Advice Column

The one thing I’ve learned in a few years of both giving and receiving advice, is that if it’s not requested, try to avoid it.

I’m a bit of a know-it-all so you can take my word on this.

Despite the above good advice, and despite the tendency of most humans I’ve encountered to agree with this (very American — don’t bother me and I won’t bother you) the one area of inescapable advice giving is the area of love.

Everyone has an opinion on love because everyone has experienced love to one degree or another. And because our own experience is so loud in our own ears, it is the thing we most often hear as truth universally. There is nothing more enjoyable than sharing your own experiences that correct the views of another person.

It is the unfortunate reality of the single that free advice on love is so readily given away. Just about anything a single person says about relationships, loneliness, commitment, or marriage is seen as an opportunity for advice.

I’ve often thought myself to be starting a perfectly reasonable conversation on what it means to be truly lonely only to find I’d stumbled into a top ten list of websites to find Mr. Right.

It makes single people wary of sharing their experiences because it apparently sounds very much like the dying warble of a lone love bird. It forces the singles to pretend there is nothing to share in their single journey — ever. That they don’t require companionship of any kind! That they’re not interested in men or women, humans, cats, macrame.

It requires avoiding hilarious anecdotal stories about things like choking to death at home, hanging out alone on a Friday night, going stag to a wedding, moldy leftovers, etc, etc, etc.

Romance for the romantically settled is always a favorite topic because it allows them to indulge, even if briefly, in a superiority of situation. And from their vantage point they can naturally see how you are “failing”. So even if you are interested in discussing — from an academic standpoint the optimal time suggested for a relationship before it turns from dating to marriage — you risk a sermon on your deficient qualities you had no intention of being reminded about.

I’m afraid that my current reality (which I will do no one the injustice of supposing is a universal truth) is one in which I have a collection of neutral topics at the ready for most acquaintances. Politics, religion, fashion, and films — to name a few. And I reserve the topics of love and romance for those who are only ready to have a good laugh.

For that is all I am ready to accept from romance myself.

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