9. Honesty has its limits.
This one's hard. Because I want love so much, and because I spent so many years lying, I detest untruth. It gets in the way of true expression, it creates false impressions and expectations, and most of all, you can just feel the rottenness spread. But you know what? The honest thing doesn't work so well. People don't want to hear about my mother, or Kabbalah, or depression, on first dates, even if I honestly want to talk about them. And lines such as "I'd really like to invite you upstairs now, but I can't tell whether you think that's cool and assertive or sleazy" will fail either way. If he likes assertive, immediate sex, you've just revealed yourself to be painfully self-conscious. If he thinks that it's sleazy, you've just revealed yourself to be sleazy. Solution? You have to judge the situation, and take a chance. If you bet wrong, you bet wrong, but you can't let the guy peek under the hood all the time. I've realized that even when my decisions are good, people don't need to see them getting made.
10. Despite it all, I still believe in love.
A lot of my innocence has been lost, and I miss it. I miss the feeling of holding someone, even someone I just met, and feeling the rush of relief that after all this time, true love is finally a possibility (see "want it too much"…). After the heartbreak I just received (from best-sex-ever boy, who told me never to talk to him again), I think it is now impossible for me to really believe in that sort of instant karma again. I'll always second-guess that impulse, see it for the delusion that it is, and not get swept off my feet so easily. And that makes me sad, that diminution in the power of the embrace.
Desire is the root of suffering. When we enter into a love-relationship, we should know that we're setting ourselves up for some amount of suffering. If there's nothing at stake, there's no love, so we put our desires in play, and assume the risk of them causing us pain. Certainly, desiring such a relationship itself causes suffering, and has caused me suffering. But, I believe in some fundamental place that real love - not the white knight or ecstasy-blowjob - is possible and is part of the richest marrow of life. What better way to end a clichéd list of clichéd observations than with the greatest cliché of all: that despite it all, I still believe in love.
Jay Michaelson is chief editor of Zeek.
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