Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Other Lover

The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere,
they're in each other all along.


An attendant mistake to this is trying to find someone exactly like you, or judging everyone you meet on the basis of the lover in the story you have.

How many of your complaints about dating, or about your current partner, are really about them?

Another, better question might be this: how many of your complaints will actually move you in the direction of love, of intimacy, of awakening to what you really want in this life?

Most of us bumble along map-less. Some take the love stories that most excite them, and attempt to frame their lives around them, as if a person could become the characters within. Others collect the viewpoints of experts, friends, family, clergy, strangers on the street, and then attempt to follow the advice they're given. Still others operate with little framework other than sexual attraction, "chemistry," hoping from one hot catch to the next.

None of those options are very helpful in the end, even if they contain pointers.

Until you meet yourself, and see that the love story is really about you, you'll struggle in all things relationship.

A lot of folks never figure this out, and spend a lifetime struggling together and/or alone.

Whatever else you do, make an effort to find the lover within.

*Image "The Two Fridas" - Frida Kahlo

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Because Blaming Others Is Just So Much Easier

Having spent a lot of time paying attention to how people write about dating, one of the most common issues I have seen is the tendency to focus on another person's flaws. Not that this should surprise anyone. Humans do that all the time. In order to avoid looking at ourselves, or seeing where we are part of any given problem, we point our fingers outward at whomever is the easiest target.

Read the comments section of any popular dating and relationship blog, and you'll see countless comments about the bad behavior of others.

My date was an asshole. He flirted with the waitress, talked endlessly about his boring job, and didn't pay for my dinner.

My girlfriend was a bitch. She never cleaned our apartment, she complained about everything, and she turned her friends against me.

These statements might be true, but how often are they balanced with some self reflection?

I really wasn't very attentive on my date with X.

I often got angry at silly little things.

I allowed him to keep crossing my boundaries.

I stopped caring towards the end with her.

You might notice that one of the underlying themes in much of my writing is balance. When our bodies are healthy, they are said to be "in balance." Experiencing homeostasis. The blood Ph level is hovering somewhere around 7.35. Body temperature right near 98.6 degrees F. Blood pressure rates vary a little bit more, but with all of these indicators, anything more than a slight shift can cause great disturbance.

The same can be said about dating and relationship analysis. If you focus too much on the other person's flaws, you miss everything you are adding to the equation. Furthermore, you miss all the other person's positives, perhaps to the point where you reject someone who could be a great partner for you. On the opposite end, if you focus too much on your own flaws, you can miss the red flags the other person might be displaying. You might take responsibility for their bad behavior, thinking that "you did something to deserve it." And definitely, no matter what, too much focus on your own flaws will make you a pretty unpleasant person to date or be in a relationship with. Always apologizing. Always thinking you did something wrong. Always feeling like you're never good enough. None of that is attractive.

So, balance. Self reflection is an essential ingredient, but so is being able to drop that and pay attention to the other person. Learning to detect red flags in another, like the woman or man who seems a little too keen to impress you, is an invaluable skill. However, so is recognizing the subtle and not so subtle good qualities in a person.

What do you think about all of this?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Yes. You, Too, Can Have a Happy, Fulfilling Relationship

It's been a few weeks since I have written here. Although I've been involved in a few relationship conversations online and in person, I haven't felt compelled to offer anything here. Guess you might say I'm feeling a bit jaded about the general nature of American relationships. The way dating is so often reduced to exchange and game playing. The way gender stereotypes and patriarchal commentary still seems to rule the day for so many, despite all the social changes in other directions.

If you think this is a post driven by personal angst, you're wrong. I'm actually in a happy, fulfilling relationship these days. Something I'd like to think happened because both of us have the kinds of skills and approach to it all that I've been writing about here.

Furthermore, I can think of several friends off the top of my head - ranging in age from their late 20s to over 70 years old - in happy, fulfilling relationships as well. It happens. People do it despite all the bullshit we all have to wade through to get there.

So, today's post is a series of short points attempting to skewer some of that bullshit. Maybe it provides some insights or points of contention. And maybe it's just for my amusement.

Anyway, off we go.

1. People don't owe you anything. Seriously, they don't. They don't owe you dinner. They don't owe you sex. They don't owe you respect. They don't owe you anything.

2. Stop believing that instant chemistry equals love and ever lasting romance. It's a bloody story. Fairy tale. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, that oh my god feeling you have with someone on a first date will lead to a few weeks or months of hot romping in bed, followed by misery, slow fade, or fast disappearance.

3. Stop believing you're so special that everyone should worship your every word, and cater to your every need. Even if you only think this 20% of the time, get to work so that 20% moves towards zero.

4. No one is always right. Learn to admit you're wrong. Or that you don't know. And get used to doing so.

5. Someone who listens well, and is measured in their criticism, is a hell of a lot sexier than the charismatic know it all over the long haul.

6. If you find yourself placing all or most of the blame for your dating and relationship struggles on others, wake the hell up! Because it's YOU that is the common denominator! Go. Get a mirror and stare into it until you can't see yourself anymore. And then repeat until humble, or until you blackout. Whichever comes first. Please, whatever you do, don't drink and stare.

7. Humor. You have some? Let it lose. You don't have any? Find some. Borrow some. Buy some. The one area where the exchange economy might be necessary. Cause if there's one thing lacking in the modern dating world, it's humor. I'll take a funny single person over a dour, hyper serious coupled person any day. I bet you would too, even if you're one of the hyper serious folks I'm talking about here.

8. Gratitude. The single most important ingredient commonly missing from modern dating and modern relationships. When was the last time you were grateful simply to spend a few hours with someone on a date? Not out of desperation, but because they showed up, and listened to your silly stories, and shared a few of theirs. Seriously, our lives are fleeting, and it's way to easy to loose most of it to selfishness, expectations, and other such nonsense.