Tag Archives: Relationship Advice

The Customer Is Not Always Right

"Am I the only one around here who believes the Golden Rule applies to customer service workers as well?"


There’s a mantra in America that says, “The customer is always right.” This idea is so ingrained in American culture, it’s taken for granted by customers and service workers alike. You can walk into almost any business where people make minimum wage, yell at whoever serves you, and they’ll apologize to you. Frankly, I’m a little surprised politicians haven’t written it into law that customers have the right to treat employees like 18th-century slaves.

This traditional American value is flawed for several reasons I thought went without saying, but given the way I see retail and fast food workers getting treated, apparently, this needs to be said. All people are created equal and endowed with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Your local fast food chain’s company policy doesn’t trump this fact because the value of a human life isn’t determined by employers. The value of human life is determined by the rarity and brevity of its existence. If there is a God, then humans are sacred projections of God’s love and power. If there is no God, then humans are the universe incarnate, an inexplicable miracle 14 billion years in the making. That’s what you’re bullying when you treat a customer service worker like shit. No human being deserves to be treated like that, and you don’t deserve to treat any other human being like a second class citizen who is beneath you.

Sure, you deserve to get your money’s worth when you pay a business for a product or service, but that doesn’t trump your customer service representative’s right to be treated with basic human dignity. This is especially true when your customer service representative is getting paid minimum wage, which is so far below the cost of living it’s wage slavery. They’re not making enough money to live healthily, enjoy luxuries, save for retirement or invest in continuing education. They’re ruining their bodies working as hard and fast as they can with as few rest breaks as the law allows. They’re watching their infinitely valuable and fleeting life end as fast as the clock turns.

For all they sacrifice to bring you a burger, they’re not getting financially compensated to get treated like shit by selfish, spoiled bullies. They endure it though because if they don’t they’ll get thrown out in the streets and die of starvation in the cold. But just because you gave their oppressive employer a few dollars, and they, in turn, gave you permission to kick their wage slaves while they’re down in life, doesn’t mean you have the God-given right or philosophical justification to do so. If you think customer service workers are lazy bums who deserve everything they get, then walk a mile in their shoes and find out how hard and thankless their lives truly are.

We shouldn’t have to have an argument about whether or not you get to treat other people like dirt. You should simply care about people. Most human beings believe in religion, and every religion mentions somewhere in their holy texts that you should love other people. I think Sam Harris (an atheist) put it best when he said, “…every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?”




Look at life from the point of view of the people who are serving you. They’re sweating and bleeding for you. They’re busting their asses to fill every order as quickly and accurately as possible. Inevitably they’re going to make mistakes, and while it may be in your right to ask politely to have your order modified or remade, you’re inconveniencing your already overworked servants. You’re making their lives harder by sending them back to the kitchen than they’re making your life harder by getting your order slightly wrong. If you’re kind enough to give money to charity at Christmas then why not extend that kindness to let a few mistakes slide? You can take more genuine joy in helping your servers by not making their job harder than you can by getting your order right. The least you can do is not go out of your way to belittle them.

Despite what I’ve said so far about the righteousness of treating other people well, we’re all human. And when you treat people like shit they tend to respond in kind. Customer service workers have to put up with abuse every day at their dead-end jobs that they dread going to and know they won’t have forever. If you consistently inconvenience and bully them, it’s only a matter of time before one of them spits in your food or worse. I won’t say their retribution is right or wrong, but I will say that you brought it on yourself.

Also, be vividly aware that the consequences of your negative behavior don’t stop in the kitchen. Every time you treat someone poorly, you weigh down their mind with another negative experience that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. These experiences add up and color the way they see the world. They can only endure enough abuse before their soul turns dark and they begin lashing out at other people. The people they take out their anger at you on will, in turn, be haunted by their own karma ghosts that will affect how they treat others. That’s how the world turns into a bad place to live. Your childish behavior isn’t just part of the problem. It is the problem.

If you’re truly selfish enough to justify treating other people worse than you expect to be treated, then you need to recognize that this manifestation of your selfishness is merely a symptom of a greater flaw in your character that is affecting other aspects of your life negatively. For your sake as well as everyone else, see a therapist and get help. You and everyone else will be happier for it.


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Why You Need To Be A Little Slutty


"Definition of 'slut:' A person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you."


