Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rules of Attraction: Relationship Handbook Volume 2

*amended March 9
**amended March 28

After writing my Relationship Handbook, I was overwhelmed with the response I got. Notes and conversations with people all over the place. A Vietnamese friend thanked me because she said it helped her understand slang (apparently she'd just seen a movie with the phrase "Booty Call" uttered and didn't know what it meant)

But aside from the clarity issues like that, the responses I received were from people wanting to share their experiences, contribute their insights. I loved reading them, so much so that I decided to post another volume rather than just add on to the first one.

It struck me (once again) how this kind of thing resonates with people because we all value the relationships in our lives so highly. Whether they be platonic or romantic, the way we interact with those around us play an integral part of who we are and how we feel.

The notes I received were not just from women, which surprised me a bit. Not that men don't care about relationships (they do) but it is women who are often pegged as the ones who need for things to be defined more. As it turns out, that's not true.

We all like to put a label on things because it helps us recognize, validate, rationalize and justify the people we have in our lives and the things that occur with them. Putting a title (whatever it may be be) on something is a way of gaining control over something we actually have very little control over.

I can't claim full credit for this list, though some of the ideas were my own, as I said, I received so much from the outside. In particular, Anya, who really deserves to be credited as co-author of this as well as a fantastic contribution from KB and B. So thanks to everyone, especially them.

So without further ado....

Collectible Editions:
Collectible Editions are extraordinary people from all over the world that we stay in touch with, flirt with, talk about wanting to marry. There is the possibility that they are Mr/s. Right, but not right enough to move for or commit to. They are, in some ways, a faux relationship. We keep them on our roster of people because they intrigue, flatter and engage us. They almost trick us into believing that there is something substantial there, when in actuality they are merely some kind of smoke screen. We like them, and though whirlwind weekend throughout the world may take place, it’s doubtful we’ll ever seriously be with them. In fact, if we actually were in the same city as one of them, the allure would be ruined and they would end up in the rejection heap like everyone else. But we keep them around anyway, because you never know… (and we certainly don’t want them with someone else, at least not seriously, that will ruin our maybe kind of plans)

The Proximity Relationship: A relationship that starts and continues because you are around someone all the time (work/school) and as such there is virtually no work involved. Once the proximity is removed, one of the participants inevitably realizes that they never truly liked the other person and thus begins the exit strategy. It's akin to painting yourself into a corner. Super easy to get into, not so easy to get out of.

Flirt Buddy: Someone who you can flirt with, perhaps outrageously, but safely - usually because you both know you're not each other's type and there are immutable barriers to getting together (ie conflict in core values, age, location, religion, relationships etc). You find each other attractive enough, and enjoy each other's company enough to wish to flirt, but not so attractive/on your radar that you actually fancy them seriously; nor they, you. Of course, the danger is that one party will reappraise the other as potential relationship material .. funtimes ahoy...

*Makeout Buddy: In a world completely obsessed with sex we often overlook the enjoyable activity of a good old fashioned makeout session. There are some situations where making out with someone (JUST making out) is exactly what we want and need. A makeout buddy is someone who we are attracted to and enjoy kissing but simply don't see a need to take it further. These sessions can take place at a bar or even go as far as having hang out sessions at home, where we spend time with them in addition to kissing. It's fun, it's easy, it's low maintenance, it's wonderful.

Platonic Spouse: You do everything together from buying clothes and furniture to talking about your life and relationship fears, and communicate almost every day to 'check in' with each other, and to share your latest triumph/failure. There are no boundaries to what you talk about, with discussions going into the wee small hours .. so chats include everything from sex to bowel movements .. but you're an old married couple where any hint of sex has evaporated and become comfy familiarity. If you shared a bed, it'd be more Morecambe and Wise than Missionary and Whipped Cream. Probably.

Friends With Frisson: Sometimes an attraction with a friend is mutual (if occasionally unequal); there is teasing and flirting, and you know YOU have thought of them in 'that way' occasionally and you suspect, they have looked at you in 'that way' too .. but something stops either (or both) of you from making that first move. You may feel it's just a phase/dry spell you're going through or there may be other factors that stop you (fear of rejection, of destroying the friendship, belief of fundamental compatibility, too high expectations)

The One Who Keeps You Single: It's seldom deliberate or conscious, and not always their fault .. but no-one really compares to 'x'. You date, or try to date, other people to pass the time and move on, but there is SOMETHING that keeps 'x' in your mind and heart. You may even tell them to leave your life, which they do .. until they turn up out of the blue, and turn your life and your heart upside-down again. You may not have even had a full 'relationship' with them (more usually not); they linger, tantalisingly, just beyond your reach, either emotionally or circumstantially.

The One You Want To Save: This person is so lovely! They are so good, and have gone through so much, all they need is just a little love and support, and then they will blossom .. and then what? Fall in love with you, perhaps, or at least address their circumstances so they're free to be with you? Women like a project sometimes and guys like to rescue damsels in distress. I often wonder if two people with matching emotional drivers work in a relationship; I'd imagine short-term yes, until The Rescued wants autonomy...

