Top 10: Love Lessons from Batman

Matcha Made in Heaven. Kenosha, WI. 2019.

Enough of the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus bullshit. Its 2019, and aside from the systematic attacks on our ability to earn equal pay for equal work, maintain reproductive rights of our own bodies, and the general hyper-sexualization of our natural existence: women aren’t too different from men.

With little provocation, most (reasonably happy) couples will explain that no matter what their private issues are, they’re just glad they’re not single ‘because its scary as hell out there’. And, us single folk can confirm that it is infact quite terrifying out here.

Dating app culture has normalized many things none of us actually want any part of. Few people truly enjoy judging (or being judged) based on: shameful photos, shallow conversation, try-hard innuendo, and the ever-present competition with hundreds of similar profiles. So, why are we trading fleeting feelings of loneliness for a total existential crisis?

Well, its because we’re greedy as hell. In his impressively scientific assessment of modern relationships, Aziz Ansari explains that we’re doing it all wrong these days. We’re asking for too much from one human.

“We come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity; but, give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise.” 

Aziz Ansari. Modern Romance, 2015.

Whether it be from faulty neurological wiring, traumatic experiences, maladaptive behaviors, or questionable self-worth: we’ve all got our own baggage. It can be too painful to search for acceptance and understanding within ourselves, and all too tempting to hold out for a quick fix from Prince(ss) Charming. Everyone, meet the human condition.

So, what the f*ck then? We just listen to podcasts and drink Matcha Green Tea until we die? Not exactly. We have to recognize our faults, commit to working on ourselves, and right-size our expectations of others.

When right-sizing, it is important to remember that you are not ‘asking for too much’ if you are requesting any of the following from your committed partner:

  • Affection.
  • Communication.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Honesty.
  • Understanding.
  • Vulnerability.

Now, where does Batman come in? What takeaways could you possibly contrive from an elusive, billionaire vigilante and his playboy lifestyle? He’s out there doing the absolute most every night, and we’re over here dodging read receipts and Pinterest-ing butt workouts inspired by the g*ddamn peach emoji.

Well, for starters; Batman has encountered unparalleled trauma, corruption, pure evil, & sheer temptation. And that’s just this week.

He navigates each day as Bruce Wayne, and owns the dusk as the Dark Knight. He protects himself, as well as his city, by keeping true love at an arms length. He’s the final Mob Boss of emotional baggage and we’re here for every second of it.

No matter the author, director, or universe: these Top 10 Love Lessons from Batman are timeless. However, you’re absolutely wild if you’re expecting any intentional reference to Ben Affleck. #NotMyBatman

Never let a clown get in the way. At this point, many of us understand that most people aren’t out to get anyone. People are much more likely to be entirely self-obsessed than to be maniacally plotting another’s demise. Yet, others’ self-destructive patterns can certainly create a sizable impact. Whether it be a friend that isn’t satisfied by their own relationship, a family member with wack-ass advice, or a temptress with cruel intentions… these clowns are always selling a season pass to the circus. Avoid these distractions and refocus your energy towards your partner. Relationships are between committed parties only, and that where the discovery conversations should be had.

Embrace the darkness. As we’ve already discussed, everyone has baggage. Only share your darkest stories with those who are deserving, and those who show a genuine interest in your well being. Shame is poison; so, accept yourself and your partner as you are. Do not compare pain. And, do not resent your partner for knowing and accepting those ugly parts of you. Bruce Wayne & Selina Kyle can credit some of their success due to the fact that their baggage is in the same weight class (ie: adrenaline-fueled, top-secret vigilante identities). Maybe eharmony had something to do with this?

Respect origin stories. Don’t lose your sense of self the moment you end up in a serious relationship. Understand that your self-esteem is your own responsibility. It isn’t healthy to compromise your interests, hobbies, style, or outlook on life to please someone else. Continue to navigate your journey, communicating your needs regularly. Selina Kyle is an orphan with a history shaded by economic despair, while Bruce Wayne is the orphan heir of Wayne manor. They experience life from their unique lens, but do not forsake their differences as more meaningful than their similarities.

