Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Hitched"

"Basic principles: no woman wakes up saying, "God, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today!" Now, she might say, "This is a really bad time for me," or something like, "I just need some space," or my personal favorite, "I'm really into my career right now." You believe that? Neither does she. You know why? Because she's lying to you, that's why. You understand me? Lying! It's not a bad time for her. She doesn't need any space. And she may be into her career, but what she's really saying is, "Uh, get away from me now," or possibly, "Try harder, stupid." But which one is it? Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal, body language; 30 percent is your tone. So, that means that ninety percent of what you're saying ain't coming out of your mouth. Of course she's going to lie to you! She's a nice person. She doesn't want to hurt your feelings. What else she going to say? She doesn't even know you... yet. Luckily, the fact is that just like the rest of us, even a beautiful woman doesn't know what she wants until she sees it, and that's where I come in. My job is to open her eyes. Basic principles: no matter what, no matter when, no matter who... any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet. He just needs the right broom."

Saba7o LOVEanense! I feel like I spend every new post apologizing for not updating sooner, but I assure you... finding a job is really tough. Some good news though is that this is my 35th post! It's been really hard to find the energy to write, but last week I watched something for the first time, and felt compelled to write about it. Although I usually spend the first paragraph of a post giving updates, there's nothing really to update this time around.

I do want to draw your attention, though, to a couple articles I found recently that are really important. The first is about the common causes of divorce. If you've ever wanted to see a pretty comprehensive list, it's here. Dr. Terri Orbush covers some important lessons that were actually learned from couples who did divorce. Moreover, she has some great advice for dealing with the number one cause: money.

With that said, if you have not seen the 2005 movie Hitch, you really need to watch it.



It's got Will Smith in it, OF COURSE it's gonna be good!

Now, I know this movie isn't exactly new, and most people whom I've told that I just NOW watched it were wondering which rock I've been living under (I mean, for a guy who wrote a thesis about love, how did I not see Hitch!?). Well, to be honest, I was impressed. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but as I watched, I kept making notes. It hit on what I think are so many important themes, and, in my opinion, even though it was "Hollywood," shied away from some of the typical motifs and themes.

Well... not ALL of them. The quote at the beginning was actually the opening lines of the movie. I was a little skeptical of the theme of the movie based on what he was saying, because it sounded a little too good to be true. First of all, although nonverbal communication is incredibly important in communicating, some are critical of the 90% of all communication is nonverbal. Regardless, it's still an important point, and I was definitely interested in seeing what else Hitch had to say, but I hope it goes without saying that you should just be careful when you hear a statistic floated around in mainstream media (and always question it's accuracy).


The more I watched, the more subtleties I began to pick-up on, and the more I realized it was actually a very positive film. One of these was what I considered the difference between methods and intentions. For example, just watch this short clip I recorded of what I think is the most important part of the movie (just watching it gives me goosebumps):


video


Isn't that so intense!? Especially when he says, "This is why falling in love is so goddamn hard!" and "It's because of jerks like that that even have a job!" I just really loved the interaction between him and everyone else, but especially, the dialogue. I think that it's easy at first glance to call what he was saying sexist, and perhaps I just identified with it as a man, but I think there was some very interesting points here that really sums up the whole movie. Moreover, he's not vilifying women, nor is he unintentionally criticizing them. He's criticizing society at large, the plethora of norms, expectations, and pressures that often leave most men (and I'm sure many women) frustrated, timid, self-conscious, or feeling like they are not good enough. As I mentioned with the "methods vs. intentions" dichotomy, I think it sheds light on the way that a lot of people feel (regardless of gender) with approaching the opposite gender. As men are typically expected to approach women, it's understandable that he is speaking on behalf of men. But if you listen to what he's saying, it's really more about how his job is based on overcoming the societal pressures/expectations that come with dating and courtship--to which gender roles and socialization are a huge part. It isn't about hooking up at all, and really, sex isn't part of the movie at all either. In fact, when someone wanted to just get with a woman because he wanted sex, Hitch rejected him. I really liked that.



FYI: DO NOT date.

Another point that I wanted to discuss that I think many of you in Lebanon/with an Arab background experience a lot (and that IS a typical Hollywood motif) is the emphasis on love--verses compatibility. Even from the get-go, Hitch never once talked about the importance of compatibility. There's just the assumption that if someone "likes" someone, they can just fall in love, and live "happily ever after." As multiple studies show, one aspect of compatibility--social support and involvement--is incredibly important (Felmlee, 2001; Bryant and Conger, 1999; Sprecher and Felmlee, 1992; Leslie, Huston, and Johnson, 1986). Moreover, other scholars have found that it is typical for individuals to seek out a mate who is similar to themselves in terms of personality (Dijkstra and Barelds, 2008).

