After I returned the copy of the book to my workmate, I knew that I needed to put my thoughts into writing immediately. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has fucked my mind, perhaps not in the way that you think or the way it fucked yours, but it did. Hard. While critiques focused on the story, twist, structure, and the author’s style of writing, here’s me writing about the relationship advice I got from the book.
Here’s the thing: I believe that when we read a book, it is the book that reads us and not the other way around. Gone Girl has read my mind: I am like Amy in so many ways, sans the murderess and psychopath part.
No, I am not a killer. No, I am not a psychopath. But if having a brain with no switch, being an over-thinker, and hating on the subject of sexism, misogynistic men, cheaters, and Cool Girls mean being like Amy, then count me in.
When a Guy Falls in Love With a Smart Woman
You know the cliche, “men want her and women want to be her”? That’s the best way to describe Amazing Amy. And Nick? He’s good-looking, he’s hardworking, but he’s poor and has personal issues. He didn’t want to be like his father–the man who abused his mother, the man who calls all women a bitch. Nick was eager to prove that he was not like his misogynistic dad but things got a little out of hand after he married Amy–he lost his job, his mother died, he couldn’t give Amy the life that she wanted. Nick was a failure; he couldn’t be the hero in Amy’s life.
Amy was eager to compromise–to live in a lonely town in Missouri and leave her fabulous life in New York. Isn’t that what love should be? Unconditional? Amy was fine with all these until she was not. She found out that Nick had a mistress.
To say that Nick felt belittled when he couldn’t give Amy the life they both wanted was an understatement. Subconsciously, he wanted Amy to make him feel that he was still his hero, his man. But he refused to tell Amy this because he didn’t want her to think that he was weak. And then he met Andie, the Cool Girl who gave him everything. He chose to ran away from his problems by turning to this girl who soon became his mistress.
Andie was the opposite of Amy: Andie was also pretty, yes, but mediocre. Andie would give everything to him. Andie did not challenge him. In short, being with Andie was easy. With no curves thrown on the road, he felt superior again. With Amy–his beautiful, smart, almost-perfect wife–everything seemed to be a challenge. Amy’s mind was always three steps ahead of him. Amy’s lifestyle was grander than his. Amy took charge of their life. All of these belittled Nick and hurt his ego as a man. Why would he settle for Amy when there’s Andie? Why would he choose the bumpy road over the empty highway?
This is the problem when a guy falls in love with a smart woman. It’s a matter of pride and ego. When a woman takes charge of your life and orders you to do this and that, of cours, you’ll feel like shit. You think because you are the man, you should always have the last word, the final say. Gender role issues.
If your woman tells you that she loves you despite your flaws and imperfections, believe her. She wouldn’t be with you in the first place if that’s not true. You may be intimidated by her strong personality at times, but that’s just how she is, especially if her brain has no switch. If she loves you enough to accept your flaws, then you don’t have to try hard to level with her intelligence. What Bob Marley said was true after all:
“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy. Truth is, everybody’s going to hurt you. You just gotta choose who’s worth suffering for.”
Here’s a letter of Amy to Nick to make you feel better:
” So we both have things we want to work on. For me, it’d be my perfectionism, my occasional (wishful thinking?) self-righteousness. For you? I know you worry that you’re sometimes too distant, too removed, unable to be tender or nurturing. Well, I want to tell you that isn’t true. You need to know that you are a good man, you are a sweet man, you are kind. I’ve punished you for not being able to read my mind sometimes, for not being able to act in exactly the way I wanted you to act right at exactly that moment. I punished you for being a real, breathing man. I ordered you around instead of trusting you to find your way. I didn’t give you the benefit of the doubt: that no matter how much you and I blunder, you always love me and want me to be happy. And that should be enough for any girl, right? I worry I’ve said things about you that aren’t actually true, and that you’ve come to believe them. So I am here to say now: You are WARM. You are my sun.”
How to Make This Kind of Relationship Work
When Nick and Amy first fell in love with each other, everything was all about hearts and flowers. They were attracted to each other; both tried their best to please the other. But then life happened and got in the way. They must now face the married life, and as it turned out, the true Amy was not a Cool Girl–the girl who laughs at your silly jokes, does silly things to please you, watches silly movies even though she hates the sexism and lightness of the story, etc.–she was a deep woman who can’t be pleased with mediocre, silly things. Still, Amy tried her best to compromise because she loved Nick so much. Nick loved her beyond words, too. But losing his job, the death of his mother, and the pressure of it all got the best of him. He cheated on his wife because that’s the only way he knew that could keep him sane.
When I reached this part of the book, I sighed and told myself this was too basic. Lack of communication, of course. I can’t stress enough the importance of communication in a relationship. Many couples take this advice for granted, seemingly oblivious to the fact that more than fifty percent of marriages fail because of lack of communication.
You see, Nick and Amy both loved each other but failed to communicate their innermost feelings and desires when they were at their most vulnerable. The inevitable happened. Nick found comfort in the arms of another woman who could give everything that his wife couldn’t. Truth is, Amy was willing to compromise further if he only told her. Nothing of this would have happened if they worked things out before their problems became too much for them to handle. Communication. Honesty is important, too. Obviously.
When you love someone, you should also be willing to compromise. Personally, I don’t believe in unconditional love. There will always be some things that you need to give up to make a relationship work unless you are a perfect couple. Remember what Amy said at the end?
“I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge?”
True love is always challenging. If everything is about hearts and flowers, how would know if he or she is the one? How would you appreciate the sunshine if you haven’t seen the rain? True love is always hard; it’s always difficult. When you get past all these challenges, only then will you see that he or she is the person worth waiting, fighting, dying, and above all, living for.
Communicate, compromise, be honest with your partner and everything will fall into place. It might sound easy or hard–it ‘s up to you. But if you’re both determined to make your relationship last, everything is survivable. Just look at how things ended up for Nick and Amy. This might be a work of fiction, but it fucking happens in real life. And no, I’m not talking about the killing part, but the failure of a marriage? Yes, that happens. Gillian Flynn has been kind enough to destroy the lives of her characters to teach you a lesson; be modest enough to take it from her.