One of the first steps in the art of negotiation is to “separate the people from the problem.” Put aside the relational issues and focus on the substance/content.
Easy, right? Ha!
How in the WORLD do you tease out the issue at hand from the person delivering it/engaging in it with you? This sounds like one of those infuriating moments when someone patronizingly tells you “don’t take it personally.” I can’t STAND that phrase. Because… most of the time it gets used, the situation is actually QUITE personal, and all they’re doing in using that phrase is exerting some kind of self-defined superiority over you.
Someone does something or neglects to do something or says something that causes stress/pain/hurt. Whether their intentions are harmful or not, they have caused offense to YOU. It’s personal. To YOU.
So, how are we supposed to separate out the people from the problem when the people ARE the problem? Well………
I’ve gotten a few discouraged e-mails over this last week from readers (I think it was the “let me sniff it” message that really put a damper on peoples’ confidence in the world), so I thought I’d do a “nice post.” Here are a few sweet or clever messages/profiles I’ve received/seen in the last few weeks.
There ARE good guys out there. Their profiles may not make us simultaneously spit out our drink laughing while simultaneously dying a little inside…like most of the ones I post – but they exist. And we should be glad they do. Here’s some proof:
I’m curious, have you ever written anything regarding facial hair on men? I’ve sprouted some recently and I’m always interested in how differently girls respond to me when I have it. Someone even told me it made me look sinister…ha! Thoughts? I don’t really look sinister, do I?
I’ve included pictures of me you can use in your analysis if you like. 😉 Also just so you know, I’m not really looking for advice on whether I should keep the beard or not. I have it because I like it, and I’ll shave it when I decide I don’t like it any more. I am interested in hearing what women’s reactions to the two different looks are though.
(This reader gave me permission to post these, as long as I was clear to the women in my readership
that he is single and available.
A man after my own heart. Ladies… form a line.)
Dear Sinisterly Furry,
First of all, before weighing in on your personal situation, let me speak to the more general questions this brings up.
Turns out I actually have lots of thoughts on all things coiffure. (more…)
One of the first steps in becoming a better fighter is increasing self-awareness.
Wow… this really rings of a wax-on-wax-off kinda talk, doesn’t it, grasshopper?
Imagine any scenario where you’ve had friction with someone… inevitably the human instinct is to defend ourselves by either assigning blame to the other person or at the very least, avoiding the blame yourself.
But, a surefire way to fan the flame of disagreement is to jump right to what the other person did/said wrong and working out your rebuttle or defense to their incorrect conclusions. (more…)
It seems there’s a
rain cloud thunder cloud post nuclear mushroom cloud hovering over my love life. It’s been a while since something exciting or hopeful crossed my love-seeking path…
Hey – it happens.
And, while it’s disappointing, I can roll with it, because I know it’s just for a season (hopefully a short season… more of a Florida summer afternoon rain shower than a Sri Lankan monsoon….here’s hoping?).
But, it’s a little nerve-wracking when my friends are being messaged by charming, hunky, God-fearin’, 2-steppin’, witty-as-anything men while I get comments like (and I’m not even joking…see below), “let me sniff it.”
And all it does is make me throw up a little in my mouth. Thanks, McNasty.
Is this what’s left?
Is this IT?? I ask you!!?!
* pumps fist dramatically into the stormy onslaught.
So, in a temporary moment of self-pity, today’s post will focus on the crass, self-absorbed, brain-numbingly boring or idiotic messages I receive… because, hey – misery loves company.
A little explanation on this one. This is from Zoosk and on that site, you can set it up to have an automatic response if someone only winks at you. Mine is set up to say something silly, like, “what? Just a wink? C’mon… blah blah blah…”
This guy apparently didn’t find it cute and adorable as I’d intended, and wrote this pompous message.
a. I like how he says he read my profile and then later says he “guesses” I have a “masters in something”… um – yeah. It says so RIGHT on my profile, buddy. Apparently HIS 2 masters and doctorate didn’t help him read mine for full comprehension.
b. If my “arrogance is choking him,” why did he message me? JUST to lecture me or show his academic superiority?
