Fiction can be a heck-of-a learning tool. It can shape our mind around dating, lust, and love. And we’ve got a one fascinating Love Affair to discuss today … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: ADELLE WALDMAN, AUTHOR OF “THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF NATHANIEL P.”
Guests: Adelle Waldman
Date: October 07, 2013
Frank: Fiction can be a heck of a learning tool. It can shape our mind around dating, lust, and love. And we’ve got a one fascinating “Love Affair” to discuss today on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.
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Well, well, well. How in the world does a woman get in the mind of a man that’s in the dating world? Today’s guest has that knack. She’s a novelist extraordinaire. Her writings appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice and other publications.
She worked as a reporter at the New Haven Register and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She’s the author of the work that has been called a smart engaging 21st century comedy of manners.
The book is, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, and it captures the thoughts and actions of women and a man in particular in relationships. The author is none other than Ms. Adelle Waldman. Welcome to the show.
Adelle: Thank you so much. I’m so glad to be here.
Frank: You have written about, oh boy, serial monogamy. Let’s hear it. What is it and how do you feel about it, as a woman that I think is in a relationship?
Adelle: Right. Well, not only in a relationship, I’m actually married, which in a way help me to write this book. But I was single for a long time and dating in New York and I would say serial monogamy is the relatively recent and modern habit we have now of entering into monogamous relationships that might last a few months, a year, a couple years, but aren’t necessarily leading to marriage. And maybe it involves people living together, may be not, but they’re more serious than non-marital relationships of the past, that I think, tended to be and they don’t always last forever.
They often don’t last forever and I think there are pros and cons, honestly, of the way we do things. For me, I’m very glad I dated a number of different men in my 20’s, because the one that I ultimately married is the one I should be married to. I’m glad I didn’t marry my first boyfriend that I dated in my early 20’s for a few years. He was a great person, but I don’t think we had such a great relationship. On the other hand, I think that they can cause a lot of heartache–
Adelle: For both men and women.
Frank: Yes. Do you think you are still participating in serial monogamy right now or you think you guys can’t possibly break up, it’ll never happen or what?
Adelle: I think if I said I was participating in serial monogamy, my husband might get offended.
Frank: Okay. What would he say?
Adelle: I think we both would like to think that we are married forever and I guess, knock on wood, things happen. But I think that probably the attitude that we both took when we decided to get married was that this is the relationship that we want to make work through thick and thin and we hope that happens. But I think that’s a distinction–that I never took in any of my previous relationships where we never went further than, “This is working for now, but who knows what will happen?”
Frank: I have actually–in my marriage, we have the attitude or the prospective that we are good for each other–great for each other. However, we also add to that, that we’re great for each other now and that could change, but I get it, everybody’s a little different. You said–
Adelle: Yeah, I–
Frank: Oh, go on.
Adelle: I find that very impressive and interesting. It makes sense.
Frank: The premise in my book, on the one I spoke about a few minutes ago, How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship, is that if you are–and some people see the title and are really thrown off. I mean, “I’m in a relationship, I don’t want to break-up.” But I say quickly and all the time, if you’re in a relationship or you will be in a relationship, there is a strong possibility that you may split at some point and there are certain conversations that I suggest having along the way, which would make such a split a lot easier on both of you.
Frank: Well, I’m crazy, but I’ve known that for years.
Adelle: But I couldn’t agree more. I think that in terms of–in all parts of a relationship, I think the beginning, the middle and especially the end, where it’s hardest to try to not let emotions dominate and be fair to both people, I think is really important.
The emotions that can dominate the end of a relationship can be such anger and hurt and they can make you just want to not do anything you can to hurt the other person, because you feel hurt. But that’s ultimately a harmful impulse and it’s sort of, I think, better if we can separate–relationships can be very painful, but it’s still better to behave more rationally and fairly–
Adelle: Rather than give into those emotions.
Frank: And we tend to do that when we’re not in the throws of the break-up itself–when we have those fair conversations earlier. And I’m an advocate of preparing a written agreement early in the relationship, that basically says, who you are, what you believe, how you would divide property if you were to split and how you will currently and eventually raise children together. The early part of the relationship, or along the road of the relationship, where things may be going good or certainly better than they would be going during a break-up, presumably, is the time to do that.
