Friday, March 4, 2011

"I'm ready to attempt to polish off my game and reenter the dating scene, but I have one big problem: I live with my parents."

Dear Benny,

I am a dude in my mid-twenties who just got out of a long relationship. I'm ready to attempt to polish off my game and reenter the dating scene, but I have one big problem: I live with my parents. Is this going to be an immediate deal breaker? I know girls who also live at home - is trying to get with a girl who lives at home a better or worse idea for someone in my situation? I have a job, but I I need to save for grad school, so I don't want to move out yet.
There's two parts to this: one, the logistical problem of not having anywhere to go back to hang out. Two, the stigma attached to living at home. How do I deal with this situation?

Low On Self-Esteem in Rockaway

Dear Rockaway (because I refuse to type out LOSER),

Before I start dishing out some advice, I've got to thank you for sending your message and reviving this advice page. I feel like I lost some interest and some readers, perhaps due to my attempt at being an herbalist last time. In any case, thanks for writing.

Dating while living with your parents may seem like a unique predicament, but it in fact belongs to the greater category of dating predicaments which I like to call Limbo Dating.

Limbo Dating didn't used to be a big deal. People used to always meet while in limbo and then get out of limbo together... or stay in limbo together for the rest of their lives. This was partially due to the old-fashioned value of loyalty, which is, in many ways, being phased out of American culture. Maybe it comes from the sexual revolution. Maybe it comes from the "schizophrenic economy" revolution. Maybe it comes from the "extreme wealth gap" revolution.

In any case, Limbo Dating is tough, but manageable. The biggest risk you can run into in Limbo Dating is not the lack of money, or the lack of good places to go. The biggest risk you can run into in Limbo Dating is that the whole business can feel just a little bit heavier than it would otherwise just because of the lack of luxuries you have.

I once asked a friend of mine the big esoteric question of "What makes a man a man?" It was one of those shooting-the-metaphysical-shit conversations. His response was interesting- and not metaphysical at all. He said that he thinks we really become men when we realize that it's not worth obsessing over a girl unless you're already obviously heading toward a long-term relationship with her. Otherwise, in his words, "It's just like you're on a TV show, and she's the girl of the week."

I started to think that maybe there was more to this than my friend even realized. I thought about Jerry Seinfeld's long string of girlfriends and how they're all remembered only for one quirk. Then I thought about why it is that I found myself talking about girls like that lately (to a much lesser extent... after all, life is not Seinfeld, despite how much it resembles it sometimes). 

I realized that, when I tell stories, I give nicknames because it's a reminder of how little I actually know a girl. When you start saying her real name in conversation, or even refer to her as "that girl I like," it's easy to start believing that there's more to it than there is. But when you call a girl you like, "Indianapolis Girl," or something else silly like that, it's a reminder that you don't know all that much about her other than that descriptor.

What does this have to do with limbo dating? A lot, actually. Because the thing about limbo dating is that, due to your lowered dating opportunities, it's easier to put more stock into people than we really should. 

Even though you're in our parents' house, and inviting a girl inside is a dramatic step to take, on the inside, you're still the same dude you'd be if you were living in a bachelor pad. When you are living on your own again, that feeling of casualness will come much more naturally. Right now, it will take some effort. But it will be worth it.

Now, Rockaway, I'll do what I usually do here and move on from my sweeping theoretical take to give quick, direct answers to your concerns.

1) The logistical problem of having nowhere to hang out.

This is actually the easiest part. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to forget you live with your parents when you're going out to bars. Sure, the idea that you can't take her home may lower your confidence somewhat, but there's no reason for your mind to go there while you're actually on the date.

And, besides, imagine the tension that could result from making out in a bar without the easy escape route of a house that's not your parents'. The build-up could get so great that it takes you back to the high school way of thinking, where "My parents won't be home 'til late," was just as promising as "You want to come to my place?" 

Imagine how awesome and dangerous that could be! It would be like all the dangerous fun of high school hook-ups, but without the drawback of being a high schooler.

