Sunday, January 30, 2011

Romantic Advice from Donald Rumsfeld

I can't resist pop culture entreaties to help me become a better person. Self-help books, makeovers, advice columns, etc. 

Tell me you're going to help me overcome my fears/channel my anger/learn to stop being so critical/lose weight/get perfect skin/find love/etc and I'm immediately intrigued. Unfortunately this makes me susceptible to things like the Oprah magazine and high therapy bills, but I can't help being optimistic that I can become a better, happier person. Gullible, I know, but I'm trying. I'm just trying is all. 

So I was sucked into a recent email newsletter from The Rumpus, where writer Stephen Elliott translated Donald Rumsfeld's advice for diplomacy into advice for love: 

"I wish instead of starting a war Donald Rumsfeld had given relationship advice. This is what he would have said: In love there are things you know, and things you don't know, and things you don't know you don't know. You can't share your feelings with your lover when you don't know what those feelings are. Arguments of convenience lack integrity and inevitably trip you up. Don't treat your lover in a way you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the Washington Post. Don't speak ill of your girlfriend's ex-boyfriends. Enjoy your time together, it may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life. First rule of love: you can't win unless you're on the ballot. I don't do quagmires. If you screw up, talk it out, delays only compound mistakes. In our system relationships require consent, not command. Every day every relationship is filled with numerous opportunities for serious error, enjoy it. It is easier to get into something than to get out of it. It isn't making mistakes that's critical; it's correcting them. Leave your lover's family business to them; you'll have plenty to do without trying to manage the First Family. Let your friends know you're still the same person. Look for what's missing, no-one can help you see what isn't there. Love is human beings; it's addition rather than subtraction. Preserve your lover's options, she might need them. The price of being close to another human being is delivering bad news, you fail them when you don't tell the truth. The way to do well is to do well. If possible, visit the ex, they know the ropes and can help you see around corners. When raising an issue with your lover try to come away with a decision; pose issues so as to evoke guidance. You will launch many projects but have time to finish only a few. Your new girlfriend is not your old girlfriend. Your performance in a relationship depends on your significant other; select the best."

Pretty solid advice from an unlikely figure, if you ask me, but then he does kind of remind me of my dad in a curmudgeonly old psycho kind of way. The gist of it is basically to be a self-sufficient individual and to help your ally/lover to be one as well. The world would be a better place if we all took this advice. Now if I could get some of his advice on finding an ally...

 

Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

2 comments:

skdpnyc said...

It's all good advice, I just don't understand what "let your friends and family know you're the same person" means in either context, for Rummy or a relationship

Jane Donuts said...

I think he meant when you're in a relationship - to not lose yourself, to maintain your independence and let people know you're still the same person you've always been, can be relied upon, etc. (As opposed to people who change to be in a relationship and compromise big parts of themselves.)