Adelle: Right, right.
Frank: Did your husband–you said he had something to do with you writing The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Did he help you write it? I forget exactly how you said it a few minutes ago.
Adelle: Right, right. He helped me write it to the extent that he is a wonderful writer himself and he edited it. And I would talk to him about the characters, but he certainly wasn’t a co-author or anything of that sort. But the way, I think he helped me was more psychologically that he and I have such a good relationship from the beginning when we started dating, I often was able to write about a relationship that, fro a woman’s prospective, is not very good–and I think that it was and I wrote about that in my book, but I think I was able to do that in part, because I was in a good relationship myself.
It made it more comfortable for me to go there psychologically and examine all these feelings, that I think are difficult of a dysfunctional relationship, if that makes sense, but because I had that psychological and emotional support, I could put myself in the mindset of this guy who’s often behaving badly toward his girlfriend and he thinks all these thoughts that, as far as I’m concerned as a woman, these are my worse fears and insecurities.
Frank: Give me one. Let’s hear it.
Adelle: He says things like, “Why do women, no matter how smart and independent, always seem to pervert to a state of willed imbecility,” is his word and he means like, he’s responding to his girlfriend saying–“He goes, are you mad at me,” and he’s acting kind of cool and distant and so she wonders if he’s mad at her. And in his mind he’s like, “I’m not a child, I don’t have a emotional range of the binary system, who’s happy or mad at her.” It’s just this sort of imbecilic thinking. And I think he’s sort of right in that, but also, oh my God, I totally based that on the fact that I’ve dated guys who’d be acting cool and distant and I’d be sitting there feeling insecure and I’d say, “Are you mad at me,” in this slightly high-pitched insecure voice and I could tell from the look on the guy’s face, that was just annoying him more.
Frank: Yeah. I can relate to that one. My wife may ask me a question occasionally and my response is that question is more irritating than anything I could possibly be experiencing right now.
Adelle: Right, right.
Frank: I can go with Nathaniel there. But why do you see that is problematic, in terms of his thoughts towards the woman that he’s involved with? That seems reasonable.
Adelle: Right. I think what’s happening is that he has this point–in the course of the book, he starts out being very interested in this woman and their relationship is strong for awhile and then he starts losing interest for no obvious reason. Even he’s not sure what the reason is and he doesn’t know what to do and he’s a little disconcerted himself. He’s hasn’t totally accepted, “I’m just not into her anymore.” He doesn’t know what’s going on in his head, but his behavior changes and he’s a little cooler towards her and I think this confuses her.
I think the problem isn’t that he’s being deliberately cruel to her, it’s that he’s not really addressing what’s going on in his head and that winds up being cruel to her, because she senses that his behavior is changing and he pulls away enough, so she gets insecure, but then when she calls him out on it, he’ll deny it.
After she asked, “Are you mad at me,” and he gets annoyed. A few minutes later he feels bad for having snapped at her and he apologizes. He blames his previous irritation on the fact that he’d been hungry.
Frank: But isn’t she dealing with the same thing? Don’t we all reveal as much as we are comfortable revealing at any given point and if both people are doing it, it’s kind of okay.
Adelle: I think that she is not going through exactly the same thing. Her progression, I think, was different. She was a little bit more skeptical toward him in the beginning and afraid of getting hurt and then I think at a certain point, she decided to trust him and trust her feelings. And kind of at this point, I think she isn’t changing her mind. She is feeling like, “I signed on. I feel safe with this guy,” and then she senses him pulling back.
I think there trajectories are different and I wanted to articulate something I thought was typically male and female. Not to say that all relationships fall into this pattern, they don’t, but it happens enough. It’s not in anomaly, where the woman takes their time to let herself fall for a guy, but then really does. And then the man has a different trajectory, where he’s into it at first, but then at some point he senses she’s quite into it and around then he loses interest.
Frank: Two very similar questions. One, are you a better wife because you have gotten to know Nathaniel, because you created him and gotten in his head and would your husband say that you are?