2) The stigma

Hell. I guess I already talked about the stigma. Going back to Seinfeld for a moment, remember the episode where George introduces himself to girls with, "Hi, I'm George, I'm unemployed and I live with my parents?" Remember how far his bold honesty gets him?

There's some truth to that, too. The stigma is there, but fuck it. Having your own place makes it a hundred times easier to have fun, but it's not who you are. You're not living in a convenient bachelor pad, but you will one day, and when you do, that'll be awesome, and you'll also be the same cool dude that you are today. 

So why not act like that cool dude you already are?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"In that minute, I have likely started to suss you up in my brain. You're probably very pretty, very interesting, and given time and circumstance you and I will likely hit it off great, right? WRONG AGAIN!"

Since roughly Halloween of 2007, I have been single. Worse still, since some point before then I have also been unwittingly "enjoying" a vow of abstinence. In this year alone, I feel that I've gone through every possibly thought train in regards to the subject. I have been defiantly alone and uncaring, I have been outwardly defiantly alone and uncaring while secretly upset and depressed, I have been outwardly upset and depressed while secretly antsy, desperate, and yearning, I have been cold and numb. It has been a very interesting roller coaster to find myself on and in the hours and hours of over-thinking I have discovered some very interesting contradictions about my personality that seem to feed into these mindsets. Worse, these seem to be the root of my frustrations while simultaneously being things that I hold as pillars and refuse to shake. These contradictions are as follows:

1.) I highly value strong conversationalists, but generally balk at the opportunity to start conversations with people I have never met.

If nothing else, I live to converse. I have been told by countless people that I excel in long-form conversation and am the willing (or otherwise) confidant of many of my friends. This ability should make me personality gold in the eyes of women everywhere right?

For some unspeakable reason that I can't quite figure out, I am utterly dumbstruck when it comes to actually starting said conversations with people. Despite performing in a rock band and generally being the wise-cracking asshole in any room, when confronted with the possibility of starting up a conversation at random with people around me I often find myself cold and idealess. Perhaps this has something to do with a lack of interest in things that most people talk about on a base level (i.e. meteorology, sports, current events)? I don't know. Maybe it's just echoes of the shyness I had during my pre-college days?

2.) I value people with passions and interests that are different from my own, but oftentimes refuse to throw myself into situations where I would meet said people.

I have been noted as saying on multiple occasions that ideally I would love to meet a woman who has only casual interest in the fact that I'm in a rock band. I've had the "I hate your band and I'd wish you'd shut up about it" type and I've had the "This is the most amazing thing ever." type, and frankly, I'd like it somewhere in the middle. I've always valued people who have really strong passions and interests in their lives, and for potential mates I tend to aspire for people who have strong but different interests than mine. Shouldn't be a problem, right?


The inherent problem I keep running into is that because of my own interests, I tend to run into similar types of people. Not that I have any issues with meeting women who love Star Wars (dated one girl who hated it once. Never again. NEVER AGAIN.) or have impressive record collections. My issue is that I want more than this. I think that sharing and new experiences and exploration are the things that give relationships a lot of their interest and drive. But since I run in my own circles, I often have no way of finding these people with drastically different interest sets.

3.) I'm actively interested in the idea of casual dating, but ultimately sabotage my efforts in this because I hate wasting my time.

Ok, of the three I would say this one is simultaneously the worst and the best of my attributes at work. Before I get too deep into this one, some backstory must be presented for the consideration of my readers:

My parents have been together since they were 16 years old. First boyfriend/girlfriend each had ever had. They married at 22, and have happily carried on ever since through thick and thin, poverty and prosperity, and two really annoyingly sarcastic children. In a world where there is a 50% survival rating of most marriages, and the news is plagued with stories of broken families and spousal abuse, my parents are a shining example of "sometimes it all just works out." It's really touching..... and also totally not representative whatsoever of how things tend to go between people. Worse still, because they are really the only people they have ever been with in multiple senses, neither of them have a treasure trove of hilarious stories from their youth about their mishaps in high school dating. Once I had broken up with my first girlfriend, they suddenly had a lack of understanding as to what was going to happen with me next. Sorry Mom and Dad.

