Friday, January 14, 2011

Steer Clear of Henry the VIII

I don't know whether this is on my mind because I've just blasted through all four seasons of the Tudors over break, or if it's because nothing is on tv during the day but soap operas, or what, but today I find myself musing about relationships.

In the Tudors, my favorite of King Henry VIII's wives turned out to be the one wife he didn't want: Anne of Cleves (played by a very endearing Joss Stone). She was such a generous, happy soul (and Joss isn't famously horse-faced as the real Anne of Cleves was said to be), free from malice and ambition, so that even Henry was eventually won over by her and enjoyed her company. In contrast, the strikingly gorgeous but slithery Anne Boleyn lost her head (not for the reasons of which she stood accused, but because she alienated so many with her behind-the-scenes machinations), as did the teenage trophy wife who was guilty of nothing but naivete and an insatiable need to be loved that the older Henry couldn't keep up with. Jane Seymour was probably the wife Henry loved best--who knows, she may have forever kept her head had she not died after giving birth to Edward, but Henry did seem to tire of women fairly quickly, changing wives as quickly as he changed mistresses.

Maybe sobriety has just made me wary of drama; it has certainly made me more cognizant of how much drama is unnecessary and tends to be totally self-created. In love, we tend to create drama by trying to force outcomes--or at the very least, becoming too attached to a particular outcome (an expectation). Truth is, you either love someone, or you don't, and vice versa (no one can make themselves feel a certain way). But people will do things like set their sights on someone and then try to act like they think that person wants them to be, like a chameleon. Or others will set their sights on someone and start trying to change them, mold them into what they personally want them to be. Both tactics normally require a fair amount of manipulation and lying in order to be subtle about what is the intent, and sometimes people do these things without even being aware that that's what they're doing. And, of course, both of these tactics are doomed to inevitably fail anyway, because nobody can pretend their whole life to be something they're not, and nobody can be made to change to suit anybody else.

But one thing's for sure: you attract to you precisely the thing you are putting out there. If you're a strong, self-confident person, you're going to attract other strong, self-confident people. If you're not but pretending to be, you're going to attract someone else pretending to be something they're not. Or you'll attract the opposite of what you're putting out: say you're insecure and needy; you'll attract someone who likes to think they're strong and decisive and everything you're putting out there that you're not (and that they're probably not either, in reality).

Another thing to pay attention to is how people speak of their exes and what they see to be the reasons a particular relationship ended. Take heed, because one day that will be YOU they're talking about. So, be wary of the person who is never at fault and is continually a victim. Be wary of the person who has a history of infidelity (if sexual fidelity is important to you). Be wary of the person who has a habit of getting involved with persons who are already in other relationships. And so on. There is seldom a healthy person behind any of these patterns of behavior.

We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. There is probably no one out there who is totally free from at least one red flag. But someone who seems reasonably self-aware, doesn't have an addiction problem, doesn't wallow in self-pity or anger, who can admit to their mistakes and can elaborate on what they learned from them, and who isn't still stuck on their ex, is probably a worthy prospect. The best thing you can do at all times is to be completely honest, with both them AND yourself. If the relationship is off to a good start like this and there is a genuine mutual attraction, be glad. You actually have something pretty rare, and pretty remarkable.

By far the biggest thing to always bear in mind is, if it takes another person for you to feel complete and happy, you're always going to wind up disappointed. Nobody can make you happy. That has to come from within yourself.

Best wishes to those seeking love in the new year. Steer clear of Henry the VIII. I'm just sayin'.


Anonymous said...

Brilliantly written. And I needed to read this today.

Joyce said...

Thank you. I'm glad, then, that you stumbled across it. :) Best wishes.