I'm not trying to say that love is the opposite of compatibility, but I think we complicate relationships, and for many reasons. One of which is the confusion between love and compatibility.
I just think that love and compatibility are BOTH important components of a happy relationship, and are in many ways, apples and oranges. Consider love, for instance, as an emotional element (the apple), while compatibility is more of a logical component (the orange). I've talked a bit about compatibility before (e.g., here), but I want to take the concept further as well as connect it to the movie. I want to argue that there are multiple tiers of compatibility (without applied value necessarily), where one tier could hold religious beliefs, social background, cultural similarity, class, and level of education (if that sounds strangely familiar, it's because that's what's generally considered the most important among Arab parents/families). However, there's the next tier that holds personality traits, experiences, similar tastes in music/movies, etc. And then another that pertains to values, beliefs, life goals, energy levels, perception of the world (are you positive and optimistic and they negative and pessimistic?), and especially, conflict styles and how to manage conflict (How do you deal with conflict, disagreements, etc.?). I think all of these are important. However, the fact is, the equation for attraction is so complex and is determined by an infinite number of factors; it is the most advanced equation that makes quantum physics seem pale in comparison. So, it may be hard to determine exactly what aspect of someone's personality or worldview or habits are the most attractive. I'm sure we all know people that, perhaps on the outside, they may not seem to be a suitable match, but the more you get to know them, the more you realize they are perfect for each other--because they are compatible in deeper ways.

Putting thi
s in the context of the movie, however, is more complicated. In the U.S. and the "West" in general, we overemphasize the "love" aspect of a relationship. In the Arab world, we overemphasize the "compatibility" aspect of a relationship. So, as I alluded to, you see that reflected in the movie. But, actually, in one of the last scenes, Allegra emphasizes how Albert's "quirks" such as being clumsy or a bad dancer are actually really attractive to her (hinting at compatibility). For Allegra, she liked Albert just the way he was, even though they seem like a completely different couple based on their social status (she's famous, he's not). Moreover, Eva Mendes' character, Sarah, and Hitch both have a pretty interesting thing in common: a history of fear; fear of loss for Sarah, and a fear of rejection for Hitch. Both communicate intimate anecdotes of past experiences which left them jaded, cynical, and cautious. And I think that is incredibly reflective of most people. They had bad experiences, and in turn, those bad experiences prevented them from getting close to others. Instead, they kept people at a distance. I'm SURE that every single person reading this can relate, either themselves personally, or through the experience of a friend or family member. I mean, it makes sense: as you get older, all of those experiences prior add up, and affect you, they influence your behavior, your actions, and your perceptions; they add to your insecurities, and sometimes, make you shut down. But remember the 5th leading cause of divorce according to the article I posted at the beginning of this post? It's important to let go of the past, not forget it per se, but live in the present. Be yourself, be natural, love who you are, and be with someone who makes your life happier BECAUSE you can be yourself. We all have to impress at point or another, but being comfortable with someone is an amazing feeling.

Overall, it was a great movie, I definitely recommend it. I know I always say that I'll try and blog more, but I really will. I'm really looking forward to your comments: did you like the movie? Where there other themes you picked up on that I missed? Do you have a perception that is based on your gender? Let me know! And just remember the last line of the movie, one that sums up pretty much everything about dating, love, relationships, and attraction:

"Basic rules: there are none." - Hitch

Spread the love,

-Ogie, MA

References:

Bryant, Chalandra M., and Rand D. Conger. "Marital Success and Domains of Social Support in Long-Term Relationships: Does the Influence of Network Members Ever End?"
Journal of Marriage and Family, 61(2): 437-450.

Dijkstra, Pieternel, and Barelds, Dick P. H. 2008. "Do People Know What They Want: A Similar or Complementary Partner?" Evolutionary Psychology, 6(4): 595-602.

Felmlee, Diane H. 2001. "No Couple Is an Island: A Social Network Perspective on Dyadic Stability." Social Forces, 79(4): 1259-1287.

Leslie, Leigh A., Ted L. Huston, and Michael P. Johnson. 1986. "Parental Reactions to Dating Relationships: Do They Make a Difference?" Journal of Marriage and Family, 48(1): 57-66.

Sprecher Susan, and Diane H. Felmlee. 1992. "The Influence of Parents and Friends on the Quality and Stability of Romantic Relationships: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Investigation." Journal of Marriage and Family, 54(4): 888-900.