You Don’t Know the Ending To Your Story

I met my wife Jacqueline 10 years ago on the L train. I gave her a long look, thinking she was a girl I had gone on a date with recently (Jacq still doesn’t believe me, but I swear that’s what happened). My too-long gaze compelled her to ask what I was looking at.

I replied that I thought she looked like someone I knew (whose name is Jen and lives in SF now…I swear), but that she couldn’t be Jen because we were on the L train and Jen lived in Park Slope. Jacqueline remarked on my lack of sound reasoning (the first, but far from last time); she said people show up in unlikely places all the time. She told me how she ran into someone she went to school with in upstate New York while visiting Masada in Israel. People show up in the unlikeliest of places. She was right (the first, but far from last time).

We proceeded to have a long conversation. I remember little about it other than being totally smitten. Here was a girl who was intelligent, spiritually centered, well-traveled and smoking hot with pale blue eyes, paler skin and an awesome body. She was the whole package.

We got off at the Lorimer stop–I lived around there and she was transferring to the G train. With such a powerful connection, I didn’t hesitate asking for her phone number. She gave me her email address. I was pretty certain I had met my wife–the lack of phone number was of little consequence.

Let me backtrack some. At the time, I was relatively fresh to the city. I slept in a windowless bedroom in an illegal share with 4 others in Williamsburg–our heroin addicted, 12-hour-a-day-Doom-playing roommate’s cat had recently given us all flees. I worked as a cater waiter, while I wanly pursued affirmation through acting and modeling. And I was involved in an every-other-month-breakup relationship with a woman I’ll call Mary. She was 10 years my senior, a career stripper for 12 years and had a hyperactive adolescent son for whom I became a proxy father.

Thing were going pretty swell.

Meeting Jacqueline made me certain my fortune would soon turn. Mary and I were technically broken up. If I went out with Jacqueline, it wouldn’t be cheating. We would fall in love, I wouldn’t end up hooking back up with Mary. With the backing of a good woman, I’d get my shit together. The future looked bright.

What was most significant about meeting Jacqueline was this: I didn’t believe it was possible that a woman could hit me on all levels–mentally, physically, spiritually. The reason I knew I didn’t believe this was because I had settled for someone so far from that mark. Mary was a good (and hot) woman, but we had almost nothing in common. Then as now, my spiritual life was very important to me, meditating, visiting ashrams and the like. Mary had no particular spiritual bent. I had traveled the world for several years; Mary had never obtained or used a passport. Let me be clear there was nothing wrong with her, just something wrong with us.

Jacqueline was a walking contradiction to the belief that there was no one out there for me.

I wrote her an impossible-to-ignore invitation to our future with proper diction, punctuation and compete sentences (things that have long vanished from my emails). I entered her Yahoo address and pressed send to wait for my destiny.

Nothing.

Second email. Nothing.

Shit.

I was crushed. Her lack of response created a new possibility: That there are women out there who have it all, but they won’t give me the time of day.

[More soon]

Are You Dead Already?

In my last post, I mentioned that I am visiting my father soon. His health is lousy.

My dad and I share many traits–our curiosities, skeptical and questioning natures, our reverence for life, our ability to cry in public. He is my best friend. I don’t want to lose him and scarier, I don’t want my child (due later this year) to be without a grandfather. My last few days have been shot through with paroxysms of grief.

Permitting grief is new to me. Historically, my default emotional response to hard emotional situations is go numb until a threat passes (the odd bouts of congenital sobbing notwithstanding).

I thought I was doing pretty great, breaking down as I was, allowing myself to feel. Feeling is good. It’s real.