Now given the example I have had growing up with this, I am faced with the contradiction in front of me. On the one hand, it has given me an EXTREMELY high level of respect for emotional intimacy, commitment, and compromise. These are all things I am extremely proud of and hold myself to. Unfortunately, as a side effect of these attitudes, it has also brought me into the world of mating and dating with a very single minded view of things. This causes me to talk myself out of anything that may (a key word here) only result in temporary enjoyment or interest and put most women I meet to what some might call unreasonably high standards in order to get a second look from me.

Let me present the reader with a hypothetical but ultimately realistic situation that has probably happened to me dozens of times:

You are a beautiful, interesting, three-dimensional woman. You have your own interests, your own family, a job, a car, etc. etc. etc. You meet me in a typical "first meeting" type of environment. It's probably some kind of party. You have never seen me before but likely have heard some tale told of me because we have mutual friends. We strike up a conversation. It's probably about some kind of media (movies, music, tv shows), or some kind of dirty jokes that have spiraled off into a sarcasm-laden contest of who can jokingly offend who the worst. Let's say this has gone on for more than a minute.In that minute, I have likely started to suss you up in my brain. You're probably very pretty, very interesting, and given time and circumstance you and I will likely hit it off great, right?

WRONG AGAIN! Most likely, in these 60 seconds, I have very likely already voted you "off of the island" for something ridiculous that likely is only a first impression and might not even be true in the long run.

So given these three contradictions, and the time I have taken to think about them, I have realized that clearly there is something a bit wrong in the operating manual and I need to make some adjustments to the tune of the following: 

1. Don't be a pussy. 
2. Don't be a pussy. 
3. Relax, enjoy new experiences that may only be short term, and DON'T BE A PUSSY.
Any other suggestions?

Oh, and if you are an attractive woman who was interested in dating me and just read all of this.. uh... ignore everything you just read except the parts about me being committed and into compromise and in a rock band.


Alan A-Dale


Since you have written your questions to me in the form of three contradictions, I will attempt to give you some answers by addressing each of these contradictions individually.

1.) I highly value strong conversationalists, but generally balk at the opportunity to start conversations with people I have never met.

There is a plethora of advice out there on how to start conversations with women. Google "pick-up artist," "PUA," "openers," or even just "How to talk to girls," and you'll be flooded with ideas. But don't worry- I'm not going to tell you to play the Cube Game or give you instructions so intricate that they necessitate terms like HB7 and "kino." My advice will be much simpler than that.

First off, if you feel that you have chronic social anxiety and want to shake your head up, I recommend an herb called St. John's Wort. I'm not a big fan of using drugs to "treat" psychological issues, but, let's face it: we do it with alcohol anyway, so why not do it with stuff that works better than alcohol? Drugs like zoloft and lexapro are addictive, expensive, and sometimes decrease your sex drive. St. John's Wort is weaker than those pharmaceuticals, and that's part of why I think it's better. It's also much cheaper. Psychiatric drugs involve a large investment and you've got a lot to lose by trying them, but St. John's Wort is a minor investment and you don't have much to lose by trying it. If you've ever been curious about this sort of thing, I highly recommend it.

But that's not the most important issue here. The more important issue is that many nice guys have this problem in talking to women. It's not because nice guys are weak or dumb or "respect women too much." It's more because many nice guys are also (to some extent) loners. Nice guys are not used to traveling in packs.

They say that nice guys finish last and assholes get the girl. That's often true, but it's not a cause-and-effect relationship. It's just a correlation. One of the several reasons for that correlation is that guys who travel in packs tend to get the girl. Many nice guys don't travel in packs. Many assholes do.

Since nice guys are so used to being loners, many are still not used to traveling in packs, so, even when they do have a "pack," they feel a little strange. They compete with each other. They talk to each other about how hot some girl is and how nervous they are.

The average group of nice guys will sit together in a bar and alternate between arguing with each other about a topic and arguing about who's going to talk to that group of cute girls over in the corner.

