One of my research areas is romantic relationships, and part of that involves watching video after video of couples having arguments. Sounds interesting, and it is. But when you've been sitting in the lab for three hours straight, interest gives way to something darker. Watching couples fight is grim work. It's a gentle reminder of the dysfunction inherent in human relationships, and the difficulty in breaking the cycles of communication that we've grown accustomed to.

In The Rules of Attraction, Lauren likes to look at pictures of sexually transmitted infections before she goes to parties - it's her way of making sure she isn't tempted to sleep with anyone. Well, this is the relationship version. These couples are stable. They've all been dating for at least a year, and a lot of them report high satisfaction with their relationships. It's strange and disconcerting to think that they're happy. Is this happiness? Because I don't want it to be.

But then there are moments of beauty, although they seem rare and momentous at times. But they're there, and they make my heart melt. I think doctors call that mitral stenosis. I should probably get that checked out.




- Max Wanger


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