No Shit Dating and Relationship Advice (Part I)

This could be you.

[This post got a bit long-winded, so I’m splitting it into 2, maybe 3 parts]

The issue of meeting a romantic partner has come up a lot in my life recently.  I talk to countless men who can’t meet good women or men, women who can’t meet good men or women.  Perhaps they are coming to me because I am (somewhat disbelievingly) in a healthy relationship with someone I am connected with emotionally and physically.  They want to know what we’re doing.

I’m no expert, but I know some basic things that do and do not work in relationships.  I was also single for a long time and had a certain facility meeting the opposite sex.  I figured I’d codify what I know.  These principles/guidelines are directed toward single people, but apply equally to people in relationships.

What do you want?

This is a huge issue for for both men and women.  We have no idea what we want.  Without that bearing, what happens is we meet someone and ask, “Does he/she like me?”  Or we settle for someone who likes us rather than going for what we want.

Rarely do we ask, “Is this what
I want?”

In these directionless relationships, a power balance inevitably arises.   As a friend said, “In every relationship there is a junkie and a pusher” (this friend was a relationship nightmare for the record).  The junkies wonder whether the pushers likes them and obsess about the pusher’s every action.  The pusher’s attention is their lifeblood; it’s where they derive their power.  The junkies diminish themselves, lie and generally piss away their lives in order to keep that power coming.

It’s hardly easier for the pusher, who most of us have been at some point.  The pusher’s narrative goes like this:  “I met/am dating/married to someone, but I’m not that into him/her.”  The pushers persist in these relationships, not because they like the other person, but because they derive power from the dependency—a power they likely lack in other domains of their lives.  But it’s a destructive power.  The junkie is in servitude.  The pusher is unfulfilled and neither party has what they want (unless you count not-being-alone as a desire).

A healthy dynamic is to treat meeting someone like making an important purchase.  For example, when we shop for a car, we get the best car based on our needs and budget.  We don’t purchase based on whether the car likes us.  Chances are most people will not be the item we want.  Find out what you want and don’t be afraid to shop around.

Don’t talk poorly about yourself

Don’t talk about your shitty job, fat ass or unfinished associates degree from DeVry.  It’s not funny.  It’s not disarming.  It’s not “real.”  It’s pathetic (I know because I’ve done it a million times).

Some self-effacing jokes are okay, but they have to be jokes, not veiled indictments against ourselves.  Be kind to yourself, or better yet don’t say anything about your character.  Let your behavior demonstrate who you are.

There is a caveat to this:  if you are looking for people who find comfort in mediocrity, by all means talk smack about yourself.

Don’t talk about your past

This is a tricky one because most of us are still embroiled in our pasts.  We have left wakes of physical and psychic damage from past relationships.  We haven’t cleaned things up.  We haven’t looked at our mommy/daddy issues.  If these things are the case, our pasts will inevitably come up in conversation.

Deal with your past.  Until you do, all your relationships will be condemned to a variation on a past-based theme. Continue reading “No Shit Dating and Relationship Advice (Part I)”

Blown Loads and Blown Lives

Maybe there's more to life then winning at solitary.

When I was 11 I had a pair of orange, paisley-print boxers.  One day, I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom holding them and something compelled me to rub the boxers against my penis.  I did it.  I became erect.  I kept rubbing and a few seconds later I  came.

Few moments in my life are as crystallized as this one.  Later that day, I kept rubbing and kept cumming.  As a preteen and teen, I typically beat-off 3-10 times a day.  I’d usually do it in socks and underwear.  I also had a soft, red wool scarf that I was fond of.

Soon thereafter I discovered pornography.  Initially, I was aroused by just touching myself, but then I found the experience was greatly enhanced by fantasies derived from pictures or thoughts of girls I was attracted to.

In the pioneer days, what constituted porn wasn’t much—envisioning Christine Endler or Lisa Jones; a JC Penny underwear section from the newspaper or, le coup de gras, a Victoria’s Secret catalog.  In later years, I would occasionally score a Playboy or Hustler.  I would keep these magazines for years as I was too embarrassed (and perhaps young) to get new issues.