Adelle: Interesting. Wow, God. I just don’t know. I would want to say “yes,” because I’ve thought so much about various relationships issues and from both prospective. I feel like in writing the book I had to be sympathetic Nate’s perspective.
In a lot of ways, I am a woman. I’m very much a woman. I relate to Hanna, the female character, in my book. But at the same time, I really have to get into Nate’s head and I have a lot of sympathy and affection for him. So, I hope that writing the book has made me more empathic generally.
That said, I think that my husband and I have different issues, than Nate and Hanna, because I think a lot of their issues are related to the question of, “Do we really want to be in this relationship?” And I think for my husband and me, we’ve moved beyond that, so our struggles involve things like, just this morning I felt like he asked me if I was going to do laundry in a tone that implied that, it was my job and I didn’t like that. And that’s the kind of struggle we have and it was pretty light. But it’s a different type of struggle. It’s not like, “Are we going to stay married?”
Frank: How about better girlfriend counselor? Are you a better one of those?
Adelle: I think so. I hope so, except I’m probably a harsher one honestly, that I probably–
Frank: That doesn’t mean not better. Harsher is okay.
Adelle: Right, right. Yeah, I probably tell women more to just get out. That it’s not going to work. I think one thing I learned writing this book is that when you’re the woman and you’re in this cycle where the man seems to be pulling away, that I think it’s probably too late.
You can do what Hanna does. She becomes more insecure. She asks if he’s mad at her. Then when that doesn’t seem to work, she either pulls back even more, plays hard to get and doesn’t return his calls. And that works a little bit, but the problem is, it doesn’t work that well, because she can’t keep it up forever and as soon as she reveals that she cares again, his coldness comes back. It’s just a temporary reprieve.
I think that, yeah, to me it feels like that once your relationship is in that cycle, you just have to walk away. You’re not going to be able to fix it. You can’t make a relationship work unless you have two parties who both want it to work and if one has one foot out the door, then just forget it.
Frank: You had the opportunity, presumably, to write about a man or a woman, meaning your main character. How did you manage to pick the man?
Adelle: I think I’d always assume that when I wrote a novel, I would write a novel from the prospective of a woman, because I’m a woman. It seemed natural. But then I had this idea. It seemed crazy a few years ago when I got it. I was reading a book by a male author and I had this feeling that, “Wow, I think I know more about what’s going on in his head than he does himself.”
I felt like I’d spent all these years in my 20’s analyzing my own boyfriend’s behavior, sitting with my friends and analyzing their boyfriend’s behavior, and I have brothers and guy friends and I seriously was like, “I think I developed this cash of knowledge and insight and I think I’m more interested in emotions than a lot of these guys and I probably spend more time thinking about their feelings than they think about themselves.”
So, I got *(inaudible) 18:28 crazy person, “Maybe I’ll write a book about dating from the male prospective,” but I didn’t know that it was going to work. And then I started and I found that I really liked it and it became, for me, a really useful perspective and I was able, I felt to write more meaningfully than I had when I previously tried to write from a woman’s prospective.
I think part of it was, because I’m not Nate. I’m not the character. I could be a little more objective, whereas if I were writing something from a prospective, someone like me, my emotions are too involved and I can’t see the situation as clearly.
Frank: Are you or were you a Sex in the City watcher?
Adelle: Yes. I have–I watched the show. I think I actually left my job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer in part, because Sex in the City made me home sick for New York.
Frank: Un-huh, and any comparison or contrast that comes up between the two?
Adelle: I really, really enjoyed the show. I just thought it was a lot of fun–sort of a love letter to New York. I do feel that something came up in the show. It’s not really a criticism of the show. I think is great as entertainment, but in terms of some of the notions about love that it presents, it’s one thing that bothered me slightly is, I feel as if the love interest in that show are often men who are very wealthy and very good looking. And I feel like there’s confusion of love with having a guy on your arm that you can walk into a room with and everyone is impressed and gasps. And to me that’s not quite the way I would, if I’m thinking about it, that I think that if you’re looking for a meaningful relationship, you’re looking for tenderness and compatibility of interests and sympathies and–I don’t know, I put the focus elsewhere and not on money or status or good looks.
