Dear Jennifer Aniston
You don’t know me. We’ve never met. In fact, I might go so far as to say that I don’t know you either, although of course I feel I do. I’ve lived every step of your love life – the real and the imagined – for years, and you are the biggest example Hollywood has of A Woman Who Looks Like She Needs Advice.
We live our romantic ups and downs through you. You hook up with love rats and … other love rats … and go on holiday to Mexico and have unbelievable hair. You’re a walking illustration of our best and worst moments, but in Armani, and in Malibu, and in public. It’s not really you we’re looking at and writing about, of course, it’s us.
Right now you have a new man, your picture is everywhere and you’re obviously happy. According to Grazia you’ve had a makeover (new dress, beaming smile) and he’s had a makeover (shave) and an unnamed source who may or may not have met you says that he has a house in Hawaii and they ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if you had a ‘surprise’ wedding there soon. Which, of course, means you’re going to do exactly that, however premature and crazy it sounds, because 1. – you’re A Woman Who Looks Like She Needs Advice (which, in retrospect, would be ‘don’t, just don’t’) and 2. – it all sounds so nice and bubbly and cute for a summer headline and it would give all the copywriters so much to write about and the paparazzi so much to intrude on that they are willing you to go ahead. That way, they get the ‘casual Hawaii wedding dress’ pictures now, and the ‘oh my god why did you?’ headlines later: a double-whammy of Jenifer Aniston celebrity gossip perfection.
Now, Jennifer, I’ve never met you, as I say, but you strike me as an intelligent woman with a lot of good friends. If you require advice, you probably get the hard stuff from people you trust, not whatever sounds fun at the time from people making money out of using your picture. (Which works, I admit, because I just bought a magazine with you on the cover, and it’s not the first time. And oh, while we’re on the subject, reconsider that Prada dress and go back to your usual wardrobe. You do ‘slim minimalism’ better than anyone and the dress made you look … vaguely normal … which on you looks mumsy. I’m sorry, but there it is.)
Where was I? Oh yes, you don’t need advice from strangers, and you probably have a much better handle on this whole ‘new love’ thing than people give you credit for, so you don’t need to read this next bit, but somewhere, there is a woman just like we think you are, who really has just fallen head over heels in love with someone gorgeous, after years of mistakes and heartbreak, and they’ve done the mutual makeovers and she feels fabulous, and she’s seriously contemplating running off to Hawaii with him to make it official. Or similar. And to that woman, wherever she may be, can I say from the bottom of my heart …
If you have friends like Grazia who think it’s all cute and adorable, this whole ‘sudden marriage’ thing, ignore them. You may have found the love of your life. (Quite possibly you have. I did.) But you can’t possibly know it yet because right now you’re sloshing with hormones, and so is he, and everything really IS different. You need to check you’re still in love when it all settles down.
It’s not that what you’re going through right now is wrong. It isn’t at all – it’s right. It’s one of the best feelings you’ll ever have and you’ll look back on it fondly in your nineties. It’s not even that it’s not real – it is real. You really are flooded with testosterone, that makes you feel strong and powerful and invincible. He’s got more oestrogen than usual, making him more than normally attentive to your needs. You’re both desperate to change yourselves for each other, and to be the best you can be. Great! You’ve stepped out of your normal lives and you’ve started to do all the things you really wanted to do. All the colours in the world are brighter. The birds trill louder. Everyone tells you how well you’re looking. Your appetite has gone, so you can get into your favourite pair of jeans. Nobody else on the planet has quite felt the same sense of wellbeing (and incredible bedroom satisfaction) that you do.
Basically, you’re on drugs. Perfectly safe, natural drugs. But drugs. If only this state of being could go on forever. But the thing the headline writers don’t tell you at this point is that it never does. Your body is the dealer and at some point, your body runs out of supplies. You would have to start a new relationship to keep them going and then you would be Michael Douglas before he met Catherine Zeta Jones, and then where would we be?
After a few months or a year, things will start to settle down. Your body chemicals will rebalance themselves to their normal levels. You’ll start to miss some of the things you gave up in your quest for your new self (like cake, or your old friends, or possibly your children). You’ll catch him snoring, open mouthed, on the sofa in the middle of a football game, and for the first time, it won’t be so cute. You’ll look at your recent, knock-em-dead haircut and crotch-skimming skirts and feel a bit silly. You’re coming down from the high. I wish you didn’t need to know this, but, woman-who’s-contemplating-Hawaii-next-week, you do.
And the question is, a year down the line, how will you feel about this man? Is he still your soulmate? Will normal-him still be deeply in love with normal-you? Or is he starting to regrow his beard and hooking up with some of his old movie pals and, frankly, driving you crazy?
It’s impossible to predict which way it will go. Well, there are clues – like the way you treat your families, and your children, if you have any, and the sacrifices you’re both prepared to make when things are good, and your fundamental moral values and stuff like that. But basically, you just have to wait and see. Maybe, when the flood of instant love has subsided, you’ll both be sitting there, thrilled you’ve still got each other. Maybe you’ll be desperate to abandon the wreckage as fast as you can. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you don’t happen to be married at the time.
(The same, by the way, goes for divorce. If you still love him, don’t get lost in the moment because all your friends are offended by his behaviour on your behalf. Wait. Tearing a marriage apart doesn’t have to be instantaneous either.)
So save it, lady-who-isn’t-Jennifer-but-does-need-advice. Wait and see.
Don’t marry him because you’re worried you might not love each other so much in a year. Being married to him at that point won’t make things any better.
Marry him because you waited, and even when it wasn’t perfect any more it was still the most uplifting, mutually satisfying relationship you could ever have. Marry him then and live happily ever after.
Oh, and Jennifer, if you are reading, please … ditch that Prada dress.