While this emotional latitude was, in some sense, a breakthrough for me, it was also missing something: my dad is not dead. Sure, he’s going to die eventually–hopefully later than sooner. But so will I, my wife, every one of my friends…even you. I saw there were two foci I could apply to this terminal condition called life:

  1. Focus on death as loss. Think about the lousy time when we will all be dead, when we will no longer share each other’s company. It’ll probably suck and be really hard.
  2. Focus on life as opportunity. Sure, we have a finite time in these bodies (fraid’ I’m not a big believer in the Singularity stuff). So what? What are we going to do with the time we do have? As Ben Franklin put it, “Dost thou love life? then do not squander time; for that is the stuff life is made of.”

I realized there was life all around me. My wife is having a child. A good friend of mine got a great job. We got some wonderful news at my work. Yes, all of these triumphs will die, fading into memory and dust, but in the meantime there’s magnificence in witnessing the cycles of life as they occur.

I also realized that I could still call my dad, which I did. There will be a time when I cannot do that, but that time is not now.

BONUS ASSIGNMENT: IF YOU DIG MY WRITING, PLEASE ‘LIKE’ ME ON FACEBOOK PAGE. I’M TRYING ON THIS WHOLE SELF-PROMOTION THING; THE NY TIMES ARTICLE HAD ME ALL WRONG.

You Give Me Reason to Shower

In 2010 and 2011, 2 of the coldest years in New York City history, I lived in a house with no heat. When I got home at night I put layers on. My around-the-house uniform included long johns, fleece pants, double wool socks, a t-shirt, fleece pullover, heavy wool sweater, parka, a scarf or two and a hunter’s cap. I slept in the same outfit under a sheet, a fleece blanket, a light cotton blanket I never bothered removing from the summer and four thick, down comforters.

In an incident I chronicled in this blog, my pipes froze, forcing me to perform midnight, 30-degree, water-cascading-from-the-ceiling household triage. Shortly thereafter, my landlord (a very loose designation) shut the pipes off. It had become so cold that the water in the toilet froze, forcing me to concoct creative waste removal operations. Because there was no drinking water, I walked around with jugs to fill when I had access to running water.

I lived this way partly because I was convinced that I was being spiritually tested. I was proving that I could find peace and meaning in the face of really uncomfortable circumstances. And I achieved that. I developed a physical and spiritual toughness, cultivating an ability to cope–and occasionally thrive–in harsh conditions.

But it was uncomfortable. Without so much as a fireplace, I was living in conditions that a neanderthal would probably find intolerable.

So why did I do it?

There was the spiritual thing, which had more than a trace of truth to it. Though the spiritual test conveniently coincided with diminishing savings and nearly nonexistent income.

The other reason is this: People can put up with some pretty lousy shit if they believe their behavior only impacts them. I can be miserable when I believe I’m the only one who’s subjected to it. I can live in a freezing home if I’m the only one who has to bundle up. I can let my personal hygiene fall off in tragic ways if I’m the only one smelling it.

What changed–the reason I type without gloves on a January night–was that my life became about more than myself. I got a girlfriend, girlfriend became wife, wife will one day be a mother. The guy who was okay porting collected rainwater from the roof to flush the toilet had little or nothing to do with being a great boyfriend, husband or father. It’s not that one is wrong and the other right–they’re just two different people.

In an ideal world, my motivation would be purely intrinsic, the voice of God would speak through me, divining me an intuitive wisdom that shows me the way of strength and goodness. Every so often, that’s how it goes.

More often, my motivators are extrinsic–something I cherish outside myself compels me to step into a bigger role. I want A, but A is not possible as long as I’m being B.

Let me clarify one point: I’m not promoting betraying oneself. The changes I’m referring to are aligned with who we are (our intrinsic motivation). The guy who got a job, a heated apartment and wanted to take care of others is more aligned with who I am than my previous incarnation as Nanook of Brooklyn Heights.