Sigh ….. again….
But YU may need to buy a vowel.
Wow. What’s the OPPOSITE of turned-on? That’s what I am. Not only does this let me know you’re WAY more into gaming than I’d ever want to be with… but… there are sex scenes in video games? Oh good grief. I already have to compete against the world of pornography and strip clubs and the real-life women who throw their sexuality around like it’s Halloween candy. But now, I have to contend with some high def anime ‘woman?’ (presumably perfectly proportioned… I mean, I’m guessing the makers of these games aren’t making Sarah-esque curvy but sassy sex robots).
I had to Google “Triss Merigold.” Let me say this – if you’re feeling down and want to read something hilarious – Google “Triss Merigold.” She’s a sorceress who heals others but is allergic to magic. Here’s a pic:<— Well, this is embarrassing. I almost wore this exact same outfit today.
There’s nothing HERE? !
There’s no photo, no description of who you are (other than that you like the beach and stars…which…. let’s be honest…who doesn’t?).
All work and no play – sign me up.
Oh boy… and I mean BOY.
He is a BOY.
Lookin’ for a mama.
This is so self-indulgent and juvenile.
Where are the men who will ask what delicious meal THEY can cook? Are there any left who CAN cook?
A profile photo that tells me everything I need to know.
Well… except for EVERYthing.
Heck – I don’t even know WHAT this IS!? I can only assume it’s some sort of food-like product. But what? And more importantly,… WHY??
I think there were more mistakes than coherent phrases in this message. Sorry, boo.
This guy doesn’t really like….ANYthing, does he?
I can’t imagine a more lifeless and generic “About Me” section.
Dude… is there NO nuance left in this world?
I kept reading this thinking he would type, “Oh, just kidding!” but he never did. This is REALLY his profile. And if he’s going for some kind of twisted humor, I suppose I’m just not his target audience. I don’t know what woman is. It’s not even particularly clever – just mean.
Also, it’s not “that just sounded hilariousness,” smarty-pants.
If clever means the sort of humor I used to hear in middle school.
Mr. Class himself.
This guy is a treasure, I’m here to tell you.
There isn’t anything more woo-worthy than having a guy say this to you.
So – all of you out there who are going on lots of dates with great guys…
Throw a little of that mojo this way. Because I’m drowning in bad grammar, snore-fests and jerks.
Help a sista out.
How can you avoid becoming someone’s rebound?
Well, let’s define our terms first. Because when most people use the term “rebound,” they don’t just mean the person someone dates right after coming out of a long-term relationship. There’s a connotation that the rebound relationship is NOT going to work out to be long-term or meaningful… that it’s just a stop along the way of the wounded person’s healing process.
And, everybody should want to avoid THAT.
But I DO believe there are people who are healthy enough to do the required work after a breakup, so that their next relationship CAN be healthy and long-term. So – while you may technically be their “rebound,” it might have potential to be great. I dare say there are a fair share of marriages out there that began as “rebounders.”
And it wouldn’t be fair to discount someone as a potential partner JUST because this would be their first relationship after a failed one!
So, I think a better question would be
“How do I assess someone’s true ‘readiness’ for a relationship?”
Obviously, there’s no foolproof method for this, or else multitudes of broken hearts around the world wouldn’t happen at the hands of ill-prepared men and women entering relationships they’re not ready for. I have fallen victim to this myself, getting involved with someone who, by his own admission a year and a half later, wasn’t ready. Sigh…
But… I do think there are some tools we can use to better the odds.
1. Does she have a happy life, aside from being single?
I’ve talked about this before – that you can know there’s something missing in your life – even long for it, while still creating a life you enjoy around you.
When you meet someone, he should seem satisfied with his life, not like he’s moping until he finds you. If you come into an unhappy life, he or she will be expecting YOU to be their EVERYthing and that’s a lot of (too much) pressure. That’s a recipe for co-dependence.
Rather – look for someone who has friends, hobbies, who seems pretty content with things.
