Why I Wasn’t Surprised that Al and Tipper Gore Split

If you flaunt it, you don’t have it

Posted Jun 02, 2010

I'm not going to say I predicted the Tipper and Al Gore split - I didn't. But I'm not surprised. I am, though, a little surprised that after skimming blogs and other opinion pieces, no one else seems to have had my reaction of, "well, of course."

My grounds for looking askance at the Gore marriage were other people's grounds for believing in it - that overly-long, overly-dramatized kiss at the Democratic National Convention. I wasn't really sure about its significance, though, because on the political stage, so much is mere performance.

This is not a science-based post. This is purely my pet theory, and it goes like this: If you flaunt it, you don't have it. I have a mental collection of way-too-public displays of way-too-much affection (PDAs) that I've observed among people I know. I check those relationships off that list in my head as one after another of them dissolves. All that is just anecdotal evidence - it doesn't count for anything except perhaps inspiration for doing a real study.

The idea behind this is at least as old as the lady who "doth protest too much," but I don't know of a systematic test of it. Maybe a preliminary study could be done using Facebook, linking the revoltingness of Facebook updates ("OMFG C is the hottest most amazing boyfriend ever. He's my everything!") with the longevity of the relationship.

I make a distinction between displays of affection that are and are not intended for an audience. Once when I was walking toward the outdoor tables at a Panda Garden restaurant during an off-time with no one else around, I saw a very young couple embracing and smooching. Even though I'm not one for sappy romance myself, I thought it was kind of sweet. When they looked up and noticed me, they were mortified. They weren't intending to flaunt their relationship.

What PDAs and partner-celebrating status updates suggest, I think, is this: Some people expect to earn exalted status in the eyes of others simply because they are in a romantic relationship. It is as if they are saying, "look how loved I am!" The antics are indicative of the reign of singlism and matrimania, but I doubt they are signs of a secure and lasting relationship.