I’ve been around the track a few times and have learned that if you go out with any slightly past-her-prime actress (and I’m defining that term as any woman in her 30s or 40s who sees herself as an actress by way of ambition or temperament, whether or not she’s won an Oscar or acted in any professional capacity or has wanted to do so but never made it due to a lack of talent or drive or just luck) you’re going to discover or uncover a certain strain of me-me-me-me-me. You have to accept that if you’re seeing an actress it’s always going to be about her. And if you’re not ready and willing to “provide” on a scale that will leave her all but gasping for breath (and even if you’re Charles Foster Kane going out with Susan Alexander or Rita Hayworth), things probably won’t work out. Just prepare for that.

Because a relationship with an actress of any kind (professional, top of the class, imagined, failed, striving, budding) will thrive or deflate or go south or be wonderful or awful depending upon one thing and one thing only — i.e., where she’s at in her head. You have to be considerate and steady and as tender-hearted and unblocked and as St. Francis of Assisi as possible, but none of that will matter if she’s not in the mood to make it work. Forget any of that “little bit me, little bit you, let’s meet each other halfway” stuff. Things will pan out or not based upon whether she feels she’s getting the right kind of deal — a deal that she wants or needs or feels she damn well deserves. Or…you know, if she thinks she can do better.

I’ve been in relationships in which I was the selfish jerk (i.e., it was more or less about me and where my head was at and whether I felt I was getting what I wanted) so I know whereof I speak. Relationships succeed or fail based upon whether the person with the power (i.e., he/she who cares less about the person who loves more) wants it to work, and actresses almost always have the power. Because they’re the ones who are looking to sell their specialness once and for all, who are living large in their hearts and spirits, the ones who are dreaming the dream and are so close to making it happen. Or who made it happen 10 or 15 or 25 years ago and are deeply distressed about the big moment having slipped through their fingers.

Sometimes a thing with an actress can work for five or ten years. Or a year. Or a lifetime. But you have to be bigger or stronger or on some level more gifted than they. And blessed with the patience of Job. Not for nothing do most actresses end up with sugar-daddies when they get a bit older. Not for nothing did Mort Sahl coin the term “actresses and other female impersonators.” Just be rich — that’s all I’m saying. Or be Mel Brooks as you’re about to have your first meeting with Anne Bancroft.