Monday, May 17, 2010

Mondays are only good for mumbles of grumpiness.

What a weekend. All those plans to honour my father fell through in favour of shopping excursions to supply my mother with stuff. It was disappointing and annoying. I am a bit miffed with my sisters—they never do what they say they are going to do. I should be used to this after nearly 40 years, but it still never fails to disappoint. I love them regardless, but I get tired of the same patterns sometimes.

Onto more Monday-like things. Today, I am thinking about relationships. I was reading this list of things Erin Meanley of Glamour Magazine wished she knew at 21 as she now turns 31. She made an observation for each year of her life. These are very insightful and true observations… however there are some I’d like to add to this list as well. Since I am 39, I will add eight more observations to her list. Mine are more verbose because I’m older and crankier.

32. Erin speaks of having hobbies; I think I need to elaborate on this, because a lot of women mistake the notion that if you adopt the same interests as your man, you’ll be more interesting to him. You should have your OWN hobbies. You’re going to hear this theme a few times in my missive, but it’s very important: Who actually wants to date themselves? Seriously? If you were dating someone with the same interests, and you have everything in common, how long would it be before you found little new and interesting in your partner? Let’s be real. Being different people with different interests is really crucial for being in a lasting relationship; things are always exciting when your significant other offers new and interesting ideas to your relationship. And you don’t have to do *everything* together. It’s okay to be your own person in a duo.

33. Reading the above, naturally, having everything in common isn’t really all that important. It's okay to have common philosophies perhaps… but sometimes, the idea of opposites attracting is appealing because someone who is wholly different than you offers you so much more. Having so much in common can get boring, fast.

34. Be yourself. I know it’s cliché, but here’s the thing… morphing yourself into what you *think* a man wants in a woman implies that you have no identity of your own; that you are insecure, and desperate. He isn’t going to want to stay with you or make a commitment to someone he can’t respect—there’s nothing to respect in someone with no identity of their own. If you think who you are alone isn’t enough to keep a man, then you’re likely not meant to be together. A man should see you for face value and appreciate your person. If you don’t know what your face value is, you need to figure that out before you even think of entering a relationship. A man cannot love you if there's no real you.

35. Sit back and think about your succession of failed relationships. What did they have in common? Well, they likely all fall into the same category; and that is, these guys were all what you think you want in a man and what you think is attractive. The question you need to ask yourself is, if you are picking guys based on your idea of what you want in a man, and the relationships keep failing, maybe you don’t really know what you want at all; maybe your ideal is deluded. Maybe you need to step out of your comfort zone, and start looking at guys you wouldn’t normally even date. Challenge yourself to find attractive qualities in guys who’d never even get picked up by your radar. As someone once told me… If you keep crashing cars, at some point you have to stop blaming the car and start analyzing the driver's decision-making.

36. Do not live for your relationship. A relationship should be part of your life, but it does not define you. Do not let your identity just blend into a ‘we’. In a true, loving, equal relationship, you should never give up any fraction of who you are as an individual—and that works both ways. If you sacrifice your individuality to become part of a we, then you’re essentially sending the signal that you’re a doormat. You don’t value yourself enough to hold onto yourself. Nobody can love or respect someone with no self-value. If you find a guy who is like that; who wants to share all your dreams and all your interests and seemingly has none of his own, you know you're going to have a hard time respecting him because you will always be the dominant force in that relationship. That means the whole burden of the relationship and the decisions will be on you. There is nothing attractive about someone who gives their whole being over to another. It's lazy.

37. If your first instinct is; ‘okay, this guy is great, but I need to encourage him to make a few fundamental changes to make him better’, then you’re with the wrong guy. It’s as simple as that. You can’t change people. You can’t. You can affect habits, maybe, but essentials are not yours to mold. If you go in thinking you can terraform your partner into someone more suited to your preferences, you are deluded and your relationship is doomed. If you are looking at a man, and he needs changes in your eyes, then you’re looking at the wrong man, it’s as simple as that.

38. There is a place for romance, yes, but no relationship is perpetually cast in the soft, slightly blurred pastel-coloured filter of a romance movie. People still get acne, men fart, you get your period, you have tiffs and you get comfortable enough to pee with the door open. You just need to remember to 1) not internalize your resentments and issues, SPEAK, 2) listen to each other and make gestures to show you are still listening, 3) agree that you will occasionally disagree, and 4) work to always acknowledge your feelings for each other. Taking each other for granted is not good, and it is the worst thing you can do to your partner. Tell him how you feel, they need to hear it. Tell him you need him, they need to be strong and present and need to feel wanted just like we do. Just communicate—and not in long analytical rambles that will make their minds wander away. Just be forthright.

39. Finally, I'd like to share some very simple advice my aunt gave me which turned out to be so very, very true, that I cannot ignore it... You see, a woman’s instinct is everything, however our nature as women is to over-analyze as well, and often, we will over-think things and ignore our instincts… What it all boils down to is this; listen to your very core instinct the moment you meet someone. If there is a doubt… even a shade of doubt, then your instincts are telling you something. Don’t dismiss what your unconscious being is trying to tell you. If it’s a no, then go with the no. If you feel good, then you might be looking at Mr. Right, even if he’s NOTHING like your over-analytical, often unrealistic expectations.

Erin has one thing completely right… men do not think like women. Sometimes we overthinking females attribute all sorts of schemes and depth to a man’s motivations… the truth is, guys aren’t like that. You could imagine he’s tearing himself apart in an angst-filled emotional turmoil, when likely, what he’s really thinking is: ‘oh look… boobies. I’m hungry. She’s mad again…’. We’re analyzers, they’re problem solvers. They mistake our need to have someone listen to our woes as our seeking their advice on how to fix the problem… remember that next time you get mad at him for being insensitive. He’s not a woman.

And remember… nobody’s perfect. Not even you. We all make mistakes and misunderstand one another. Don’t ever enter a relationship with the idea that you will never be disappointed… you *will* be disappointed. That’s life. The test is how strong your bond is that will help you accept, forgive or overcome the little disappointments and keep your connection strong. That's what love is.

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