OK, I give up. I was talking to a friend at a party last night and he said something that made me want to climb into a dark hole and pretend society was never invented. I may be a little melodramatic, but at least I have a heart of gold… Or something.
So this friend and I were exchanging stories of awkward dates (or in my case, what I didn’t even realize was a date until I was in a ball-gown at a fancy hotel and it was too late, but that’s a story for another day). We got to talking about the dynamics of crushes and all, and he tells me that he’s more the shy type, so if he really likes a girl, he’ll talk about the weather but won’t actually ask her out, for fear of messing things up.
“What if she asks you to hang out sometime?”
“No, I wouldn’t. Definitely not. Because talking about the weather is safe, but if we hang out and something happens, I could say or do something stupid to ruin it and then I’d feel bad. I just don’t want to feel bad, I’d rather be friends.”
I’m not kidding. This happened. It was like something out of a bad psychology class improv game. (Do they play improv games in psych class? Well, they do now.) Personally, I’d rather take the risk and enjoy the thrill, and the clarifying of things that comes along with being open. But who am I to say what’s right?
Clearly this guy is not an alpha male. For one, I was having a lovely conversation with him, so that’s an indicator right there (I seriously can’t deal with alphas). He’s also a self-proclaimed shy guy. And really, he seems like a great catch. But what he said made my brain fall out of my head and run away up the street. He also proceeded to follow it up with an assertion that it makes sense because men are more often the ones who fall in love first in a relationship. This is apparently a scientific fact. And justification for being a total wuss.
Is this real? Is this actually a thing? Are there people who would rather let go of someone they’re really into because it’s less scary than seeing if it could work out? Well, I guess there must be since there are all sorts of people running around out there. It just makes no sense. What’s the point of being friends with someone you’re all giddy for if you’re not going to even try connecting in a more significant and meaningful way? No sense at all. Here, let’s turn it into a math problem, maybe that will help:
Possibly dating awesome person < Irrational fear of emotional response
Ok, no, I’m still lost. And what if the girl reciprocates? Not only would he never find out, but she’ll probably feel bad that he didn’t try and thinks he doesn’t even like her. And then not only does he feel crummy, but she does too. It’s a lose-lose situation. Again, using math:
Having guts > Not having guts.
He did also say, though, that he’s not about the lay, and that he knows sex is an emotional investment. I can admit that’s always a relief to hear. There are decent people out there, even lovely, wonderful ones. So don’t lose hope!
OK. Fine. As someone who’s awkward and shy myself, I should be more understanding. I usually overcompensate by acting boisterous (ok fine, obnoxious), or running off to take photos of the dark night because I’m too nervous when I realize the boy I like wants to kiss me. I did do that. I’m not proud. And I get it. I get that it’s hard, and that risk is hard. I’m sympathetic. It’s just also maddeningly counterproductive.
Apparently a number of these shy boys may actually be more content to stare at you from the safety of the other side of the room because it’s better than legit conversation. Now I’ve started wondering what happens to boys like that. Do they just end up with someone they feel kind of bland about? Do they end up living alone with a dozen cats? Why does the term “cat lady” exist but not “cat gentleman?” Maybe they grow up eventually. They must. But wait, what do we do until then? Date guys over 30? I hope y’all have some grad students at your college.
Photo found on: http://theonlyhope.tumblr.com/page/131
When I was younger, a friend once shoved a copy of Tiger Beat under my nose and demanded that I declare my allegiance to one of the five Backstreet Boys. (I’m not even kidding…. She had an actual Tiger Beat in her hand, which is more cliché than I could even come up with.) I was confused; I felt no affinity to any of them, despite their bowl cuts and playground pedophile facial hair. But of course my friend said I must choose one so that I would have a favorite.
About a decade and a half later we’re all grown women, much more sophisticated than we were at the cusp of puberty. We now substitute real people for boys on posters and are subtler about the whole choosing thing. I never got it. And I never chose a Backstreet Boy.
