I just finished watching Moonstruck. It put a friend of mine in mind. He comes from a very traditional Italian family. On both sides, his grandparents were immigrants from Italy. I’ve met his family a few times. I almost find their strict adherence to their traditions and beliefs kind of funny and quaint, if it wasn’t also a bit disturbing.

The most disturbing aspect is their insistence on running their son’s life. Previously, I knew that his parents were a source of stress for him. Constant nagging about how much he works, whether he makes enough money, how much exercise he gets, how he does his hair, the clothes that he wears, etc. The list goes on and on. Now in his mid-30s, he still has not stood up to them.

One thing about him; (and this definitely falls into the realm of idle gossip, so take it as that) he’s always had difficulty with women. I don’t mean that he always ends up with the wrong type or the wrong type always goes for him. I mean, he’s tried every type and not one has ever stuck, and by not sticking, I mean, not lasting more than one or two dates.

This was always a big puzzle to me. When I was single, I sympathized more, thinking, “Well, it IS really hard to find someone decent, out there.” But, I’ve known this guy for 8 years or so, and I was only single for about 2 of those.

So, the rest of the time, I was puzzled. How can a person date literally hundreds of people (I would say he averaged about 3 new women a month), and not find one with potential?

I know I make him sound like a playboy, but he really isn’t. He’s as traditional as they get, and was always hoping to find the right one. When he liked a woman, she never returned his call. When a woman liked him, he always found some tiny flaw that he claimed was a deal breaker.

So, I came to the obvious conclusion; this guy has mother issues.

After having met his mother, these are the things that stood out to me: extremely anxious, perfectionist, and controlling. And no, not the good kind of perfectionist. The kind where a person sits and frets over things completely beyond her own control, for days.

That information was enough to have me conclude that he could not get past the first or second date because he knew that if he started a relationship with any woman, that eventually, he would have to bring her home. She would subjected to his mothers scrutiny. Therefore, he had to be sure that he brought home someone who was absolutely perfect.

This went on for years. It finally reached a point where I stopped thinking that someday he’d sort things out. I gave up on him. I believed him to be destined to spend the rest of his life going on first and second dates (unless something serious happened to spark a major change).

Then it happened. He met someone. It was just another date that I didn’t think would lead to anything, but within a week, they were exclusive. Smitten and happy, they spent every evening and weekend together. It was complete and total infatuation.

This lasted about a month, maybe a little less. His cousin was getting married, which meant the girl would meet his family for the first time.

The meeting was disastrous. His mother had a complete and total meltdown at the wedding. That’s how much she hated this girl on sight.

What could my friends girlfriend have done to inspire such immediate and unfettered hatred? Did she try to turn tricks at the wedding? Deal drugs? Pull out a deadly weapon? Did she shove the elderly and steal their walkers? Nope. None of that.

This girl had the gall to show up and be tall. Yep. She showed up in the body she was born into and that was enough to make her completely and totally unacceptable.

It’s not totally clear to me whether or not she’d be acceptable if she were model thin. They declared her “too big,” but she is 6’1” and proportioned like an average American woman. Besides 14 year olds and anorexics, who could be small at 6’1”?

His parents have started a new wave of calling and nagging constantly about a variety of things about him, but his new girlfriend is at the top of the list.

After that horrible weekend they had a couple of weeks ago, I told him that he better send her flowers (and he said he would, I don’t know if he did).

This has snapped me into a realization, too. I always thought of his mother problem as being an old issue that he was still nursing from childhood. She criticized him too much when he was little and he couldn‘t get over it now. I thought it was one of those irrational fears that people hold onto long after it’s necessary. Now I realize that there really was something to fear. Who would want to subject another person to that kind of nastiness?

Of course, now the thing that makes me angry is that he’s let it go on for this long. He should have stood up to his parents 15 years ago, but he let them control his life well into adulthood, and now they’re completely unreasonable.

Something has finally happened to put them truly at odds (rather than him being a “good son” and placating them at every turn), and he has no foundation to stand on, no power of his own to call on, and worst of all, no ability to stand up to them.

So far, his plan has been to walk on eggshells and give them everything else they want, in hopes that they’ll relent and accept his girlfriend.

If this plan works, I’ll eat my hat. If he doesn’t stand up for her, I don’t see what hope there will be.

In the mean time, neither of them are accepting Thanksgiving invitations from friends or family (not from her family, either) because he’s holding out hope that his mom will retract her declaration that she will not have any kind of relationship with his girlfriend, and invite them to Thanksgiving.

Wee. Even if she gets to go, that’ll be fun. Thanksgiving at the house of people who hate you. What a great holiday that’ll be for her.

On top of not standing up for her, he’s allowing his parents to indirectly walk all over her by not making alternative plans for Thanksgiving. At this stage in the relationship, I’m sure it’s totally voluntary on her part, but if she were smart, she’d know that things aren’t going to improve. If he’s allowing them to indirectly kick her around now, he’s never going to stop them when they want to kick her directly, later.