Maintain an impenetrable moral code. Committed partners should maintain a similar code of conduct. While we’re allowed to make mistakes, our ingrained codes serve as a general basis to predict future behavior. If we operate with a different set of rules, we can’t set proper expectations or have meaningful conversations surrounding hurt feelings or other misunderstandings. Batman loses his method to his madness from time to time, but he’s able to return to his code and spot his mistakes. Consider Christopher Nolan’s haunting scene where Batman dangles The Joker out of the window of a Gotham high rise. Batman’s righteous anger builds as he is tempted to let the clown fall to his death; but, he eventually allows the police to serve proper justice. He’s not proud of this transgression and strives to resist temptation next time.

Understand your limitations. Most of us want to become the best version of ourselves as possible. This is only an issue when we over-commit, over-promise, and under-deliver. We must be realistic about our circumstances. If you’re not ready for a serious relationship – don’t inflict unnecessary pain on yourself or anyone else by pretending any different. Ill-fated Rachel Dawes calls it best. She had always felt she was waiting on commitment from Bruce Wayne until the day that Gotham no longer needed Batman. Yet, she realized she was actually waiting on the day that Bruce Wayne no longer needed Batman. She decided she couldn’t wait any longer and communicated this clearly and honestly (even if Alfred kept the letter to himself… *slow tear*).

Separate work and play. Selina Kyle & Batman team up together for the special doomsday scenarios that threaten Gotham’s sheer existence, but they operate as separate entities otherwise. While Bruce Wayne benefits from business ties to Talia al Ghul, he doesn’t truly love her. Romantic love with Talia would prove to be easy, convenient, and valuable. But, it would lack affection, intimacy, and vulnerability. The most rewarding love doesn’t come easy. It’s the Bat and the Cat forever, baby!

The girls at the ballet aren’t enough. Playboy Bruce Wayne has a nearly unlimited selection of insanely hot women to choose from. On a typical Tuesday evening, he can be found in a hotel bar with a ballet dancer on either arm. He isn’t wholly present for the flighty conversation or even the ensuing trip upstairs. He is constantly yearning for a deeper connection; to be accepted, understood, and loved unconditionally. Don’t play yourself by playing small. Stop swiping on your apps and going on dates that break your heart in familiar ways. Hold out for something worth fighting for.

Drop the riddles. You’ve heard it before: communication is key. In order to communicate properly, you must commit to naming your emotions and to sharing this information regularly. Don’t assume your partner’s opinions or judgments. Be vulnerable and just listen. Do not stay in relationships with people who are committed to misunderstanding you. This creates a cycle of dysfunction worse than ever-dreaded quicksand. In Batman and Psychology, Travis Langley argues that the Riddler isn’t as meticulous as he seems. He’s fully capable of writing an uncrackable code that would ensure Gotham’s demise. Yet, he doesn’t seek success on any of his missions. He just wants to savor the turmoil. Y’all can act like single people aren’t this crazy… but they are.

Keep your head on a swivel. In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown explains “vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness”. It is our duty to show up in our committed relationships with a sense of vulnerability. It is not our duty to roll ourselves out as a doormat. We must love ourselves enough to set boundaries. We must never accept disrespect, or compromise our self-worth. When you lose sight of your value, you leave yourself susceptible to betrayal and pain deeper than you’ve ever know. Consider Talia’s warning, “It’s the slow knife, the knife that takes it’s time. The knife that waits years without forgetting, then slips quietly between the bones. That’s the knife, that cuts deepest”. No spoilers, but. She’s a real b*tch.

Never stop flirting. Never forget why you chose your partner. Whether they’re awkward, hilarious, intelligent, adventurous, or emotional, don’t let them forget why you continue to choose them every day. Build your partner up, and trust them to do the same for you. Plus, whether you’re into Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, or Anne Hathaway… black latex ain’t a bag thing. And, whether you prefer George Clooney, Christian Bale, or Will Arnett… black latex still ain’t a bad thing either.

No matter your childhood trauma, no matter your failed attempts, no matter your embarrassment, or your room left to grow: you deserve true love. You deserve to be accepted for who you are. You deserve the comfort of being treasured and understood. The catch is, you have to get it from yourself first.

“Many cultures teach their members from childhood to believe the world operates with natural order and justice. […] Our need to believe the world is just, however, can lead us to make unjust decisions. […] The people who most need our compassion may instead receive our cruelest critiques.”

Travis Langley. Batman and Psychology, 2012.