Right One Wrong Time:We always hear about this kind of scenario. And for me there are two ways this can happen:

a) Two people fall into each others lives and it’s perfection. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of a relationship being. This person fulfills you in every way, they make you feel like the best possible version of yourself, it’s so magical that it almost feels like a dream. Of course, you quarrel at times but even the arguments are beneficial. However, you’re moving away, or they’re about to embark in some kind of life changing event that means you can’t be together. You find yourself thinking, “If only we’d met at a time when we could give this thing a real shot.”

b) The person is exactly what you want or are looking for but you can’t engage in the relationship fully because you’re not in the right headspace or geographic location. You wish that you could put the relationship on pause, keep on with your life, and hit play again when you’re ready. You know that once certain things work themselves out that this would be it for you. These tend to end more messily than they should because we often times realize the great we have and try desperately to keep things afloat even though we are weighed down by anchors. (aka The One Who Got Away)

The worst part about these relationships is that the feelings don’t subside with a breakup. You still care and love but you just simply cannot be anymore. You know there is a reason but you can’t fully accept it because you’re angry at the circumstances We romanticize these unions much more than we should, we idealize them when we shouldn’t. As many times as we tell ourselves that there is “no reason”…. there actually is, and it’s better than most. The cold hard truth is that while compatibility and love are crucial, timing is also a major factor in successful relationships.

The Mini-Relationship: A short, valuable, revealing and positively-challenging relationship which is an enjoyable learning experience. It is restorative and introduces a new but treasured aspect into your life, perhaps a language, cuisine, unknown love of dance. But especially for those coming out of a long relationship, a mini-relationship can be a healing and positive experience in and of itself (unlike the Rebound, has that one been mentioned yet?). From the outset, both parties know that it will be short-term but allows for a sense of freedom and adventure. This type of relationship is endorsed by Andrew G Marshall in The Single Trap, pg 131, by the way.

The Relationship in All But Name: This blends together a number of previously mentioned relationships; you're Platonic Spouses, Friends With Frisson, Flirt Buddies and you communicate every day. But while one of you is open taking the risk and giving it a try to see what happens (and would be happy with a Mini Relationship), the other is too fearful, wants fireworks and not to 'settle' for you and mere contentment as you're not what they're truly looking for. You both suspect that you want what the two of you have .. just with someone else, really. While this isn't on the horizon, you stay in this quasi-relationship-in-all-but-name, until one of you finds someone else to share this emotional intimacy with.

Plaything: In between a hook up buddy and someone you’re dating is a Plaything. A Plaything can not be classified as a FWB because you’re not really friends. A Plaything is someone you keep around for entertainment or amusement. Someone who you don’t take seriously but you enjoy having around because they’re fun and they make you feel good about yourself. Usually this is one sided and the Plaything believes you to be in a relationship more serious than you are. Playthings are great in between relationships or when you’re going through something big (kind of like The Distraction) because being with them is truly an escape from reality.

The Coyote: I have written about coyotes in the past. They are the ones that you choose to let in your life but don't deserve to be. Coyotes spend some time (whether it be a few hours, weeks, months or years) winning your affection and trust only to destroy things be being callous and unfeeling. By hurting you, by making you feel stupid and accept less than you deserve. Coyotes only care about themselves and view you as just a pawn in their quest for enjoyment. They take everything good that you have to offer but just leave a black mark on you and in some ways you can't get over it. You know you should forget them and send them packing (emotionally speaking) but you don't. You think about them and analyze/agonize over what happened. But we must accept coyotes for what they are and run far away from them. They don’t care about you. (Here are some signs of how to spot them)

**WISC (Wolf in Sheep's Clothing): A step (or two) down from a Coyote is a WISC. The main difference between a Coyote and a WISC is that coyotes are actually inherently bad--bad people, bad intentions, whereas a WISC is dangerous on another level. These ones are particularly difficult because, from all appearances they are completely wonderful, so they make us feel safe and comfortable. They're everything that we should be attracted to so we find ourselves giving in. Their goal is to win us over but as soon as they do they will lose interest, it's kind of like being attracted to the chase but never wanting to actually win the race. They aren't "bad" because, unlike the Coyote, they don't do it on purpose, they don't manipulate and hurt for fun, it just so happens that it's the end result.

All Talk No Action: This is someone who have a strong desire to be with. And they seem to be just as attracted to you. Your flirtation crosses over into the realm of scandalous...sexting, dirty pictures, and late night conversations...which simply exacerbates the rapacious inclination already in place. doesn't seem to go further than your phone. Things are said, promises are made, intentions stated...but there is no follow through. This lack of execution drives us into an almost frenetic state of frustration...and we become obsessed with making the situation play out in the real world. Perhaps our efforts will work, but most likely we'll be left disappointed and unsatisfied.

However, despite the definitions in this post and the previous one, these are serving more as outlines... as no relationship can be truly defined. No two relationships are the same, which is what makes them so compelling, dynamic, and frustrating. We do our best stumbling around them, trying to learn from past experiences and mistakes while at the same time making sure the past doesn't define us and embracing that everything situation is unique.

Definitions aside, the most we can do is to try and understand ourselves and what it is we want not only from ourselves but from the person that we're involved with, and figure out if we're getting it. Once that is clarified, everything else(should) become easier to discern. Oh and don't read books like the one below. Seriously stupid.

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