3 Ways That Elizabeth Gilbert And I TOTALLY Agree

I’ll admit, I was bracing for the worst.

It’s not always popular (or smart!) to tease your readers, but I’m glad you were able to take it in stride.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how many NICE things you had to say about last Thursday’s blog, which suggested that you may be holding men to a somewhat unreasonable standard:

This was FANTASTIC!! The more straight up, in your face and bold you get, the better. Great job!!!

Lucia

Hi Evan,

I love this blog post… especially “Drink, Play, F-ck”! How clever!!! There was actually some advice that was helpful to me in this one. I’m dating the most wonderful man but he’s on the feminine energy side, and he’s not a brainiac, which I love. I’m trying to focus on all of his wonderful traits and how beautifully he treats me and my children – trying to re-train my dating brain. Thanks for the reality-check.

Michelle

Thanks, Evan, I loved this and I cracked up over the “male” version of the movie (of which I haven’t seen yet, but now will with a more objective viewpoint!) Keep up the good work. I’d rather hear the truth even though I might not always like what I hear. I also thoroughly enjoyed your book Why He Disappeared.

Marie

Marie mentions the word “truth,” which I think is a good leaping-off point for today’s blog. Because the truth is that there isn’t always one objective truth.

As much as I may joke about Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, she’s a hell of a writer who really struck a chord.

However, the closer you can come to understanding OTHER people’s truths, the more effective you will be at negotiating the ups and downs of the world.

And as much as I may joke about Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, she’s a hell of a writer who really struck a chord.

In her follow-up book, she tried to understand OTHER people’s truths, specifically about the topic of marriage.

I read her book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage in about 2 days while I was in Puerta Vallarta, and found myself highlighting full passages. Without further ado, here are 3 things that really struck me when reading Committed:

1) The idea that there’s no point in marriage because of the high divorce rate is a false argument. This is a perfect example of how you can’t always believe statistics without knowing the context. The divorce rate, first of all, is closer to 40% than 50%. More importantly, it’s highly skewed by young people who have no business getting married at all. Says Gilbert:

“The younger you are when you get married, the more likely you are to divorce later. In fact, you are ASTONISHINGLY more likely to get divorced if you marry young. You are, for example, two to three times more likely to get divorced if you marry in your teens or early twenties than if you wait until your thirties or forties…When we are very young, we tend to be more irresponsible, less self-aware, more careless, and less economically stable than when we are older. Therefore, we should not get married when we are very young. This is why 18 year olds don’t have a 50% divorce rate; they have a 75% divorce rate, which blows the curve for everyone else. The cutoff is 25 – couples who marry before that are exceptionally more divorce prone”.

Clearly, marriage itself isn’t a bad bet once you know what you’re doing. The issue is that there are millions of people over the age of 25 who haven’t necessarily learned from their own mistakes. Like this mistake, for example:

2) You’re unhealthily obsessed with obsession.

You love being in love. You want to have a life-long partnership, but more importantly, you want to have that FEELING – that tingly, girlish infatuation that reminds just how perfect your new relationship is.

Except, as you know, that glowing perfect relationship has NEVER worked out in your entire life. And yet, you keep on chasing it. Believe me, you’re not alone. But this doesn’t mean obsession is a good thing. Says Gilbert:

“Dr. Helen Fisher has noted that an awful lot of babies are conceived during the first six months of a love story, a fact that I find really noteworthy. Hypnotic obsession can lead to a sense of euphoric abandon, and euphoric abandon is the very best way to find yourself accidentally pregnant. Some anthropologists argue, in fact, that the human species needs infatuation as a reproductive tool in order to keep us reckless enough to risk the hazards of pregnancy so that we can constantly replenish our ranks…Fisher’s research has also shown that people are far more susceptible to infatuation when they are going through delicate or vulnerable times in their lives.”

So when you’re feeling a little weak or a little needy, that’s EXACTLY when you’re ripe for an unhealthy obsession that leads to heartbreak. You’ve seen this before.

