Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Respect for Band-Aids

In the past few weeks, I have had multiple people, strangers, friends, family members, ask me what I'm reading. I spend a good deal of time with books, magazines, and newspapers that cover a wide-variety of topics and genres so when I find a particularly good one, you have my word that I will pass along the tip on this blog.

At 1:00am, I was coming home on the subway from a night out and I was reading my book so intently that a complete stranger walked up to me to ask me what I was reading that could possibly be so interesting. In the end, I think he was just looking for a way to hit on me in his drunken stupor, though it did make me a little more conscious about my outward behavior! I was reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

There is a particularly poignant passage in the last chapter that struck me and it bears repeating. "A critic looks at tightly focused, targeted interventions and dismisses them as Band-Aids....Band-Aids have probably allowed millions to keep working, playing, and walking when they otherwise would have had to stop....there is something in all of us that makes us feel that true answers must be comprehensive...that slow and steady should win the race....there are times when we need a convenient shortcut, a way to make a lot out of a little." I have to admit that I am one of those critics who dismissed Band-Aids as half-assed efforts, solutions from people who didn't want to take the time to find a REAL answer. I have shunned Band-Aids for a good deal of my life, in almost every area of my life. Until now.

I had lunch with a dear friend today and we began talking about romantic relationships. (One of my favorite Carrie Bradshaw lines is, "every woman in New York is always in search of at least one of three things: a job, an apartment, or a boyfriend. Given that I have the first two, it's only logical that I'd begin working on #3.) They can and often are all consuming. We spend less time with friends, family, and work when we start a new relationship. It sparks a certain sentiment that allows us to justify putting other areas of our life on hold. And we're looking for the "perfect" one. The person who can be everything to us: our best friend, our lover, our support, our ally, our mirror. That's an awfully hefty job description. In a time when we are feeling ourselves pulled in so many different directions, is it possible that we are placing too much responsibility on one person's shoulders? On our own shoulders to be that for someone else? Can we take a Band-Aid approach to love? I'm going with a definite maybe.

Don't misunderstand me - I am not in the "Down with Love" camp. I love love and the comfort and happiness it provides to people. For those of you who found all of the roles listed above in one person, I am truly thrilled for you. We should all be so lucky. Some of us aren't, and I'm starting to get comfortable with the idea that that's completely okay. For me, who has a tendency to get completely wrapped up with the man I'm dating, having different people in my life fill different roles is potentially a much healthier arrangement. As I consider possibilities for dating, I am trying to decide which traits are MOST important. What are the non-negotiables? Good sense of humor, positive attitude, independent, social, adventurous, physical attraction (which does not mean Time Magazine's Sexiest Man of the Year or bust).

While I would never look at any man I'm dating as a Band-Aid, there is room to consider that a very happy relationship can be formed between two people who provide a lot for one another if they have a few key traits that the other is seeking in a partner. In a world so focused on perfection, this is a tough pill to swallow. For the sake of happiness, and maybe even for sanity, in this seemingly complicated quest for the third piece, I'm going to give it a shot.


Janet said...

I agree, no man could or should be the solution to all the problems in your life. "Band-Aid" isn't the term I would use, I vote for "bracelet". Here's my reasoning. "Band-Aid" implies that something was broken and bleeding and in need of patching. We are strong women, and nothing about us is broken or bleeding. "Bracelet" on the other hand, implies ornamentation - the completing touch on an already fabulous outfit.

Christa said...

Well said, Janet! I like the term bracelet much better than Gladwell's Band-Aid :)