You are Who You Love (?)

When I was a precocious teen, I was a pretty big fan of Ayn Rand’s books. In reality, her writing’s pretty black-and-white and doesn’t have those subtle shades that a great author should have, but that’s not the point.
The love relationships in her novels (Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged) had profoundly influenced my idea of what love should be, regardless of the author’s lack of subtlety. Everything about Dominique and Howard Roarke screamed passion to me, really.
I’m on the market again. I’d had a brief fling in October that I’d hoped might go somewhere, but it was too much, too soon, and that’s another topic for another time. I’m testing the waters, many different waters, and I’m realizing once again how damned perplexing dating can be sometimes, even when you understand why it’s that way.
I’d rather be alone, though, than with someone who doesn’t fit the rather refined expectations I have for anyone who might become my lover. I’ve been thinking about it this week. Is personality enough? Are brains adequate? Does there have to be “a whole package?”
There comes a time when you start wondering if being alone versus being together with someone who’s less that what you dream of is really a wise choice. It takes a strong person, I guess, to answer “yes” to that wondering, but I believe that’s my answer.
Ayn Rand always would assert that who you choose to love is a reflection of how worthy you believe yourself to be. When you settle, you’re telling yourself you’re simply not deserving of better.
But what constitutes “settling?” There’s a loaded question, huh? I suppose it depends on your standards. I’ve had the options of settling for guys who are on my intellectual level, with whom I could really talk, but the fact is, if chemistry’s missing, if that little sizzle-bang-bang is missing, then let’s face it, you’re with a friend, not a lover.
I don’t want a friend. Is that really so wrong? I want a lover. Someone who sets me afire. I don’t care to have yet another viable conversation partner who doesn’t stir me in ways that makes me squirm and cross my legs in public in order to quench my sudden lust. I want to have that inclination to think dirty thoughts in places I have no good reason to be thinking ‘em. And yes, I want to be able to roll over in bed, weary and satiated, and discuss a book that changed my life or laugh about a classic comedy, or whatever comes with, but that camaraderie needs to go hand-in-hand with the passion I desire.
There are those who feel it’s being too picky to simply want it all. Let’s face it. It’s a big goddamned world. With six million plus, there’s got to be a few fish out there that might wander into my net. It’s a matter of patience and faith. I don’t think there’s only “one” person for me, but there’s one type, and I’m on the hunt.
There was, however, a time when I didn’t feel I was as worthy of that level of love as I now do. There was a time when a guy being interested in me was a damned good start. There was a time when self-love wasn’t exactly tops on my to-do list. As I wrote elsewhere, learning to love myself has really been one of my greatest accomplishments. Holding out for he who is worthy of it all, it’s rough. It’s a challenge. But I suspect I’m up for it.
I do have to admit that chemistry was a hell of a lot easier to manage in high school science than it is in real life. What a mystery.
But I’m on the case, man. Just call me Sherlock. It’s time to solve the riddle.

22 thoughts on “You are Who You Love (?)

  1. the shrewness

    everyone has the right to be picky, at least as far as im concerned. its only for the rest of your life, right?

    never ever settle…

    good luck with the hunt and im glad your brother is ok. 🙂

  2. Fly Girl

    For a committed relationship, I’m living by the maxim that I’m not willing to make someone a priority in my life, if he only views me as an option.

    Then I try not to kid myself about it.

  3. jp

    settle? – don’t even think it…settling is the first step towards a failed relationship, as i see it…

    that said, i feel one shouldn’t dismiss someone quickly just because s/he is a bit short of a persons ideal in one area or another…after a bit of a chance, it might be found that s/he has other qualities that make any shortcomings less important or disappear all together…plus, people change as they learn & grow…

    i guess i’ve contradicted myself a bit…
    like you said, it’s a mystery…

    it’ll be a long road back for your bro…glad he’s started the trip…

  4. fueltank

    Ayn Rand got a lot of things wrong, and her ideas about love are right up there.

    Great strong one-dimensional characters are great in paperback but leave much
    to be desired in life. As jp said people change and I have decided that relationships
    are built on people who grow and accept that the journy is as interesting as the

    I found my lover when I was not looking and in a place I would never have thought
    of… five years on we struggle as we change, but are committed to finding the way
    towards happiness…

    As for your brother, strength and determination as he recovers from his accident.

  5. scribe called steff

    I shoulda expounded on Rand’s love stuff. I have a MUCH different opinion of her relationships now than I did when I was younger, but there’s one point in one of the books where she comments that our lovers should essentially make US better people.

    I always liked the idea of having someone who makes me aspire for greatness. Now that’s something worth waiting for.

    (But like I say, I’m a bit distracted ergo I’m forgetting to make some of my points. I shoulda held off — my brother had an awesome day yesterday, so it looks like he might be healing at superhuman speed. That’d be wicked cool. We’ll see. But I’m thinking MUCH better today. Yay! Intellect! Snicker.)

  6. Goose and Gander

    I’m glad your brother is healing. I’m glad you are pondering. I wish you a lover and a friend in the same package.