With these thoughts in mind, consider:

  1. Name an extrinsic motivator in your life. Preferably this is something you want to have or have but are not feeling fulfilled by (e.g. relationship, job, goal).
  2. What way of ‘being’ is preventing you from having this situation work? For me, I was being lazy and proud. Lazy about creating income and too proud to admit that I didn’t enjoy hanging around a sub-zero living room.
  3. What impact are you pretending doesn’t exist by holding onto this way of being? For example, saying you don’t care about something or want something when you really do.
  4. What way of ‘being’ could make the situation work? In my case, I had to grow up–or ‘be’ responsible.
  5. Take one action today inside of this way of being.

Hazy Lovers

Dear David,

I’ve been friends with this guy for about 7 years now, and we dated for awhile in high school. We go to the same college and we’ve been hanging out off and on and sometimes we make out or sleep together (no sex). Last month he texted me randomly after not talking for 6+months and asked me out to lunch. It went well and then I left to go hang out with some friends. He texted me later and asked me to hang out again. And we’ve been hanging out like once a week since then. The other day he came over and I gave him a blow job for the first time and then I had to leave for class. He told me to txt him and when I did he didn’t respond. His phone is kind of messed up/broken and he doesn’t receive txts and calls sometimes. I was waiting for him to text me back or to think, Hey this is weird she usually always texts me and my phone is broken, why don’t I text her?? But he didn’t… Does this mean he doesn’t really care about me? After a couple of days I called him and asked him why he hadn’t texted me back and he said that he never got them.. Do I have a right to be mad? We’re not together, but I was kind of having feelings for him.

Tiffany

Dear Tiffany,

“But I was kind of having feelings.” I believe this last line holds the key to all the preceding ones. What’s overwhelming me in your situation is a decided lack of clarity–lots of “kind of’s” and few “is’s” and “are’s”.

My initial–and cynical–reaction is that he kept you around until he had sex with you (or the Clintonian equivalent thereof). When he got what he wanted, the challenge and sexual mystery disappeared, he lost interest and he wanted out. I could be wrong. There could have been an issue with his phone, but the simultaneity of the blowjob and cell-phone breakdown seems a bit too convenient. Guys will find a way to be in touch with a girl they’re hot for. Continue reading “Hazy Lovers”

Relationships and Contract Negotiations

Image via forbes

Dear David,

I am a young professional living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan. I am dating a wonderful guy who happens to be 15 years my senior (he’s 40), for a little over a year and a half now. We started dating casually but eventually fell pretty hard for each other.  After a few ups-and-downs, we moved in together last September.

Things have been going wonderfully, and we have spoken about marriage and having kids and he was on board, especially because he is older than me. Because our building is going condo and offering buyouts, the idea of buying a place of our own together seemed great. We were looking at properties and discussing options; and yes marriage was only a step after that.  Then things cooled down after we decided to take our time and not rush anything because of a buyout. Then one day I was joking about just getting married at city hall and it got very serious and he said he was scared to get married again (he dated a woman for 4 years, got married to her to keep her in the country and she left him for another man 6 months after). He’s afraid of me leaving him. After all the talks we had about getting married and how he was so excited to have kids, I was shocked.  After 3 days of flipping out in my own head, I told him straight out: I expected us to be engaged by the end of this year. He said he was being silly and I caught him at a bad time and he promised me we would be engaged by the end of the year.

Only now, he discusses things like kids and our wedding whenever he wants, but when I ask legitimate questions about our future like when he is thinking of really making an effort to get a new job (because without a new job, he won’t be able to afford an engagement ring), or if we can move into a new apartment together (I love our place but it’s small) or anything concrete, he freezes. He starts getting annoyed and blames my need to over-plan things and just says we’ll see. He is very independent and doesn’t like me “checking in” on him but I feel like these are normal questions to ask for a woman who is going to spend her life with another person. I want to know what his plan is, and it seems he has no plan.  Although this doesn’t stop him from seeing a beautiful cake and saying how nice a cake like that would be at our wedding, or randomly saying on a walk “lets have babies”.