We do this thing, as girls, where we bond over boy talk, and that’s a lovely thing. But sometimes it becomes imperative to create a topic of conversation, if there isn’t really one at hand. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone through various periods of time where I just didn’t really have a crush on anyone. Sure, there were attractive people around, but no one really held my interest.
Oddly enough, I crush on people because of a convergence of attraction, intellect, humor, and other standard elements of romantic interaction, not because I need something to talk to my friends about. On a related note, if I seem content with my life and am not complaining about lacking a love-life, please don’t think you have to get me a boyfriend, too, just because yours is lovely. I think we all know the kind of conversation I’m referring to.
I think there are many things we can talk about with our lady friends, and love-tinged conversations tend to be more organic and honest when they focus on a legitimate subject of emotional investment. This isn’t tea with the queen and boys aren’t the weather. My point is: let’s not go too crazy. Silly things are fun, but personally, and I’m guessing for many others as well, those things tends to be more along the lines of recounting Portlandia episodes than arbitrarily choosing someone to crush on just for the sake of it.
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Photo found on http://www.searchquotes.com/picture_quotes/Latest/4/
Much like the Green Day song, I’m a walking contradiction. Do you guys know Green Day? They were a band back in my day. I used to listen to them as I walked forty miles in the snow, uphill both ways. Look them up on Wikipedia or something. Anyway. On to talking romance and its many intricately complex manifestations.
I would like to object to all of this wait-X-days-to-call nonsense and all accompanying rules and regulations. I pretty much object to anything formulaic, because it makes interactions feel institutionalized and rigid. It seems like rules further complicate something that should be simple, though I still expect clear communication from people, which pretty much never happens. So how is it possible to give each other clear signals without abiding by a seemingly arbitrary code of conduct?
Hey, I’m just here to rant, not solve all the world’s problems. My general feeling – and I’m aware of how idealistic I am – is that when you actually vibe with someone, you don’t need a set of rules, things just happen. This is, of course, assuming that awkwardness, insecurity and traumatic past experiences don’t exist. Mostly we’ve just built constructs to hide in from our fear of rejection, but that’s a cliché we’re all familiar with already.
Listen. I know I don’t have any solutions. I over-think things the same way you do. That’s what democracy is all about (or was that socialism?). How about I tell you a story and maybe we’ll all learn something, or at least be entertained for a few minutes, because who doesn’t like story time? Here we go.
I have two friends, both of whom are near and dear to my heart. I spent three endless months listening to friend A tell me how he has a crush on friend B, but he never did anything because he was too nervous. Eventually friend B told me that she had a crush on friend A! Perfect! Now they can share their fluttery feelings, hold hands and breed. Right? Nope. I ended up being the diplomatic envoy between the two (never do this, ever), encouraging both that if they made the first move, it would be welcome and successful.
What more could you want? The only negative thing about liking someone is the possibility that it isn’t mutual, so knowing that your special person thinks you’re special too, wouldn’t you go for it? They didn’t. They were so nervous and caught up in their own indecisiveness and insecurity that they let it go and nothing ever happened between them. Who knows, maybe they weren’t so much into each other as just into the idea of each other, and since they’re both capable of making grown up decisions for themselves, I trust they both had their reasons. I’m not here to complain about the aneurisms I had while enduring ceaseless reprisals of “but does s/he REALLY like me?” That’s not what this is about.
The only moral I can glean from this story is that signals are arbitrary. The longer you spend up in limbo, the more of your own time you’re wasting. And while this doesn’t apply to everyone (there is no such thing as a universal rule, except for maybe gravity), it seems that more often than not, hanging passively onto a crush is more about enjoying having someone to fawn over. The idea of having someone to like is fun, though it can be unfair to the object of your affection. You’re putting them up on a pedestal that they didn’t ask to be on.
