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Simone by Sunlight: Can People-Pleasing Save a Romance?

In the summer of 2003, I spent about one morning a week in a stifling Tel Aviv apartment. It’s very hot and humid in Tel Aviv in the summer. As is generally the case, there was an air conditioner in the apartment; but it couldn’t be used. Simone forbade it.

Simone, as I’ve recounted, was a stunning French Israeli I’d met on a blind date in the spring. It seemed to be going well with her. I’d come from Jerusalem once a week, during the week, for an overnight; she came to Jerusalem on most weekends because close relatives lived there, and she’d stop by.

But I not only had to endure the heat those mornings, lying in bed in her stuffy room; I also had to stay there (naturally, not all of this was unpleasant) till early afternoon before returning to Jerusalem. For a freelance writer-translator, this was possible; but it wasn’t preferable. But I complied.

The natural response is: “What do you mean you had to? Why couldn’t you tell her you preferred to leave by, maybe, ten, and get back to your computer and your clients?”

The answer is: I could have, but I feared to cross her in any way. I was in people-pleasing mode with Simone. She didn’t need to get to work (customer relations for a fashion firm, calling clients in North America) till mid-afternoon, and her morning sleep was close to sacred to her. I complied.

As for the heat, I’d ask her—exasperated, incredulous—if she really felt comfortable like this. The question seemed to bounce off her.