Don’t let it happen again. Don’t partner up when you’re weak and needy.

Find love when you feel good about yourself.

Find love that’s healthy and normal, not obsessive.

Which leads us to my final point:

3) When you’re obsessed, you don’t really see the man for all that he is. This is what leads to bad relationships. You think that the “feeling” and his great qualities are enough to carry you through. What you ignore is that you’re actually miserable with him. Says Gilbert:

“People fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that…. Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.”

I can’t tell you how many women reach out to me every day to ask a question:

I know I’m going to put myself out of business here, but there’s only one thing to do when you have a man who treats you that way.

How come he doesn’t want to sleep with me?

How come he only texts me?

How come he still has his profile on Match.com?

How come he never says he loves me?

These letters are written by the kindest, smartest, most impressive women in the world, and they all have one thing in common: they’re delusional.

I know I’m going to put myself out of business here, but there’s only one thing to do when you have a man who treats you that way.

Dump him!

You don’t need to read an advice column or a blog or a book.

You don’t need to explain to me your unique circumstances about why your selfish, non-committal man is “different” and how you really think you have a chance.

You just have to observe what Elizabeth Gilbert and I have already observed.

You see your man for his good qualities and his potential, but you can’t actually live with his bad qualities, namely his lack of commitment and kindness to you. This is why your relationship is unfixable.

You can’t fix it. I can’t fix it. He can’t fix it. He doesn’t want to.

Thus, there’s nothing to negotiate, nothing to get him to change.

Find a man who you’re less obsessed with who actually WANTS to be your committed partner and you can have a successful marriage.

I promise you, it’s not just possible. If you listen to what I have to say here, it’s inevitable.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Candice

    loved this!

  2. 2
    Heather

    Evan,
     
    Good article.  However, I do think there are exceptions to every “rule” or situation.  You’d mentioned that we should not find someone while we feel weak.  I wouldn’t say that I necessarily felt weak when I met my boyfriend, but I was going through a devastating time, my Mom having been diagnosed with not one but two cancers and the outcome was not certain.  I knew I’d be OK in time, and I had alot of friends to support me.  I told him before I met him, that I was dealing with Mom’s cancer, that way he’d have an “out” if he wanted it.  He stepped up, let me cry on his shoulder, held my hand, and supported me and Mom.  We grew closer and since then, we found out that my Mom is now in remission. 
     
    You just never know when you’ll find love.  But overall, this was a really great article and I agree with it.  Thanks for posting this!
     

  3. 3
    Michelle

    Thank you for this! Especially,”You can’t fix it. I can’t fix it. He can’t fix it. He doesn’t want to.” I recently found the courage to dump my ex boyfriend for only texting me and other bad boyfriend behavior I started to notice. I can admit I was delusional. If it weren’t for you Evan, I would have stuck around because I would have only been looking at his good qualities and potential as you mentioned. I feel strong for ending it, and he did not seem one bit bothered by the break up. It confirms he did not care much for the relationship.

  4. 4
    Jess

    Great job Evan! You hit the spot.

  5. 5
    Lara

    Yikes! All kinds of defensiveness about marriage on here, trying to justify it, or something. In the spirit of accepting other peoples’ truths, how about acknowledging that it works for some, doesn’t work for others, for a whole host of reasons that are highly individual? Seems pretty obvious.

  6. 6
    Teresa

    For me personally marriage is a bad bet.  I even waited till I was 33 to get married.  I agree wholeheartedly with you can’t fix it.  I tried to fix my ex h what a waste of time and energy.

  7. 7
    Gina

    Evan, 

    Once again you are spot on. A lot of what you write is simply old school common sense. I believe that with the right person, marriage can be a truly wonderful and beautiful experience. Your words of wisdom help women–if they take heed–to increase their chances of finding the right person. I listened to your advice one year ago and left a relationship that had no future. It hurt like hell for the first six months or so. Fast forward year later, and I am now in a wonderful relationship with a man that treats me like gold. Thank you so much Evan for writing this blog; it has made such a positive difference in my love life.