Frank: Tell me about your history. I spoke a little bit about some of the writing you did as I introduced you, but tell me about some of the guys or the characters that you have dated or your education. Just give us a little insight into where you come from.
Adelle: Okay. I am 36 and let’s see. I went to college and I studied history, but I wanted to be a novelist. So, I came to New York after college with this idea that I was going to be a waitress and write a novel. Sounded like a great idea, except for two things. I started to try and write and I couldn’t write anything any good and I was a terrible waitress.
Frank: Whoa. Yeah that doesn’t work out too well.
Adelle: I know, I know. I was a big failure in all fronts. So, I managed to get a job as a journalist, writing for a financial newsletter. It wasn’t super exciting, but it was a job and it turned out to be really, really good and I was still trying to write fiction on the side.
Frank: Well, you couldn’t write fiction, but you got a job as a journalist. That’s an interesting transition. It doesn’t seem very different.
Adelle: The journals that I was doing–writing for a financial newsletter, I was writing stories about banks and it would be like, “E-trade that has a new feature on its website.”
Adelle: It wasn’t super creative and it was learning about the banking industry. Being that it was a financial newsletter, it really wasn’t too, too difficult. I would definitely say the novel writing is harder, but it was fun. I learned a lot actually.
I was living in New York, working as a journalist and eventually I moved from there to being a newspaper reporter. Using the business knowledge I had, I became a business reporter at the New Haven Register in Connecticut and then Cleveland Plain Dealer and then I wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal’s website about 20-something’s personal finances.
Basically, I spent my 20’s in this world of journalism for newspapers and specifically business. And along the way I was dating and it’s funny. I don’t have a lot of horror stories I would say-thankfully and I’m very interested in your opinion on this, but I think it has some relatively good break-ups. A man I dated for a few years when we were in our early 20’s–I think somewhat I feel lucky that we live in a time where he and I didn’t get married and want to make it work forever, because we were really good friends, but we didn’t get along that well when we spent too much time together.
We were good if we saw each other twice a week but more time than that, we’d just fight. And he was very, very neat and he didn’t like the way I kept my apartment and I felt like his apartment was sterile, because it was so neat. We just–to live together, we would have made each other miserable.
We were good if we could go to restaurant twice a week and have a nice dinner and conversation and then we could each go back to our own apartments.
Frank: So, you didn’t even go to each other’s apartments that night? Those two nights you didn’t go?
Adelle: No, no, no. Okay, I guess we’d stay over that night, but I mean at the end–but we’d have a home to retreat to. I did not want to move into his apartment.
Adelle: That is for sure. And he did not want to move into mine, because it was too messy. But we dated for several years and I had felt like he was just a person I really liked then and I continue to like and I’m glad we were able to–I think maybe relate it to some of the things you talked about in your book. We were able to break-up amicably.
We did know, I think, from a fairly early point that we probably just weren’t right for each other forever, because of these differences, because we just couldn’t see moving forward. I think that helped. We knew that we probably would break-up and there wasn’t–I don’t think either of us was devastated by that.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Adelle Waldman, the author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, a novel that captures the thoughts and actions of a man in the dating world.
Ms. Waldman, please tell our listeners how they can find you and your book.
Adelle: They’re welcome to visit my website, which is adellewaldman.com. And the book, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, is available at bookstores everywhere. It’s on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Yeah, please find it.
Frank: Got it. You have received some pretty impressive acclaim on the book. I’m curious, who agrees that you’ve nailed the mind of the male psyche more? Is it the women that are checking you out or is it the men that are checking you out– that are giving you the most accolades?
Adelle: I have to say I’ve gotten probably, in terms of reviews from newspapers and magazines, I think they’re equally divided up between men and women, which is really nice for me, because as a woman novelist one of the worries one has is that books are going to be pegged as women’s fiction. And I think it happens a lot to a lot of women writers and that they aren’t read by men. And I’ve been, I think very, very fortunate that, that hasn’t happened and perhaps because from the prospective of the male character, which I’ve been very glad that men seem to be reading the book.
