Rule 18 was about what to do when the person you love can’t love
you back. Now we’re turning the tables. Suppose you just can’t love
the person you’re with? Sure, you like them, you enjoy their com-
pany, they make you laugh or they listen when you’re upset or they
share your interests. You wouldn’t be with them if there wasn’t a lot
to like. But you know you’ll never love them the way they love you.
You feel bad, of course – you’re a caring person. You wish you
could love them, and you don’t want to hurt them. And maybe
you’d be happy to keep hanging out with them anyway. I mean,
if there’s no one else on the scene to go out with, and you want
to go to the same places, and maybe the sex is good, and anyway
you’d miss their family and their friends … yes, it would be sim-
plest to stay with them at least for now.
But that’s not the answer. Not if you’re a Rules Player. The longer
you stay with this person, the more hoops they’ll have to jump
through (trying to make you love them), the more they’ll be hurt
when you finally go (and you will go in the end), and the more
time they’ll waste with the wrong person (you).
Nope. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind and end the thing now. I
know it’s tough. If you care about this person, you’ll feel dread-
ful hurting them, but remind yourself it would hurt more if you
left it even longer. They deserve to be free to find someone who
can love them in the way you can’t.
I’ll tell you something else. If you don’t really love this person,
sooner or later you’ll find someone you do fall head over heels in
love with. Just suppose that person walks into your life tomor-
row, or next week. Then what’ll you do?
T H E R U L E S O F L O V E
Be cruel to be kind
R U L E S F O R F I N D I N G L O V E
There’s no really satisfactory answer to that. You could get
involved and really, really hurt your current partner. Or you
could be hugely honourable and refuse to get involved, but that
would be difficult and potentially devastating for both you and
your new mystery lover. The only solution that actually works is
for you to be free and single already when your new love interest
arrives on the scene. And for that to happen, you need to disen-
tangle yourself from your current partner now.
See? The kindest thing for everyone is for you to be briefly cruel,
but by doing so to leave everyone free to get on with their lives
and make much more of themselves than they possibly can as
things are right now. Your partner may not like or appreciate it
at the moment but one day, if they have any sense, they’ll look
back and privately thank you for it.
LEAVE EVERYONE FREE TO
GET ON WITH THEIR LIVES