The internet was a game-changer.  Suddenly there was more porn than I knew what to do with.  At first, I had masturbation sprees—hours spent in front of a screen with dick in hand.  In later years, as my libido waned, my routine became a more civil once-a-day porn viewing.  Surf, beat, sleep.

Nowadays, I don’t look at porn when I masturbate.  I find rifling through the sites, looking for the perfect image or video, more trouble than it’s worth.  I usually imagine a girl—typically one I would never have sex with in my real life—then do my business and go to sleep.

If this seems all a bit too graphic, you are probably a woman.  Masturbation is an unspoken, all-pervading phenomenon; one that, controversial as it sounds, is particularly male.  Many women masturbate; some might even be compulsive about it.  But all guys masturbate, and the majority of us have been compulsive about it at some point. Continue reading “Blown Loads and Blown Lives”

Man-Child Manifesto

About 7 years ago, I was training to be a personal fitness trainer.  My gym assigned prospective trainers like me to “floor shifts.”  If you belong to a gym you see floor-shifters shifting around the gym floor.  They are supposed to help out, get towels and schmooze with customers.  These workers are paid peanuts, have little to do during their shifts and usually open the gym at ungodly hours until they get their training certificates and can take on clients.  The crappy pay, work and hours is meant to separate the wheat from the chaff—the people who really want to train and people who just want a job.  I was chaff.

I had good reasons why I quit the gym:  I made much more money at my other job (I did); their training method was stupid (it kind of was); gyms promote superficial fitness, not health (they do).  But another reason for quitting revealed itself.  It didn’t matter what I was doing.  I always found reasons why something sucked.  Personal training, acting, modeling, cooking, school, girlfriends, friends—I quit all of them for good reasons.  It wasn’t an episodic issue, it was a systemic one.  I was a quitter.

I realized that I wanted to be more than a quitter and a dabbler.  After the gym episode, I started a program of recovery from quitting, carried out in a pretty straightforward way:  I stopped quitting things and finished many things I had started (I got geeked out on transformational workshops for a while too).

But that recovery took time.  It took a while before the old evidence was displaced by the new.  I had to show up to relationships, jobs and other commitments for a while before I was able to fully experience myself as a committed person.  With any major change, there is a period between letting go of what you don’t want and creating what you do.  Which brings me to the present.

Most of my “adult” life has been spent primarily living for myself.  Sure, I’ve shown up and committed to relationships and institutions, but I always made sure I had enough emotional or physical distance that our needs weren’t completely intertwined.  I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything drag me down with them.

I’ve had great times living this way.  I’ve been mobile and flexible.  I’ve slept well and gotten plenty of exercise because no one impinges on my schedule.  Since I have minimal material needs, I haven’t needed to make much money or work too hard.  I’ve been able to change my life instantly without all that messy explaining one must do in close relationships.  For example, I can go vegan overnight because no one else is eating from my fridge.

But something happened 9 months ago.  I met a girl.  I like the girl.  The girl wants a family.  In order to be with her for a while, I had to be on board. Continue reading “Man-Child Manifesto”

Dames and Dumbfucks

Everything's cool man.

I shan’t mince words.  I’m a liar.  And exactly 2 years ago, my lies created a life where I felt like someone was pressing the butt of a broom handle into my chest all my waking hours.  I was in a relationship and living with a great girl.  She was cute, generous, worldly, punctual, committed.  But she was in a relationship with a liar (me) and we were fucked from the beginning.

The first lie was the most basic one:  I thought that she was, or someday would be, someone other than who she was.  I saw red-flags from our very first meeting.  I rationalized them away to perpetuate the idea of the relationship—something I wanted to believe in.  But rationalizations are not solid building materials for relationships.

The trouble, in short, was we had nothing in common.  Our politics, spiritual views, tastes, communication styles were often diametrically opposed.  I joked about these things at first, but as time elapsed and our incompatibility became more glaring, the humor evaporated.  These issues would come out in fights and feeble attempts at communicating, but I knew, underneath my ideas and rationalizations, the relationship was DOA.