I have to say, it’s really interesting. Reviews seem to be divided in that some are by men and some are by women. The emails I get, I’d say are 70 percent from men and–
Adelle: Yeah, and I’ve gotten really interesting ones from men who are the age of my character. Nate is in his early 30’s, and I’ve gotten emails from men who are younger, right in their early 20’s, men who are Nate’s age and then also men who are much older–in their 50’s and 60’s and it’s very, very interesting. I think that they’ve said that they see parts of themselves in Nate. Not always the parts of themselves that they are most proud of.
And some have written to say that they feel that their own intimacy issues have just caused them this hardship and they really had to struggle with that.
Others have said that they could see themselves in Nate, but that eventually met the right person and things were easier. But it’s been very, very interesting to me.
Frank: Do you have a take-home message for the reader, particularly the male readers? Is it one or more of acceptance? Just kind of accept where you are. Look Nate did some things or said some things that were politically incorrect possibly is the way to put it and to work on them? Or just accept it that, that’s what or how some people are, that’s how you might be and feel comfortable with yourself and eventually you may no longer feel that way or the right person may come along and you don’t feel that way. Or if you do feel that way and continually feel that way, that’s okay too. What’s your take-home message if you have one?
Adelle: Sometimes I wish I really had more of one. In a certain way I have more of a take-home message for women, honestly, which is something like the, “Don’t date Nate,” kind of thing, which is not that helpful though for guys who are like Nate. I feel a little bad, because I do feel for women.
I think the problem with Nate is that he’s not really sure that he wants to be in a relationship. He kind of does at moments, but sometimes he gets lonely and he’s drawn to women and he wants sex and that draws him to women and he sees causal sex is all these problem. There are advantages that to being in a relationship. But then he changes his mind and he wants to be alone.
He goes back and forth between the two and I think for women who really want to be in a serious monogamous relationship for the seeable future, it’s better to be with a guy who does really want that. His mood doesn’t change three times in the course of a day.
But I do have a lot of empathy with guys who are struggling with that, who do relate to me and they don’t mean to be. It’s not their choice. It’s like they don’t know what they want. They want different things at different moments. So, I have empathy with that and I feel like I would agree with some of what you said. I do think Nate does think a lot of politically incorrect things. He thinks about women’s looks and women’s bodies maybe more than he wishes he did.
He thinks the sexist thoughts about women’s intellect at times. I think that probably–I can forgive him some of this, because I think these are his private thoughts. They’re not his actions and I think that to a degree–I don’t know there’s a complicated mix. I think the idea that the mix of self-acceptance mixed with trying to look critically, to not give oneself a total pass, but to not beat myself up for things you can’t help. So may be that’s mixed advice.
I don’t know. What do you think it should be?
Frank: I am an acceptance person. In fact, I want to know–I’m so weird, where I didn’t have a real problem with, what was his name? The guy who played Kramer on Seinfeld–Michael Richards. I didn’t have a major problem with the rant that he did years ago, because it gives–I want to know, I got to know him. I mean, I thought I knew him–right or wrong, I thought I knew him at some level through his character on Seinfeld and whoever he showed up as on the Red Carpet, but I learned about it and instead of being angry at him exposing himself–and mind you, I am a black guy, so if most black people were insulted at his rant–
Frank: However, more than insulted, I want to talk and the only way I can talk to you about an issue is if you reveal yourself. And so to shun, to condemn, to even call it, in my–and I did it. I said politically incorrect, but even to look at it as politically incorrect or even incorrect, it shuts down the options for me.
It stops me from being able to talk to the partner that’s in my life. If it’s a business relationship, romantic relationship, whatever it might be, when I eliminate the willingness or the ability to hear, because I’m insulted, it takes away an opportunity for me.
Adelle: Right, right. I think that’s incredibly interesting and I feel like to me, that gets into one of the reasons that I wanted to write this book–is that, I felt that there were thoughts that I imagined men had that I didn’t think they we’re comfortable stating aloud, because they didn’t want to be accused of being misogynistic.
