Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'm Not Calling You a Liar (Just Don't Lie to Me)

If you ask most people what qualities make a relationship great they’ll probably say: kindness, communication, understanding, respect and trust. Trust. We value it so highly (as we should) but find it one of the most challenging things to hand over. If we are with someone, we obviously respect them. Being kind to them is easy, so is communicating with them. Not always as easy, is understanding, but if that’s not instant it follows shortly upon getting to know them more. Trust, however, now that’s a different matter. No matter how “trusting” we are, or think we are, it’s one of the most difficult things we give to another human being. We talk endlessly about building and breaking trust (but rarely make such statements about those other important qualities) Trust is its own beast. Trust is not just its own category but a completely entity in a relationship.

We want to trust people. We want to trust that they have our best interests at heart, that they are honest with us, that they’re faithful. We want to trust that they aren’t going to hurt us, but most of all, we want to trust that they are who we believe them to be. Somehow, if we find out that they’ve broken our trust, we inadvertently blame ourselves, or feel stupid, feeling for whatever reason that we should’ve “known” or “seen it coming.” It’s not just about trusting the other person but trusting ourselves to make good decisions. And we hate failing ourselves.

I’m not really sure how to say whether or not we should trust someone. For me it’s always been an inherent thing, that, if we care about someone we should have enough faith in them (and ourselves) to assume that they’ll do the right thing most of the time. (No one is perfect!) That if we behave accordingly that they will too. Some of you may say that it’s easier said than done, and that you’ve been hurt before. News flash: we all have. It’s just how you deal with it. I can relay horror stories of some of the guys that I’ve dated that, could, in theory, be my reason for never trusting again. (Just like I could recount some tales of my misbehavior)  But I don’t see the point. Partially, because that’s no way to live your life, but mainly because just because a few idiots did terrible things doesn’t mean I should blame the rest of the population.

One of the most popular ways to test the trust we have for another person is by searching through their emails and phones.  (I’ve never really understood it, personally I’d be bored reading through someone elses correspondences. The exception being when my then-boyfriend told me he bought me a present online and then LEFT HIS EMAIL OPEN on my computer. If that was a test, I failed it. Come on! But truthfully, I regretted it, because it took the fun out of the surprise.)

I can not stress enough how incredibly stupid this is. First of, and I’ll restate, if you feel like you have to do this, then you are with the wrong person. Secondly, by doing that, you are, in fact, in violation of their trust for you. And thirdly, this never ends well. In most cases you will find something questionable. Things in the virtual world can often be taken out of context. I know that if someone went through my phone or email that they would probably be able to find something to get upset about, despite the innocence on my part. It also bears the question of what can be deemed as “breaking trust?” Mild flirtation? Complaining about you? Discussing personal details of your relationship? Discussing personal details of their life that they haven’t shared with you? Talking about something you asked them not to? The list goes on and on. And then what do you do if you’ve found something? Confront them? Saying, “I was going through your email/phone and found this…?” Um, no. That won’t go well, for either one of you.

I will on record again and say that I don’t support this behavior at all. That if you’re dating someone you don’t need to go through their things, and if you feel like you have to, then you shouldn’t be dating them. However, some of you will still engage in this behavior so let me state that IF you do, you must never tell anyone about it. Ever. If you don’t find anything, then you are the paranoid psycho invading your loved ones privacy and you need to live with the guilt of betraying them. If you do find something: then end it with them. Don’t tell them why, just do it. Why? Why not confront them about it and demand that they explain themselves? The answer to that is simple but twofold: to start, the trust is broken and it is not likely to return and it will always be in the back of your mind (and theirs); but more importantly, you went into their accounts because you expected to find something, wanted to even, and you did. You got your proof so what more do you need? No explanation will make you feel better or change what you found. Game over.

We can spend countless hours stressing out and pondering whether or not the person we’re dating is trustworthy, but if you’re doing that I have to ask why. WHY are you dating someone who is causing you such anguish? It’s not healthy. Furthermore, what does it solve? The answer to that is nothing. If you think someone is lying to you or cheating on you, worrying about it isn’t going to change the fact that they're they’re going to do it if they want to.

Before you snoop ask yourself the following questions and answer honestly:
1. Why do you want to go through their things?
2. Do you expect to find something incriminating?
3. What will you do if you find something incriminating?

And then, if you haven't already, really ask yourself why it is you're with someone that you don't trust. 

