love. week thirty eight.
city. new york city
Lola is a friend who is studying to be a psychoanalyst. Here, she talks to me about finding (and forgetting) love.
I insisted that I had some deeply rooted neurosis that was preventing me from finding, committing, and cultivating romantic love in my life. I told her that I felt lost; that love was the only thing in my life that completely confused me, and of which I knew nothing about.
I shared my belief that there was something wrong with me. Something that desperately needed fixing. I'm ready to do the work, I just have no idea what that work consists of. Overcoming my perfectionism? My intellectualism? My brother's death? My birth? My break with religion? My firmly held insecurity that I don't matter and everything I do (or love) is worthless?
Here's what she told me over a brief iMessage chat:
Lola: I don’t think you need as much help as you think.
Me: Why do you say that?
Lola: Because when it comes to romantic relationships, identifying the problem is easy. It’s just putting in the work to overcome it that’s the hard part. But that’s something you have to do on your own.
Me: Then maybe you can just point out the problem to me? I haven’t been in a single stable relationship.
Lola: If you describe your romantic relationships here in a brief message I’ll probably know the problem. Lol
Me: I meet someone. She’s interesting. We open up to each other. Emotionally, sexually, intellectually etc. My feelings for her remain friendly. Her's become romantic. And it ends.
Once in a blue moon, I feel passionate for someone. But it’s usually just sexual passion. Like I know I’m not in love with her. She's just much hotter than the girls I usually date. Basically, I never find someone who is an emotional, intellectual, physical, etc etc match.
Something is always off.
Lola: Okay now tell me about the relationship between you and your mother. Lmao
Me: What?? Really?
Lola: Yes, just briefly.
Me: I was always closer to her than my dad. I think she was the only one who could understand me and vice versa. (But since I started to drift from religion, I also drifted from her). I think that I've outgrown her in some ways. But I know that she still understands some things that I don’t. But our relationship is much more complicated because of it.
With my dad, it’s always been easy and comfortable, but also much more superficial.
I’m pretty sure that I have some sort of Oedipal complex.
Lola: Well yeah everyone does. That’s normal. But your mothers presence is very strong in your unconscious.
Me: Yes, definitely.
Lola: Are you someone who likes routine?
Me: I hate routine. But routine is easy. I hate easy tho. So I have these cycles. Where I build a routine and then destroy it entirely.
Lola: Do you have a good memory?
Me: For concepts. Terrible with names and faces.
Also my older brother died when I was like 7. I don’t have any conscious trauma. But maybe something sub-conscious.
Lola: Are your beliefs flexible and do you doubt a lot or are you pretty fixed in your thinking?
Me: Extremely flexible and doubting. 10/10
Lola: Ok, so you’re a hysteric.
Me: Oh shit. That doesn’t sound good 😂
Lola: No it’s most Jews honestly. Lol. I am too.
Me: Oh, also I like to be bad, but I need to be seen as good. This has always felt very confusing to me.
Lola: Yes, you’re a hysteric 100000%
It’s a red flag for a hysteric when they achieve getting the desire completely from another person. We want to long for it. And also want to know that everyone else still desires us.
Honestly sometimes there is no fixing things. You need to be in a hot and cold relationship. There has to be some tension. And the other person needs to be extremely independent.
There are healthy versions of this. But of course we tend to be drawn to the unhealthy ones. And then we think we have a problem.
Me: Yes. All of the girls I was even remotely in a relationship wish were unhealthy.
Lola: Because they give you that feeling of uncertainty which is appealing for you. But yeah I’d also say you have a bit of a Madonna whore complex, because your mother has a strong presence in your life.
But yeah you don’t have a problem. You’re a hysteric. Which is a personality type. And you will never change. But you can become more aware. And also try to consciously make different decisions knowing that you are like that.
Me: But should I stop trying to be in a relationship? That’s one of my questions.
Lola: You should never try to be in a relationship. That's all wrong.
Me: Okay when you put it that way…
Lola: You should spend time with people and when it gets to a point where you only want to be around them and they are a larger part of your life - then consider committing to a relationship. But don’t go into anything thinking about a relationship.
Lola: Hysteric men have a really hard time in my opinion.
Me: And women?
Lola: Not really cause women get away with being hysteric. It’s very feminine.
Me: But I thought women crave stability and commitment and all those things that I hate. But maybe the difference is that they never actually get that, while I get it very easily. And it’s the attainment which creates the problem.
Lola: Oh yeah they crave it. Tremendously. But they’re not actually that great at achieving it. The men are usually the anchors. It’s much more socially acceptable for women to be emotional and confused and impulsive.
Me: Do you think all of this is somehow tied to my intelligence btw? I’m never sure how my intelligence interacts with my emotions.
Lola: Well you’re definitely narcissistic. Intelligent people are usually a bit more unhappy but I don’t think it makes a huge difference in terms of basic relationship dynamics. You just think it’s much more complex than it is. And you probably take more time to think about it. But your narcissism is probably what’s standing in your way rather than your intelligence.
So what does this all mean? For one, I'm kind of relieved. Everything Lola said makes total sense to me, and fits with my experience of myself. (Except the narcissism. While I'm incredibly self-conscious and reflective, I very rarely make things about myself.) In other words, I'm not broken. I'm just me. I can live with that.
Secondly, I think she's right that I should stop dating. It doesn't help and only gets me more in my head about these things. I mean, I'll still meet women, and try to grow closer to them in whatever way seems fun and healthy, but I'll try my best to keep it outside of the 'dating super-structure' that people my age (with the big 30 coming up fast) obsess over.
Finally, I'll try to learn more about Hysterics. It's very cool to fit in a box. A sense of belonging, even if it's belonging to a club of hysterics lol.