I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been crushed on openly, and it was awkward and intimidating, albeit flattering. I felt like I would inevitably disappoint the person just by being my actual self and not the idealized one they thought I was. I’ve also crushed and been confused, because when you’re into someone, it’s tough to know if you’re reading signals or just seeing what you want to. I finally just spoke up, and while the response was an expected “thanks but no thanks”, it was nevertheless empowering to be open and having been so for my own sake. Has anyone else done this, or even just wanted to? Let me know, I’d love to compare notes. Meet me in the comments section below.
Whatever you do, don’t have expectations. The only person you have control over is yourself, so if you’re going to do something, that’s who it should be for. Whether it’s stepping up or letting something simmer for a while, you will either flatter someone or have something fun to take your mind off finals. Yes, it feels bad to hear the person you like say that they aren’t interested in you, but there is also something liberating that comes with doing something scary and doing it for yourself.
Disappointment fades over time; empowerment sticks with you.
Photo Credit: http://www.quizlet.nl/chapters/433611/sunshine/
I mean it. If one more girl tells me about some cliché dream wedding they’ve been planning since their first birthday, I will climb Mt. Everest just to hurl myself off the top. First of all, you didn’t even know what a wedding was on your first birthday, you weren’t even sure why there was cake or what all those people wanted from you by shoving fire in your confused little face. So please stop, because I’m just not interested.
If you want to talk about your boyfriend, great. Or that guy you see on the train every alternate Wednesday and think could be your soul mate. I will stretch my imagination that far. But can we just admit that you’re not a Kardashian and will not be spending a third world country’s yearly budget on your nuptials? Which, by the way, is all I can think of when you go into your endless rant about bridesmaid dresses matching napkin edges (oh yeah, I totally tune you out). The only thing I can think of is how much money, on a practical level, would your wedding actually cost? I’m pretty sure you don’t have access to several million dollars, since you make less than that per year.
I want to blame Disney or celebrity culture, but let’s just all admit both are a fantasy. They are the escapism that lets us deal with and plow through our lives, especially in these times of economic hardship where middle class Americans can only afford one iPhone per person. Maybe when you start talking about this imaginary dream wedding it bothers me because I get nervous that you’re confusing fantasy with reality and setting yourself up for failure. Also I just assume that you’ll be one of those girls with a sense of entitlement to throw a fit every ten minutes on your wedding day. By the way, the more you talk about your wedding when you are not even engaged, the less likely that I will actually go to it.
I also feel uncomfortable that you’re painting this elaborate, detailed wedding picture for yourself, and will just pluck some groom into it at some point. The wedding is one day. You know this, right? It’s just one day? The guy you marry will be with you for a long time, or until you realize that you spent too much time in a fantasy and divorce him for so rudely bringing you back to reality.
What I’ve noticed is that overdone wedding fantasies go hand in hand with ridiculous groom fantasies. 6’3” dark haired green-eyed veterinarian man with 32” shoulders and a love of camping sounds great and all, but he probably doesn’t exist. Also I’m not sure if 32” is a good shoulder measurement, I just kind of threw out a number. And while you’re busy pretending he does exist, you’re missing out on the 5’8” witty journalist with the great taste in music and awesome family who would make you happy in real life and not fantasyland. You can’t tie up your future in a neat little bundle because life is all about throwing you curveballs, and if you imagine your future in any way, it will probably turn out in every other possible configuration.
Listen. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Dresses and frilly things are fun, I agree. I’m not saying don’t imagine your wedding at all, or that I won’t want to be around you if it’s ever crossed your mind. I just feel like as a lady it gets irritatingly difficult to remain sane when lace and party favors aren’t in your realm of interest, because people tend to call you out as some sort of unholy bastion of blasphemy. You need to have those conversations with people who care, and maybe share your affinity for designing fairy tale blab la bla I stopped listening to myself, that’s how little I care about this subject. You may think I’m a bad friend for not sharing all your interests, but maybe you’re a bad friend for expecting me live up to your unrealistic expectations of who I should be as a person, instead of accepting me for who I am.