It’s a common belief that it’s immoral to perform any sexual activity before marriage, and after marriage, you can only perform several basic sexual positions with one person for the rest of your life. We got this idea from religion, but religion is mythology. It’s not based on reason or evidence. It’s based on the subjective cultural taboos of primitive societies. Sexual prudishness is not a virtue. It’s a destructive and wasteful lifestyle that conditions you to accept an unfulfilling life. If you want to live a fulfilling life you need to base your sexual values on reason and evidence.

The reality of human sexuality is that humans are hardwired in their DNA to want to crave sex… and not just missionary sex between one man and one woman (who are both over 18 years old) for the rest of their lives. Humans are designed to be sex addicts, and it takes more than one kind of treatment to manage our addiction. We need a full spectrum approach to manage our biological needs. It’s not always practical to have sex, but we still need to have orgasms. Handjobs, oral sex, and toys are as practical as they are fun. Without them, your mind and body lock up with anxiety, and the ripple effects of that anxiety will lower your total quality of life. Relieving that anxiety not only frees you to enjoy life but the confidence and satisfaction that a healthy sex life gives you will raise the total quality of your life.

Masturbation is an invaluable remedy to sexual frustration, but it’s not a permanent substitute for a sexual partner. Biologically and psychologically, you need someone to be sexually active with from the age when you first start yearning for sex. That will happen years before it becomes practical to sign a lifetime contract to share a home and all your money with another person… if that’s ever practical at all.  It would be nice if you could be in a sexual relationship with your soul mate, but your body can’t wait for you to search the whole world for that one perfect person. At any rate, you need years of independence to grow into a complete person yourself before you’ll be compatible with the perfect person for you.

In the meantime, you still need to be sexually active with someone or else you’ll be plagued by anxiety, loneliness, and emptiness, and you won’t be making as many strides in your personal growth as you would be able to if you had a healthy sex life. This means you either need a “friend with benefits” or you need to have casual sex. A friend with benefits is far less stressful and less dangerous than casual sex, but if you don’t have a friend with benefits you still need someone to help you manage your sex life, and your potential sex partners need someone to help them manage theirs. You don’t have to have sex with strangers. Handjobs, oral sex, and toys are options that are always on the table.

Taking advantage of these options doesn’t make you a bad person. Crushing your soul with sexual frustration will, however, turn you into a bad person, or at least not as good of a person as you could have been. So total abstinence isn’t virtuous. It’s foolish and irresponsible because it has negative real-world consequences. Being a little slutty is, in fact, wise and productive.

Aside from relieving anxiety and building confidence, sexual activity is fun. It’s one of the finer spices of life. If you’re not going to seize the day and enjoy your life then what are you doing here? If God exists then it was God who designed us to be sex addicts and made sex so pleasurable. God must want us to be a little slutty. God would certainly want us to be happy, and regardless of whether or not God exists, you should be happy. If you have the chance to be happy then do it. That’s virtuous. That’s wise. That’s mature.

Just be safe. Don’t have sex with skanks. Always use protection. Never force anyone to do anything they don’t want to. Try everything once. Just be smart about it and not only will you live a better life but you’ll help others do the same. There’s nothing better than that. So for goodness sake, be a little slutty.


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Why Men Should Wear Nice Underwear

Women are pressured by the media to look as beautiful as possible all the time. When they go through all the time and effort to look good, it ruins the effect a little when they take their clothes off to reveal cheap underwear underneath. Women, having received a lifetime of training in how to look good, generally understand this. So it’s not uncommon for women to spend $60 for just a bra or a single pair of panties when they could easily buy a 6-pack of panties at a discount store for $15. They spend the extra money though because it makes them feel confident and turns men on.

If it’s important for women to please their men by wearing sexy lingerie it stands to reason that women deserve the same respect from men. Actually, it’s more important. Since women are pressured by the media and religions to have an irrational fear of their sexuality, when they do have sex, they’re stepping out on a limb. They’re also letting a man experience her in the most intimate way possible, which can be a little nerve-racking. She would hope that her sexual partner appreciates the gift she’s giving him, and she would certainly hope that her man realizes that sex for a woman isn’t just the mechanical, physical exercise that men sometimes view sex as. For women, sex is as much about emotional stimulation as it is about physical stimulation. Men who understand this will take steps to give women the emotional stimulation they crave while also minimizing the anxiety they may feel about sex.

There are a lot of little steps men can take to show a woman he’s not just some random jerk. You can show her that you’re worth having sex with by taking care of your body and having a successful career. You can tell her she’s special, listen to her and spend money on her. You can totally reinvent yourself as James Bond, but if you go through all that hassle, understand that it’s going to ruin the effect if you take your clothes off to reveal you’re wearing cheap, discount underwear with holes and stains in them.

