(WARNING: Just as many of you have in the past at some point defended your choice in Loved Ones against well-meaning friends who can’t help but point out the flaws that everyone except you can see a mile away, many of you will become tremendously defensive at the amount of riffing I am about to do on the “Twilight” books and movies. All I can suggest is that, if this causes you offense, come back in a few years and read this again. Just as your friends were right about that terrible relationship you were in way-back-when, you may find out I was right after all. You’re welcome.)
Personal strength, charm, and intelligence are attractive features in a potential mate. These are not inherently bad things. But when viewed through the funhouse-mirror of The Twelfth House, all too often we see things that aren’t really there. As with optical illusions, the brain is tricked into seeing what it expects to see, or what it wants to see. And thus the stage is set for the Bad Boy to make his move into your life.
Consider the best-selling appeal of the “Twilight” series of books and films. Quiet young girl Bella moves to a new town and meets quiet mysterious pretty boy Edward. At first Edward seems repelled by Bella, but after a few days (and Bella being the recipient of attention from other boys), Edward is back and they bond. And then Edward saves Bella with what appears to be supernatural strength. Eventually Bella figures out that Edward is a vampire, who was initially repelled by Bella because her blood was just so darned yummy-smelling.
(Contrast and compare: “He didn’t seem too interested at first, but now that we’ve gotten to know each other, it’s really because he comes from a difficult background and I represent everything he ever wanted for himself in a woman. I’ll bet I can make him a better man…”)
And so the story continues, with Edward showing himself to be a saint among men, driven by needs and pains that would turn lesser mortals Bad. Oh, but Edward is so pretty (he glistens in the sunlight!), and he only sucks the blood of (humanely-dispatched) animals! And he has Special Powers too! Inexorably, Bella falls in love.
Welcome to the “I Love A Bad Boy” process. Fiction often serves to feed our basic desires but filters out the negatives (except where such negatives become Relationship Obstacles to be overcome, so Bad Boy and Heroine can end together on the last page happy and fulfilled with a baby on the way.) Of course, if there were *real* vampires, you and I and everyone on the planet knows exactly how this would end: with Bella lurking in cemeteries, burning at the first touch of sunlight, her eyes wide with animal hunger as she leaps, fangs bared and breath stinking, out of the darkness of a back alley to suck some wino dry in order to extend her own damned existence for a few more days. And Edward? Probably transferred to another school, scoping out another New Girl In Class. Not another notch on his bed post, so much as another tick mark on the inside of his coffin. Maybe Bella would have learned a partial lesson from all this, and she would then move on to a nice werewolf boy… and maybe not.
The more classic literary example of the Bad Boy process is “Wuthering Heights,” wherein the passionate (but ill-behaved) Heathcliff spends most of his life bouncing in and out of the heart of Catherine. They may be each other’s One True Love, or they may simply be passionate emotional hobbyists, diving in and out of each other’s love lives for some sort of twisted emotional sport. Or maybe they really were truly “soul mates” and were doomed to live out a painful go-round one lifetime for karmic reasons we can’t fathom. It’s a great work of classic literature, and thus loans itself to many thoughtful-sounding interpretations.
Twilight, however, is only really subject to one interpretation, which roughly consists of “but he’s so misunderstood!”
Oy vey ist mir.
Twelfth House relationships are often like that. “Why am I doing this to myself?” “Why are all my friends telling me this is a bad idea?” “Why am I not listening to all my friends? Up until now they had pretty good advice…” True Love… real, sustainable love… is possible. And a certain amount of illusion/delusion appears to be mandatory when it comes to romance. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course… it’s part of the joy of being in love. Just try to be sure that you aren’t fooling yourself into seeing something that isn’t there at all. After all… the main purpose of a vampire is to drain you until you become an unholy bloodsucker just like him. Otherwise, the relationship is either probably doomed… or you’re doomed.
That: or maybe being a ghost at the window is all Cathy really wanted to be, and all Heathcliff could really handle. They would have been happier, healthier people if they had realized that… but they would have made for a much less entertaining story.
So: next time you find yourself in one of those relationships that you think is perfectly peachy-keen and neat-o… but everyone else seems suspicious of (or that everyone else politely refuses to comment on), you might want to have a look at the Twelfth House action going on. If it turns out you’re friends are all wrong, you’ll still have your One True Honeybun, plus the satisfaction of being right. On the other hand, if your friends are right, you just might spare yourself a seeming eternity of long nights, bloodsucking, and an unfortunate allergy to garlic and crosses.