I’m not quite sure what to do at this point.  I cant really get a straight answer out of him when I talk to him (one minute its babies, the next he is scared to get married again, and a minute after that he is sure I’m the one). Any advice?

K

Dear K,

It appears as though your guy wants to marry you and have kids, but I think he’s scared that he’s not good enough—for you, for the woman who left him, etc.  That’s why he spazzed out after the City Hall suggestion.  This fear of not being good enough makes him reticent to commit to you.

The first suggestion I have is assuage some of his fear.  Let him know that he is good enough (if you mean it, of course).  Tell him that you love him no matter what type of ring he gets you, no matter what type of dwelling you reside in.

By you writing about those details in your email to me, I suspect some of your love might be conditional on those things (however small an amount) and he might be buckling under the weight of that conditionality.  People fall in love with people, not their circumstances.  Let him know you love him for who he is.  When the love is established, you can get into the nuts-and-bolts.

First off, it’s not ridiculous to discuss conditions of a marriage and family.  Marriage isn’t merely a matter of loving someone.  It’s a contract.  And like all contracts, the terms must be laid out from the outset.  I do freelance writing which requires contracts.  My client and I first discuss the project, its terms and expectations, and then a contract is drafted, which is either signed or not.  Only when the contract is signed is the project is carried out.

So once the love is established (basically saying that you want to work with him), you can discuss what you both want out of a marriage specifically.  This is the negotiation stage of contract making.  When I proposed to my girlfriend, it was after we had established our love for each other and discussed what we both wanted for our futures—values, family, lifestyle, etc.  If there was a huge rift with these things, I might not have asked.  As it was, we were in alignment and we agreed on the contract (or agreed to formalize the contract in the near future).

Keep in mind that discussing the terms and entering a contract is not the same as fulfilling on them immediately.  Like any contract, many of the items discussed won’t be fulfilled on for some time.  It’s just an agreement about what you both want out of your contract.

I think if you’re willing to accept him as he is, understanding that he might not immediately fulfill on all the terms, he will probably be more inclined to propose a contract.  He might even be more motivated to get into action when he knows you’re okay to be where he’s at.  That’s what happened for me:  my fiancée allowed me to be where I was at, with my not-so-enviable circumstances.  Her love and acceptance gave me space to start moving toward what I wanted, rather than feeling inadequate for not being where I “should” be.  It was only after I proposed that I got the ring she wanted and the job that would make our contract work.

If he’s not willing to talk about the terms of a marriage specifically, if he’s dismissive, lackadaisical or unwilling to make plans, then you might want to ditch him.  Give him an opportunity to step up, but if he doesn’t take it, it’s probably an ominous sign of things to come.  I haven’t been married before, but I imagine it requires a lot of stepping up and uncomfortable discussions.

Lastly, you mentioning his age reminds me of the fiction-writing adage:  “if you’re going to write about a gun, it better go off.”  I don’t want to overstate this as an issue.  It sounds like you guys are into each other.  But if you are going to marry this guy, be super clear that this is your guy.  It’s not so much that he’s older and all the issues that entails—different peer groups, different physiological issues, etc.  What’s more disconcerting is that he’s exhibiting behavior appropriate for someone in his mid-twenties.  If he’s not cool with committing by this age, if he is not willing to have tough conversations and make plans with you for the future at the age of 40, when will he be ready for those things?  60?

Coming from this 35 year-old, 25 is not that old.  Don’t feel the need to rush yourself because he’s getting older.  This is an important contact.  You want to be sure both parties are committed to fulfilling on their agreements.

Hope this helps and many blessings to you both.

 

Dating Advice: How to Handle Babies Big and Small

[This question is a bit on the long side, but a perfect example of hastily embarked upon relationships, dating when you want kids, and a bunch of other nuggets.  Many thanks to the sender.]

