How to Behave with a Romantic Partner


Now you may well turn out to be a lesbian, bi or whatever wonderfulness occurs, in which case you must seek help elsewhere for your schooling. I shall send you to lunch with dear Lucy. She can guide you through those waters. If you decide to be celibate, shall send you to lunch with Emily. But if you are going to have any truck with men, you must listen to me.

Don’t ever confuse The Diva Edicts with The Rules. Divas don’t need rules. Rules are for trolls with insufficient self-control. If anyone gives you The Rules, be sure to hand the book over to some one you despise. More than 24 hours under your roof and you start losing brain cells. Guaranteed.

Beginning Steps

Watch Casablanca – the perfect diva movie. It instructs you on the need to make sacrifices while always looking ravishing. And reminds you to fall in love with a good man, but not too good or you will regret it.

Watch Gigi. How full of good advice it is:

Trying to change yourself for the sake of a guy is a lousy idea.

Keep your shoulders level.

If you can’t get his heart, get his diamonds (if he’s single).

Older men can be so, so charming.

Be nice to ex-lovers.

Don’t jump up, ascennnnnnnnnnnd.

Watch Hello Dolly. After a, God-forbid, a mis-step in romance, work or general life (did you hold up the line at the grocery store again because you didn’t have your money ready for the cashier?) sing “So Long Dearie.” If ONLY good hotels had waiters who could sing and recognize a diva at twenty paces, how grand life would be. Cranky men can have surprisingly sweet and tender sides, look twice.

Watch Mame (both versions). Of course, Mame in general should be one of your most cherished role-models [after the top three: Miss Manners, Martha and Miss Piggy]. Keep “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute” in mind (feel free to change the name of the holiday as necessary, but don’t forget the idea). Southern men are charming. (Southern women are vicious. I would back a dozen Tri Delts from any Southern university over a dozen Rangers, Marines, SEALS or Federal Marshals.)

Watch Meet Me in St. Louis. Judy, Judy, we love you. Six air kisses, mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah and MWAH. 1) Rewind and watch the “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” scene again. Smile through those tears, my sweet. Smile, smile, smile, though your heart may be breaking. Children, all children, need love and protection. Spread it on thickly, even when you feel like you can least spare it. 2) Try to have a charming grandpapa. 3) Always back your little sister against a boyfriend, then apologize with grace when you realize your little sister is lying.


Conventional reasoning is, for once, right: judge a man on how he talks to his mother, the wait staff, and a dog, in addition to how he handles lost luggage, tangled electrical cords and you grazing at the perfume counter.

Do not date any man who can’t sit in the same room with you for an hour without speaking and without being mad. If you can’t sit without talking for an hour, you have no right to inflict your personality on anyone else.

“You know a man’s a gentleman when he can’t stop telling you how wonderful you look,” Donatella Versace.

A real man carries a clean, cloth handkerchief at all times.


The perfect husband is not the man who is madly in love with you. The perfect husband is the man who cherishes you. As my dear Mama says, you are not ready to marry a man unless there are three things about him you don’t like. Better to have that straight before the ceremony than afterwards.

Ideally he will be well trained (use this principal for picking out a dog at the pound although, of course, I would never say anything about a canine, in the long term, being a better companion than a man. I would vote for a cat.) And, of course, the best way to find a well-trained one is to get one who is broken in, i.e. victim of a bad break-up or divorced. Not bitter, stupid, angry break-up or divorced, but chose-wrongly, didn’t-work-at-it, took-it-for-granted, and got-devastated. (See Danny DiVito’s character in The War of the Roses.) The very best potential husbands had an icky (but, heavens you don’t want the details) girlfriend/ first wife, preferably one who walked out when they found him in a scandalous position and left him crushed.

The ‘M’ Word

1) Marriages come down to two types – the kind in which a woman loses herself in keeping her husband, family and children happy and the kind ones in which she does not. Second choice is more work and less apt to make you wake up one morning and hate everything about your life.

2) The Carolyn Hax, Chinese Water Torture rule – it doesn’t matter how much you love him, love will not get you through the fact that you hate his knuckle-cracking. Cute habits will drive you to knife-wielding craziness after a short period of time. As divas know that it is impossible to change someone else; divas either learn to accept bad habits or leave.

3) The sausage making rule – say what you want done, not how it ought to be done. If it’s making coffee, painting the staircase, scrubbing the toilet, or writing thank you notes – you can not make a man do it the way you want it done. End of discussion. So don’t watch, don’t even stay in the same room.

If you HAVE to have the activity done in a certain, specific way, you do it your damn self without a wrinkle-causing grumble. Period.

True story: Unclear-on-the-concept-diva-wanna-be did not like the way her husband put the children to bed. He only read to them for ten minutes, didn’t stay in the room until they fell asleep, didn’t bring them fresh glasses of water, etc. So she put them to bed every single night for TEN YEARS. The kids loved it (lots of mom attention); he loved it (got to watch TV uninterrupted for an hour every single evening); she was fricking miserable because she never had an evening to herself. Tragic.

Now note – perhaps a diva would be thrilled to do the one-hour-bedtime routine. But this woman wasn’t – she wanted her husband to do it her way and, when he didn’t, she did it but complained about it. No, no, no.

True story: Real diva had agreement with husband – she cooked, he cleaned up. She wanted the dishes done right after dinner, more hygienic, easier to get the gunk off the plates. He wanted to do dishes just before bed-time. Trolls told her to browbeat him into submission or to pretend to fall asleep while he was doing the dishes so he wouldn’t have sex until he came around to her POV. Diva politely inquired about the trolls’ hemorrhoids and let him have his way.

