Early in a
relationship, partners generally say yes to each other a lot. Want to go check
out this band? Want to go see this movie I've been dying to see? Want to go to
this one restaurant I want to go to? Want to go to the zoo? Want to play a
board game? A video game? Take a dance class? Use finger paints? Cook together?
Do laundry together? Have sex?
Yes. I want to do
all of those things. Because I am in the early stages of a relationship with
you, and I want to show you how fun I can be. I'm up for anything. Let's go
have fun. Yes!
The early stages of
a relationship are so fun that, in hindsight, it seems incomprehensible that we
eventually grow into the cantankerous "No" Monsters that we become
later. No, I don't want to see some dumb band or some lame movie; no, I don't
want to try a poke restaurant; no, the zoo smells bad; no, board games suck;
no, video games are for nerds; no, finger paints are for children; no, I hate
cooking; and I definitely hate laundry,
just get outta my way so I can get it done quickly; and no, I have a headache.
Jesus Christ. What
have we become? Do you want to improve the quality of your relationship? Start
saying yes to things. It's as simple as that. Has your partner given up on
making suggestions? Then you try making some. But, whatever it is, say yes for
god's sake. Say yes to fun, say yes to being silly and goofy, say yes to new
experiences, and definitely say yes to sex with your committed, monogamous,
respectful partner! Say yes.
There is a lesson
here that extends far beyond your romantic relationships, of course. Friends,
coworkers, supervisors, customers, and strangers all appreciate an easy-going
person who expresses a general air of wanting to be supportive and helpful.
Realistically, you cannot be supportive and helpful of everyone, of course, but it's really easy to simply stand aside
and let other people do their thing. As long as it costs you nothing and
doesn't harm anyone else, you ought to shut your trap, smile, and stand aside.
I think this is one
of Jordan Peterson's "12 Rules." I think it falls under the category
of "Do not bother teenagers when they're skateboarding." When I was
growing up, skateboarding was a big issue. Adults would get really angry at youths
who were skateboarding in parking lots and other public spaces. I never
understood the anger. They weren't hurting anyone. Why not leave them alone?
Recently, a friend
of mine asked me if I'd be interested in getting together and writing some
songs. Sure, I would. I'm really pressed for time these days, but if I can
spare a couple of hours, you bet I'd like to get together and play some music
with my friend. Will it be 100% the kind of music that I've always wanted to
write? I don't know; probably not; but maybe? That's not the point. The point
is that it's fun to play music, and I like my friend's company, and it's
important to be easy-going and to say yes to experiences that have literally any level of upside against almost no downside. I'm not going to waste my
time pontificating about what a song "should" be. Let's get together
and try it out. Maybe I'll like it. Say yes!
This might all sound
obvious, but it's astounding how many people make a point of saying
"no" right off the bat, make a point of having to be convinced to say yes to anything. I don't want
to be too harsh, but it's hard not to think of people like that as anything but
losers. If someone has something better going on, or a prior commitment -- in
other words, if someone has already said yes to something else -- that's one
thing. But if your general disposition is "no" then you suck.
When your wife hands
you a funny looking shirt and asks you to try it on, or even to wear it at your
next special occasion, say yes, dammit! It costs you nothing to put on a funny
shirt when your wife asks you to. When someone invites you to write some songs,
say yes! When your boss asks for volunteers, volunteer. When someone asks you
to come check out their dance recital or their whatever,
don't be the jerk who refuses to show up.