Dear David,

I started dating someone about a month ago that I met online. We have a ton in common (he’s presently getting a degree that I also have) and when I met him I found him cuter in person than in his pictures. The first few dates were some serious “Whoa, You!” stuff and we kind of jumped in fast—he asked me to be exclusive very early, which made me uncomfortable but which I agreed to because I liked him so much, and we slept together soon afterward.

We’ve talked generally about some of the important “wants” and he mentioned in passing that he wants to have kids eventually, which made me feel like we were on the same page. For the record: I’m 35, freelance/self employed and still look and live like a younger person, but am getting tired of it. My last serious relationship lasted three years but ended two years ago—the ex and I were definitely on the track to marriage, etc. but got derailed and after a year of couples therapy, I left. This dude is 40 and was in a long relationship/marriage for most of his 20s and 30s. She wanted kids but he didn’t—with her, he says, because he knew the marriage couldn’t sustain it. He’s been divorced/out of the relationship for two years, during which time he sold his house, left his lucrative professional job and basically changed his whole life to enroll in a masters program that he’s serious about. He’s in his first year and making a stipend.

One night we had a date where I hear some things that make my ears perk up. I bring up the topic of whether we’re in the same place given that he was in a longterm committed relationship for so long and may want to sew his oats for a while, whereas I’ve been moving around the country more or less single for a long time and may be ready to settle down a bit more. I mention that I want to have a family and ideally would start within two or three years (again, I’m 35). He basically freaks out and says he “doesn’t know” whether he will be ready to have a family within my time frame, and that he doesn’t want to start down a road that will lead to my disappointment, my leaving him when I’m 38 to find someone who’s ready or staying with him and resenting him. He’s particularly worried about all of this because of guilt from his last relationship where he “ruined someone’s life” by not having kids with her. Continue reading “Dating Advice: How to Handle Babies Big and Small”

Send Me Your Dating and Relationship Questions

In an effort to find out what people are reading and writing, I have feeds on several personal development blogs:  Zen Habits, The Minimaliststs, EV Bogue, Jonathan Fields, Jonathan Mead at Illuminated Mind and even Tim Ferriss.

These guys (yes, they’re all guys) speak on a variety of topics like goal setting, overcoming obstacles, being happier, health, fitness.  Some, like Leo Babauta of Zen Habits espouse simplicity.  Others, like Ferriss, espouse over-the-top living.

I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in the personal development blogosphere.  Here are some places where I don’t fit:

  • Money.  I’m running low on the shit and can’t seem to generate more.
  • Career.  I’m asking my readers for jobs, which kind of blows my credibility there (got one?).
  • Diet.  A couple months ago I was vegan, now I’m eating meat three times a day—I wouldn’t dare take my readers through my dietary vicissitudes.
  • Fitness.  I work out regularly, but I’m hardly organized enough about it to share it in a systematized way.
  • Happiness.  Though quite happy, I don’t want the burden of being an expert on the matter.
  • Time management. Do you know how long it took me to write this post?

A couple weeks ago I wrote a series about dating and relationships.  They were my most popular posts to date.  So many of us struggle with these topics, and while I won’t claim mastery, I know a thing or two.  When I was single, I was able to meet women fairly easily.  Through past relationships, I acquired vast knowledge that prepped me for the great relationship I’m in now.

So I’m offering up my dating and relationship, um, expertise.  I would like to know what you’re dealing with—your situations, your questions, topics you’d like to see addressed.  More specifically, here are some things I can offer:

  • For women. I can offer a man’s-eye-view of your situation—whether you are seeking or are in a relationship.  Many women are pretty blind to some of the things they do when meeting men.  Same goes for relationships—you do things that set up lose-lose situations with your partners.  I believe I can cure your blindness…or at least get you some glasses.
  • For men.  For years, I unconsciously did things that destroyed my chances with women before I even met them.  I attracted either no one or the wrong one.  I also did things that consistently ruined my chances for being in or maintaining happy, healthy relationships.  I’ve come a long way and I’d love to share what I’ve learned.