Think about it – if your expectation of me falls short and annoys you this much, what will happen with your wedding? At least I’m already real.
Photo found on http://vkontakte.ru/photo89238347_266007935
Everyone is always talking about how to find a date, how to manage a relationship, how to deal with a break up, and other boring things. Who says you have to be in one? Well, right now, anyways. I’m not saying we should all aim for spending 40+ in a one bedroom with enough cats to match our age. But let’s face it, youth is wasted on the young. Are you dating for fun? Because you want a steady make-out buddy and someone to hold hands with? Or are you dating because you want to get married at 22? If you are, then ignore me. Or don’t, actually. I don’t want you to be rude on account of following my directions.
When I was in college, I opted to skip doing a year abroad because I was so focused on getting this one dream job, that I shoved all my credits into stressful semesters and finished school as early as I could. I never got the job in the end, and while I feel good about having stuck with where my passions were, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. That job might as well have been someone I dated, and the thing is, I didn’t date anyone in large part because I wanted to keep my freedom. Apparently my freedom to try dating a job, but let’s just focus here, ok?
A significant other, much like a job, ties you down. It can be fulfilling and enriching, to say the least, but it also narrows your possibilities and the direction your life will take. So if you’re feeling down because you wish you had someone to curl up with regularly, I say this: instead of trying to find someone, enjoy yourself and the possibilities your freedom gives you. Maybe this isn’t the time for you to domesticate (to whatever degree, I’m not saying picket fence it up with someone), and you’ll get more out of this time in your life if you go out and do the things you probably won’t be able to later.
So, for you, I give this brief list of things I did because I allowed myself to not be tied down:
- Cross country road trip. Twice, both North and South. Also both coasts, and four times between Texas and California.
- Took a train across the country. I could go on, but the point is: I went a lot of places in a lot of fun ways.
- Lived in an intentional community and made irreplaceable, deep friendships with amazing people while learning how to farm. Also learned that goats are awesome.
- Made a film about my favorite bands in Austin, becoming friends with many of them in the process.
- Went to Edinburgh twice, took many photos, listened to lots of Belle and Sebastian, and made amazing dinners with one of my best friends.
- Lived in a whole lot of cities, hopped around a whole lot more.
- Perfected red velvet cupcakes. I could have done this anyway, but it was still an adventure.
Most importantly, I was able to make my own decisions. When the idea of moving to a new city came up, I had a choice. I wasn’t tied down. Of course, for all I know, you may have a special someone who is full of adventure and would go with you, or you with them. Or you may just prefer the adventure of staying home and trying out new knitting patterns. I say that with no snark, let’s be clear: knitting is most certainly an adventure, and if you don’t think it is, I will fight you to the death (or at least until one of us gets tired).
All I’m saying is, the world is filled with opportunities. Don’t feel that you need to couple up with someone just because it’s something expected, or glorified. Relationships are hard work, and while sharing yourself with another person is a wonderful, rich experience, the opportunity will also arise several years from now. Hopping a plane to Ireland so you can see a Fionn Regan show and run around green hills will not. And the experiences you have while grabbing your life by the horns will change you in ways you can’t even think of now, but will likely influence who you end up with in the long run, and for the better.
It’s OK To Be A Lone Ranger.
Photo found on http://behindthatfairfacade.tumblr.com/
It’s Thursday night. You and Hottie McTastyface are hanging out. You feel awkward. You want to look him in the eye but it’s almost painful. You hate it. Why do you have to feel so awkward? Everything would be great without that.
Wrong. So very wrong. I will tell you why are you so wrong: the more you like someone, and the more they like you, the more awkward you both will be around each other. Which is kind of a terrible arrangement, but I’m not sure who to speak to about that. So we’ll just have to make do and embrace it.