Adelle: And I felt like as a woman I could say a lot of things, because I didn’t have to worry about that so much and I wanted to explore some of Nate’s remarkable thoughts toward women, because I feel like if they’re thinking them, they influence us–
Adelle: And even if we don’t safe them–
Adelle: Because we don’t want to be criticized, it doesn’t mean those thoughts aren’t real.
Frank: And they were not dealing with them one way or the other.
Adelle: Exactly, exactly.
Frank: You said he isn’t sure whether he wants to be in a relationship. And I’m one of those people that thinks when you’re accepted-we’re back to acceptance. When you’re accepted for who you are in a relationship, it’s pretty tough not to want to be there.
I heard a story about a guy who is a physician and he’s been with the young lady, he’s been with for years, on and off, but he takes the position that he’s not ready to be in a relationship, yet they’ve been in their own form of a relationship for many years. Just not the classic one and when I was asked about my thoughts, I said, “If she accepted him, there wouldn’t be–” If she told him, “Look, however you wish to present yourself or however you want to conduct yourself and want this relationship to go, if I’m happy with it then–” and clearly at some level, she’s still in the relationship, so she’s getting some satisfaction out of it. If she were to accept him and openly accept him and say, “Well, we don’t have to meet a particular classical view,” then I believe he wouldn’t go anywhere. He would be comfortable. But again, I’m a little weird. You got anything on that?
Adelle: I would *(inaudible) 35:37, is she just saying that she’s happy, but what if she’s not happy. What if she wants–she just generally wants more time with him or wants something that’s moving towards marriage or towards children and he’s not. I guess I would be concerned about people pretending to be happy when they’re not, and I think that if you both are generally happy you don’t have to fake that.
You can want something very unconventional, like with my boyfriend that I had in my early 20’s, where the twice a week thing, it just worked for both of us. For three and a half years it was even–we sort of had to make a decision, really to break-up, because neither of us really wanted more than that at that time in our lives. But I think that if I had wanted it at that point, someone who wanted to move in together and spend all that time together and he didn’t, I just–I don’t know if it would work if I pretended that I didn’t.
I think that secretly I’d resent him. So, I think what you’re saying makes sense, if both people generally want the same thing. But I do think it’s hard when you love someone and you want to something slightly different than what they want and your wants overlap, but they’re not identical.
Frank: But what if–wouldn’t she leave the relationship if she wasn’t happy? If she was pretending, then she wouldn’t be happy and she would–like you guys split. That was something you weren’t happy with when she left, but as long as you stay, as far as I’m concerned, you’re happy. There’s something you’re getting out of it and you’re weighing your options and you’re figuring, “It’s better to stay than to go.”
Adelle: That’s true, that’s true. I think that we probably all have periods of our lives where we maybe stayed when we shouldn’t have, but not indefinite, right? I’m guessing, have you ever been there where you sense something wasn’t working and it was great–
Frank: Oh yeah.
Adelle: But you just couldn’t bring yourself to walk away. But I agree, that’s not as permanent. If you stay for years, either you’re happy or there’s something I think very deep going on that’s keeping you in the situation that you’re not happy in.
Frank: Is Nate a sexist and does–if your answer’s “yes,” does that even matter, given what I was just talking about in terms of Michael Richards?
Adelle: I would say that Nate does have some sexist thoughts. Certainly, and whether he is a sexist overall, I’m not so interested in judging him morally, I think similarly to how you feel. But I do think that his sexism has consequences that I think are interesting and I wanted to explore. My point isn’t, “Oh, he’s sexist and that makes him a bad person and we should just shun him and not talk to him.” But I think that he has a notion that I think isn’t uncommon among a certain type of man, which is that the idea of meeting women who is as smart as he is, it kind of cool. He’s not against it. He thinks that’s neat, but he doesn’t think it’s essential. He kind of feels like if he wants to talk seriously, he has his guy friends to do that and that basically, what he wants in a girlfriend or what he needs in a girlfriend, is somebody who is pretty and he’s attracted to and he can sort of relax with after a long day.
And I think a lot of men feel that way. They’re not against, meaning that smart women who they respect, but it’s not essential. But I do think that can be problematic. That I think that for Nate, there’s a little bit of sexism in there in the sense that what you need in a woman isn’t someone that you really respect in the same way that you’d respect your male friends and I think that does lead him into some questionable relationships.