This also includes looking for moodiness. Now, everyone has a bad day. Everyone has natural ups and downs, but I’m talking about something more dramatic. Someone who’s consistently moody (high highs and low lows… and you don’t know what you’re going to encounter when you call/text/meet up) may be either still hung up on a past relationship (meaning that they’re still in the healing phase), or may even have a mental disorder that needs to be addressed.
True happiness/contentment should look like this – she’s generally in a good mood, has people and activities in her life that make her happy, seems content with the way things are… and YOU would be the icing on the cake that would take her from good to GREAT. You don’t want to have to be someone’s savior.
2. Does there seem to be an overemphasis on the physical?
When people aren’t healthy enough to do what’s required for a relationship, you can often tell because they’ll be very into the physical stuff (touching, snuggling, kissing, etc.) and neglect the emotional/intellectual connection required to really know each other.
After a breakup, one of the things we all crave and miss – is that physical connection and attention we used to get all the time, that’s been suddenly taken away. It leaves a lonely hole that we yearn to fill. And it’s so easy to go after it in someone else before really mourning the first relationship’s end and coming back to a good personal place. I’ve heard several people lately talk about how much they miss just having someone in the bed with them – not even sex, necessarily – just another person next to them while they sleep. I get that – I DO! But, don’t go into a relationship JUST to get that. Or don’t be the one in a relationship that’s giving JUST that.
Do not confuse physical intimacy for a complete picture of closeness. When two people fall in the love the RIGHT way, the level of intimacy always matches the level of connectedness. It doesn’t precede it. As you know each other better, affection naturally increases. If the two are out of balance… it’s a red flag.
So, if you find yourself with someone who always wants a little less talk and a lot more action, you might ask yourself if s/he’s only in it for the temporary ego-boost/healing balm that mugging down can give you when you’re not really ready for the whole enchilada.
3. Did he come right out and TELL you he wasn’t ready?
Sadly, I’ve fallen into this trap a few times. Someone’s literally told me – point blank – that he wasn’t ready for a relationship… he just wanted to get out there and have some fun. But, I was so attracted to him that I tricked myself into thinking that if he got to really know me, he wouldn’t be able to help falling madly in love. Ha!
If he SAYS he isn’t ready – believe ‘im. Because, hey – what’s the alternative? That he’s wrong – which makes him either REALLY not self-aware, or a liar… neither of which do you want to date.
4. Is she selfish?
I know this sounds obvious – ‘don’t date someone who’s self-absorbed.’ Duh. But, it’s not always so simple. Selfishness can often be disguised beneath false kindness/sacrifice. You know that girl who bakes you cookies and leaves you sweet notes? That’s all well and good… but doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s still not thinking only of herself. Listen to the language… is the “me monster” showing up in every conversation? (shout out to Brian Regan there…) Do you know all about her preferences/hobbies/ideas, but she hasn’t asked about yours or engaged with you about your life? Sweet notes with her lip prints doesn’t count toward truly knowing each other and being partners on a team.
This is a dangerous one because – at the beginning of a relationship, it can feel like the other person is meeting all your needs, when in reality it’s just fulfulling something in her and isn’t about loving/serving you at all.
5. Does he talk about his ex too much?
Another one that seems obvious… but it can be masked in the tantalizing sweetness of comparison. How nice is it to have a guy say, “You are so much more [fill-in-the-blank good quality] than my ex was.” The natural competitor in all of us wants to “win” by being the BEST boyfriend or girlfriend someone’s ever had. Heck, I find myself falling into this trap even with friends! If I find out I do something better than another friend, I get a swollen sense of pride.
But, here’s the deal – you don’t really want to aim for “better than the ex.” You want to aim for “great. all on your own.”
Being a notch or two above the one who ended up getting ditched isn’t exactly a lofty goal. We should all be targeting an amazing connection that moves beyond the bounds of exes and is incredible all on its own – free from the ghosts of our past relationships.
If you keep hearing stories of the ex, comparisons to the ex, or complaining (that’s the worst) about the ex… it may be a sign that he’s not really over her.