Whether single, in a relationship, man or woman, gay or straight, please shoot me your questions or topic suggestions at df [at] davidfriedlander [dot] com.  All correspondences will be strictly anonymous.

Remember that your question might not only help you, but someone who is going through the same situation (the issues don’t vary that much).   I look forward to hearing from you.

Alpha Males and the Women Who Love Them

Want to go out on a date?

Like many children of the 70’s and 80’s, my folks divorced before I was old enough to realize they were married.  When I was two years-old, mom got primary custody and dad got every-other-weekend.  Aside from 4 days per month, mom was both mother and father.

I love my mom.  She did a great job raising me.  But she’s a woman.  And there’s only so much a boy can learn about being a man from a woman.  I was like one of those boys who are raised by a pack of wolves, and think they are a wolf too.  Except I was raised by a woman, and…you know.

Being raised by a woman, I inferred a lot of things about how to behave toward women.  I inferred that men and women are the same thing with different bodies; that I must be polite and respectful; that I mustn’t make women sex objects; that I mustn’t be too assertive or aggressive; that I must listen to what women say.

I abided by these lessons for a long time.  I grew up to be a polite, benign, sexless, ineffectual wuss.  I had almost no relationships throughout my teens—living in a state of frustrated and unrequited sexuality.  I was 20 before I lost my virginity—not by any virtue, but because I was so sexually retarded.

Like many, the cure for my frustrated sexuality was alcohol.  Being drunk afforded me an opportunity to inhabit my masculinity—a state where I didn’t have to be polite or respectful; when it was okay to make women sex objects; when I could be assertive; when I didn’t have to listen to what women said because I could see what they wanted (2 very different things in my experience).

As it would happen, women responded far better to my drunken inappropriateness than my sober wussiness.  As a drunken lout, I had a chance.  As a polite and sober wuss, I had none.

Unfortunately, the more I drank, the more inappropriate and distorted my masculinity became.  I slurred catcalls to women on the street.  I hit on girls who were clearly not interested in me, once earning a black eye from a justifiably angry boyfriend.  I tried to sleep with any woman who’d have me—a population that decreased inversely proportional to my rate of alcohol consumption.

These drunken years gave me a taste of what it meant to inhabit my masculinity, but the consequences of drinking made it an unsustainable formula.

Many years after getting sober, I recognized that my effectiveness with women—and life in general—was still lacking.  I still had trouble attracting women and, I later realized, attracting all sorts of things in my life.

This realization led me to the world of “Pick-Up Arts”—a subculture made popular by Neil Strauss’s book, “The Game.”  I can’t tell you all the things I learned while reading it in this post (it would get too long).  But one of the main points is that women are attracted to alpha males.

What is an alpha male?  An alpha male is a man who leads; he knows where he’s going and what he’s about; he doesn’t apologize for being who he is (including his sexuality); and he doesn’t seek other’s approval (probably the most important attribute).  Alpha status can be established by brute force (hence why a lot of assholes get so much action) or cooperative power (nice guys can and do succeed with women and in life).  Also, alpha status isn’t a hierarchal system; there can be multiple alpha males in a room.

I saw that I failed with woman because I believed what women said they wanted in a man—an open, respectful, caring guy.  It’s not true.  Women want alpha males—men who don’t apologize for who they are; who might want a women, but don’t need them or their approval.  Many of my drunken forays showed me that first hand.

This is not to say an alpha male cannot be open, respectful or caring.  My opinion is that real alpha males are inherently those things.  But an alpha male doesn’t do those things to please others.  He does them because that’s who he is.

With all this in mind, here are some things to think about today:

Men, stop being wusses! Stop being inoffensive.  It’s offensive.  It’s better to elicit a strong feeling, even if it’s a negative one, than no feeling (important note:  I’m assuming that I’m addressing responsible men, who know how to respect boundaries and know the difference between right and wrong).  Own your life.  If you don’t, anyone and everyone else will.

