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Read Letter

Peggy Said It!

My dear Jil, do you know Elizabeth Moss? You probably know her as Peggy, Peggy Olson in the Mad Men drama series. In the series she’s the former secretary who ended up as advertising executive, breaking the glass ceiling for women. She made one major mistake – had a child for a married man, eventually giving up the child for adoption. But she didn’t allow the mistake to define her. She somehow pulled through. In her real life though, Elisabeth Moss has also had one or two ups and downs on her own in the relationship department. In her mid-twenties, she married comedian Fred Armisen. The couple ended up separating within a year. More recently, she broke up with her boyfriend, cinematographer Adam Arkapaw. She’s had disappointments. The pair met on the set of Top Of The Lake, for which she won a Golden Globe in 2014. But neither experience has put her off the idea of marriage, she said. “I’m still totally romantic.” In her interview with, she made a very interesting observation. When asked about what she’d learned, she said: “One of the biggest lessons I learned is that marriage itself is not the be all and all… An honest, trusting, compatible relationship is actually the most important.” And she’s right. The relationship is the key to a successful marriage. It’s not the other way round. The marriage ought to come as a result of the relationship, not the relationship as a result of the marriage.

If the marriage is what created the relationship then you have a marriage-enforced relationship. In which case your marriage is no different from an arranged marriage in which courtship begins after the wedding. You don’t want to discover things you should have known about your partner before the wedding, after the wedding. God help you if the unknown are not palatable stuff. That’s the risk you run in a marriage-enforced relationship. It will boil down to, “I’m already in it, I’d better make it work.” One should not imagine the alternative. In a marriage, relationship is key. And the quality of the relationship matters. But the quality of a relationship in marriage is determined by the sincerity of the parties. It’s hard to have a good relationship with an insincere person. There’ll be suspicions, pretences and manipulation. Where there’s no sincerity, expression of affection will be withheld to get a political advantage or leverage. The desire to be wanted and needed will drive the acts of insincerity. Everything will be calculated. Expect last minute cancellation of dates in these scenarios. It’s a game plan, it’s all calculation. Such a lifestyle, and it’s a lifestyle, necessitates the withholder of affection gives nothing in the relationship. For everything the withholder gives, the non-withholder has given times ten. And that will be the pattern of the relationship. There’ll be leading on with a view to specific advantage. The withholder gives just enough to sustain the relationship. Everything will be negotiated in that relationship. Everything will be up for debate. It’s a weariness of soul. Now, that style of relationship can only work if the guy is doggedly pursuing sex. If not the bargaining chip is gone.

It’s why the withholding of affection never works for genuine friendship in a relationship. At some point the other party is going to get tired. The bargaining and withholding will become laborious. The relationship will trouble the soul of the other party. He’s not getting emotional tangibilities. If you really think about it, withholding of affection is either manifestation of insecurity, or deviousness. The ego usually comes into play – the need to be the critical factor in a relationship. It soon begins to skew the results. And it’s worse when a withholder of affection is seeking to control what she can’t control. Trying to control a relationship with someone with dominant advantages is puerile when you have little bargaining chip. The withholder of affection of course comes across as selfish and self-centred, even devious. It’s like luring someone into a cave in order to have environmental advantage, to do to him as you like. These things don’t augur well for happiness in a relationship. What you want you won’t get. Why don’t you drop all the manipulation and all the calculation, and just have a honest and REAL relationship. Why don’t you drop all the selfishness, all the self-centredness, to have a good relationship? Withholding of affection hasn’t paid you. Or you won’t have had two broken relationships, losing two wonderful guys.

There’s simplicity in friendship. Once friendship becomes calculating it loses something. The danger in calculatedness in a relationship is that it reduces your value. At some point the guy will lose all feelings for you. Would rather date someone without complications. Anyone can see through the “smartness” you’re displaying. It all just wearies the soul. And the guy will soon stop calling you. Of course you’ll blame the guy, but if you’re honest with yourself he has no option. All that beauty is good, but once the inside can’t correlate with the outside value is reduced. Without character beauty is misplaced ornamentation. So said Solomon. You’ve been playing this game for so long you can’t even discriminate your audience. It doesn’t work on everyone! And it portrays the fact that relationship for you is all about what you can get, what you can control, not what to give. The lifestyle has a corollary – the inability to say a proper apology. Even apology is calculated. Pride. Pride is what prevents you from admitting wrong. It’s what makes you want to chat as if nothing ever happened. You’ll lose friendship with manipulation. What is marriage without friendship? It’s too intimate to exist without friendship. Once a relationship becomes a contest of smartness it’s lost something major. It’s no longer a relationship but a chess game.

A good friendship before marriage naturally produces an organic union. But if you insist on being manipulative and calculating in your relationship, don’t complain of the natural outcome. You can’t build a sincere relationship with the bricks of insincerity and the mortar of manipulation. I wish you luck if you think otherwise.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

Tags : Courtship

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