***I wrote this because approximately 10 people in the past few months have come to me with some kind of story of finding something in their significant others phone/email or vice versa. My first question was: why were you/they going through your things?
***special thanks to the above for the inspiration, for the guys I've dated that deserved my trust, for the ones I dated who didn't (because they made me appreciate the worthy ones all the more) and to Jax for not canceling the order when he found out that I knew what it was. :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Driving in Cars With Boys aka If He's Into You, YOU'LL KNOW IT

I have always been one of those women who had a lot of guy friends. Growing up, my male friends far outnumbered the female. It wasn’t intentional by any means, but I suppose I just gravitated towards men because they, by definition, are much simpler than their female counterparts. Men, for the most part, aren’t dramatic, they don’t spend their time analyzing everything, they’re not catty, and there was never this underlying need for competition with them that is prevalent in the girl world. I understand, of course, that men have their own ways of competing with each other, but despite being “one of the guys” I wasn’t ACTUALLY a guy, so I was left out of the competition. From them I got great friendships and, without realizing it, an insight to the way they think and talk. 

I also realized that, to a degree, these relationships shaped how I conducted my own: everything from not wanting to put a label on something unless I was “really sure” to avoiding serious emotional talks. I also forgive and let go stupid mistakes without much fanfare. If someone I care about does or says something dumb, rather than make a big production of it, I move on. People are, after all, human. I make mistakes all the time and would hate it if my friends made it a huge deal. The way I look at it is: acknowledge, apologize, move on. Why waste any more time?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve collected more and more female friends, very few of them “typical girls” but rather women like me…who don’t deal in subtext or analytics but rather facts. We tell it like is, avoid drama, and simply enjoy life and want to have fun. We call each other out but forgive mistakes. We laugh at our own stupidity and get slightly uncomfortable when strong emotions are brought into play. It’s not that we don’t like “typical girl” behavior but we just don’t get it.

The main difference I’ve found about my female friends and make friends though, is the approach to turning friendships into romance. While I’ve found that many of my girl friends have inevitabely fallen for a guy in their circle, the men can’t say the same. Sure we’ve seen multiple movies about the perfect best guy friend who has secretly harbored a crush for their adorable girl friend too nervous to act on it, but these are things for movies. In real life this doesn’t exist. If it does, it’s the exception to the rule, and there are VERY FEW exceptions in life.

While women sit around agonizing how to make their feelings known, wondering if it could happen, worried about ruining the friendship, men don’t. If, after much deliberation, a woman makes a move on a guy and he rejects here, she tends to be really embarrassed and wonders “how to deal with it” and “what to do next”... men shake it off and move on. The truth is men, don’t participate in these deliberations, they just act. If they want you, they make it known. They don’t sit around lamenting that it could ruin the friendship because that kind of thinking doesn’t exist for them. They just think it would be cool if it worked out but usually aren’t shattered if it doesn’t. Things like this aren’t a big deal for them.

When a man doesn’t act or react in a way that the woman wants she generally fails to see things for how they really are. She makes excuses. “Well, we have all the same friends, he probably doesn’t want it to be weird.” (No one would think it’s weird) “We work together, he might be worried what the office thinks.” (Unless there is an anti fraternization policy, this isn’t true.) Men don’t think in terms like that. Women weigh options and think of worst case scenarios (“If we break up it’ll be SO AWKWARD") while men act first, and deal with the aftermath as it comes. We women makes these excuses because we need some reason why our object of affection doesn't share our sentiments. We’ll believe anything, as far fetched as it may be, just so we don’t have to deal with the cold hard reality that this guy simply isn’t interested in us romantically.

It has nothing to do with how pretty we are or aren’t. It doesn’t mean that they think we’re boring or stupid. It just comes down to the simple factor of them not being attracted to us. Nothing we do is going to change that (and why would you want to?) I’ve taken part in conversations that include statements such as, “We get along so well, we have so much fun together, he always wants to hang out, everyone thinks we’re so perfect for each other, I just don’t get it.” Um, what is there to get? For arguments sake, let’s look into this from another perspective: Pick a friend, any friend that you’re not attracted to, and think about why it is that you’re friends with them. Chances are: you get along so well, have so much fun together, and want to hang out a lot. These are NORMAL qualifications for a friendship, and guess what, you’re not attracted to THAT friend for the same reason your friend isn’t attracted to you. It just isn’t there. It really is that simple.