  7. j

    i want someone who makes me better and takes me quirks and all.

    if i’ve waited this long i can wait a little longer. besides single is not a disease 😉

  8. Anonymous

    I settled for a nice guy. One day a few years ago I started to realize a little bit at a time, that I settled.

    We have kids and I’m not willing to plunge us all into upheaval and poverty, so I suck it up and try to be relatively happy with my life.

    Don’t settle.

  9. virgin

    It’s funny, I find chemistry relatively easy to come by. But I want more than that. But I want meaningful converstion, too. I want an intellectual connection. And, for me, that’s much more rare.

    But J hit the nail on the head: ‘i want someone who makes me better and takes me quirks and all. if i’ve waited this long i can wait a little longer’.

  10. Admin

    Chemistry gives you everything. It gives you the ability to talk, endlessly. To argue, but still feel safe. To sleep and breath in each others air, even though they don’t pick up after themselves. Chemistry gives you the right to be settled, without actually being settled at all. Chemistry is everything and Love will follow (In whatever take you have on the word ‘love’).

    And so what if you just become comfortable as long as you still have chemistry.

  11. chelsea girl


    The settling question is a good one and complicated one. I wonder what it means to settle–we often talk of getting married as “settling down”–and the naked facts may just be that commitment is always a compromise.


    I suppose it becomes a question more of what you compromise on or with or about.

    I’ve always said that deciding on a relationship is alot like packing for a trip: you need to know what you absolutely must bring, what you can live without and what you hope to find along the way.

    But then I’ve never had a relationship that has lasted much longer than a couple of years, so I’m really no authority.

    Our culture, and especially e-dating, leads us to believe that there’s always the potential of something good, better, best around the corner. So how do we know when what we have is not merely good enough but also great?


  12. jonny-no-stars

    I have two slightly alternative ways of looking at the box-ticking thing and will usually respond when asked about it:

    (she’s got to be…)

    “Irresistible. Cause if I can resist, I will.”


    “I’m just looking for an open door, one that’ll make me peek inside. And I’ll see darkness. Can’t see the walls…hmmm. Ceiling? Nope. Floor? Nope. I’ll step inside and fall….”.

    which I think leaves it as open and closed as it gets (currently)

  13. sartre

    Glad your brother is doing better.

    The question is do you want to fall in love or have someone fall for you? Even Ayn Rand’s over the top romantic characters had a pursuer and their conquest. The fire of romance will eventually cool, but it should still simmer in a healthy, long term relationship.

  14. scribe called steff

    Sartre — Falling in love is what it’s all about.

    The Ayn Rand bit could’ve been better explained, but it is what it is.

    Johnny — Good luck with that. Heh.

    CG — Good question. I don’t know when we know. I thought I felt those sparks of late, but I was wrong. Sure felt good at the time, and I guess the question really is, how long does that bubble last?

    Admin — God, I love chemistry. Chemistry’s my fave. With that, I need nothing.

    Virgin — Nah, chemistry’s complex for me. It takes a LOT to get my cauldron bubbling.

    Anon — Whew. Thanks for that. I’ll rage against the dying light. 😉

    J — Exactly.

    Goose — I’ll take that generous wish for a lover/friend in the same package. This is what I’m wanting. And thanks for the other stuff. 🙂

  15. sirbarrett

    Hmm, this seems to fit some of my own opinions about how you can nurture relationships and ultimately find good relationships because you’re willing to make mediocre ones better. Maybe the half-ass ones aren’t going to turn out as magic, but they might turn you around to be in the right place at the right time and notice when the right person comes along. You’ll attract them to you more successfully if you have your senses open to attraction. Anyway, you’re like the millionth person to talk about Ann, so maybe it’s time I check out the Fountainhead.

  16. sartre

    Sorry about that. My namesake would say, “It is what it appears to be.”

    I enjoy Rand’s fiction, but her philosophical idealism is too ultimate and condemns any who are not equally devoted to her standard of perfection. You write of learning to love yourself as an accomplishment, presumably since each person is intimate with their own flaws. Yet Rand’s heroes accept those flaws only in exceptional cases, which is why I find her stories compelling but cruel.

    Her romantic arcs are as you put it, black and white. The sexual heat she generates with Dominique’s furtive relationship with Roarke is an exercise in the surrender of reality to an ideal, which is a good description of romantic passion. As meaningful as a passionate love is, that does not eliminate the negotiations involved in living a full life, but Rand assumes from start to finish that absolute idealism is the only path to beauty.

  17. Anonymous


    Passion is short term.

    I thought everybody knew that.

    6 months, year, two years. Not longer than that.

    If you want what you say you want- don’t just not settle, don’t even settle down! Be prepared to leave after 1, 2 years.

    Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself stuck with some guy, unable to leave. Worse, you could have children with him.

