ASHLEY: I spent my angstiest years of adolescence and early adulthood hanging out with a lot of creative, theatrical types, but I've actually never seen or heard of anyone doing the SWB in real life. I think it has the potential to be a sweet gesture, but it can't be the standalone effort to win the person back; a well-constructed win-back song, as Eleanor says, has to be remorseful and nice, not bitter, and it has to be the cherry on top of an already successful take-me-back campaign. If any one of those elements is amiss, it's probably a creepy thing to do rather than a cute one.
The one possible exception I can think of offhand would be in the case that I just broke up with John Legend. But otherwise, yikes.
CHRIS: I don't believe you. There's no way anyone would ever break up with John Legend.
Couple-editing: Hannah pesters Sandy for feedback on her essay and seems uncomfortable when he finally gives it; Jessa, meanwhile, brags that Thomas-John looks at her paintings "as soon as I show them to him." What are the ground rules for couples when it comes to sharing creative/professional endeavors?
ELEANOR: Back in college, when I was taking a seminar on Paradise Lost, my professor said something that has stuck in my brain ever since. Referring to Adam and Eve's blissful pre-fall relationship, she said, "Happiness is being married to the person you most love sharing ideas with." Yes, it's a romantic, indulgent, impractical vision of marriage, aimed at the hearts of bookish college girls, but still... I think it gets at what a lot of people long for in a relationship: creative chemistry.
This is a long way of saying I think couples should definitely read each others' work, look at each others' paintings, etc, in a timely fashion after they're completed (or as they're being completed, if the creator wants work-in-progress feedback). They should tell each other what they think of the other's work. And most importantly, the person whose work is being critiqued should take his or her partner's response, EVEN IF IT'S NEGATIVE, as an act of love. Criticism isn't mean or petty. It's an attempt to make the person's art the best it can be.
It says a lot about the immaturity of their relationship that Sandy is so hesitant to tell Hannah that he doesn't love her essay, and that Hannah is so defensive when he finally tells her the truth. Ideally, Sandy would be able to give her his notes, and she would be able to accept his perspective.
JAMES: Yeah, creative chemistry is important. Same with ideological chemistry. We all get along with, and work with, and love people who don't think the same way we do politically, don't like our taste in music/movies/books/sense of humor, don't like our work—but I don't know why you'd make one of those people your life partner soul mate one true love. It's not at all petty to break up with someone over artistic taste. It's a way we connect, or don't connect.