Happy Valentine’s Day

Here’s a piece of relationship advice our culture likes to hand out rather freely: don’t try to impress people, just be yourself! Not everyone is for you, but of course if you just be yourself in time you will find someone for you. This is bad advice if you’re in any way unusual, however.

If you are going to be yourself, then you are following a policy of Protecting Your Integrity. You will follow a policy of honesty with the world. You will not pretend to esteem that which you disdain nor pretend to esteem that which you disdain. You’re so honorable — good for you! Unfortunately would-be romantic partners (“RPs” hereafter) are unlikely to take a generous view of such a policy. Perhaps you’re an infidel and RP is religious. If RP is religious enough RP will want to drag you along to their services, and by Jebus you’d better clap and sing when you’re supposed to and act like mean it. True, you might get out of it if you stand firm, but trust me that if you do RP will make you to suffer for it in other ways. What goes for religion will generally go for politics, philosophy, their opinions of their relatives and your friends. Don’t get me started on what it’s like if you incline toward antinatalism and RP decides that RP really wants kids. Unless you get very lucky with respect to whatever potential RP will have you — and we’re talking lottery-winner lucky here, folks* — a policy of Protecting Your Integrity will result in a life of Forever Alone.

I deeply admire people who can sustain Forever Alone — it is a state for the noble and the strong. Most of us are not that noble or strong. Loneliness is a terrible form of human suffering. For those who are not, there is an alternative strategy which might work, call it Smile Through. Teach yourself to be a good enough actor that you can a convincing simulacrum of the person your RP wants you to be. Learn to keep your mouth shut. Get used to saying “yes, dear” a lot. It might work. But be warned: it is very psychically wearing to have to Smile Through, to have your life constantly being a stage in which your are acting a role of someone who you are not, and you might find that the costs of this wear are not worth the benefits in sex and companionship.

Of course if you just happen to be a conformist mediocrity then you need not really worry much about either Protecting Your Integrity or learning to Smile Through. Because then there are lots of potential RPs out there for you, and since you’re none too distinctive as a person, you needn’t worry much about what you are grating on the sensibilities of what other people are.

So that’s what life offers, folks. Protect Your Integrity and be Forever Alone, Smile Through and live as an unhappy stranger to yourself, be a conformist mediocrity, or hope to win the lottery. Another instance of why it is better never to have been.

*You will have been a rare successful solver of a nigh-unsolvable sorting problem, one which I have discussed here and here. Back to main post.

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