Also keep in mind that wussiness with women shows up in other areas of your life.  Where else do you bend yourself in the face of something you want?

Women, stop trying to out-alpha the men in your life! Stop trying to prove you are as strong as they are.  Doing this leaves no space for men to be strong for you, which is what men want to be for you.  And it’s what you secretly want to be done for you.  What many women end up doing is proving their strength, but doing so alone or surrounded by their commiserating women friends.  Neither situation is desirable.

How To Get Anything You Want

Answer:  Ask for it.

Before we get into how to ask, we should review what we want.  Last week I talked about how challenging that is for many of us.  We are so bogged down by our past experiences that we can’t even admit we want something, much less ask for it.

For example, my past experiences would have limited what I want from a romantic partner to someone I could screw and watch movies with (I wouldn’t even ask that we like similar movies).  I had previously not believed that healthy relationships were possible, so I never said I wanted one nor did I ask how to create one.

I have subsequently explored where my ideas about relationships came from, as well as surrounded myself with positive female role-models.  I started to believe that a healthy relationship was possible for me.  I then took actions and asked questions that corresponded with that belief.  Hence why I’m in a great relationship now.

If you don’t think something is possible, you will not say you want it and you won’t ask for it.  You will not fly to Chicago if you don’t believe Chicago exists, and you certainly won’t ask for a plane ticket.

The best way to ask is by making direct requests.  A request is, “will you please pass the salt?” Most of us say, “I would like the salt,” hoping someone will pick up on our desires.  Or some of us bully people with commands like, “pass the salt.”

A request can be answered one of 3 ways:  yes, no or maybe.  Yes is pretty clear.  No at least let’s us know where we stand.  Maybes can swing to yes, no or a negotiated settlement.  For example, “Will you give me your ice-cream cone?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Will you give me 3 licks of the cone?”

“Yes.”

Most of us avoid making requests because we fear any one of these 3 answers.  A yes might force us into the unknown territories of the next step or phase.  A no might affirm that we are the losers we think we are.  A maybe might leave us in limbo, neither here nor there.

Instead of making direct requests, we mutter plaintive cries into the ether.  We say “I wish I could meet someone,” instead of requesting of someone who is in a relationship, “will you share with me how you met your partner” or asking “will you go out with me” of a possible partner.

What if someone doesn’t give us straight answers?  We keep asking until we they do.  For example:

“Will you help me draw up a business plan?”

“Well I’m not sure if I can do that?”

“What are you not sure about?”

“I’m not sure if I have the time.”

“I would appreciate any time you can give.  What amount of time do you have to offer?”

“I can probably give you an hour a week.”

“Can you talk with me every Sunday afternoon at 2PM for that hour?”

“Yes [or other time].”

“Will you help me draw up a business plan” is a lot different than “I would really appreciate if you helped me with my business plan.”  The former empowers both the asker and asked, creating specific directives for each.  The latter leaves the asker at the mercy of the asked, who may be willing to help, but is not given a framework for how.

Some of our requests will not be answered affirmatively.  Let’s say I want a car.  I can request that a car dealership give me one for free, but it’s unlikely they will say yes.  If this be the case, perhaps I start making different requests of different people.  Maybe asking a car expert where’s he thinks the best place to buy is, or a loan officer how to secure a loan to buy one.

With this is mind, here are some practices:

  1. What do you want? Check out my last week’s post if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.
  2. Are you asking for what you want? Note where you use indirect communication, perhaps stating what you want rather than making specific requests to get it.
  3. Write out 3 specific requests that will lead to what you want. If you want a raise, write “Will you give me a raise,” not “I want a raise.”  If you are not clear on what you want, make a request to find out.  Ask a friend, “Will you tell me what you think I should do?”
  4. List the people you need to make the request to? If you want a raise, it’s probably your boss.  If you want to get married, it’s probably your girlfriend.  If you want the dishes cleaned, it’s probably your roommate.  And so on.
  5. Make one of those requests to one of those people now.

