And here I pause, not dramatically but not casually either, and wait for him to look up — his ears, his eyes, everything ready and willing and open.
“Abandonment,” I whisper. That’s one of his buzzwords.
I add caveats so that it doesn’t look like I’m lying. “But,” I say, “this was back in 2009, which means of course and naturally things must have changed. Maybe now there are no effects. Like, you know, because of the pandemic.”
But that nonexistent 2009 article will stick in his head. He won’t let her go up alone. I will be happy because I will have gotten my way. I will feel safe.
I am aware that I want to be able to just say, Don’t put her on the lift alone because it scares me. I am aware that I want to be married to my mother. I am aware I am not always or even often in the right. But I am aware that I do not care.
I think this is a feminist perspective?
What I mean is: Sometimes I feel like, these days, for women, the love language should be getting whatever you want. In heterosexual relationships, women have performed acts of service for hundreds of years. It is time for men to perform more acts. It is time for men to listen.
I think I’m really just very angry. About the years of no suffrage, the rapes and beatings and the come-ons, both antagonistic and self-pitying, the tree thing, the lift thing. Someone — I’ll call him Jackson — said, “You can’t justifiably punish me for the sins of all men.”
I spoke to the clinical psychologist Orna Guralnik, star of the docuseries “Couples Therapy,” and she told me that of all the books on love and relationships, Dr. Chapman’s has had one of the most profound impacts both on her patients and on the culture at large. She thinks that’s because even if you don’t necessarily agree with the breakdown of the love languages, “the idea that people are different cues you into the difference between you and your partner. Your partner’s difference should be something that makes you curious rather than combative.”