If you take your clothes off to reveal a nice, elegant pair of underwear you’re sending a message to her that you care enough about her to go the extra mile for her. It’s your last chance before sex to prove you’re worth having sex with. Granted, if you’re already down to your underwear with another person you’re probably going to have sex anyway, but going the extra mile is being a good person.

Wearing nice underwear isn’t something you should only do on special occasions. Even if nobody sees your underwear, you know you’re wearing it. You should have confidence in yourself regardless of what clothes you wear, but it gives you a psychological boost when you know that underneath your clothes you’re always wearing lust-worthy underwear. That extra confidence boost can go a long way, and as you become used to feeling calm, cool and collected that confidence will become a part of your subconscious, and then you won’t have to put effort into being confident. You’ll just be confident, and that will help you get laid, not because you tricked a girl into having sex with a poser but because you’re somebody worth having sex with.

If you’re reading this thinking to yourself, “Man, you’re taking this underwear thing way too far. Underwear is just one little detail in a million,” then you don’t understand women. To women, all of the little things are big things, because they’re all details, which make up the whole picture. The finest picture has the most attention to detail, and the most repulsive picture has the least attention to any kind of standards. If you don’t think underwear is important, then don’t bother wearing nice clothes nice cologne. In the end, they’re just cheap masks hiding your cheap underwear underneath.

Unless you’re Tom Cruise, you don’t look good in old-school whitey tighties. Don’t buy them. Don’t buy flannel cotton boxers. They make you look like an old man. If your girlfriend can wear your boxers as shorts in public and not get weird looks, you’re not wearing sexy underwear. Bad underwear is basically anything you can buy at Wal-Mart or any big box store. As a general rule, avoid anything by Fruit of the Loom or Hanes. When you’re looking at a shelf of underwear, if you have the option to buy 6 different colors of the same pair of underwear in one bag for about $15, don’t buy that underwear. In fact, leave the store and go find a high-end department store that doesn’t even have that option. For a better selection, just go to Amazon.com








Regardless of the price, what makes good underwear is that it’s made from better material than flannel and cotton. I can’t say exactly which material to look for. The important thing is that it’s soft and smooth. Imagine sleeping in a bed with sheets made from the same material as your underwear. The more awesome it would be to the sleep in that bed, the more you should consider buying that pair of underwear.

The most important quality in a good pair of underwear is that they look sexy. Sexy is sleek. Underwear shouldn’t hide your curves. It should accentuate them. Sexy is expensive. Sexy looks like a million dollars even if it doesn’t cost a million dollars. Sexy is enticing. If you can look at a piece of underwear and not think, “Damn. That’s sexy,” then you’re probably looking at the wrong piece of underwear. When all of your underwear looks like that then you can always be sure you’re giving the woman of your life the best show all the time. Think about this. You wouldn’t expect your significant other to always wear sexy lingerie, but if she chose to do that, you’d love it. Regardless of whether or not she gives you that permanent show, you can still give her a permanent show as a way to show her that she’s important to you and also because you’re a sexy beast. And that’s what’s sexy beasts do. They’re sexy all the time.

Specifically, Calvin Klein, Jockey, Diesel, 2(X)IST and Exofficio are all great brands as long as you don’t buy any of their floppy stuff. If you’re still not sure what sexy underwear is, then go grab a couple of girls and take them to the underwear section of an upscale department store and have them point out to you what sexy is. Since ultimately the whole point of wearing nice underwear is to please the most important woman in your life, it would be best to have her show you exactly what she likes.






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6 Stages Of Friendship

1: Strangers

Everyone in the world starts out as a stranger (and potential friend) to you.


2: Loose Acquaintance

The first time you meet a person they’re just a random face in the crowd. Unless you meet this person at your arranged marriage, there’s little to no guarantee you’ll ever see them again. It takes time to learn enough about a person to know whether you like them or not. It also takes time to build shared experiences together with which you’ll come to base your friendship on. So even if you really hit it off with someone the first time you meet them, they’ll only be a potential friend until you see them again… and again… and again…and again.

There are over 6 billion people in the world. You only have enough time in your short life to become best friends with a few of them. Your brain understands this. So even if you don’t your mind will subconsciously size up every person you meet and come to a conclusion about whether or not this person is compatible enough with you to be worth pursuing a deeper relationship with. 99.9% of the people you meet in your life will fail the Loose Acquaintance Test. The first time they leave your sight, you won’t ever think about them again. Even if you do remember them, the thought will never occur to you to regret their absence in your life, because they were just some unimportant, random person.