One of my favorite books is “He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo because it breaks all of this down for women in a straightforward and no excuses way. Not only do I recommend it to every woman I know, but also read it every few years to keep myself in check. Particularly applicable to this blog post is the following quote from the book:

"I hate to tell you, but that whole "I don't want to ruin the friendship" excuse is a racket. It works so well because it seems so wise. Sex could mess up a friendship. Unfortunately, in the entire history of mankind, that excuse has never ever been used by someone who actually means it. If we're really excited about someone, we can't stop ourselves -- we want more. If we're friends with someone and attracted to them, we're going to want to take it further. And please, don't tell me he's just "scared." The only thing he's scared of -- and I say this with a lot of love -- is how not attracted to you he is."-Greg Behrendt, He’s Just Not That Into You

It doesn’t feel good to feel rejected by someone we like, but it feels even worse to live life in limbo, stressing out and reading into things. We inevitably beat ourselves up, wondering what is wrong with us, why they couldn’t like us….we’re a catch, right? Yes. We are a catch, but just not for that particular person and the sooner we can accept that the sooner we make ourselves available for someone who mutually shares our affection.

Things to remember:
1. Men are pretty simple when it comes to women and dating, friends or not. If they want to take things a step further, they will.

2. Men don’t overanalyze and deliberate about whether to make a move. If they want to do it, they will. Act first, think later.

3. If they don’t like you the way that you like them, it doesn’t mean you’re unlovable, unattractive or anything of that kind. It just means you’re not the someone they’re interested in romantically.

4. Men don’t have the kind of “reasons” women find acceptable. While women have long lists as to why or why not, mens are just: Not into it.

5. Men don’t find or make excuses to prevent them from being with someone if they want to be.

Despite the world having changed drastically since the beginning of time, one thing that hasn’t changed is human nature. Men will always be hunters, they will always have an alpha quality to them (even the most “evolved” and “metro”) They will always go for what it is they want in life, whether it professionally, socially or romantically. This will never change so we need to stop pretending like it has.

*thanks to everyone who has every contributed to inspiring this post, most recently NB and AL.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The One That Got Away

Throughout the beginning of time, the notion of “the one that got away” (TOTGA) has been prevalent. The concept is simple: we meet someone completely fabulous and fail to end up with them. Perhaps we never became romantically involved with them, or maybe we did but couldn’t sustain it. The bottom line is that we lost them and they will forever be “the one that got away.”

Some people would refute this theory and say that if it was meant to be that it would happen. That it not working out is a sign that they weren’t the right one for us. To a certain degree, I concede with this. Unfortunately, love is NOT all we need. Relationships, as we know, need more than just chemistry and compatibility, but also timing and proximity.

I would venture to say that, for the most part, these losses we incur are due to factors beyond our immediate control, but even so, we find ourselves placing blame, and recounting the scenario with a bunch of “what ifs” We think that maybe there had been some variation that it would’ve worked out differently. We torture ourselves over this, even though we KNOW that doing so is fruitless. Things were they way they were and we simply can not change the past. We need to accept it.

I know this is easier said than done, and that even after significant amounts of time pass, that our mind may wander back to that person and sigh. I wish I had some advice as to make this stop happening, but I don’t actually think it’s possible. The best I can offer is a change of perspective: rather than forget this person and move on…why not use them in the process? Instead of crying over their memory we should be grateful for knowing them, for it’s because of them that we have a reference of what it is we truly want. We not only know how we want to feel but that it’s possible to feel that way. We have a way to measure our relationships. There is something incredibly empowering about that.  It gives us a new sense of control and ability to discern future relationships. It means we waste less time with the wrong people for us.

Just keep in mind a few things:

MEASURE not COMPARE: There is a fine line between measurement and comparison, and we need to make sure that we don’t cross it. We need to understand that no two people are the same (thank goodness) and no one we meet will be exactly like TOTGA and that’s ok, we don’t need them to be. We are not looking for a replacement or duplicate. Instead, we need to be focusing on measuring. What does that mean exactly? Well, we need to think about what it is about TOTGA that we found so wonderful and use that as measurement. Examples: the way they make me feel, the way I feel about myself when I’m with them, acceptance, respect, compatibility, comfort, passion, inspiration etc.

DO: be realistic. DON’T: lose faith. It is unlikely that we are going to find someone immediately. We may have to wait months or even years but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. It will, but these kinds of things can’t be planned, they just have to happen. We may date dozens of people before stumbling on the right one, don’t look at these as setbacks, but rather insurances that we’ll know when the right one comes along.

REMEMBER: As lovely as it sounds, there really is no concept as “the one.” Especially now with the world shrinking so rapidly. We have the ability now to connect with such a vast majority of people that our options are abundant.

TOTGA may seem like the one of worst things that’s ever happened to us, but in fact, they may be one of the best, because they have helped us gain a sense of strength, self awareness, and appreciation that we may never have known without them. They have shown us how things can be and with that, have given us the tools to make that the way things are.

*Thanks to a dear friend for the inspiration. You know who you are but no one else will (for obvious reasons)