My suggestion to that group of nice guys would be to take that argument over to the table of cute girls- to say "Hey, we were arguing about [insert quirky topic here], what do you think?"

Some people say that women are "attracted to men in packs" because it makes them think of cavemen hunters who could protect them. I don't really buy that. But I am positive that being with a group of supportive friends (ie the kind who want to see you get with a girl, not the kind who just want to watch you try) will make you feel more confident. It's not that it's necessarily going to come off as creepy or anything if you talk to girls all on your own (although it might, and being with good friends does insure against that). It's just that it's easier with your friends around.

On the topic of conversation-starting, let's think of it this way. Which would be more interesting, 1) a girl who comes over to you at a bar and says, "Hi, my friends and I like Star Wars, let's talk," 2) a girl who says, "So, my friends and I have been wondering, why are guys so into Star Wars?" and then sat there and listened, or 3) a girl who not only asked you why guys are so into Star Wars and listened to your response but also explained to you, in a coherent and relatable fashion, her theory on why she and most other girls aren't that into Star Wars?

Basically, we want to be #3. Being a good conversationalist with strangers is not, as The 40 Year Old Virgin Suggests, all about asking questions (although that scene is still hilarious) as much as it is about asking pointed questions that encourage people to share their most interesting opinions while simultaneously sharing your most interesting opinions.

This approach is also a good test to see whether or not a girl even has opinions. Some people don't. Most interesting people do, and, if you respectfully share yours, they will probably begin to feel comfortable enough to share theirs.

2.) I value people with passions and interests that are different from my own, but oftentimes refuse to throw myself into situations where I would meet said people.

I believe that college and the internet have enabled in many of us a problematic habit of seeking out only the people and things that are in our comfort zone. 

With the internet, we no longer have to sit through whole books to feel that we are learning; we can sift through facts and dismiss the ones that bore us or disagree with us, and we lose patience for absorbing more complex bodies of knowledge. 

With the way modern colleges are, we can choose to attend schools filled with people with the same superficial interests as ourselves, register for classes concerned only with our own superficial interests, and then choose to move off-campus with only people who mirror our own superficial interests.

The biggest problem with this is not what we think. The problem is not in hanging out with too specific a type of person; the problem is actually that the type of crowd we choose is too vague. When I really look back at what I had in common with college friends, I realize that what we had in common was that we liked to smoke weed and listen to music, were homebodies, or were in a class together. We didn't have many fundamental differences that made things interesting, but we also were not even that similar. Smoking weed, listening to music, being homebodies, and having a class together are pretty vague foundations for friendships.

As we get older, we're better served by finding people with whom we have more specific and active interests in common. It's not that we've got to seek out these people as much as be attuned to them. Maybe you'll meet someone who likes to go to comedy shows. Maybe you'll meet someone who likes to cook interesting dishes. Maybe you'll meet someone who likes to ride bikes early Saturday mornings. Obviously I have no idea what your interests are, but I hope you get the idea based on that. The more you keep an eye out for specific interests, the more likely you are to meet someone who you will have fun hanging out with but will also not be annoyingly similar to you.

So don't actively seek out "different" people. Be open to people who you can relate to about one or two specific, active interests. I think that that kind of basis ends up opening you up to being intrigued (rather than annoyed) by each other's differences.

3.) I'm actively interested in the idea of casual dating, but ultimately sabotage my efforts in this because I hate wasting my time.

In your expansion of this section, you spoke of the Curse of Foresight. I know this curse very well- this feeling of, What's the use, because one day, it won't work out. The funny thing is, even though this foresight is frequently correct, it is not all that beneficial to us. Sure, it tells you "This won't work out in the long-term," but it doesn't tell you how interesting and surprising the person will be. The way I survive is by more-or-less ignoring that feeling that I know how it will turn out and telling myself that I really, really don't know. "I really don't know," is not the truth, but it is not far from the truth, because, sure, I can predict that we will not get married, but I can not predict how much fun we will have together for the year, season, month, or week that we end up spending together.