That’s fine. We can’t all spend our lives obsessing over everyone we meet. In fact, we should be conscious of the fact that we should be sizing people up to assess who we can/can’t build meaningful relationships with. If we don’t pay attention we risk passing up the right people and attaching ourselves to the wrong people.


3: Regular Acquaintance

If you keep running into the same person over and over again you’ll learn things about each other and build shared experiences. In no time at all, they’ll stand out of the crowd. When you see their face it will mean something to you, and when you talk to them you can continue your previous dialogues. These interactions will evolve your relationship with each other. Instead of just being a random person they’ll become the person you met there who does this for a living and goes to the place you’re at to get… whatever.

Spending time with a person doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be friends. You’ll meet just as many people who, the more you meet them the more you despise them. However, some will pass the Regular Acquaintance Test, and some will pass it faster than others. You could buy coffee from the same barista for ten years before they become anything other than a friendly barista to you. On the other hand, sometimes you run into people who you just click with and end up spending the next two weeks together every day. Not only do you need to spend time with a person to get promoted in their friend book, but you have to spend meaningful time talking, opening up, overcoming challenges, learning and having fun together before your relationship has significant meaning.


4: Allies

Eventually, you’re going to work with people for so long that you’ll know their whole life story, their idiosyncrasies, and secrets. You’ll know them well enough to accurately predict their future. But they’ll still just be a regular acquaintance who you know at work. Intimate knowledge is a prerequisite for friendship, but it’s only one component.

Feeling affection for each other is another prerequisite for friendship. When you experience affection towards another person emotionally, you get those feelings from your brain. Consciously and subconsciously your brain has been calculating how valuable that person is in your life. If the results of that calculation are negative then you’ll dislike them. If the results of that calculation are positive then you’re like them. The higher they score, the more you’ll like them. The lower they score, the less you’ll like them.

Friendships are warm and fuzzy, but they’re also based on a cold calculation. Life is beautiful, but life is also war. Everyone and every living thing is competing with each other to survive in a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive, and only the alpha thrive. Every stranger is a potential threat to you. They could rob you, bully you, steal your lover, get your job, rip you off, betray you or kill you. You might not walk around all day grimly sizing everyone up, but if a stranger asks to borrow $1000 from you, you’re probably going to say “no” without even having to think about it.

The test that regular acquaintances have to pass before they can get promoted to an ally is the test of trust. When you put your trust in someone else by (for example) lending them money, you risk losing ground in your battle against nature to survive. That’s a profound thing to do because you’re choosing to bet or give a tiny piece of your life. That’s sharing life.

As you and another person reciprocate trustworthiness you cease to be regular acquaintances, and you become allies. Effectively you’ve signed an unwritten truce not to fight each other and to back each other up in their time of need even if it’s inconvenient.

There are different kinds of allies you make in life, and each truce is different. Some friends would only let you borrow $10. Some would let you borrow $100, but they wouldn’t pick you up from jail or give you a ride to work. You can open up to some of your friends, and some friends prefer to keep your relationship more formal or professional. Some friendships involve lust, and some don’t. Your expectations of each of your friends is different, but that doesn’t mean your contracts between them are unequal. Variety is the spice of life. We should be conscious of the different kinds of friendships we have and celebrate their idiosyncrasies.


5: Official Friend

When you make a truce with an ally, you agree not to take what the other person has. You can borrow from each other in your time of need, but you’ll be expected to pay your ally back. There’s also a limit to how much your ally will risk on you. An official friend will give you what you need for free without expecting you to pay them back. In fact, they’ll insist that you don’t pay them back. That act goes above and beyond the conditions of a contract. It’s not a bet. It’s a gift, and that’s profound. You’re sacrificing a bit of your life to make another conscious being’s reality better.

Ultimately, friendship is a choice. That choice is yours. Rocks and trees can’t make choices. Only living, sentient beings can. When you choose a friend you express the existence of consciousness in an otherwise inert universe. It also establishes a bond between you and another individual consciousness. The emotions and ideas you share will be unique in all the universe. All of this is valuable enough to justify the existence of life.

But I digress.  Sacrifice is the cost to become an official friend, and it’s not enough to just be willing to make that sacrifice. As admirable as that is, you’ll never be as good of friends with an untested ally than say war veterans are with the people they fought alongside. When you build a history of shared sacrifice with another person you build a history of proven character.


