If, despite Lance’s good advice, you decide to spend Valentine’s day in, there’s a lot more you can do with your time than watch When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle for the 500th time with a bottle of wine and a box of tissues. Here’s a list of three of my favorite relationship-oriented TV shows. This way you can pass judgment on people (always a good time) as well as learn something for your next relationship. Of course, I have to point out that if you add these to your TiVo list and GO OUT, then you can have some Valentines’ fun and have something to compare your experience with when you get home.
The Millionaire Matchmaker
Patti Stanger is a Jewish third-generation matchmaker who sets up successful millionaires with classy, marriage-minded ladies. The show is entirely worth it to watch her bluntly tell playboys with unrealistic priorities and gorgeous gold diggers exactly why they’re still single. The show airs Tuesday nights on Bravo, but there are reruns on all the time. I like to compare my analysis of the men and women to hers throughout the show. Her Bravo Website has, among other things, “Dating Commandments” for both men and women. Not all of these commandments apply to us mere mortals, as they are the rules of her club.
However, I was particularly intrigued by some of her advice to women. Among them: wait three months before having sex of any kind, and “If a man doesn’t propose to you by the end of one year, you must end the relationship and move on, unless he agrees to therapy.” What do you all think of that?
Sex and the City
This modern classic was and remains one of the smartest, most realistic takes on relationships that I’ve ever encountered.
While there is perhaps more profanity and more sexual partners than some of us partake in, the analysis of male/female interactions remains right on. I’ve had lots of guys say to me that they don’t enjoy this show because it trivializes sex, but that doesn’t ring true to anyone I know who’s actually watched the show. All the characters are in it for love–even Samantha’s crazy sex life and assertions that “casual is better” are only so much posturing, rooted in defensiveness and insecurity. I think men who don’t like the show are either threatened by the prospect of equality or jealous that the average woman has more sexual experience than they do (despite what national polls say about average number of partners). For your information, guys, the fact that women are having sex is a good thing if you’d like to have some, too.
One Week To Save Your Marriage
This show, on TLC, is hosted by Dr. Robi Ludwig. She visits couples whose marriages are in trouble and leads them through exercises designed to help them identify and solve their relationship problems. A fairly common scenario on the show, predictably enough, is the couple’s sex life. Shockingly, when a marriage is in trouble, both parties complain that they don’t have enough sex. How hard could it be to fix the problem when both people have the same problem and desire the same solution, you ask? Well, communication is generally at the root of these types of issues. One of the huge draws to the show is the fact that she spies on the couple from a trailer outside their home. Then, when she sees them engaging in destructive communication behaviors, she busts in and corrects them on the spot. While her criticisms are more “constructive” and less blunt than Patti Stanger’s, there’s still a lot of good info (and a lot of thank-god-I’m-not-them moments).
Enjoy! And whatever you do tonight, be smart. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t do the nasty without protection. And if you’re single, don’t let it affect your self-esteem. Remind yourself of what Miranda says in Sex and the City–”we’re just choosy”–and don’t do anything you’ll regret in an attempt to bolster your self-esteem. Instead, focus your energies on activities that will really bolster your self-esteem in the long run.