This is sometimes seen as a selfish, sexist attitude. This comes from a longstanding belief that women are into commitment and settling down, and a man who enters a sexual relationship wanting anything but that is a pig. I believed this to some extent for many years. 

A good female friend of mine knocked it out of me in one good conversation. "What's your biggest fear in a relationship?" she asked me. "It's that a woman will learn something from me and then she'll be done with me," I said. "But isn't that all a relationship is?" she asked. "Isn't that pretty much what you'd be doing, too? Learning something and then moving on?" I had to admit that she was right.

An even more illuminating moment was later in the conversation. "Why are guys so put off when a girl says she's interested in a relationship?" she asked me. "It's not that we don't want to be monogamous," I said. "It's because we don't like feeling like a girl wants a specific thing out of us. We don't like feeling like you're sizing us up and trying to see what kind of father we'd make or how well we'll be able to support you," I said. "Oh god!" she said. "I don't want that! I just want to be able to date a guy for a while without him freaking out on me!"

I think we both learned a lot about the sexes that night.

In short, there's nothing wrong with what some refer to derisively as serial monogamy. There's nothing wrong with dating somebody who you don't expect to stay with forever. Chances are, she doesn't expect to stay with you forever, either. Nonetheless, some of us have this idea that we're letting a woman down if we feel that way. Maybe it's our mother's faults. Maybe it's society's fault. Either way, there's nothing wrong with us. We've got little reason to feel scared or guilty for not wanting to marry a young woman.

And I can't finish this message without at least paying lip service to the other kind of foresight: the feeling that she's "the one." We can't predict how things are going to turn out with her any more than we can predict how things are going to turn out with the girl who we seem to have not much in common with. The only good this feeling can do you is to give you confidence. If it doesn't give you confidence, it can only freak you out.

I've had dry spells and "wet spells" (goodness, I didn't realize how dirty it sounds when you use the opposite metaphor), and, in the end, the only thing that's made me happy and relaxed is when I remind myself that getting to know girls is always an adventure into the unknown, whether you initially think she's perfect for me or you initially think you'll never be able to have a deep connection.

No matter how much our minds trick us into thinking we can predict them, other people - especially those of the opposite sex - are the most psychedelic drug in the world. So start tripping. It's safer than you'd think.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'd like to think that's the world we live in.

Before I begin this post, I will declare my habit of referring to males and females only as boys and girls to be officially done. I think it's because "boys" sounds too childlike.

I just read an article advising women on how to deal with one-night-stands on

Here's an excerpt:

Interestingly enough, even guys themselves often don’t know what they want from the woman they are seeing. Their vision might be blurred by a strong lust to the degree where they themselves don’t know what they want until after they satisify their sexual urges. Thus, a guy who thinks that he is interested in dating a certain woman, might change his mind immediately after having sex with her, realizing that he wants nothing else from her but what he just received – again – a one-night stand, but the one that he didn’t plan to have. It can be painful and unfair to women, but he doesn’t really have a control over that.

The article seems to operate from two assumptions:

1) Women assume that having sex with a guy means that he likes them enough to date them.

2) Women do not pursue sex with men who they would not date.

Say it isn't so! Is this the world we live in? Because I'd like to live in a different one.

I'd like to live in a world where girls know that whether or not a guy wants to have sex with you is not related to whether or not he would be interested in a relationship with you. 

I'd like to live in a world where guys accept that girls use them, too, and don't feel a need to go around bragging, "That girl totally wants me, but I'm just gonna keep fucking her even though I don't really like her."

I'd like to live in a world where girls do pursue sex with guys they would not date and don't settle for sex with guys they'd like to date but who would not date them.

I'd like to live in a world where most people can tell the difference between not wanting to put a label on things and just not wanting a relationship with the hapless person they have sex with all the time.

I'd like to live in a world that encourages us to make decisions rather than to continue doing things until we "figure out" whether or not we want them.