6: Best Friend

Every alliance and friendship is different, and while there’s no need to stress over which friendship is “better” than the others, one will inevitably rise to the top. You win that prize by getting the highest score on the Best Friend Test, which is one question long and looks something like this:

Best Friend = (how well you know a person + how many experiences you’ve had with them + how much you care about them + how well you treat them) – (how many conditions you place on each other’s trust)*(mutual sacrifice).

Put your allies to the test and figure out who your true friends are. And put yourself to the test as well. Consider how high your friends would score you. If hardly anybody would give you a good score you’d be wise to consider the hard possibility that you’re an asshole and need to seriously rethink your life. If your friends score horribly low you may consider the hard possibility that they’re not really friends and it might be better for both of you to step out of each other’s lives.

When you do find a best friend, cherish them. When your life flashes before your eyes you’re going to see all the best friends you’ve made through the years. They were your life. As important as that is, it’s also a simple fact of life that you can’t spend your entire life with just one best friend. Things change. People change. You can’t write a song by only playing one note. As beautiful as that note may be, you have to let go when the time is right and move onto the next note, and the next one, and the next one, celebrating all of them for their uniqueness. (That last bit about music notes was paraphrased from “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment”).


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Should You Let Friends Borrow Money?

If your friend comes up to you and tells you they’re in a time of need and they ask for your help and you look them in the eye and tell them, “Sure, I’ll help you, but you have to pay me back every penny and maybe even interest.” …that means you weren’t really friends to begin with. When real friends hear that a friend is in need, they go out of their way for them, because that’s what friends do. That’s the point of being friends. You’re more than just allies in the game of life.

When a friend asks to borrow money from you, you just give them the money and never expect to see it again. You don’t have to be a drama queen martyr about it. Your friend could ask to borrow money and you could give it to them, and they can pay you back just like normal, but when you hand over your money you know in your mind that you never expect to see that money again, and you’re going to forget about that non-debt as quickly as possible. Then, if your friend ever does pay you back it will be a pleasant surprise, and it will make you feel closer to your friend since they gave you more than you expected from them. And your friendship won’t go through any rocky times because you weren’t  permanently stressing about holding debts over each other’s heads.

It’s fine to lend people money and expect to get paid back; just understand that expecting to get paid back is a clear sign that you’re not friends, you’re allies at best. So if you lend someone money and expect to get paid back, don’t hug that guy a party the next weekend and tell him you’re buddies.

And if you ask one of your friends for money and they get domineering about the details of the loan and keep pestering you about it, then you know you’re not really friends. You’re only as valuable to them as long as it’s convenient for them, but they won’t go out of their way for you, because your friendship isn’t worth a piece of paper to them. They failed the friendship test and aren’t worth the time and effort to pursue a deeper relationship with.

And when you do hand cold hard cash to one of your friends that you never expect to see again, pause for a moment and smell the roses. A good friend is the rarest, most wonderful thing in life, and today you got to experience real friendship; apparently, there’s someone in your life who is worth more than a piece of paper. You’re lucky to have them. Cherish them.

That’s why you shouldn’t lend friends money… that you expect to get back.


"Don't let friends borrow money unless you don't mind never getting it back."


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The Evolution Of My Definition Of Love

"Love is just a word until you find someone to give it a definition."


Dictionary.com defines “love” as:

1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

3. sexual passion or desire.

4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.


That definition is nearly vague to the point of being useless. It doesn’t tell us how long it takes to fall in love, what you have to do to get there or how to be sure your feelings are more than just an infatuation. Does it only take a few weeks to fall in love? A few months?

When I was seventeen years old I didn’t know what love was, but I believed it had to be forged by stronger, more meaningful experiences than could be had in a few months. I believed this so strongly that I refused to kiss my high school sweetheart until I was sure it meant something very, very serious. I was even more reserved about telling her I loved her. I didn’t want to undermine the value of our kiss or our words by throwing them around loosely. In the end, my high school sweetheart and I broke up, and I never did tell her I loved her. For years afterward, I congratulated myself for make the right choice because, in my mind, the fact that we broke up proved our love wasn’t real.

Yet, during the time we dated she was all I thought about all day. Seeing her took my breath away every time. The sound of her voice was like an angel singing. When I was in her presence I felt like I’d been let into Heaven early and unworthy. Most of my peers would have called that love, and though I wouldn’t have agreed with them at the time, looking back on that relationship I can say that even if our feelings for each other weren’t forged by the test of time, they were still sincere. I’ve often wondered if I could articulate a reason why my feelings for her weren’t love.

