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Merle Shain

  • Loving can cost a lot but not loving always costs more, and those who fear to love often find that want of love is an emptiness that robs the joy from life.

  • Feelings take you into uncharted territory from time to time it's true, but you almost always benefit from the journey one way or the other. We tend to think of the rational as a higher order, but it is the emotional that marks our lives.

  • Our times are obsessed with finding fulfillment, so there are times when some people try too hard, and there are people who want to have the newest feelings just as there are those who want to have the latest model car. You can't play at love any more than you can be proud of your humility, or add water to your perfume and have it smell the same, but men and women both have been known to try.

  • Girls gave sex to get love and boys gave love to get sex and conning girls was the favorite indoor sport.

  • The romantic myth is so strong that it survives the wear and tear of marriage by simply detaching from it and floating up on ahead, and women who are rather fond of the men they married, as well as ones who are not, go through life with a bag packed for the day when the shining knight on a white charger arrives, just in case he does.

  • Marriage is supposed to do everything, like Duz, which is more than half its problem. It is said to save us, define us, give us purpose, keep us from loneliness, and incidentally balance our diet and wash our socks, and when it doesn't, we get divorced.

  • We marry to grow up, to escape our parents and to inherit our share of the world, not knowing who we are and who we will become, so it is left to marriage to make it clear which ones of us are growing in the same directions and which are ships meant to have passed in the night.

  • You can, after all, produce an orgasm yourself if that's what you want, so we must go to bed for something more.

  • The day you spend hoping, the day you spend waiting, the day you spend in despair, is a day in your life as much as the tomorrow you hope for, but which may never come, so betting today on tomorrow is always a bad bet.

  • Perhaps the old view of 'Me breadwinner, you hausfrau' worked for our grandparents, when people obligingly popped off before boring each other to death, but it won't work any longer because we are living too long and divorce is needed today to do what death acomplished more economically before.

  • The best kind of men have a certainty in themselves that isn't done in when countered by a certainty in their women, and they are much adored.

  • The dream of romantic love is taken more seriously in North America than it is anywhere else in the world, which is why we believe in fidelity and why we believe in infidelity as well. It is also, of course, what makes our divorce rate as high as it is. Falling in love at first sight and instant gratification are part of the world in which we live, so there are people who believe adamantly in fidelity. They just don't believe in it for long.

  • Sex deepens love and love deepens sex, so physical intimacy transforms everything and playing with it is playing with fire.

  • I'm not sure there can be loving without commitment, although commitment takes all kinds of forms, and there can be commitment for the moment as well as commitment for all time. The kind that is essential for loving marriages — and love affairs, as well — is a commitment to preserving the essential quality of your partner's soul, adding to them as a person rather than taking away.

  • There are problems connected with infidelity and problems connected with being faithful at any cost, and I am for letting those concerned choose the problems they'd prefer. There need not be one rule for all. Infidelity is enlarging and fragmenting and very very dangerous, but it has been known to retrieve people as well as marriages, so it can't be only bad.

  • Men who take advantage of one woman take advantage of them all ...

  • One can't run in a park without a dog or make angels in the snow without a child and there are things one can't do without a lover, so the loss of the lover is like an amputation and the patient goes into shock.

  • No marriage is one person's failure any more than it's one person's success, so it works best to see a marriage that has ended simply as something that didn't work out.

  • If there are no endings, there are no beginnings and you see no new lands, so for everything that's lost, there is usually something gained.

  • Caring can cost a lot, but not caring always costs more.

  • Friends are like windows through which you see out into the world and back into yourself, so they are very important to how one views one's life, and if you don't have friends you see much less than you otherwise might.

  • The job of a friend is not to decide what should be done, not to run interference or pick up the slack. The job of a friend is to understand, and to supply energy and hope, and in doing so to keep those they value on their feet a little longer, so that they can fight another round and grow strong in themselves.

  • It can be much harder to be on the receiving end of a transaction than to be the one who gets to give. In fact, being given to can mean being taken from. There is a very strong connection between pride and giving, and those who do the giving get to feel that they are worthy, while those who are given to often feel that they are not.

  • ... you have to be very careful when you give to others that you don't tell them how great you are rather than how much you value them.

  • Friends are people who help you be more yourself, more the person you are intended to be, and it is possible that without them we don't recognize ourselves, or grow to be what it is in us to be.

  • In a full heart there is room for everything.

  • The older I get, the clearer it becomes to me that no one is cheated in this world, unless it's by himself.

  • There are many pages in the book, many kinds of lives we each can live, many ways to be rich, and even more to be poor.

  • Anger is a passion, so it makes people feel alive and makes them feel they matter and are in charge of their lives. So people often need to renew their anger a long time after the cause of it has died, because it is a protection against helplessness and emptiness just like howling in the night. And it makes them feel less vulnerable for a little while.

  • ... when you put something good into the world, something good comes back to you.

  • Compassion is the thing that leads you gently back to yourself.

  • I think some people cling to anger because to have been wronged makes them feel right. And they recite the horrors done to them as if they were saying a prayer inviting the gods to give them points for each wrong that they've endured. So important is it to them to confirm their rightness, that they dust off their hurts as often as they can and polish them until they gleam — feeling somehow that by so doing they have earned their keep. And they puff themselves up with their moral indignation like a child clings to a teddy bear for protection in the dark of the night. It's as if they feel that if there is a bad guy, there must also be a good guy, and the worse the other guy is the better that makes them. And like the person who needs a triumph a day to keep his angst about his own powerlessness away, the person who believes in good guys and bad guys always needs a bad guy to affirm himself.

  • Cynicism is a form of cowardice, a failure of courage to hope.

  • You can tell a lot about what a man lacks by watching what he is cynical about, and many of us are cynical about love.

  • Love is short, forgetting is long, and understanding longer still.

    • Merle Shain
  • The conflict between what one is and who one is expected to be touches all of us. And sometimes, rather than reach for what one could be, we choose the comfort of the failed role, preferring to be the victim of circumstance, the person who didn't have a chance.

    • Merle Shain

Merle Shain, Canadian journalist, writer

(1935 - 1989)

She sometimes wrote under the name Emily Cantrell.