and eventually you learn to balance, you learn to enjoy the work it takes to ride, and appreciate the journey.

Or you can wait until you find a bicycle that you can just ride the first time you try. They exist, after all – they’re called training wheels. But do you want to stay on them for your whole life?

The Long Game

I have several friends who I clicked with immediately, and have had more than one “love-at-first-sight” moment. However, the relationships that lasted the longest? Started out with months and years of “oh, they can’t actually be interested in me. Until they were, and it turned out that it was well worth the wait.

Image Courtesy of tausend und eins via Flickr CC
How do you feel about piercings?

There are a lot of old fables about how patience can be rewarded, including a rather ribald one that I’ve expanded a bit:

The Old Bull, the Young Bull, and the Heifers

An old bull and a young bull are standing on top of a hill, looking down at a herd of beautiful heifers. The young one is feeling feisty, and impatiently pants and snorts, finally saying to his elder: “They’re not expecting us! Let’s run down there and get us a cow!”

The elder bull looks longsuffering at his young protegé. “I’ve got a better idea. Let’s saunter on down there, all sexy like, and get all of them!”

Meanwhile, down in the valley, the young heifers giggle as they pretend not to see the virile bulls up on the hill. “I can’t decide who is more desireable!” one of them says. “I wonder if we should go up and get a closer look…”

A more experienced cow looks at her and chuckles. “Don’t worry, dearie.” she says. “They’ll be down here eventually, and you can take your pick.”

I’m not saying you can’t find happiness using Mark Manson’s suggestions. But I am pretty sure that if you intentionally ignore the opportunities that are sauntering up to you all the time, all sexy-like, you’re going to miss out on a whole lot of life while you’re trying “not to waste time.”

What’s your frakkin’ hurry, anyway?

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