I had a hard time answering that question without a usable definition of love, but my next relationship taught me a few things that helped me better define the concept. Several years after graduating high school I moved to Italy where I dated an Italian girl who introduced me a novel way of defining and measuring love.  She pointed out how, in the English language, you can tell a romantic partner that you either like them or you love them. That only gives lovers two ways to define their relationship.

In the Italian language, new couples can tell each other, “Ti voglio,” which means, “I like you.” Just as in English, this statement implies there’s a limit to how much you like the other person. If you like someone more you can tell them, “Ti voglio bene,” which means, “I like you good.” You could escalate that by saying, “Ti voglio tanto bene,” which translates, “I like you good, a lot.” If you’re crazy about someone you can tell them, “Ti voglio tantissimo,” which means, “I like you most.” The final, strongest statement of affection would be, “Ti amo,” which means, “I love you.”


"Keep calm and ti voglio tanto bene"


English speakers are free to use the same terms to describe a progression of affection, but the tiers aren’t as institutionalized in the American vernacular/dating customs as they are in Italy. I certainly didn’t see the distinction growing up in America. I wish I would have had the words to tell my high school sweetheart, “Ti voglio tantissimo” at least.

In my early twenties, I found this tiered perspective of love slightly more useful than my original “all or nothing” point of view, but it raised more questions than it answered. In order for this paradigm to be useful to me, I had to define all the stages of a relationship leading up to love in addition to defining what love itself is.

The Italian girl and I eventually broke up, and we both went on to explore new relationships. I studied mine closely to try to pick out their turning points as if I were picking out plot points in a Hollywood sitcom. I could tell there was a definite progression to real-life romances, but the lines between the stages were blurred. I stared at those blurred lines until I accepted the obvious truth: Love doesn’t evolve like a Pokemon. It doesn’t level up into a new and improved creature in a bright flash of light after racking up enough experience points. It grows gradually, but no matter how big or small it is, it still is. On one level there’s no need to label arbitrary points in its growth. Love doesn’t need labels. It can still mature between two people even if they never change their Facebook status or say the magic words. And as I learned the hard way with my high school sweetheart, spending too much time worrying about labeling the stages of your relationship’s growth can hurt it.

Having said that, you can watch the love lives of the couples in your own life and see that relationships do follow fairly predictable patterns, and understanding them will help you get through them. They’re not profound, mystical or based on tiers of obsession. The most successful couples are the ones who have the deepest friendship, not the strongest case of codependency. In a lot of ways, falling in love is simply the process of becoming best friends. So the stages of falling in love are basically the same as the stages of friendship. But long-term romantic relationships are more involved than simply getting to know someone you enjoy being around. Moving in with someone and intertwining your life with theirs effectively makes you business partners. Integrating two people’s lives isn’t easy, but the process follows a logical and predictable series of stages that Disney doesn’t teach children about.

If you’re looking for a time frame for when it’s reasonable to tell your partner that you love them, you can reference the stages of friendship or relationships. But when do you tell other people you love them platonically? Does the evolution of that kind of love follow a different route? How differently should we love others (if at all)/ Should we have a different name for other kinds of love? And does love have to be so confusing?

The Greek language has five different words for five different kinds of love. They’re more nuanced than I’m about to describe them, but for the sake of brevity, we can say that “Mania” is obsessive love. “Eros” is romantic love. “Philos” is platonic, brotherly love.  “Storgy” is the bond between providers and dependents, and “Agape” is unconditional, selfless (and potentially spiritual) love.

Every other language humans have invented contain their own nuanced definitions of love. It might seem like all these competing definitions would make the task of defining love more complicated, but actually, all the extra data helps us simplify the problem by revealing a common denominator. Regardless of how intensely you feel or show your affection towards any person or group, you’re ultimately doing the same thing for the same reason: you’re valuing them.

If I had to define love, I would say love is valuing something. Who, when, where, why, and how much are just details.

Using this definition, we can answer the question, “How do you love someone?” One way is by valuing them in your heart and assigning emotional weight to the thought of them in your mind. If your feelings exist, then there’s love in them, and that’s worth something. At the same time, anything you do that helps another person fulfill their potential is functionally equivalent to an act of love regardless of your intentions. If you tell someone you value them and then turn around and mistreat them, the love you feel may be sincere in your heart, but functionally your love will be hollow at best and destructive at worst.

