Hi! I’m Daniel O’Brien, author, friend, and retired rollerblader. I’ve never claimed to have all the answers and I didn’t start out writing because I wanted or expected to get into the advice business. But I’m a public-facing person who is both happy and successful and can generally navigate most situations with some degree of positivity, so people frequently reach out to me asking for “the secret.” And while I don’t pretend to be an expert, from time to time, I will invite readers to ask me their questions about life, love, this industry, and anything else that comes to mind. I vow to answer to the best of my ability.
I’ve been a big fan of your work here at BunnyEars and at “the old place.” Also, I love your books about presidents! You’ve always been great about putting modern political moments into historical context in a way that has always comforted me. It’s been really helpful. My question is this: I’ve been dating this woman for about 8 months and I really, really like her, like I’ve never felt this way before. My problem is I’m just a bunch of cats stacked on top of each other in a loose-fitting button-up shirt and some sensible, modern slacks. Sometimes I wear suspenders, sometimes a hat. SHE DOESN’T KNOW YET and I’m worried that when I tell her she’ll break up with me or worse. We’re doing REALLY WELL as a couple right now, so should I keep the lie going forever or be honest? She’s in love with this version of me; does it matter that it’s not the REAL version?
Just Some Cats
A recent study showed that the majority of divorced people agreed that the secret to a good relationship was communication (it’s assumed that they’re pulling from their own experience of what was the missing ingredient that damned their relationships). In that same study, though, we learned that married people, to a vast majority, will tell you that the real key to a successful relationship is respect.
I think your relationship could do well to have a healthy dose of both.
Communication: You say that you’re getting close right now and that things are going really well, but as long as you have this big lie hanging over your head(s), that can’t be completely accurate. At the end of the day, you’re holding back a pretty important part of your being (i.e., you are many cats instead of a human adult). You have two options here: you can tell your beloved that you’re a bunch of cats and live with the consequences, or you can continue the lie knowing that eventually she’ll figure it out, possibly during a long, emotional fight or possibly when she unzips your pants and instead of a penis several cats spill out. Either way, she’s going to find out; it’s up to you if you want to be in front of this situation.
I don’t want to force your hand (paws) here, but most relationships forged in lies don’t last. A house built on a foundation of sand cannot stand,
Respect: Love is respect, love is respect, love is respect, love is respect.
If you’re holding this secret back from her, it means you don’t think she can handle it, which means you don’t respect her. That’s some throwback bullshit, that’s you holding back something to protect her while ignoring the strong woman that she undoubtedly is. Do you really think you’re the first bushel of cats she’s dated?
If you really love her, then that means you respect her. And if you really respect her, that means you should have the confidence that she can handle your true self (selves). The best case scenario is she finds out who you are and loves you for you. The worst case scenario is she finds out who you are and DOESN’T love you, which honestly isn’t that bad because you shouldn’t want to be with someone who doesn’t love the real you. (The middle-case scenario is you trick her forever and everyone is lying all the time. Which, sure, if you can pull that off for forty years, Mazel Tov, but again it means living a lie.)
Lives are blessed by the chances we take, the love we share, the moments we experience and the truths we offer. Lives are cursed by regrets. You are many cats, and each cat has nine lives. I’m not a math guy, but that’s a whole lot of lives with a whole lot of chances for doing something you’d regret. Tell her the truth.
Finally, here’s your first free lesson in self-love: drop the “just” from your name, “Just Some Cats.” You’re not just some cats in the same way that no rose is just a rose. You are Some Cats. Be proud. Show people who you are and they will love you for it.