Maria Melnik is a writers’ assistant on cable show about pirates, which has had a profound effect on her understanding of the morality spectrum. When not pillaging, she enjoys long, immobile, hours on her couch with her televised and fictional love affairs, punctuated by some (more narratively-disjointed and wine-fueled) real ones. You can follow her shamefully recent Twitter debut at @_mariamelnik.
It’s only been two days since you tore out my heart and, as you can see, I have forgotten all about you. I have, of course, blocked your Instagram feed as to not be exposed to your petty meanderings, especially now that you’ve freed me from being a reluctant girlfriend. I assume you, however, were quick to realize your grave mistake and have been tirelessly following all my virtual conduits in order to recreate some semblance of what we had, however fragmentary and unrequited. Hard to imagine the acerbic aftertaste this week’s stream has given you – sorry I’m not sorry.
I need to confess something and it’s not going to be easy – the thought of selling my body for money has crossed my mind once or twice. I am not proud of it. I am even more shamed by what my college Women’s Studies professor would think or, say, my parents who paid good dollars for said college probably so I never have to think that thought. But during my flings with unemployment and subsequent Showtime’s Gigolos marathons I have had the passing thought – those dudes kind of have it made.
This brings me to the topic of the gray area entrepreneur, Jacqueline Samuels, who has opened up a snuggle spa, a cuddle concierge, a spooning salon that is the Snuggery. Turns out, American culture is chronically deficient in non-sexual touch – I guess we just go straight for the junk and maybe save the cuddling for after. Maybe. Probably not. Probably we have a really early appointment we have to make in the morning so let’s do this again sometime. Well apparently that’s our first mistake. Are you feeling anxious with the weight of the world on your snuggle-stunted shoulders? Perhaps consider treating the afterglow as the main event. Numerous studies (that seem to be clogging my pacifist-filled Facebook newsfeed) have shown that cuddling raises the levels of the oxytocin hormone that creates calmness, helps with depression, reduces stress and addiction and ups your immunity. And as we Californians know all too well, where there’s promise of inner peace, there’s a new age buck to be made – I’m looking at you, Lululemon.
Melnik: My “daily” TED talk viewing this morning was with Esther Perel, a psychotherapist who spoke about keeping the flame alive in long-term relationships – I am talking about HOT SEX, you guys. Perel posits that if we qualify love as “to have” and desire as “to want”, then desire within commitment becomes paradoxical, at least semantically. The question at hand is: why does good sex fade even for those couples who continue to love each other or, more plainly, is it possible to want what you already have? I loved this woman’s talk, possibly in a gay way, but that aside, I thought she had a great way of framing the issue – “the crisis of desire is the crisis of imagination”. I was quick to discuss with my soul sister and sexual liberté enthusiast, Tiffany Greshler. Gresh, do you agree that “a foregone conclusion can’t satisfy our interest”?
It’s long been an unquestioned part of romanceland folklore that one is not to discuss their past entanglements with their current flame – a rule on par with basics like not hogging the covers, upping your hygiene practices and not drinking an entire bottle of wine on your first date. (Oh, that’s not a rule? Phew.) In my understanding, the biggest reason for not bringing the ghosts of penises past into your love nest is the fear of blaspheming the new relationship through comparison. Even the most secure of us, unshaken by petty jealousies, are unable to avoid applying the divulged ex-data as it relates to the current configuration.
I say, fuck that. I love it when you talk about your ex. Is a big chunk of that because I secretly don’t want the entire truth but a euphemized adaptation of that relationship that more or less amounts to one thing – what an incredible upgrade I am? Of course. But, my need for immature ego strokes aside, I’ve found that hearing your man talk about his ex is one of the most efficient shortcuts to getting to know him.
First and foremost, are you nice? Obviously, I don’t want it to sound like you’re still in love but I’ve found that you can learn a lot from the tone used when discussing the ex. Yes it didn’t work out, yes you were different but, if you loved someone once, being flat out mean or cruel means an inability to let go of resentment, not to mention a general lack of respect for women – not a great combination to carry into your relationship.
The last few months, as I’ve been trip-and-falling through the world of online dating, I’ve been thinking a lot about my agenda within this virtual aggregate of weirdoes and gems. Many times, I’ve said ‘yes’ to a date with a guy who I preemptively knew wasn’t the right fit, long-term. My diplomatic justification for the date was, of course, the good ol’ “you never know” FOMO, an attempt to not be enslaved by my default judgments. But egalitarianism aside, my pre-date battle cry has always been and remains – “If it’s bad, it will probably be a good story”.
There once was a maiden who dreamt of a handsome white knight who would only send her messenger pigeons after the sun has set at the end of the earth (which was flat), having had his fill of sweet ale and wine. You guessed it, that maiden was yours truly and, for many moons, a sure way to keep my interest has been to treat me like crap.
The funny thing about white knights, though, is that they only remain such – so absolutely right for us – only as long as they stay stubbornly blind to this fact. Unlike the, what’s that dirty word, nice guy with whom you know where you stand, this type of guy is always just barely out of reach. Which is why you must have him, obviously. Unfortunately, this sexy, elusive, perpetually on-the horizon factor also means that he is probably a selfish asshole so there has to be some method to the self-destructive madness, right?
“But wanting what you can’t have isn’t exactly a new concept,” you would argue (perhaps over a glass of wine), “and is just as, if not more, pervasive among our penised counterparts”. Word. And I can imagine there are a lot of convenient evolutionary reasons for this – like the need to spread their seed to the highest amount of diverse mates. The lady side of the discourse, however, is a little more muddied. Behold the results of a quick Google search on the subject of “why women like jerks” (often euphemized as “bad boys”). And, yes, this is not unlike the curatorial process I applied to my graduate thesis.
“You want to marry everyone,” my friend said, not without judgment, in response to my latest time-untested infatuation. She wasn’t wrong; not too long ago I’ve received a text from a random number: “If you ever want to discuss engagement rings again, let’s grab a drink”. I have completely embraced the cliché of falling in love in Vegas and I have on my every trip there – by the hour. The truth is that, unlike my savvy, jaded, realistic friends, I never learned to compartmentalize, peg types, consider the situation and accept that the chances of meeting my soul mate at a 4th of July Deadmaus party are slim. In my tipsy mind, you and I will beat the odds – at least until the next weekend.
One of my recent husbands-to-be was tall, blonde and handsome. We danced and we kissed, there was a pool and a DJ and pretty lights and we were young. He graduated from the Naval Academy and told me he is really good on the grill. I impressed him with my knowledge of “crossing the line”. My husband-to-be also turned out to be the bachelor of the bachelor party – as I would learn when he shamelessly accepted my friend request (and continued to sext). He became someone else’s husband the following week but, by then, I’ve had my fix of An Officer and a Gentleman fantasies. Like clockwork.
Last month I celebrated my 25th birthday – a milestone – as my body promptly reminded me the next morning when I was begging for chicken soup as my last meal on this earth (I’m a vegetarian). So as my ovaries start their slow but sure journey towards shrivel-dom, I thought I’d make a list – some comforting manifesto proving that my entropic quarter-century has, at least, yielded some wisdom. And what’s a more sophisticated criteria to draw from than the tumultuous love life of a 20-something and the sex that follows or, more likely, precedes.
What I came to, instead, is a realization that, while I may know better, I’ve learned very little. So here’s a list of things I know, in theory, and would avoid if I used self-reflection for good, not evil. Indulge me as I tell you what not to do and then, promptly, do it again. There is a word for that…
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