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Should Love Be So Much Effort?

Should Love Be So Much Effort?

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As I said yesterday, I recently went to see Kin — a new play about how a young couple's love for each other helps them and their family members to find new ways of interacting with one another. As I said, the drama starts with a very funny break-up speech, delivered by a douchey young professor (who could almost be a character in a Jonathan Franzen novel) named Simon who's a little too smart and verbal for anyone's good. As he lets his lover, Anna, know that she is now his ex-lover as awkwardly and selfishly as possible, he attempts to excuse his oafish behavior by saying he's just trying to be honest — but he doesn't know what kind of person he's looking for, except that it's not her kind.

Then he goes on to say: "Can't you just feel it? There's something dead here. The light's gone out. And if the light's gone out then put out the light. Or maybe not. I don't know ... we could try to ignite it. But love shouldn't be so much effort. Or maybe it should."

Should it be, or shouldn't it be? That question has come up a lot over the years, among my friends and me. My take is that every once in a while, yes, you need to put some extra energy into doing something you don't want to do to make your partner happy. Every now and then, you need to discipline yourself to change a habit to make the relationship smoother. Sometimes, you need to work out a long-standing disagreement that's started to cause serious relationship problems, or find a way to get through some life changes that are stressing the relationship.

But I don't think a relationship should be all work, all the time, particularly not in the beginning stages — and if it is, well, I don't know what kind of person you should be looking for, but maybe you should look for another one. (And as I see it, the play goes on to more or less back me up on that.)

I'll leave you with a little more from Simon, who goes on to say to Anna: "Are you going to make this hard on me? Don't. Please don't. This is just human relationships. I wrote a poem once. When I was in my thirties and I still wrote poetry. And I compared a woman's vagina to a revolving door. People come in. They go out. That's life. And you know what my simile for the penis was? A staple gun. In an office. Punch, punch, punch. Revolve, revolve, revolve. That is life. That is the f*cking monotony of searching for your soulmate."

What a way with words, huh?

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