You know that moment, right before you kiss someone, when everything is very tense? You feel like you’re 12 and in the spotlight at a middle school dance? If you couldn’t cut the air with a knife between the two of you, how would you know that he/she wants to kiss you as much as you want to kiss him/her? Exactly.
The more you like someone, the more awkward you get. And really, if your feelings are reciprocated, then so is your reaction. Of course, if the other person’s awkwardness is exaggerated to the point where it cripples their ability to actually make a move, then you’ve unfortunately stumbled onto the .001% of the population who are like that (Lord knows I always do, but I digress). Mostly, though, if you tense up and the other person lets the tension linger, then they’re feeling it too.
So enjoy it! Embrace that moment instead of dreading it. I think we hate it because we feel so vulnerable. It’s that crucial minute where unspoken things linger, and we know that either the other person will let the lingering continue in hopes that it will lead to the same thing you want, or they’ll cut it quickly and find a way out of the situation because they just aren’t feeling it. And that’s terrifying.
I am so afraid of this moment that I find myself repeatedly having to force myself to even be present for it. Once I literally ran from the person, albeit playfully and with a task at hand. Over the past couple of years I’ve gotten better at staying in one place, looking the other person in the eye, and accepting that we’re sharing a moment and that it’s okay. Sometimes what’s even harder than facing the moment when a “yay” or “nay” will inevitably be decided is accepting that the other person is into you too.
I have no idea why I find it so impossible and scary that someone I like would feel the same way. Maybe because then things progress and have the potential to lead to commitments and responsibilities and things…. That’s a whole other column, though. Ultimately, it’s impossible to get anywhere near comfortable with those ideas without baby steps like looking the person on the other end of the couch in the eyes and accepting that the air is thick with imminent kissing. So let’s just all agree to let that moment in and go with it. The rest can be worked out later.
Photo found on http://iheartquotesle.tumblr.com/post/6575950055
The subject came up in the comments section last week of who holds power in a relationship. This is important for two reasons: first, because I believe a relationship should be a partnership, and second, look how much the comments matter (please leave more k thx).
The comment talked about how feminism resulted in more women taking power in a relationship, and that men haven’t figured out what to do with that. I think there’s truth in this, but mostly I think it just allowed more freedom for people to be themselves. Old-timey “courting” rituals are outdated, and for many men, that structure may have made it easier to find a partner because they’re too shy, awkward or just plain insecure to actively pursue a person of interest on pure initiative. For someone who may need that extra push, it is often easier to hang back and see what happens.
The same goes for women. While many (including myself) find it liberating to know the confines of waiting for a man* to approach and extend gestures of interest and affection are a thing of the past, the balance of forging a relationship is much more difficult to manage. I don’t know about you, but my mom didn’t hand down much wisdom on this subject. I’m very grateful for that as a proponent of genuine interactions and avoiding overly contrived etiquette.
This leaves everyone in a tough spot, though. The unspoken culture that naturally passes between generations has left us with a general belief that, for example, the man should pay and the woman should wait for doors to be opened, but spoken culture has taught us to be empowered in ways that contradict these customs. The whole power dynamic is now up to both people in a potential relationship, and they have to rely on non-verbal clues as to what the other person’s approach is. And let’s face it, whatever our thoughts are on the subject, they’re flexible the second we find someone we like. You think opening doors is archaic and sexist? Well, that adorable green-eyed man-muffin you just met opened one for you and you kind of melted, didn’t you?
I think this issue is toughest at the outset of forming a relationship. How do you interact? Are you insulting a guy by making a move or making everything easier? Would it be good for him to be challenged, and should you therefore hang back? Are you defining the relationship by your initial interaction? Since there is so much gray area for whose role is what, it’s even harder to navigate the dating scene, and frankly, isn’t it easier to just throw in the towel, stay home, and watch High Fidelity for the umpteenth time? It is… If you like being alone and want your eventual children to be Mittens, Fluffy and Mr. Tibbles, that is.