I’ve thought about stepping in and telling him to stand up for her, but I know what he’s like. I give him a sound and logical argument to do something (or not do something), he listens attentively, agrees with my logic, tells me it makes sense, and then goes off and does the exact opposite thing. He’s too non-confrontational to put up a fight in a disagreement, so that kills any chance of real communication or discussion.

Also, let’s face it, it’s none of my business. People screw up their relationships all the time, and no amount of discussion will change their path. When it comes to relationships, we’re ruled by our hearts and our hearts make stupid, stupid choices.

Whenever I talk to Adam about this, I get really heated and angry. He agrees with me, but doesn’t boil over with anger whenever the topic comes up. Last night, after talking about this, he asked me, “How long do you think they’ll stay together?” and I replied, very wearily, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed together permanently, but I don’t know if they’ll be happy. People can stay in unhappy relationships for a long, long time.”

Which reminds me of that part in Moonstruck where Nicolas Cage says, “…love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess…”

When I think about how much time I’ve spent heart-broken, hurt or upset because of love compared to the amount of time love has made me happy. Well. Maybe I’m thinking about attachment or desire, which is often mistaken for love.

Anyway, speaking of love and commitment and all of that BS, I watched a totally different movie last week, called Sweet Home Alabama. I actually really didn’t like it much, at all, even though it did land squarely in the romantic comedy genre. However, in the beginning of the movie, Patrick Dempsey proposed to Reese Witherspoon in an extremely romantic way. Then later, her friend asked her if she cried during the proposal, and she said, “Of course I cried! Wouldn’t you?” and her friend replied, “One man for the rest of my life? I’d bawl my bloody eyes out!”

I laughed heartily at that (luckily, I was home alone at the time). There are many times when I’ve thought that I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life with one man. Sure, spending the rest of your life with one person didn’t sound so extreme when the average life-expectancy for a man was somewhere in the mid-40s, but these days, he’s likely to be around a lot longer than that.

I tend to have a crazy-diverse and unsettled type of personality. My life has always been precarious. I’ve always hated that, and craved stability, but stability makes me bored and nauseous, too.

The older I get, and the more peace I find, the more relaxed I become. While I claim to be diverse and unsettled, there’s also something about me that will automatically settle without much thought. I buy houses, I buy major appliances, I invest, I stay in my relationships beyond the honeymoon stage, I have pets.

During this past year of reiki and energy work, I’ve discovered that my root chakra has a tendency to be pretty weak. It could be that lack of grounding causes me to feel so scared and unstable at times, but flighty and uncommitted other times.

Speaking of issues from childhood, this is why I find it so hard to be ok with the idea of a long-term commitment. I don’t want to build a life in which I have to rely on someone. I don’t want to put myself in a position in which I could be disappointed by someone. I definitely do not want to be legally tied to someone that I can’t trust to treat me well and fairly 110% of the time.

As far as boyfriends go, Adam does pretty well. In the places where he needs to improve, he’s aware of it, and he puts forth a lot of effort to do better. Also, generally speaking, he’s a positive person with a sweet disposition. This is a huge advantage because that means, for him, bad moods are rare, and he’s more likely to make compromises.

While he’s a good boyfriend and a good person, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that we’ll always be good for each other. Also, being a good partner is not a very good argument for marriage, either, because, really, why? What’s the advantage?

This is why marriage is becoming less and less sacred in this country. People cohabitate, people get divorced, people get married in an effort to solve financial problems.

Awhile back, I read the latest book from Elizabeth Gilbert on marriage. In it, she tries to make peace with the fact that she has to get remarried because of her boyfriends immigration issues. In the end, she does some find some peace with it, but I have to say, reading that book made me less at peace with marriage than ever.

She talks about how marriage has become less and less sacred in our society, and how the social conservatives are upset by our general lack of respect for the institution.

Ironically, the only people who seem to really care about the institution of marriage anymore are the people who are not legally allowed to marry. They don’t get the opportunity to try that dream on for size. Many of us have already figured out that we’re not so good at the “happily ever after thing” because we’ve gotten the chance to try it.

If a bunch of them get to try it, that means the number of people who are successful at it will go up. The number of people who’ve failed will go up, too, but those successful marriages will still be there, showing us how it’s done.

Also, I heard about a study once that showed that gay couples are much better at solving differences because they know how to communicate with each other (because they are of the same gender, duh).

So, anyway, that was kind of ramble-y, but you get the idea.

Lately, one thing has sort of occurred to me. I don’t really rely on Adam all that much, in a practical sense. I own the house and both cars and I have all the financial independence. This is all stuff I acquired before I met him, and stuff that would remain mine if he were gone. Despite that, he relies on me a lot, in a practical sense. He lives in my house and drives my car. I’m not trying to say that he doesn’t contribute, he does, but that’s not the point.

Nothing is in his name and he has no access to my finances. If I were to die, then I’m not sure where that would leave him. Even if he stayed in the house, he‘d have no way to pay for it. So, I finally came up with a reason to get married, but I suppose that’s a detail that could also be taken care of with a decent Will.

Alright, this entry has entered it’s 5th page, so I’m going to quit now.

I have a dance lesson tomorrow.

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Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 at 8:39 PM