I'd like to live in a world where girls don't justify their hook-ups by saying, "I was lonely," or "I was hurt." I'd like to live in a world where it's accepted that all of us are lonely and hurt, and where it's not unusual to admit that loneliness and hurt goes into every romantic and/or sexual encounter we ever have, no matter how hot or mind-altering or hilarious the encounter happens to be.

I'd like to live in a world where a website called Impractical Happiness could be as successful as one called Practical Happiness. Because happiness isn't that practical in the 21st century. Most of us kind of have to figure it out, and it's a little bit easier when you don't get derided for always considering others' opinions and sharing your own. 

I'd like to think that's the world we live in.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Possible, but is it worth it?

My first and last posts have proved to be my most discussed, both on the internet and off. I'm going to say one final word on the topic of "Can boys and girls just be friends?"

And my final comments (until somebody else asks me about it, of course!) consist of the following two sentences:

1) Yes, but it's not always worth it.

2) It's always best to be honest and open with people about your "quirks" or "faults" if you want them to be your friend. Otherwise, all types of confusion can - and probably will - ensue.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A revisitation of my first post, "I know some of the nicest guys, who I would love to be friends with and hang out with, but after a while they always start getting a bit flirty."

For several months, friends have been saying to me, "Hey, I read your advice blog, but I've got a problem with that thing you said about how a girl should fend a guy off by saying that he'll get clingy. That would never work!"

The post that they refer to is my first, which is on the subject of how a woman might turn guy friends who always flirt with her into *actual* friends. And the section that they refer to is this one:

1) Open up and/or lie about how crazy you are and what a bad idea it would be for the two of you to make out.

When a girl says, "I'm sorry, I can't make out with you, I'm just not into you like that," it hurts. But when a girl says, "I'm sorry, I'm a nutjob and you shouldn't make out with me," it hurts much less, because it doesn't insult the guy, it also lowers your sexy aura of mystery a bit, and it makes the guy feel respected.

If you're super brave (or if this is the truth), tell him that you wish you could have just a one-night stand with him, but you know you'll get clingy, so you don't want to risk that.

Basically if you make yourself appear less mysterious and more crazy, it will remind the boy of all the things he doesn't like about getting close to girls. Then he'll appreciate how nice it is to be just friends with you.

My critical friends are right. I really didn't explain this well enough and I used a bad example. But I still do stand by the idea that, if you make yourself appear less mysterious and more crazy, an interested party will truly begin to appreciate you as just a friend.

I'm going to rephrase some of the things I said in that old post and, as I did in that old post, I will invoke the ghost of Say Anything.

Now, let's go through a brief Q&A session on why Lloyd and Corey will not date:

Why does Lloyd not date Corey (aside from the fact that it would make the movie much shorter)?

They are friends.

So? Lots of friends end up dating.

Yeah, but Corey is really crazy. Lloyd would not go for that.

True, Corey is crazy. But so is Diane. She's a repressed, manipulative daddy's girl who is really hard to talk to.

Good point... So, why would Lloyd never date Corey, then?

Because he's already familiar with Corey's craziness. He doesn't truly see Diane's craziness until he's already become attached to her, and, by that point, it only makes him care about her more.

Think of all the things that you hesitate to say to a guy you like when you first meet him. Think about your minor skeletons. Maybe it's that you're on lithium. Maybe it's that you've cheated on former boyfriends. Maybe it's that you once belonged to a cult.  None of those things would truly make a girl any less likely to be a good girlfriend or a great person. But, if an attractive, cool girl who I'd just met were to tell me any of those things, I'd be slightly less likely to want to be involved with her and I'd be slightly more likely to want her around as the type of person I can talk to about un-romantic subjects (like prescription drugs, cheating, or belonging to a cult). In other words, I'd be more likely to want her as a friend.

So that's my revision of my original advice. In my original post, I made it sound like I was advocating merely for saying "If we have sex, I'll get clingy," but that was merely a poor example of a bigger idea, which is that if you tell a guy friend the kinds of things that you would *not* tell a guy you were interested in, he will be less likely to see you as more than a friend

We've all got a good number of things that we wouldn't talk about with somebody we did not yet feel comfortable around. And what is comfort, after all? Comfort is knowing where you stand. Comfort is knowing whether your relationship is romantic or platonic. That's why we often don't open up (about some things) to people we want to have sex with until after we've had sex. The earlier you allow yourself to open up, the earlier you clarify the nature of the relationship. If you really open yourself up early on, it will not make you unattractive, but it will do a lot to clarify that you are friends.