The initial dynamic of a relationship has a lot to do with what happens down the road. The idea of who holds power in a relationship is dangerous, because it should really be a partnership. If there’s an imbalance, it can easily lead to emotional (or even physical) abuse. Mostly, though, it will just lead to unhappiness. Of course, both partners have different strengths and weaknesses, which can work and balance each other out. Power is a dynamic, an element to be shared, not a tool with which to get your way whenever you want. It can also be a great indicator of your dynamic with a person: if there is too much or too little, something is off. If things don’t feel right, you don’t have to stick with them. Don’t end up in a power outage just because you’d rather be in the dark with someone than out in the sunshine alone.
*This is all pretty heteronormative, I know. And I’m sorry. Gender dynamics of same-sex couples could fill a whole other page, since they have spent most of western history behind closed doors and have taken their rightful place in open society only fairly recently.
Photo found on http://confessionsbeforedie.tumblr.com/
When I was in college, I didn’t spend much time reading Cosmo or researching “99 new sex positions for him.” Partially because the feminist in me finds Cosmo appalling, and partially because it was irrelevant. I didn’t have sex at all in college. Not once. And I wasn’t the only one. I’ll wait until you’re done gawking.
I had several friends who still had their v-cards. None of us were Promise Keepers, we weren’t anti-social, and though I was confident and put effort into my appearance, I can only speak to my friends’ aesthetics: they were totally hot. We went to a very liberal school whose culture was seething with sexual openness. Clearly all of us were making informed decisions – we were comfortable with the subject, we just approached it in our personal lives differently than most people.
In retrospect, this really strikes me. I’ve never read or heard any dialogue on this. There are sex columns a-plenty, but the only other alternative seems to be religious-based abstinence. And yet there seems to be a whole culture that falls in-between. It’s not like we were afraid of it, it just ranked on our values scale in a different way. I think the difference was that many people connected to sex from a place of personal fulfillment and a way of living life to the fullest, while we saw it as a way of creating more intimate interpersonal relationships. To each his own vulnerability issues?
Simply put, for some of us the importance of making this connection significant outweighed our personal quest for immediate physical gratification. One wasn’t ranked above the other, it was just a case of different strokes. I often felt like sexual openness was a form of rebellion for many of my friends because it contradicted America’s puritanical social guidelines. I guess I just didn’t feel like turning important personal decisions into a middle finger to society.
In the culture of dating blogs, girlie mags, and whatever else assumes that everyone is out to get some, I never felt very represented. I never felt excluded or frowned upon, it just always seemed like there was a whole culture that wasn’t relevant to me. Am I the only one attached to the idea of my personal space and sharing it incrementally and with intention? Of course not. It was easy to share this with friends in college because we were already in a school full of alternatively minded people. Frankly, I don’t think it occurred to most of them that anyone past the first week of college hadn’t slept with anyone. And if it DID come up, then people thought it was an interesting life choice, like being vegan or keeping bees on your roof.
I spent college making the most of living in New York City. I had amazing friends, amazing jobs, and an endlessly fascinating city to roam. It’s not that I didn’t want to be involved with anyone; I was just too busy enjoying life to get all committal.
It comes down to romanticism, in a way. I never thought that there was going to be some magical prince who swept me off my feet, or that the glorified “first time” would be the end-all be-all of my existence. But I did want that connection to have significance and meaning. I wasn’t interested in going past making out unless it was part of a serious relationship, and I never felt like I needed to be in one during college. I think if I had been, I may have missed out on a lot of great things. I want to say that I chose between one series of great experiences and another, but mostly I just went where life pulled me and it wasn’t a conscious choice.
I was okay with the idea that I would focus on the whole relationship thing at a later point in life, maybe when breeding was more relevant, unless someone was interesting enough to invest attention in. If sex was something that was put off because college had too much going on, I would still rather have gone without than get into random flings.