We all live according to our unique understanding of the value of life. So we measure and express value slightly differently. This means everyone lives according to slightly different definitions of love. This makes it hard to know when you can believe the words, “I love you?” It also makes it hard to prove to someone else that even though you’re not meeting their criteria of love, the love coming from you is still genuine.

If you can honestly say that you value the other person enough to commit to making them the happiest and helping them fulfill their full potential unconditionally for the foreseeable future then you fully love that person. Even if you can’t commit unconditionally, every bit of commitment you can give is still love by degrees. If your commitment ever waivers or ends, that has no relevance on the value of past love; since it was genuine when it was given it stands on its own.

So when is the right time to tell someone you love them? Well, if you can commit to a person, then sure, go ahead and tell them you love them. Likewise, don’t tell someone you love them unless/until you’re willing to commit your mind, body, resources, options, and emotions to them.


"Love is not maximum emotion. Love is maximum commitment." Sinclair B. Ferguson


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Stages Of A Romantic Relationship

1. Anonymity

You don’t know your future partner exists.


2. Strangers

You meet your future partner, but you don’t know what their name is or who they are.


3. Acquaintance

You break the barrier of anonymity. You talk, and then they’re no longer a stranger. They now have a connection to your life even if it’s a part as small as “friend of a friend.”


4. Interest

Eventually, you take an interest in one another. In this stage, you act like cats sniffing a treat and deciding whether or not it smells good enough to eat.


5. The Hunt

After passing the smell test, you make a conscious decision to pursue the other person. This is the chase. It’s exhilarating, expensive, sometimes unsuccessful, sometimes discouraging, and you have to exert a lot of energy pretending to be cooler and more collected than you really are to compete against other people who have more experience pretending to be cooler and more collected than you.


6. The Salad Days

Following the catch at the end of the hunt, you gorge yourself on each other for as long as your stamina holds out. During the salad days, children hold hands on the playground, teens make out in public, and adults try to have sex in every room of their house.


7. The Trial Commitment

People tend to assume that once they’ve reached the salad days they’ve found true love. Contrary to what Disney or the pop music industry would have you believe, this is not the time to propose for marriage. Though at some point in the salad days you’re going to have to consider where your relationship is going. If the salad days don’t end as just a successful fling then the next step is a trial commitment.

You may have already considered yourself a couple, but this move ups the ante. You may transition from “going out” to “going steady” or from “dating” to “being engaged.” You’ll spend this phase looking at your partner more seriously, and you’ll probably pretend to act like what you think a serious adult who is in a committed relationship acts like.


8. The Breeze Days

If things go well and your lifestyle and personality are compatible with your partner’s then you will find yourself working together like a finely tuned machine. You’ll act like twins who are so in tune with each other that you can complete complex tasks together with minimal verbal communication. Like twins, you’ll also develop a secret language of your own based on shared references and inside jokes. Life will operate so smoothly that time can fly by without you noticing it.


9. Deep Appreciation and Familiarity

One day you’ll roll over and see your partner lying next to you in bed and you’ll realize they know you better than anyone else, and you know them as well as yourself. You’ll have come to depend on this person like your right hand, and losing them would leave you more lost and helpless than losing your job. If there is a thing called love then this stage is it, but it can’t last forever. And the fact that you may have had it once with someone doesn’t mean you always have to have it with them or that either of you owes the other anything for having had it.


10. The “Washing Machine You Take For Granted” Days

It’s a wonderful thing if you can work with another person like a well-oiled machine, but when a machine works perfectly for long enough we tend to take it for granted. Even though you work well with the other person your heart’s somehow not in it anymore. You’re walking through your relationship and life on autopilot.


11. Full-on Boredom

One day you roll over and see your partner lying next to you in bed and you realize you’re tired of looking at them just like you’re tired of having to step around that damned washing machine you’re always bumping into on the way out the door. You’ll be surprised to find yourself actually bored of sex. You’ll fake enthusiasm during sex. You might even fake orgasms. You’ll yearn for the hunt and wonder where the magic in your relationship went. You’ll blame the other person when in reality the problem is that that’s what happens when two people share a pair of golden handcuffs for long enough.


12. The Pretend Days

You’re fully aware that you’re bored of the other person. You always think about someone else when you masturbate, but out of respect and obligation to your partner, you don’t let them know how far your heart has drifted away from them.  So even if you don’t lie to yourself about your feelings you lie to the other person to keep the boat from rocking.


