My Phony Valentine

Originally appeared in the February 2001 issue of the ABA Journal.

Harmless Error - A Truly Minority View on the Law

My Phony Valentine


If the rules of romance were taken as seriously as rules of law, 99 percent of new lovers would be pursuing fraud claims against their partners. Why? Because with everyone on their best behavior in the early stages of a relationship, what we see is seldom what we get.

Protect your legal and emotional rights. Enter relationships with open eyes and informed consent. Require all suitors to execute the …

Truth-In-Loving Disclosure Statement

I, the undersigned paramour, hereby agree to abide by the time-honored romantic tradition of completely misrepresenting who I am at the beginning of our relationship, to be increasingly candid in the middle stages and to finally reveal my stunning array of character defects, true beliefs and annoying quirks at the end.

This agreement shall be fully implemented within six months, being the estimated time in which our eternal, undying love will change to bitter resentment:

1. Ridiculously early in our relationship, I covenant to begin calling you my “soulmate,” with the appropriate numeric designation to distinguish you from my other ___ [fill in total number of lifetime soulmates; write on back if additional space needed].

2. When asked why my prior relationships didn’t work out, I shall state “we had different goals,” failing to mention that one of mine is to sabotage all relationships.

3. I will tell you that I love all the little things you do, when in fact, I hate all the little things you do, especially the way you (choose one or more): talk incessantly, squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle, sneak up on me with a flashlight.

4. Men: I shall misrepresent that I love to communicate, listen to Sting, and especially dance. Women: I shall misrepresent that I have a deep interest in the standings, statistical leaders and weekly injury reports for all major sports.

5. I will insist with a straight face that “I never want to try to change you,” even as my list of suggestions for improving your appearance, personality and lifestyle approaches the 10,000 mark.

6. I shall pretend to find it cute how your cat climbs all over me while I’m sucking on an asthma inhaler at the same time your dog is attempting to have intimate relations with my leg.

7. We shall talk on the phone at the following frequency: 1st month: five times per day. 2nd month: three times per day. 3rd and 4th months: once per day. 5th month: when I need a ride. 6th month: when I forget to check my Caller ID.

8. In the 2nd month, I agree to begin combining the words “committed” and “you” in the same sentence; provided: I will not add “mental institution” to such sentence until the 5th month.

9. In months 1-2, we shall engage in frequent, excessive public displays of affection. During months 3-5, PDAs shall decline in direct proportion to number of syllables we utter to each other while dining out. In month 6, excessive PDAs shall resume, but only with persons not party to this agreement.

10. I will see only the good in your many negative qualities until the 6th month, at which point I will come to the startling realization that your playfulness is really immaturity, your caring is co-dependence, your confidence is narcissism, your …

11. At all relevant times, I shall confuse love with lust.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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