This isn’t to say that flings are wrong, or that they’re the only option outside of a committed relationship. They just weren’t the option for me, nor for many of my friends. Since there was a contingency of us when I was in school, I’m guessing that lots of folks in college right now are in the same space. And while standing by unconventional choices probably makes you a strong person already, I would still like to give a shout out to y’all because no one really seems to do that. Whatever your reason, and whether or not you have friends to share the experience of retaining your v-card with, I’m certain that you aren’t the only one.
Photo found on http://escrevendopensamentossoltos.blogspot.com/
It’s not like I consider this to be my mission in life or anything, but I must admit I do take an almost sport-like satisfaction in being a complete jerk to guys who annoy me. Let me clarify what I mean by “annoy me:” I mean guys who reek, to at least some degree, of sleaze.
The ones who sidle up to you at parties and think you can’t tell that their intense interest in your most mundane thoughts is fake, even though they spend half the conversation looking at your boobs. The ones who touch the small of your back half drunkenly, because they probably read somewhere that this move will make you more comfortable with them, thereby increasing the potential to hook up. Boring, ordinary guys who can’t hold much of a conversation because they’re too focused on their purpose – which could involve either you, or any other vagine in the room – to actually be interesting.
That’s probably pretty harsh and judgmental of me. Sad story. Sometimes I get annoyed by guys who I sense are trying out some technique they read on a blog somewhere. Sometimes it’s that there’s a sense of arrogance about the way their flirtation is so methodical and aggressive. Mostly it comes down to having zero respect for someone who is clearly on the prowl, because I just want to enjoy my beverage and have some stimulating conversation without getting eye-f*%ked. There is nothing more irritating and depressing than someone who has nothing to contribute to a conversation and just keeps prodding you to talk because he’s A.) Thinking that by listening, you’ll assume he’s a great guy and will therefore want to get it on, B.) Using this time to zone out and think about hooking up and C.) Totally not even listening.
There are different degrees of responding to these guys, but you can still do so in a callous and insensitive way. The quickest is to just end the conversation. Smile and nod, tell him that your friend across the room just fell over and you have to go be with her now, and walk away. Or, if you feel like you shouldn’t be the one to change location, you can make the guy want to leave by being unresponsive and unfriendly. You don’t have to be downright mean, just look at him like he insulted your dying grandmother when he tries to be entertaining. This should be easy because he probably isn’t very entertaining at all anyway.
This is why I’m terrible. I love to watch these guys sweat. I love to see their tried and true tactics fail and their egos shrivel. Even though I know that in a few minutes they’ll find some other girl to build it back up again, I honestly enjoy the feeling of making a jerk feel like he’s a jerk. Because why should I exert any energy to be patient and friendly with someone who has zero interest in anything above my neck and below my knees? Lucky for me I was born with a bucket of snark in one hand and a bin full of sass in the other. Fun fact: these dudes most often don’t pick up on either of these things. If they do, it takes them a while. In the meantime, their confusion and obliviousness is far more entertaining than the pointless conversation they’re desperately trying to salvage from the brink of total apathy.
I wish I could be sympathetic to these dudes. I wish I could be less judgmental and refrain from categorizing them immediately and mentally dismissing them. I also wish I had a kitten, but I’m allergic, so let’s just chalk it all up to one of life’s sad stories and move on, okay? Okay. I’m not saying look someone in the eye and tell them that they’re a useless collection of bone and tissue who’s wasting precious minutes of your life. You’re not Regina George, nor should you ever aspire to be. But that doesn’t mean you should let some jerk get all up in your grill, especially if his intentions are shallow and sleazy. Too often women feel the need to be polite instead of asserting themselves and their space. I say take back your parties, nay, all your social interactions, and feel no remorse prioritizing interesting people and fun times over the wants of some guy you’ll never, in your right mind, speak to again.
