Relationship Advice from "Gone Girl"

by Don Hall

I rewatched Gone Girl after having met Gillian Flynn and being reminded that it was the only David Fincher film I had not seen multiple times.

It's a damn good movie and I love Fincher.

There is, for all of the motivations of both truly shitty leads, a nugget of genuine bona fide truth in Amy's rationale shines through, though. She goes to extreme and psychotic lengths to remind her husband that he stopped being the man she married.

He got complacent.

True, the couple in Flynn’s novel and Fincher’s movie were doomed from the start so using that narrative isn't a great model. That doesn't mean the idea isn't sound.

When we meet each other—either as potential friends or lovers—we put on a good show. It isn't disingenuous (necessarily) but more often an amplification of our best parts. We tell our best stories, ask our best questions, present the best version of ourselves in order to declare "I am worthy of your attention, other person!"

When we date someone, in the early stages, we preen and show our plumage. We are more romantic than usual, we focus a tad more on our appearance. We are selling our potential partners both the sexiest we can be as well as the most potential for a match up or a hook up.

And then, once we have made the sale, we grow complacent.

Why do people gain more weight when they first get married? 
Complacency. 
Why do people try to re-embrace their single lifestyle and stop making time to be with their spouse?
Complacency.
Why do people bemoan the fact that they are with someone in a committed relationship and bitch about how hard it is?
Complacency.

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We are not sexy all the time (even the sexy guy your friend has hooked up with, that other guy’s model wife or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.) We all take shits, we all get weird ingrown hairs and odd zits. Some days we get bloated and other days we eat too much dairy and the slight lactose intolerance we have makes us gassy. But there are other areas that we can bolster and improve to keep things interesting, fun, exciting and worth sticking around for. It is the effort that counts.  Are you trying to be the person you told your boyfriend you could be? Are you making the attempt to be the man you promised was possible when she said “Yes. I’ll commit to a lifetime of this.”

To paraphrase my wife’s wedding vows, when things get inevitably mundane or contentious, go back to the beginning. I take this to mean that if I’m finding our days to be somehow less I need to go back and remember who I promised to be for her. I was the guy who bought her three types of juice because she wanted juice but I didn’t know which kind. I was the guy who would drive her any place, any time because I wanted her to have maximum fun rather than use her time on the 'L.' I am the guy who celebrates each month of our marriage with flowers and sends her a note every day to let her know she is the love of my life.

I promised to be the guy who actively gave a shit.

When I start to notice that I’m getting complacent, I go back to the beginning. Who was I promising her I was or who I could be? And then I try to be that person.

Thankfully, most of us didn't marry Psycho Amy from Gone Girl. Luckily, most of us aren't dating disingenuous Shithead Nick. And hopefully most of us aren't selling a version of ourselves so removed from who we actually are that amping things up a bit and making sure you are presenting your best self to your partner isn't a backbreaking effort.  

Be the partner who gives a shit. Don't let complacency kill the fun.