[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)”