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Listen. If you’re dating someone who you share mutual friends with, that’s great. I’m really happy for you. If you break up with this person at some point, that’s very sad and I will to listen to your weeping and pat you on the head because we’re friends, and that’s what friends do. But if you break up with this person and I have to deal with both of you putting me in the middle, turning me into your mailman, and dropping your pent-up frustrations on my head, you need to back the hell up. I mean it.
You could say that I’m taking advantage of this column to complain about goings-on in my life, perchance goings-on that displease me. And you would be right. But let’s be honest, all of us have or will, at some point, be in this position. It’s awkward, it’s frustrating, and mostly, it’s unfair. So really, my passive aggressive ranting is helping people, right? We’re agreed. Great.
As the friend, your role is to listen and be supportive. As the ones involved in the break-up, your friends’ roles are to appreciate your listening and support, and not put you in the middle. Sure, they’re both in a lot of pain and are frustrated, we get it. But you are , as mentioned, a friend, not a walkie-talkie connecting the two exes. They need to work out whatever issues they have between themselves without dragging you onto the front lines. Advice is fair game. Transmitting info, or being expected to, is off limits like cake to kid at ten on a school night.
There will be tension. It’s inevitable. Be warned: when this tension is lifted and both parties are seemingly at peace, you should probably be on the alert. They still want to know everything about the other’s life, and if they aren’t talking about it to each other, they’ll want you to be their informant. Don’t ever be the informant, unless you were planning a slow, painful suicide anyway. One of them will inevitably get angry for something you said, or didn’t say, and generally find a way to hold things against you. Second, just stay out of it altogether. They can’t fire canons at each other, so they’ll turn them against you. Of course, if you’re a fan of overly delayed apologies and lessons learned far too late, ignore everything I say.
What you can do is listen. Listening is great. Listening is one sided. The second they start asking questions, though, get out of there. Run for your life. “So does he/she ever talk about me?”…. Seriously? Of course they do, you just broke up and I know both of you. This is a completely unfair question. Anything following it will be even moreso. It will only lead to frustration on their part, and frankly, it’s not your place to share this kind of info. Inevitably you will betray someone’s trust by saying something they didn’t intend to be passed on. Sharing is not always caring. Have you ever heard any news of an ex that made you feel good? Exactly.
It’s not your place to communicate anyone else’s feelings, thoughts, actions, or anything else related to their existence in any way, shape or form. In fact, it’s not your friends’ place to ask you to. This isn’t middle school and we’ve all outgrown passing notes. However much it bothers your broken up friends, put your foot down and draw a line in the sand. Of course, you’re all still pals and you should still be there for them. How will you know when you’re not just being there and being put in a tough spot, though? Your guts will scrunch up and there will be a growing inclination to punch your friend in the face.
…. Okay, that’s not true. That’s just me and I wouldn’t really hit people, I’m not a violent person. But just think about what the other party would feel if they knew what you were saying. If your sense is that they would be unhappy with you speaking for them, it’s your cue that you need to step back and avoid the hailstorm of misplaced emotions that will inevitably land on your head. Even if you think it would help one person to know the other said one small thing, it doesn’t. It sets off a chain reaction of assumptions, neediness to know more, and betrayal of the person whose words you passed along. Just hole up in a dark cave until the storm blows over and don’t talk to anyone, not even through sign language.
Look, no matter what, it will be a tough time. The good thing is, though, that eventually, one way or another, everyone will get past it. If you brave the storm and hold your own, you will come out of it. Don’t try to please anyone, especially not everyone, because it won’t happen and you’ll end up with a lot of hate aimed your way. Nobody wants that. All they want is a little validation and support, and that’s all you need to give. The rest will evaporate over time, so don’t stress so much about it and eventually your friends won’t either. Especially if they’re very good friends who will read this as a plea from you for some sanity, so they shouldn’t be angry at you now that they’ve finished reading it.
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