  8. 8
    starthrower

    Nothing to argue with here.  It’s all sound, wise advice. 

  9. 9
    Jennifer

    Nice.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to read ‘Commited’ but now I do.  I love the bit in your blog about how marrying young has sqewed the percentages of divorce. 
    Looking forward to your next post. 

  10. 10
    Jane from single adult

     I totally agree with your blog. We always said that the marriage will make our life more stable. But now we see this not true. Before marriage we happily survive with the relationship after get married it is completely destroyed. So living relationship is quite better.

  11. 11
    Joe

    Maybe people who marry young divorce at a higher rate than those who get married older simply because they live long enough to get divorced.

  12. 12
    Ruby

    Joe #11

    Actually, the average length of most marriages that end in divorce is 7 years (the infamous “7-year itch). For those under 25, the average length is only 3 years.

  13. 13
    Artie

    Once again, “thank you!”  Always seems like you say (ok, reiterate) exactly what I need to hear at just the right time. :*

  14. 14
    Rosemary Breen

    Marriage itself is not the problem. If it works it is because the people who share it work well together. If it fails it is because of the people who chose to enter into marriage in the first place.

    Marriage gets too much of a bad rap and it cant even stick up for itself :) 

    Cheers

  15. 15
    sthrnphoenix

    Wonderful post, Evan.  I’m glad that you and Elizabeth Gilbert chose to point out that divorce statistics include more than just what it appears to be on the face.  Bravo!  And it seems like it should be a no-brainer that you should want to be in a relationship that leaves you open to making rational decisions, but I’ve been in that euphoric relationship.  The quicker we can break through the fog, the better.  I don’t think I’ll ever chase that feeling again.  I’ve been working on following your advice for 2 years and have been building a relationship with a wonderful man thanks to your thought provoking and sensible advice.  I’ll keep on reading your advice to remind myself of what he needs too.  Thank you!

  16. 16
    Maia

    Evan,
    Standing ovation! 

  17. 17
    Lara

    What are the sources on those marriage stats? As folks here have said before, throwing around statistics to make your argument only works if you reveal the source of the stats and people can judge for themselves. As Joe #11 points out, there are many ways of interpreting numbers, so you have to be clear. Which is why this comes off as a “rah-rah marriage” blog sometimes. If you have to resort to rah-rah, then that means you don’t really have much confidence in your argument.  

  18. 18
    Angie Star

    What a great blog this is, read with a smile on my face…This post speaks to me personally, I am seperated with 3 young kids. Splitting is heart breaking eventhough you know it’s best for both parties.
    People when they get older can grow and develop spiritually in different directions, which can be a causefo a marriage to fail. You may have entered marriage with love and all the right reasons, but as above described it can cause you then to grow apart. Eventhough you still love eachother dearly, especially you are having 3 children together. But you don’t have enough in common anymore to live together especially when the kids leave home.
    And starting dating again is hard when you have 3 young children…they come first.

  19. 19
    Fleur

    So when you’re feeling a little weak or a little needy, that’s EXACTLY when you’re ripe for an unhealthy obsession that leads to heartbreak. You’ve seen this before.
    Don’t let it happen again. Don’t partner up when you’re weak and needy.
    Find love when you feel good about yourself.
    Find love that’s healthy and normal, not obsessive.

    Evan, I’m sure I’ve seen you write this many times before, and I’ll hazard a guess I’ve heard or read the same sentiments dozens if not hundreds of times before. BUT OMG, I finally got it!

    For 20 years, I’ve been confounded as to why these two relationships I’ve had – one in college and one in my late 30s – were so good. They were actually kind of average, but when they ended, I let them end, didn’t try to fix anything, and felt pretty good about myself. The answer is that I wasn’t coming from a needy, weak place like I had with every other relationship.

    It’s so simple, but this was a huge breakthrough for me. I’ve just spent two hours blogging about it. Thank you, thank you, for having the patience to repeat this until it sunk in. 

  20. 20
    Jennifer

    @Rosemary #14 LOL..you are soo right

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