One night in February 2009, we got into a fight.  It was the same fight.  She accused me of not wanting to spend time with her.  She was right.

I would typically cauterize the fight with lies that I wanted to believe were true, but knew were not.  This night, I couldn’t do it.  I knew this fight would go on as long as we were in a relationship.  I knew things would not get better.  I knew she was who she was and I was who I was and given that, we had to break up.

So I told the truth and was promptly asked to move out (it was her apartment so there was no question about who would leave).  She went for a walk and I stuffed as many of my things in a large duffle as I could.  It was a Tuesday night at midnight.  I was a bum, but one with a modicum of integrity. Continue reading “Dames and Dumbfucks”

Live Life Drunk

Be a lethal weapon without the booze. Image via In Touch

The Foundry held the dubious distinction as Boulder, Colorado’s coolest nightspot.  It was a sprawling, brick-walled, high-ceilinged former theater filled with mostly ornamental pool tables.  It was a regular haunt at the peak of my drinking career.

One night in the spring of 1998, I went there with my buddy Drew.  It was a sausage-fest, littered with hapless guys in baseball caps, nursing their drinks complaining about the lack of women.

This night occurred during my halcyon drinking days.  I had recently returned from a bicycle expedition from Boulder to Seattle to Portland, Maine.  I left a pudgy faced, thin-limbed boy, I returned a chisel-faced, strapping man.  To exploit my new appearance, I started going out all the time, getting the attention I had longed for, but never received, in my adolescence.  And whereas my previous intoxicant was marijuana, a substance I used to smother my libidinous urgings, I was now drinking bourbon, which gave those same urgings megaphonic volume.

So there I was in this charcuterie, 21, handsome, cocksure and reaching a sweet-spot with my bourbon buzz.

Continue reading “Live Life Drunk”

Fuck Your Life

Carpe diem. Image via amazingdata.com

I was having a conversation with some friends about sex and the question was asked, “What do you like about sex?”

I answered that during sex, the division between who I am and who is “other” is broken down.  By penetrating someone I am emotionally connected with, getting her permission to treat her body as my own, touching it in any way I choose, wherever I choose, the confines of identity are loosened.  I am transported to a place where there is no self, no self-centeredness, leaving no one to injure, no one to have problems, no one to suffer.  Only delight.  And I like orgasms too. They feel good.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m re-reading David Deida’s “The Way of the Superior Man.”  The passage I read today is called, “Do it For Love,” where he outlines different ways a man can deal with women and the world:

There are two ways to deal with woman and world without compromising your true gifts or dribbling away the force of your deep being. One way is to renounce sexual intimacy and worldliness, totally dedicating yourself without distraction or compromise to the path you choose to pursue, free of the seemingly constant demands of woman and world.

The other way is to “fuck” both to smithereens, to ravish them with your love unsheathed, to give your true gifts despite the constant tussle of woman and world, to smelt your authentic gifts in this friction of opposition and surrender, to thrust love from the freedom of your deep being even as your body and mind die blissfully through a crucifixion of inevitable pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion, gain and loss. No gifts left ungiven. No limit to the depth of being. Only openness, freedom, and love as the legacy of your intercourse with woman and world.

If we are to buy Deida’s conceit (and I do), we should examine and choose one of the two ways (note:  this lesson is not strictly man-centered, though it is directed to people who identify primarily with their masculine energy).  While the choice might seem obvious for most of us, there are some who lean toward the first way, i.e. the way of the renunciant.  We are done (or wish to be done) with worldly stuff, with its junk, competition, struggles, pleasure and pain.

If this is your choice, choose it, commit to it.  This does not mean you have to become a monk or a nun, nor does it mean you must abide in this place forever.  It just means that you should honor that inclination and not pretend like the accumulation of worldly pleasures is your chief aim in life.

For the rest of us, fuck we must. Continue reading “Fuck Your Life”

Are You a Wuss?

Sometimes you just need to man up.

When I was two, my parents divorced.  My mother received custody of me and my brother, making us a single-parent home.  Mom became the woman and man of the house, and dad an every-other-week presence with an ill-defined sexual role.

