The Simple Guide to Relationships… or Why Love is Simpler Than You Think


Welcome to my half-assed manifesto. It’s a bit of a map of how I got to where I am, which is a place I happen to like. There’s an extremely slim chance you might find something interesting in here, which is one of the reasons I’m posting it online.

The other reason is that when I become a nationally loved evangelist, I want this to come back and haunt me.

Life and Love

I firmly believe that life and love should be much simpler than they’re all made out to be. I run into people who have told me, many times, “It’s not as easy as you think it is.” Each time I explain, as patiently as I can, that I said simple. Not easy.

This is not to say that it can’t be easy, too. Being easy’s great. Trust me on this one.

But simplicity, ah, simplicity’s about a 9.8 on the I-Want-O-Meter.

Sometimes, the simple things are also the difficult things. I have found that it’s worth the effort. Keeping your life and love simple pays off and the more you do it, the more you can do it. After a while, you hardly ever think about it. Until you overhear someone complaining about how complicated life is.

Go ahead — change your life.


Sure, they exist. Your situation may be one. But start out thinking it isn’t and look — very hard — for a simple answer. You’ll probably find it.

The Basic Assertions

These basic assertions may simplify your life.

Every relationship is unique

This means every single one. There might be common points, but that’s only surface resemblance. Look, even the relationship between the same two people can change over a period of days, weeks, years (unless you’re being held captive by a psychopath who whispers “don’t ever change” in your ear every night). You’ll simply be a lot happier when you start thinking: “It’s just different.”

Enjoy the differences. Enjoy the similarities.

Anyone has the right to form whatever relationships they wish

This is a lot more power than most people are comfortable with in a relationship, but most of the reluctance to accept this assertion stems from the idea that relationships are property, or that the other person might abuse this power.

As far as the “property” thing goes, maybe some people like it that way. Good for them. I’ll pass.

Anyone afraid of having this power lorded over them should reconsider their choice of partners. They would also do well to master communication skills. Also, keep in mind that this — as with all sorts of things in this little document — is completely reversible. On one hand, you can all maintain a balance of terror. You can also maintain a balance of pleasure. Whatever you want.

These two assertions are very useful in dealing with jealousy and the fear of being replaced. The first helps reduce the fear of being replaced. The second suggests that different relationships might even complement each other, particularly if there is a perceived need.

Crazy, huh? Yeah, I thought so, too.

What You Must Always Do

I’ve made many mistakes and I’ve learned from a few. I also try to pick up lessons by watching other people. I feel like I should tip them afterward, when I’m lucky enough to see a real lesson in action. Remembering to do the following things helped simplify my life tremendously. Think of them as affirmations, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Believe your partner

It’s possible they’re lying, but it’s also possible they’re telling the truth. It’s safest to decide they’re telling the truth. If they are, you’ll be a saint. If they aren’t, they’ll catch themselves in the lie later, or feel really bad and possibly even apologize. Maybe buy you a milkshake.

If you’re absolutely sure you’re being lied to (I mean, really sure, as in photographs and signed testimonials), then ask your partner to explain the discrepancies. The important thing here is that you’re still willing to listen to them, to hear and understand what they know.

If you find you can’t depend on your partner, that you simply can’t believe them, or that believing them results in trouble for you, then your trouble is with that partner — not with the act of believing.

Be Sincere

If you are sincere when you talk or otherwise deal with your partner, it becomes easier to accept their sincerity.

Apologize When You Screw Up

It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but if it’s not sincere, don’t bother — you probably won’t fool anyone.

To combine the above two things, when your partner apologizes, accept it. You might be incapable of knowing whether they’re sincere or not. In which direction would you like to make a mistake?

Tell Your Truth

You might be surprised at where it gets you. Here are some excellent reasons to tell your truth:

  • You might actually get what you want, instead of what you think you can get away with asking for.
  • You won’t have to remember which lie you told to whom if you always tell your truth.
  • You’re supplying your partner with the best information you can.

If you don’t want to tell them anything, consider doing the courtesy of explaining why. You don’t have to, but you might discover something new right then and there.

Please note, however, that your truth might not be the same thing as other people’s truths. Plan for that. Accept it.

What You Must Never Do

While I’m not particularly fond of telling people what they shouldn’t do, nevertheless, there seem to be a few things that have cropped up over the years that strike me as definite Things-Not-To-Be-Done.

Never lie to a partner

I actually prefer applying this to everybody, but that’s too tough a leap for some folks.

I thought this was pretty simple, but I found out that when asserting it, there is rarely a person who agrees right away. Most immediately start to hem and haw. Here’s the trouble with that — the first thing you’re doing when you’re hemming and hawing is looking for excuses to lie so you can have an escape route. We all want escape routes; no one wants to be held captive by having to say an unpleasant thing. But we shouldn’t have to escape — if we remember that of all the people in the world, our own partner is probably the least likely to be “out to get us”.

But note that I didn’t tell you what to do — I told you what not to do. Big difference.

Nothing leaves people feeling more annoyed, more used, and less valuable than finding out they were lied to. If you don’t have that stuck in your head, re-read this paragraph.

Stunning Conclusion

Sorry, there isn’t a stunning conclusion. Like I said, these are just some things I’ve discovered over time.

I think practically each paragraph above is worth writing a book over, and feel free to start a conversation about it below. I’m no expert on this sort of thing, either, just someone who likes to keep my head screwed on straight.

If it helps at all, fantastic. If it doesn’t, sorry.

I wrote this more than a decade ago, maybe as early as 1999. I think it’s still valid, though. What do you think?