Talking about a past love with pain in his voice is a sure-fire clue that if she were to come back into the picture, he’d turn away from you and into her arms in a heartbeat. And that’s not the man you want. You want a man who has a whole heart’s worth of room for you.
There are other signs, of course. But these are some that you can be on the lookout for, to avoid being the bad kind of rebound lover. But, remember, sometimes – the relationship that comes right after an unhealthy one has ended… can be good – as long as the dumpee has done the work needed to be ready.
Listen to your gut. Watch for red flags and pay attention to them. We are built with an intrinsic sense of right/wrong and being able to sniff out falseness. If you can hone that ability by paying attention to the things that aren’t being said – you can probably avoid a fair share of heartache.
But, in the end… love is still a risk. And even the best of the best get duped, swept up, fooled or disappointed. Welcome to the grandest gamble of all. When you lose, it hurts like a mother-dumper. But when you win… it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world.
Let’s talk about fighting!
One of the dumbest things people say (and I hear this ALL the time), is: “I just really HATE conflict.”
DUH! I can’t stand when I hear people say this because it’s usually a way of avoiding problem-solving. What they MEAN is that they actively avoid conflict.
Is there anyone (except sociopaths and narcissists, perhaps) who LIKES conflict?
It’s conflictual for a reason …the friction between two people when things aren’t right – is never fun or enjoyable or comfortable. No one LIKES conflict.
BUT… some people HANDLE it better than others.
Over the next few weeks, on Wednesdays, I’m going to be posting a series about conflict – issues that prevent peace-making, different styles of conflict resolution, fears that get in the way, opposing personalities throwing down, etc. Should be FUN! Er… interesting…?
One thing that I have learned from being self-aware, analytical and devoting myself to my friendships/relationships, is I put a high value on the quality of being able to fight fairly.
Being a GOOD fighter is something I pride myself on and desire in a partner.
So, let me use today’s introduction post to say this…
FIGHT for your relationships!
You know that idea of “fight vs. flight?” (Also known as the Acute Stress Response)…It’s that choice, when presented with a perceived personal danger – to attack or to flee. And I’m here to tell you – Always choose fight. I don’t mean be a jerk or use a heavy hand to win… I mean tackling the problem as soon as is possible for you. If it’s not your natural response, let’s dig in and find out why so that going forward, you can tackle problems quickly and efficiently so that the least amount of damage occurs. That’s what we’re going for here – minimal loss of love/trust/security.
This applies to friendships, family and definitely romantic relationships. So, no matter where you are in your love life, or with your career, or how close you are to your family, you are in SOME form of relationship with SOMEone and conflict is a natural part of that. So, WHEN (not ‘if’) it arises, let’s be ready to fight.
And to fight well.
After all,…anything worth having is worth fighting for.
I think I need a template with fill in the blank options. Help a girl out!
No matter how you slice it, rejection hurts. BUT… it hurts LESS if it’s done with integrity and thoughtfulness. Recently a guy used these words with me, “I wasn’t sure how to tell you, but like all things I realized it was best to be honest but gentle.” So perfect.
- Uber-honesty. If he asks why and it’s something, like you said, other than faith or life goals, etc. that most people can understand, you can answer, “Oh, Mark… If you REALLY want to know, I’ll be honest with you. But, I’d rather just keep it at ‘we’re not a good match.'” If he insists, you tell him. Yup… if someone asks and asks again, then he WANTS to know! So, you tell him. “As much as I hate to say it, I just don’t think the chemistry is there. I don’t find myself as attracted to you physically as I’d hoped.”
Ouch. I know. But, guess what – the thought was already running through his head anyway, and at least this way he doesn’t think he acted like a jerk… you know?
- Pleading the 5th. Just SAY that you don’t want to SAY! Something like, “I don’t want to get into the ins and outs of it all. Just trust me that it’s not going to work. I’m sorry.”
- Political talk. Use ambiguous terms and circle around the truth, gently. “I don’t know that I can put my finger on it. It’s just that…I’m looking for that certain ‘something’ – that spark – and I wasn’t sensing it. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific.”