Even if you don't feel like your own "baggage" will necessarily be a deterrent, you can still make it work. For instance, don't say, "I don't know if I'm cut out for relationships, (sigh) I guess I'm just going to turn into a cat lady." That will make him want to comfort you. Say something like, "Oh man, last time I dated a guy, there ended up being so much drama, I don't even know how it happened."

Don't play the cute bird with damaged wings. Play the role of his crazy friend. Play the Corey to his Lloyd. 

This might sound disingenuous, but I really don't think it is. We all play roles whether we mean to or not. Our roles change depending on what we want out of people, but sometimes we fall into such strong habits of interaction that we forget what we really want. Sometimes we get so used to relating to the opposite sex in one way that we forget that it's not in our best interest to relate that way to every member of the opposite sex. 

When I was 15 or so, I went through a phase where I habitually tried (and failed) to be nice and accommodating to nearly every girl I met. This was my habitual, natural role. But I didn't actually want all of those girls to like me. I wasn't actually attracted to most of them nor was I interested in being friends with most of them. What I'm suggesting is this: Recognize the roles you play in your interactions with the opposite sex and take more control over them. You will be more likely to get what you want.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A minor thought that involves tags and baggage claims used as metaphors

I once heard the expression that women should come with a tag that says, "Handle with care." If that's the case, then men should come with a tag that says, "I am a boytoy, boyfriend, surrogate-dad, and a shrink, but I am not a baggage claim attendant."

Friday, July 9, 2010

On How We Figure Out if We REALLY Like Someone

Send me your questions! But until then, I leave you with another original post.

In my never-ending quest to figure out what distinguishes the relationships that end with minimal pain from the relationships that end in volcanic eruptions, I decided to take a look at the time in relationships when the foundations for future battles and reconciliations seem to be set up: the "getting to know you" phase.

In a way, we're always getting to know people and we never know people as well as we think we do. The phase I'm referring to is the early one where we figure out just how much we're capable of actually liking a person, and, whether we stay for that person for two more weeks, two more months, or two more years, our gut feelings about the person, in many ways, do not change all that much beyond that stage.

Let's take a look at an early-stages scenario, the emotions it causes, and the ways we can choose to act on those emotions.

Scenario: After sleeping with your partner, you wake up and drink coffee together. You show them a bizarre music video on YouTube, because that is the sort of thing that amuses you. They respond by saying, "So is this what you do when you're bored?" You say, "Uh... yeah. Actually, I do." There is silence. You feel a void develop between the two of you.

And now, I leave you with a host of Choose Your Own Adventure choices, and I leave you to judge which ones are the best. Because, frankly, I think I know what is the best way to go about it, but I really don't.

A) Break up with them right then, or a few days later, saying, "We don't have enough in common."

B) Recognize that you don't have enough in common, but see where else the relationship can go from that point onward. Assume that you're not going to really fall for this person and don't expect too much from them. Wait to see if you have other things in common that will make you feel that "certain something," but until then, don't commit or allow them to commit.

C) Recognize that they're missing a certain something, but push the person with all your might into being serious about you, and see if you like them then. Get them to do "serious relationship" things that they may have been hesitant to do before. If they fully commit to you and you find that they are still missing something, break up with them.

Something tells me that we all have done something like this; that, unless we've found someone who was perfect and didn't make us go "Hmm..." at any time during the early stages, we've all had to make the choice of "Do I want to stay with this person, and, if I don't know yet, how do I figure it out?" The four choices I've listed are the methods I can think of so far.

Readers: Do you have any you'd like to add? Which "techniques" do you use to make your choice?

Addendum: I originally made four options but then realized that the middle two were the same, so I combined them. B was originally B and C and C was originally D.