It probably won’t surprise many humans to know that I identify really strongly with the character of John Dorian – a hopeless romantic and perpetual dreamer. Scrubs – oh Scrubs; I will always love you. One day I will write a piece properly explaining my love for this show as a whole but today I want to discuss a specific concept tackled by one episode. S3E20 ‘My Fault’ shows us J.D finally getting the one thing he has always wanted – his love, Dr Elliot Reid. Only he realises too late that he really did not want her.
Throughout the course of the episode there are dialogues that J.D ignores about his interest in Elliot being superficial or untrue and founded only in him wanting something he can’t have. Two things about this have always stuck with me.
The first is how easy it is to dismiss or rationalise away emotional observations from people who are eminently qualified to judge. In the episode we see J.D’s ex warn him not to chase her after they break up because he is notorious for wanting what he cannot have. It is so easy for us to ignore the viewpoint of those whose love we have spurned, or who have spurned ours because they must be somehow faulty if they haven’t wound up with us…. But these people were close to us, they saw us with out defences down. Now I am not saying that jilted lovers are always insightful sources of truth, I’ve known some to be quite catty, but I am saying that they can be a good source for hard truths.
The second is that J.D knows at this point that he and Elliot don’t work. He has tried twice already to have a relationship with her and it has gone no where great. I have always been personally skeptical of on again off again relationships, they make me wonder about the commitment of those inside them. Now I am not suggesting that with time and growth two people who were incompatible cannot become more compatible. I am just saying that past experience builds prejudice and that prejudice makes the task of relationship building incredibly difficult. We are rather petty creatures sometimes and we hold grudges.In the episode, by choosing to further pursue Elliot – J.D risked the happiness of the woman he loved on the bet that he was a good enough human to overcome all those obstacles to love and build a life with her. That is either a great deal of self confidence or a great deal of ignorance I have always thought this was the latter – the character of J.D hadn’t grown enough by this point in the series to conduct this level of self reflection, evidenced by the way he dealt with the advice form his ex.
Now I am a sucker for a love story so the feeling of elation that I get when I see Elliot leave the ‘wrong man’ for J.D is very natural for me. But as discussed above Elliot is taking a huge risk without a great deal of evidence that things between her and J.D have any chance of working out. Additionally Elliot and J.D are both swinging from one relationship straight into the next. This is yet another complicating factor that neither stops to consider. When we engage in this we leave ourselves no time to heal, no time to move on or forget our past and come to our new relationships with a clean slate and open heart. It adds pressure and complexity to a burgeoning relationship, that is often the seed of its doom .
In the final moments of the episode we are treated to the inertia inducing gut punch as J.D realises his feelings for Elliot are predicated on nothing more serious than envy. He has the woman he wants, the woman he has craved for so long – but because he refused to consider the possibility that he was just experiencing envy brought on by loneliness J.D absolutely destroys any chance he had at happiness with Elliot. Now J.D has been seeing people throughout the series, he only breaks up with his ex in this same episode, but as anyone who has engaged in the process of dating ‘the wrong partner’ can attest it is a lonely practice – perhaps more than actually being single as one’s difference is only highlighted by the ill suited nature of one’s partner.
This moment destroys me every time because it is such a human mistake to make – because I see so much of myself in the making of it. Expecting love to fix everything is such a classically romantic mistake to make. We chase what we want. We are told chasing out dreams will bring us happiness. We are told chasing love will bring us fulfillment. We are told that true love conquers all and that love knows no boundaries. Unfortunately we are oversold on the classically romantic and this kills a lot of romantic potential in our lives. We all too often fail to stop and take reasonable stock of the risks we are placing ourselves and other in because we are in love. This is to be expected, we are after all foolish and fallible humans, desperately seeking happiness and relief from a cold and uncaring modern world that increasingly profits from making us feel alone and apart from one another.
Perhaps next time you are chasing your own love you will remember some piece of what you have read here today – and stop for just a moment to consider the possibility that you might get what you don’t want.