Frank: If you would have been–okay, let’s try to get this. Let me try to put my words together. If you would have been a male and you as a woman–if a man wrote this book and you as a woman read it, would you think that man–that author was misogynistic?
Adelle: Oh, that is so interesting. Wow, I don’t know. May be I would have more than–I want to say no, because–
Frank: Of course.
Adelle: Right. And I’ve definitely gotten a response from readers who said, “Wow, I just can’t believe a woman wrote this.” It would be really troubling if a guy had written some of this.” But I would hope that I feel enough the way that you do, that I think that I’m more committed to being honest about what is going on than I am to presenting a sort of sanitized version of how we wish we were.
I hope that’s true, but I can’t say for sure. The book that I think bother me the most for being misogynistic by men, I think our little explicit than mine about the misogyny and that’s what bothers me. It seems unexamined.
I think there are certain books that I have read where I feel there’s a man who consistently seems to blame his wife for all their problems or everything he hasn’t achieved in his career, but without saying so, but just the sense like, “Well, she’s holds me back,” and that gets on my nerves. It’s something that I feel is less examined. It’s just more of this default sighing tone when it comes to women.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships. We’re talking with Adelle Waldman, the author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, a novel that captures the thoughts and actions of a man in the dating world.
Ms. Waldman, once again, please tell our listeners how they can find you and your book.
Adelle: They can find me at my website, which is adellewaldman.com and also my book, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, at Amazon and bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble.
Frank: We talked about–well, we’ve kind of talked about Hanna. Let’s do a better job introducing Hanna and then talk a little bit about his other love interests along the way also.
Adelle: Great. Yeah, Hanna is the woman that the book focuses on the most–the particular relationship. My book–it’s called The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P and it does cover his various relationships that he’s had through his teens and 20’s, and now he’s in his early 30’s when the book begins.
But the book spends the most time on Hanna who is the woman he dates for only about five months and one of the reasons I wanted to focus on this relationship is because I thought it embodied some typical traits of many urban modern dating relationships where it’s, I think as we talked about earlier in the beginning, Nate is the one who’s really into it and pushes it forward and things are really good for a while and then he loses interest and pulls back and this makes her a little bit crazy and insecure and it leads to this cycle that’s just bad for both of them.
Her insecure behavior, irritates him, and causes him to lose interest and more and that makes her even more insecure and it just goes on for too long before they both just walk away from something that, by that point it kind of fraught for both of them.
One of the things I wanted to explore is that Hanna, when the book begins, she’s a smart together person and I think that this kind of relationship cycle is familiar to women and can be very troubling to women who found themselves behaving a little bit like Hanna.
On top of being unhappy about their relationship they’re embarrassed about their own behavior of no one likes to become this needy insecure person. I think it’s a cycle and if you’re acting like Hanna, you feel so ashamed.
In the book I wanted to show that Nate’s playing a role in this too. I personally feel a lot of sympathy for Hanna, perhaps not surprisingly as a woman. Meanwhile, that is the main relationship takes up most of the book, but at the same time there are flashbacks to some of Nate’s other relationships that include a woman named Alisa, who is someone who is part of the very, very beautiful and he was able to make excuses for a lot of things he didn’t quite like about her personality or her behavior–what he saw as being a little bit spoiled and selfish. But she was so damn good looking that that made up for a lot. And I think that is something that happens for men in particular.
Adelle: I think women might do something similar but it’s often they make apologies for a guy who has money or status, good looks to an extent.
Frank: That’s right.
Adelle: Let’s see. Then, there’s also a relationship that Nate had when he was younger, with a woman named Kristin who was someone, who’s probably a pretty good relationship, a long-term relationship, but ultimately they were different types of people and Nate was drawn to New York and his writing life and Kristin is more of a different type of person who was less interested and entered an artistic life and she is going to medical school and becoming a doctor. I think their personalities just moved in different directions and I think that was kind of, a relationship through no fault of either party, it didn’t work out.
