“Another argument Betsy and I got in was strange, for sure. She’d told me she loved me and rather than saying, ‘Thanks’ or ‘I love you too.’ I made some kind of self-deprecating joke. She looked at me perturbed and ate another bite of her ice cream. I was offended that she didn’t laugh, so I repeated the joke just to frustrate her.

‘It’s not funny,’ she said.
‘It is funny,’ I said.
‘No, Don,’ she said straightly. ‘When I say I love you and you don’t believe me, you’re being a jerk. Basically what you’re saying is that I only love conditionally. You think you’re being self-deprecating and funny, but you’re really saying that I’m not a good enough person to love you if you have a few flaws. It gets old.’ ” (>>)