I learned little about being a man from my mother’s hermaphroditic parenting outside of the inference that if mom could take on both roles, men and women are probably pretty much the same thing excepting some anatomical differences.

Most other notions about what a man was came from TV.  BA Baracus and Hannibal from the A-Team and Magnum PI seemed like real men.  They got shit done.  They drove fast, bedded women, solved problems and fired cabbages at bad guys.  Unfortunately, they provided no instruction.  For that, I just had mom.

If you want to guarantee a boy never becomes a man, hold up a woman trying to be a man as a role model.  You don’t make the boy a man.  You make him a wuss. Continue reading “Are You a Wuss?”

Does A 14-Year Old Run Your Life?

Based on this photo my one and only high school dance could have been worse. Image via Metromix Chicago

When I was 14 a girl named Liz asked me to the Turnabout Dance (aka Sadie Hawkins Dances, where the girl invites the boy to be her date).  I jumped at Liz’s offer.  I was new to my high school and completely incompetent with girls.  I missed Homecoming and the Winter Ball, relegated to staying home alone, searching for nipples in the scrambled images of the Spice Network.

Fate and genetics conspired to have Liz pull me out of my dungeon of isolation.  Like me, she was a gangly 14-year old.  She was 6-foot and I was a couple inches taller.  This specious bond constituted sufficient cause for partnership.

I bought a corsage and was dumped off by my brother at Liz’s place before the dance.  Her father, a 6’7”, barrel-chested, grey-buzzed-haired monster with a voice as deep as the Marianas Trench, greeted me upon arrival.   Despite his appearance, he didn’t intimidate me.  I had no devious plans with his daughter.  I wasn’t attracted to her.  Ours was a relationship of mutual beneficence:  I would serve as a date she didn’t tower over and she would get me on the first rung of our high school’s social ladder.  Liz, being a field-hockey player, was far more popular than I was.  Though she wasn’t terribly cute, she was well-liked.  A glaze of associative affection couldn’t help but improve my nonexistent social sheen.

Her dad drove us in his Lincoln Town Car to the Tivoli restaurant in Chicago Heights, the south suburbs go-to joint for octogenarians and pre-formal dancing teenagers.  We had an innocuous dinner before being driven to the dance.  I had never danced before, so all I could muster were a few awkward turns during the slow dances.  The night went as well as could have been expected, until the end. Continue reading “Does A 14-Year Old Run Your Life?”

On Doing, Being and Picking Up Chicks

My onetime Bible

Five years ago I downloaded an ebook called “Double Your Dating,” by a guy named David DeAngelo, who explained his patented “cocky-funny” technique for picking up women.  He said a man should be simultaneously cocky and (you guessed it) funny when approaching women.  This state conveys to women carefree confidence.  A cocky funny man can make fun of himself, because he has nothing to prove.  He can make fun of a girl, because he doesn’t need to impress.  He does all of this with a shit-eating grin, and suddenly becomes very desirable.
I was working DeAngelo’s game to good effect for a few weeks when Neil Strauss’ book “The Game” came out.  Strauss, a longtime investigative journalist went on a mission to infiltrate the pickup artist subculture, only to find himself one its gurus a couple years later.  The book chronicled his journey.
Both books opened my eyes for different reasons.  DeAngelo’s book was helpful in giving general information about how to conduct oneself in specific situations.  Taking his advice took the seriousness out of going out.  I started having fun flirting with women for the first time in my life.  Strauss’ book included techniques and general information like DeAngelo, but also told the story of how an AFC like me (average frustrated chump. The pickup culture is filled with acronyms), with training and perseverance became a mPUA (master pickup artist).  What both books did was change my internal narrative from “whether” I could have more success with women to “how.”
Now before you judge me, please ask yourself, whether you are man, woman, straight, gay, bi, transgender, whatever, have you ever had problems meeting a romantic partner?  Have you ever had difficulties communicating to a potential partner?  Have you ever felt unlucky in love?  If you haven’t felt these ways, please, judge me at your pleasure.  If you have felt this way, you know why I turned to this questionable counsel. Continue reading “On Doing, Being and Picking Up Chicks”