How Book’s Can Change Your Thinking: Emily Giffin’s “Love the One You’re With”

July 31, 2010 § 3 Comments

I am supposed to be working on an article whose deadline has already past. Instead, I’m thinking about my weekend in Seattle, about the eternal flame for my first love I wish to if not extinguish at least dim, and the novel I just read.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was unable to find my book of choice at Target or Costco in preparation for my vacation. Instead of the next book in Emily Giffin’s repertoire, Baby Proof I was only able to get a copy of the book, which follows it, Love the One Your With. The book namely deals with people’s inability to truly get over the great romances of their life that failed. I found the way Giffin tackled it both compelling and realistic. Our protagonist, Ellen, is thrown into renewed emotional turmoil by a chance encounter with the ex love of her life in her first year of marital bliss.  And just like most women out there wish for, Ellen is granted that rare opportunity to explore why such an intense romance failed and the gratification of hearing four words we all dream about, “I made a mistake.”

I have thought about this with most of the men I’ve dated and loved, both short lived and for the long haul. But really only one person to this day, do I find myself often dreaming about the opportunity granted Ellen.  Of course, I’d prefer not to be married when I find out just what went wrong. But, after reading “Love the One Your With” I can’t help but think that maybe I’d rather spare myself the confusion and pain that any revisit surely guarantees and heed the words of Ellen’s final surmise. She will always love Leo, her one passionate love before her husband’s time. But she choose her husband and she loves him. In this case, the present beats the past, it’s what matters. Ellen’s sister puts it well, she says the choice between the past and present is simple, and maybe I’ve begun to realize that it is. I will always love my ‘Leo’ and I will always feel a pang of regret and sadness when I think about our failed relationship and I will probably always in some sense wonder why or if it somehow could have been different, but and this is a big but, I do not believe that a final encounter, conversation, explanation will do much to quell any of those feelings.  In fact, I think they’d instead do the opposite. Just thinking about rehashing the past makes me a little emotionally tired.

What I’ve gathered in the past few days, is that when we really love someone it is forever, whether we want it to be or not. That’s tragic and wonderful at the same time. And that’s just life. We give a bit of ourselves to someone else and when they leave or we leave, that piece is never returned. Don’t forget, they’ve also given up a bit of themselves too. Therein lies one of the many dangers of opening ourselves up to another person. it’s well worth the risk if you ask me.

Read Giffin’s book because it is at times humorous, largely realistic (even if the riches into which she marries are a bit grand), our heroine is likeable and because it sheds a little light and perspective on the whole carrying a torch for the one that let you get away (or vice versa).

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§ 3 Responses to How Book’s Can Change Your Thinking: Emily Giffin’s “Love the One You’re With”

  • andrea says:

    Nice summation of the book and love. As I have aged (now 51)these emotions you speak of seem to have softened, maybe just given in to the inevitable,that real love is forever. Why not love someone? Wishing them the best in their life as you keep searching for the best in your own. It is the longing for someone you loved that causes turmoil. I do not mean to make this sound easy, but I have found not fighting these feeling much easier than trying to forget. I am very happily married, love my partner and expect this to be my last great love, but my past love still lives in me and it enhances my life, there is no turmoil.

  • Alex says:

    I should read that shit . . . I was just thinking about my “Leo” this morning, and wondering . . “why the hell do I still think of this?” I’ve had a million opportunities for closure, but I’ve realized closure isn’t about having it out that one last time, or hearing something different, closure is accepting the things that really suck, and deciding to move on, even if you don’t want to, or don’t feel you’re ready. Unfortunately, you make your own closure, which is much harder than if it were granted to you via some new understanding . . . apparently there are no “gimmies” in life

  • Tori says:

    I think that both of your comments shed so much light on the subject. Things are just so not black and white, closure is so many things, and it’s almost like your closure changes through out your life, as you learn and experience new things. I think about my “Leo” and I just feel such a huge amount of sadness. I wish I could stop seeing it that way.

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