Monday, March 10, 2014

The Madwoman and the Martyr

The story begins like this:

"My wife got sick. She was constantly nervous because of problems at work, personal life, her failures and children. She lost 30 pounds and weighted about 90 pounds."

According to that highly reliable resource known as "someone on Facebook," this is Brad Pitt, talking about Angelina.

It continues: "She got very skinny and was constantly crying. She was not a happy woman. She had suffered from continuing headaches, heart pain and jammed nerves in her back and ribs. She did not sleep well, falling asleep only in the mornings and got tired very quickly during the day. Our relationship was on the verge of a break up. Her beauty was leaving her somewhere, she had bags under her eyes, she was poking her head, and stopped taking care of herself."



Oh dear. Poking her head! That is cause for alarm.

"She refused to shoot the films and rejected any role. I lost hope and thought that we’ll get divorced soon… But then I decided to act. After all I’ve got the most beautiful woman on earth. She is the idol of more than half of men and women on earth, and I was the one allowed to fall asleep next to her and to hug her. I began to shower her with flowers, kisses and compliments. I surprised and pleased her every minute. I gave her a lot of gifts and lived just for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends. You won’t believe it, but she blossomed. She became better. She gained weight, was no longer nervous and loved me even more than ever. I had no clue that she CAN love that much.

"And then I realized one thing: the woman is the reflection of her man.

"If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it."

Well, where do we start? First, we can dismiss the notion that Brad Pitt really wrote this, unless English has become his second language. Or perhaps his original message was translated into Russian, then into Chinese, and finally back to English ... by a German?

But more importantly, why would this message appeal to anyone? Apparently it does, because women all over social media are sharing it, and tagging their boyfriends/husbands. I can only imagine the sinking feeling that comes over a man when he reads those words: Hello sweetheart, I am crazy and it's your fault! Because I am not a person, I am a reflection of you! That being the case, you are in bad shape! Because hoo-boy, I'm a hot mess. Better fix me up quick! Starting with flowers!

Just below the faux-Pitt quote, I saw another meme, this one attributed (probably just as falsely) to Bob Marley:
There's no evidence Marley actually said this
So here's the thing, girlfriends: good relationships do involve some interdependence, and each of us can go through hard times, relying on our partner's strength and patience till we've pulled ourselves together. But those moments where one person is taking up slack for the other should be rare. We shouldn't define a "good man" (or "good woman") as someone who endlessly puts up with another's crap.

"If she's easy, she won't be amazing." This is remarkably self-serving on the part of the women who post it. Oh, I seem like a sociopath? That's an essential part of my mystique, bro. If I was functional, I wouldn't be so amazing. Unfortunately, I know too many men who buy into it. I assume they're coming from the same Fix-It place women come from when they attach themselves to the James Deans of the world in the hopes that inside every broken man is a little boy who can be loved into perfection.

"Find the ones worth suffering for." This is not progressive thinking. Turning your man into a love-martyr may seem romantic at first blush (I guess that's the appeal?) but it's bad for you and bad for your man. Your physical and mental health cannot rest on anyone's shoulders but your own: this is called "being a grown-up." You are not an infant, you are not a stray kitten, you are not anyone's reflection; you are your own person. Nobody is going to fix you, and causing someone to suffer is not love.

Good luck with that

9 comments:

  1. Great post, and full of wisdom, but I'm 64 years old --fine time to tell me I should be grown up!

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    1. Geo, you are the perfect sort of not-grown-up.

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  3. I certainly prefer the internal Goffman-like paradigms instead. They are not too popular though, because they rely on the internal rather than the external. (Having a tough typing day)

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    1. That sounds intriguing. What is this?

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  4. Sad truth: very few people in the world have a clue as to what a healthy relationship is. Humanity would be much happier if more did.

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    1. Yeah. Maybe we need to offer Relationships 101 at the high-school level, with "don't be a martyr" as the second point on the syllabus. Right after "don't be a jerk."

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  5. I just like to play Scrabble in the evenings with my boy. And make him laugh. And cook together.

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    1. Scrabble is nice. So much nicer than emotional torture. I'd say (just hazarding a guess) you're doing it right.

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