Frank: So, with Nate and Hanna’s relationship, you used that word fault, that’s–I always have fun with that. You believe that basically the troubles that they go through are Nate’s fault.
Adelle: No, I guess, I shouldn’t have said that or implied in some relationships fault. I think that usually fault is beside the point. But I think that Nate, it’s not his fault. What I do hold him responsible for is when he began to lose interest in Hanna, I think that he could have been more honest with himself about what was going on, and consequently more honest with her, which is, I think, is very different.
I don’t think it’s his fault that he lost interest in her, but I think he didn’t know what was gong on and felt a little guilty and uncomfortable about that. So just didn’t think about it and ignored it and I think that often happens. It’s not cruelty. It’s not malice. Idon’t want to sound like I’m accusing Nate of doing something as horrible, but I think that that can sometimes happen. That another person doesn’t maybe take responsibility for what they’re feeling and that can be confusing for the other person. But I don’t think Hanna’s perfect either.
Frank: Okay, alright. As you’re trying to figure something out, you could be in a relationship and you start to pull away or you start to feel distant and not want to be around your partner as much as you used to, but you’re still thinking about it, you’re still working it out, you’re not sure what you want to do. When do you believe that you should reveal those thoughts? And there’s no way–let me say this, my premise here is that it’s virtually impossible to reveal the thoughts as soon as you get them. If you did that you would be running your mouth all the time with any thought that pops in your head.
Adelle: Right. No, I completely agree, and I think you’re right. You’re probably pushing me to think a little bit harder about this, because I don’t have a clear cut answer. I don’t know exactly what I think–I do think Nate pushed it for too long, but I also agree with you. Yeah the first time you have a critical thought about your partner or doubt that would be craziness to just decide, “It’s over or I’m just going to tell them this.”
But I think there is a spectrum of not reporting it as the first thought, but of perhaps not waiting until things have deteriorated to a point where there’s not that much affection left on either side–that both people are feeling so exasperate. But I don’t know. Perhaps I’m being a little simplistic here, because it’s really hard when it’s happening and because if you’re like Nate, you’re one moment annoyed with the person, but you still like them. As you said, you still think about them somewhat. It’s not like he’s 100 percent sure that doesn’t want to be with her.
I do have sympathy for that. In some ways I want there to be an easier answer and I want to say, “Oh, it’s his fault and this is why,” but sometimes I think relationships are just hard and there’s not an easy solution.
Frank: Yeah. Could Nate be your friend and could you be friends with Nate if you were primary friends with Hanna?
Adelle: I could definitely be friends with Nate. I think Nate is great as a friend. I’m quite fond of him. Some people really dislike him I think. I think some women in particular. But I think as a friend he’s just fine. I think that the problem is in terms of a relationships and I think romantic relationships bring out different issues for a lot of us and many of us can be good loyal friends and have different issues that come out in terms of romantic relationships.
I don’t think he behaved so badly with Hanna that one would have to not speak to him in order to punish him for the way he behaves with Hanna.
Adelle: On the other hand, you’re Hanna’s good friend I do think there’s something to be said for being considerate of your friends and not going out of your way to befriend their exes.
Frank: Right, right. Would Hanna let you call Nate once a year or twice a year to see how he’s doing?
Adelle: I think so. I mean, again, I know a little bia–I like Hanna, so I think that she’s a pretty fair-minded person. I think she gets mad. She writes Nate one cruel email, but I think after that, she’s not–in the last chapter of the book, they run into each other at a party and I think she’s not full of angry, hatred. I think she feels a little bit sad and embarrassed and just kind of wants to move on. But I don’t think she’s that spiteful of a person.
Frank: Got it. You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we have been talking with Adelle Waldman, the author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, a novel that captures the thoughts and actions of a man in the dating world.
Ms. Waldman, last time, please tell our listeners how they can find you and your book.
Adelle: I am at, my website, which is adellewaldman.com, and my book, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, is for sell at on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed misogyny, acceptance and a woman writing about a male that could be considered a jerk. Hey, that could have been me. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had, learning about, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible.
Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, my assistant producer, Anayza Stewart and the man on the boards, Jeff Newman, keep rising. This is Frank Love.
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