13. The Onset of Resentment

You can only pretend to be happy for so long before it gets old and the cracks in the walls start showing. You’ll start dropping your mask more often and compromising less.


14. Outright Resentment

If you don’t talk openly to your partner, reassess your relationship, get some space, pursue separate interests or break up (if need be) then your resentment for one another will cross the line into open hostility. You may not act on this hostility yet, but you’ll feel it and be fully conscious of it. You’ll carry it with you all day and won’t be able to stand to look at your partner. Everything they say will sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, and everything they do will be wrong. This phase has ended in murder and/or suicide for millions of people.


15. Bursting out of the Bottle

The hate-charade can’t last forever. Eventually, the crack in the dam will burst and everything will come out. If this process is managed productively it can be a euphoric release that takes the weight of the world off your shoulders. If this process is managed unproductively it can lead to broken hearts, burned bridged and closed doors.


16. (A) Reconciliation or (B) Break Up

At this point, your old relationship is over. You can never go back to the way things were. Your only choice is to start a new relationship with your partner or end the relationship. Below is a list of the steps of the stages your life will go in if you reconcile. After that is another list that starts back over at #17 and traces the stages your life will take if you break up.


The Path of Reconciliation Leads to:

17A. The Kicked Puppy Days

You may have reconciled your differences with your partner, but you’ve both just come out of a traumatic experience. One sweaty night and a few heart felt words aren’t going to fill those wounds. There will be a short time where you’ll both still feel hurt and ashamed of your past behavior.


18A. The Trial Recommitment

Once the dust has settled and emotions have calmed you’ll find yourself looking at your partner soberly. Both of your punishments may be over, but you’re both still on notice.


19A. The Recovery Days

If you’re both truly sorry for hurting each other and earnestly want to be together you’ll try to make it up to the other person. This phase of your relationship will find you going out of your way again to do nice things for each other and say nice things to each other. These will be days full of pampering and feel like stages 6 (The Salad Days) and 9 (Deep Appreciation and Familiarity) combined.


20A. Return to the Breezy Days

You can’t keep up that intensity forever. Life goes on. The best place you can go from here is back to the Breezy Days. Where you go from there is up to you.


Breaking up Leads to:

17B. The Free Fall

If you break up with your partner at any stage of your relationship you’ll end up in a free fall. The intensity of the free fall experience for you will be relative to how long you’ve been with your partner, how strong of an emotional attachment you had with them and how strong your dependency on them was.

You will feel lost in space. You’ll feel disconnected from your environment. You’ll feel like you just stepped into a new universe, and you may or may not want to be there.


18B. The Landing

One day all the emotions left up in the air after your break up will come back down to earth. It’s like coming to terms with the fact that your dead relative really isn’t just sleeping in a box. They’re never coming back. Your life will go on, and you will be alone. Again, this can be a good thing or a bad thing.


19B. The New Underwear/Phantom Limb

So you move on with your life, but you’ll be so used to sharing a life with your partner that you’ll have some trouble readjusting to life without them. Sometimes it can feel like you’re missing a limb. Sometimes it’ll feel like you’re getting to stretch your limbs after years of being tied down in a contorted position.


20B. The Great Wide Open

When you finally get used to living on your own again and doing things your way then the world is your oyster. Life is there for the taking. Your plans may include hunting another partner or it may not, but either way, you have a new chance to get what you want.


21B. Normalcy

The things you’re doing with your freedom will lose their novelty, and if you don’t keep your life interesting, then the repetitiveness of your daily life will lull you into a dream state where you just go about your business on autopilot and not really notice time passing.


22B. Boredom

If you do the same thing over and over long enough eventually you’ll get bored with it. Technically you’ll have everything you need to survive. You may even have a giant television and a well-worn stack of awesome video games collecting dust in the corner of your living room, but you’ll feel an inexplicable sense of boredom and lack of satisfaction in life.


23. Desperation

After you feel bored long enough the boredom will turn to despair. You’ll put pictures of island beaches on your desktop background and/or screensavers and fantasize regularly about escaping the grinding, suffocating darkness of your normal yet “privileged” life. You’ll masturbate more, and you’ll have dirty thoughts about almost anything with two legs that walks past you.


24. Forever Alone

The longer you’re alone the older you get. The older you get the farther you’re removed from the dating pool. Eventually, there comes a point where you just have to face the fact that you’ll be forever alone.


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