  18. Bèr

    Steff, I couldn’t agree more.
    I’m a decent-looking guy myself, and I do my best to be great in all areas of my life(physical, financial, emotional) … and once you start to put work into yourself, your standards become so obvious.
    When a person makes himself worth something(whatever that means to himself, of course), and is happy with who he is, things like looking for someone to “fill you in” or who will deal with your insecurities once you have that person, become obsolete.
    Personally, I have it very hard to find people with whom it clicks.
    There are plenty of women with whom I could have sex, but nothing more, or who look great “on paper”, but seldom a connection.
    Currently, I am actually in love.
    And yes, she looks a lot like me, even in the philosophy I just described.
    Maybe thing will turn out otherwise, but for now I’m confident there is such a person, and I’m gonna fight for it.
    But then again, if you are who you love, she will too.

  19. wunelle

    “Ayn Rand always would assert that who you choose to love is a reflection of how worthy you believe yourself to be. When you settle, you’re telling yourself you’re simply not deserving of better”

    Very insightful. But I also think that the things we fantasize about, the early budding stages of relationships, are not the lion’s share of what makes for a lasting partnership. When we are young, we may discover life hand-in-hand with someone. In later relationships we may discover each other. We will always learn and grow, but each discovery is something now behind us.

    Life is all about compromises, and though we may know that we can’t have everything, it is experience tells us what can and cannot be lived without. They’re different for each person, of course, and maybe they’re not the things we spend our youth chasing after.

    Settling is a bad idea when you KNOW you’re settling, if it feels like settling at the time.

  20. scribe called steff

    Sir — Ayn Rand, like I say, is vastly overrated as a writer, and like all philosophers, it’s very black and white and all set out in ideals, despite her ironic contention that ideallists are fools. That said, there are facts of her philosophies that have had a profound influence on who I’ve become, but I have no illusions about how absolutely unrealistic her worldview is. So, yes, love her, but know her faults — kind of like any good relationship, really, so a fine author to cite on a site like this. 🙂

    I think all mediocre relationships can be improved. I mean, good relationships don’t just happen — they take work: planning, romance, mood-making, conversation, honesty, loyalty, support… It ain’t no fucking walk in the park, so I don’t know where this little pie-in-the-sky fantasy of the effortless relationship was born, but fuck, people have got to open their eyes on that level. If you’ve got chemistry and camaraderie, you’ve got a great start — now it’s up to you to take it up a notch, right?

    Still, I don’t think settling needs to happen. I think everyone needs real-vision when looking at their relationships, but I think there are certain wants that one can hold out for. And should, really. Passion, chemistry, they top the list.

    Shamu — Thanks, bro. 🙂

    Sartre — Gee, I was talking about your namesake with a pipsqueak student of mine who was bemoaning the French Revolution last night. “But the writers! The thinkers! You have no idea the good that came of that upheaval!” I dunno if the kid bought it.

    I agree with you about Rand. I was just opening a can of worms when I brought her up, I suppose, but if you read my comment above to Sir, then you’ll see I’m rather unillusioned about her, as a whole.

    I find that that idealism exists in almost any philosophical writing — whether it’s Socrates or Camus — so I take that with a grain of salt any time I’m reading any kind of work that runs the gamut of existentialism through to egoism. Humans are idealists, ergo fools. IMHO, anyhow.

    David — Things are finally improving on that front. HAPPY Steff.

    Anon — I’ve had passion longer than that. I’ve had passion extend what should’ve been a 6 month relationship into a seven year one. Passion, sex, it’s not really that hard. It’s obtaining the whole package that is a stretch. As for keeping the passion, I have some thoughts on that. For me, for me to get really, really passionate about someone, it’s not just about sex. It’s how they think, how they move, how they express themselves, the little things I see them do when they don’t think I’m watching… It’s one big convoluted swirl of interest that combines to put me under their spell. Hence the loaded word of “chemistry.” I’m waiting to find that guy that keeps me fascinated by just who he is. No, he doesn’t need to be one of The World’s Most Intriguing People. But he needs that little something. A smirk, a dimple, it could be that simple. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m optimistic. I’m just getting impatient. 🙂

    Oh, and children: Won’t happen. I don’t want ’em, won’t have ’em.

    Ber — Nice comment, Good for you to have found the find, for the moment at least. Yes, I relate to the “with whom it clicks” difficulty. I just don’t click much. Yes, attractions, yes, I can tell guys are attracted, I can see that look, that sparkle. It’s just wrong for me, that’s all. I find it really, really hard to find someone of the calibre I seek. But like I say, I got my spelunking gear on and I’m still keen on entering the deep. All good.

    Wunelle — I know there will be compromises. We all need to be aware of that. It’s like that scene in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams is talking about the fact that his deceased wife always farted in her sleep. Of course she’s imperfect, he states, but the question, he asks, is whether her imperfections are the perfect ones for you.

    I have found myself getting enamored with partners’ flaws at times. The irritating way they shuffle around in movies, how they clear their throat, things like that. Eventually, it just gets comfortable, and it’s fine. I have annoyances, but the right people (such as my friends) will find my flaws amusing, endearing, and uniquely ME. And that’s how it should be. That’s not compromising, that’s simply accepting that it is what it is. And that’s finding the Zen, that’s all. Accept what you can’t change, and when you’re ready to, embrace it.

Comments are closed.