April Fools, in Love

by Heather Robinson


From The New York Post


We’ve all been there.

Some say you need to be a fool to fall in love, and maybe that’s true. Elvis Presley’s classic song, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” while cautioning that “Wise men say/only fools rush in,” seems to imply that it’s worth the risk.

But being a fool for love isn’t always as poetic or rewarding in real life as it is in songs and movies, and some great literature reflects this truth — such as Puck’s lament, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” in Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Ahead of April Fools Day on Saturday, I hit the streets to discuss with my fellow New York singles the various ways love, in the words of William Makepeace Thackeray, “makes fools of us all.”

From interviews of dozens of New Yorkers at watering holes around the city, it would seem that one of the more common self-deceptions is believing someone is more “into” us than they actually are.

“If you don’t hear from him for a few days and you make excuses for him, you’re fooling yourself,” said Veronica Loftus, 30, a property manager grabbing a happy-hour drink at Handcraft in Murray Hill. “Saying to yourself, ‘He’s too busy to text because he’s traveling, he’s away for work.’ Come on, even if you’re sitting on a toilet you can send a text!”

“Confusing casual sex with a relationship,” said Jeff F., 25, a financial-software salesman who lives in Murray Hill, when asked how he’s been a fool in love.

We can be fooled by surface glitter, too.

“It’s easy to be fooled by compliments,” said Elaine Nyumu, 29, a stylist from the Upper East Side who was downing a coffee at Gregory’s on Park Avenue South.

We can fool ourselves by moving too fast, according to others.

“Sex too soon is a way we fool ourselves; it’s always a fail if you are looking for actual love,” said Christian J., 33, an architect who lives in Riverdale.

Still others said the fault lies in loss of nerve.

“Having a crush and not expressing it; then you kick yourself for years down the road,” said Aaron Wiggins, 24, an aerialist dancer from West Harlem.

Several singles spoke of the foolishness of conforming to others’ expectations at the expense of our own truth and individuality.

“One of the more foolish things I’ve done is try to conform to society’s idea of traditional relationships; I wound up hurting people because I wasn’t being true to myself,” said Corey Harbison, 37, a personal trainer who lives in Williamsburg.

Some cited the foolishness of staying too long in a mediocre relationship out of fear.

“Telling yourself, ‘It’s all right enough,’ when love is gone,” said Claire O’Sullivan, 38, who works in advertising.

Some shared stories of clinging to unhealthy relationships because of the magic they felt at the beginning, and pushing forward despite serious issues, believing they could “fix” or “save” someone.

“Believing ‘This is the only person for me,’ and blinding ourselves to big issues” is one way to be a fool in love, said Ian F., 45, a New York City filmmaker.

He said he married his ex-wife because he loved her, and because he believed that, at 42, it was time to settle down.

He minimized her heavy drinking and denied her emotional instability, telling himself she was stressed about their wedding and that “after we got married everything would be OK.”

But shortly after the wedding, her unstable behavior flared up.

“The morning after we were married, she told me, ‘You’ve ruined my life,’ ” he said. “I thought I could ‘fix it.’ But it got to the point that I realized, ‘I can’t be the person to help her.’ ”

Several months later, they divorced.

The takeaway?

“I realized it isn’t about this big idea of ‘I need to be married,’ but you and your partner, [and how it is] day to day,” said Fischer.

He added, “Even though my ex had a mental breakdown after the wedding, I still hope to get married again someday.”

In the end, perhaps the most foolish thing would be to give up on love entirely or to hold ourselves back from having experiences.

“You have to be a hopeful fool in relationships, because you have to be willing to fail in order to learn,” said Andrew Tindley, 25, an artist from Crown Heights who was having lunch at Roast Kitchen on University Place.

On April Fools Day, perhaps it’s worth wondering if the joke’s on those who give up.

This entry was written by and posted on April 2, 2017 at 1:12 pm and filed under Commentary.