4) Divas remember that in marriages: “there is…a simple but lucid treaty holding that when one side does something particularly fatheaded and self-destructive the other will respond by shooting itself in the foot within a period of from 17 to 30 days” (A. M. Rosenthal, originally referring to the United States and the Soviet Union).

Dealing with

) directions

Men want directions to objects unless they are driving a car. Hence the man who will bother you to pieces with “where’s the remote?”, “where are my running shoes?”, “where is the can opener?”, and “where are my keys?” will throw a petulant hissy fit if you try to explain where the restaurant is.

Diva solution:

1) unless you are in a hurry to get out the door, say “I don’t know” to any and all location questions. Yes, I know you love him and you want to help him, but you are giving in to learned helplessness. He calls, “Where is the mayo?” don’t say “On the door of the fridge, where it has been kept for the past six years.” Say “I have no idea.” Eventually (this may take years) he will stop asking and use a few of the brain cells that previously held the Dodgers 1965 starting line-up to remember where he put his wallet.

2) If he has a bad reputation for getting lost and it’s an important event, either you drive or you go in a separate car. If it’s not an important event, read your favorite magazine or listen to music on earphones while he meanders around the countryside cussing. He won’t change, so devise alternate coping strategies.

) cleaning

In the history of the earth, no man has ever willingly done his fair share of the housework. Maturely figure out together what you want done, who does what and (this is the difficult part) stick to your plan. Training a husband to take the garbage out is just like training a dog not to piss on the floor: gentle repetition. Trolls get tired of reminding/ grousing and just do their husbands’ job, which they think entitles them to bellyache and criticize, which leads to embarrassing body odor and mistresses.

Trolls say, “You promised to pick up the living room for three weeks and now I have to cancel my manicure to get the house ready for your mother! I hate you! Hmmm, it appears I am developing an over-bite.”

Divas say, “Oh I am sure you will figure out how to shovel out the living room before your mother comes for dinner tonight, darling, I’m off to my charity meeting.” (Manicures are always referred to as ‘charity meetings.’)

Whiny, grouchy trolls pick up his dirty clothes up off the bathroom floor, carp about it and develop ingrown toenails.

Divas step over his clothes rotting and turning green on the bathroom floor, wash only the clothes in the hamper without a murmur of protest and have naturally curly hair.

Trolls nag; divas and their husbands set deadlines and when the men blow the deadlines, divas, with a placid smile and never a murmur, devise hideous, gut-wrenching punishments.

Trolls say, “No, you can’t go to the game with Cambyses, you promised you’d cut the grass by Sunday at noon.”

Divas say, “Go to the game, have a great time. I am hiring a lawn service so don’t worry about the lawn. Unfortunately, to pay for the lawn service, I’m going to need to sell the flat screen TV. But since you are going to be watching the game in person, you won’t miss the TV.”

) discipline

Divas know that a lot written by and about people connected to the World Wars pertains to marriages. Many a diva wife has rented Patton; many a diva wife has read General Montgomery’s memoirs. The winner of the battle of El-Alamein has a lot of advice for a woman trying to get her husband to help with Thanksgiving preparations.

) decorating

There are three kinds of men: a) those who do not have taste and know it, b) those who think they have taste and want to impose it on you and c) those who actually have taste. Men think the breakdown is 15%/ 5%/ 80%. The breakdown is 15%/ 80%/ 5%. In any given hour on Earth, there are only 18 straight men who know how to decorate a room; given the slim chances you got one of the winners, silently veto all his suggestions and distract him. All smart divas set their husbands on a ‘project’ (building a canoe, fire pit, swing set, Taj Mahal in matchsticks) while they decorate.

Preventing Fights

) Divas strive to have no more than three fights about the same issue. If he is rude to your mom once, then it’s a discussion. Second time, second discussion. After third time – no argument, no fuss, simply refuse to let him be in the same room as mom. Period. If he says he will change (after you leave him home when you go to mom’s 60th birthday party in Cancun), give him a chance but divas judge on actions, not intentions. Divas look at what he does, not what he says he will do, what he promises to do, what he swears he will do while crying.

) Divas recall General John Vessey’s wise motto: “Our strategy is one of preventing war by making it self-evident to our enemies that they’re going to get their clocks cleaned if they start one.”

Having Fights

) Never start a sentence with “you” during a fight

) It is impossible to make a rational decision about an emotional problem. Trolls stomp around the house yelling ‘I will never call him again.’ You will, over and over, until the pain of calling is worse than the pain of not calling – then you won’t. Exception: If a diva is ever hit by a man, she moves out. No exceptions. She may, in time, move back in, but that happens only after several weeks of therapy for both him and her. No exceptions.

) Most fights between men and women are because of someone’s unrealistic expectations – trolls say: ‘You knew I hated sushi, you never listen to me’; divas say ‘I’m so sorry I wasn’t clear that I don’t like sushi. It was kind of you to bring dinner home, but I’m afraid I can’t eat that. I’ll just go order a pizza for me.’

Forgiveness after a fight

Divas know “It is…a simple but sometimes forgotten truth that the greatest enemy to present joy and high hopes is the cultivation of retrospective bitterness” (Robert G. Menzies).

Final Notes    

Divas do not kiss, date, or sleep with married men. Never. Under no circumstances. You see that state decree granting dissolution to the marriage or you walk. Just think of it like this – a married man can’t adequately worship you, and why so much as hold the hand of a man who doesn’t worship you with every fiber of his being? There are no exceptions to this supreme high command. You violate this and 1) you can’t whine to anyone at any time about it and 2) your have lost all ammunition if your husband decides to have an affair.

Divas are always kind to step-children, even the antagonistic, loathsome brats.