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They can be summarised as follows: don’t have sex or get into relationships.
This advice didn’t come from any religious prudery or sense of shame.
Rather, Spinoza thought that sex and romantic relationships got in the way of the real meat and potatoes of life: reason and understanding.
At the time, with my tender young heart in shreds and painfully conscious that I needed to rewire my sense of what love looks like, and what a good man is, I took Spinoza’s advice gratefully. I came to understand the mistakes I had made, and why I had made them. A life free of the excitement and tumult of young love was actually incredibly easy.
After a couple of dalliances with the sort of boys your mother would describe as “undesirable” – eejits, basically, who were not dangerous, but had the sensitivity and selflessness of a rhinoceros – I stepped back from any sort of dating.
In a little while, we will talk about the disagreement and come to a rational compromise because we are lucky to have found one another.
We tend to seek out the treatment our parents gave us, even if it was bad, because this becomes fixed in our minds very early as being love.
No matter how awful a parent might have been, there will still have been moments of tenderness.
There was the man who told me he “didn’t agree” when I politely said that I didn’t feel that sort of connection but wished him the best.
There was the man who was almost certainly gay, but knew a lot about owls, so I stayed out of curiosity.