No Shit Dating and Relationship Advice (Part III)

Love makes you strong apparently.

[I’m still going and probably have a few more things to say.  I might just take out the “part” part.]

Focus on being happy and having a good time

Men and women act ridiculous when trying to attract a partner.  Men act serious and/or predatory.  Women act aloof and humorless.  If you want to attract someone and keep him or her attracted, stop fronting.  It’s unattractive.  Fun, happy people are attracted to fun, happy people.  Fronting, insecure people are attracted to fun, happy people too (but not vice versa).

Back in my single days, I was reasonably adept at meeting women.  My guy friends asked me how I did it and I said, “smile and give yourself reasons to smile all the time.”  It’s was a win-win.  I was happy, and I attracted people—men, women, happy and unhappy alike.  Humans want to be happy.  When someone seems to have that trait, we gravitate toward it.

There are some who are drawn toward darkness and sadness.  If that’s what these folks want their lives to look like, then they should move toward that moody dude or that sad-eyed girl.  Maybe their love will fix them.

The rest of us want to be happy.  And happy-loving people rarely see someone and think, “Man, who’s that anxious guy/girl over there?  I want to get to know him/her.”  Don’t be one of those anxious/fearful/angry/sad guys or girls.

Give yourself reasons to smile.  Hang out with fun friends.  Do things that interest you.  This principle holds true whether you’re single, dating or married.

If you really can’t create reasons to smile, you probably shouldn’t be concerned with dating and relationships.  Take yourself off the market until you address your needs.  Do yourself and the dating pool a favor.  Seriously.

Make your romantic intentions known

For men, this means taking risks.  The reason men don’t risk and let their romantic intentions be known is they fear being rejected.  They think that if they make their intentions known, it’ll scare women away before they know the great guys they are.  So these men act as though they are only interested in being friends, hoping the girls will come around.  These guys rarely get as far as friendship, having to content themselves with indifferent stares and fake phone numbers.  If they do make friendship inroads, it usually ends in bitterness because the woman shacked up with some guy who had the balls to be straight about how he feels.

Don’t be an asexual lump.  It’s better to go down swinging.  And relax, not every woman is going to think you’re hot.  You don’t find every woman hot, right?  Be bold.

It’s prudent to clarify what I mean by taking risks, letting your intentions be known and being bold.  It does not mean groping or harassing or any other form of forceful behavior.  It means clearly offering your intentions to the other party for consideration.  She can take or leave this offering—this part is out of the man’s control.

For women, this means taking risks too.  She has to be vulnerable enough to admit she is interested in a guy romantically.  Women do the “just friends” thing too, hanging on far too long with men they are attracted to in order to avoid what they probably already know:  that the attraction is not shared.  Most women know this from the get-go but are afraid of admitting it.  They’ll endure a purgatorial vagueness in the relationship rather than knowing one way or the other.

You might be thinking, “What if a woman is attracted to an asexual lump who doesn’t know how to make his intentions known?”  To which I answer, few woman are attracted to asexual lumps.

Men who have experience with women—men women are attracted to—tend to make their intentions clear from the outset, be they romantic or not.

Some men and women send mixed signals, making their intentions unclear.  If this is the case, at some point you will have to ask what their intentions are and deal with the consequences.  Whether the answer is that they are attracted, not or uncertain, you’ll have an answer (and yes, “uncertain” is an answer).  Better to know sooner than later.

I don’t have personal experience with how this plays out in gay relationships, though I imagine it’s much the same as straight ones.  Be clear about your intentions.  If they are not reciprocated, accept it or move on.

There is the chance that two people are just friends and romantic feeling develop over time.  This is ideal.  Romance combined with friendship endures.  Romance without friendship crashes.  Who I am speaking to are people who know how they feel but are afraid of expressing those feelings.