Posts Tagged relationships

Romanticize

Eric and I (along with many standers-by) had an interesting if short discussion at the Bachelor Party last night that I wanted to flesh out a little today.  He essentially told me I have two problems, and I totally agreed with him – those two being my idealistic romantic conception of relationships, and my inexperience with relationships.  The former is causal to the latter, he said, and although I mostly agreed with his point, I do think there is value to the “romantic” view.

I basically see there being two camps of relationship generation – the friend-centric, and the date-centric.  In the friend-centric camp, you “discover” over time which particular person you want to step it up with.  That is, I am friends with her (or something about that level), and over time I realize I want it to be more than friendship, and thus can the relationship generate.  In the date-centric camp, you go in with no particular person in mind, instead giving yourself lots of opportunities to meet a good match.  That is, I meet many interesting someones, and go on a date or two (or even just set up time to hang out) and eventually one of them might end up being a good match for me.  These two camps are not exclusive, but I think they basically define the idealistic/practical divide for relationships.

There is clear value to the date-centric camp.  It is more effective at meeting lots of people, and it’s good at generating relationship experience, and it’s also lower pressure than the friend-centric camp.  However, and maybe I’m more alone on this than I’d like among my friends, I do think there’s definite value to the friend-centric camp.  Relationships can be a lot more meaningful when you have a long shared experience with the other person.  And although there’s usually (in my experience) a higher risk of rejection in the friend-centric case, when there’s mutual attraction, the relationship can be a lot stronger.

I will wholeheartedly admit I am inexperienced with relationships, but just because one of the reasons for that inexperience is my idealism, that doesn’t mean I’m just going to drop it. :)

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Expectation and Patience

Do you ever find yourself expecting either the best OR the worst (maybe both at the same time, in some mix!), and things turn out to be somewhere in between?  I know I do, all the time.  It might even be the default state of things.  However, I am definitely finding that setting myself up for either the best or the worst is not really good for me.  It puts me into a high anxiety mode, and I end up either too emotionally burned out to rejoice at a better-than-worst outcome — or I feel crushed when it’s not the-best-ever.

In potential relationships, I get the twin pressures internally of imagining these amazing futures with the person when nothing has yet happened (emotional stuff that is really hard to ignore), and then trying my hardest to ignore the flip side of the “worse case scenario”.  I understand at a logical level that it’s not really helping anyone – especially me – to do so.  But the process of expectation, which often grows out of something that seems totally logical (analysis of situations), ends up being a very emotionally invested process.

This also applies to my outlook on jobs.  When I hear it’s possible that positions are opening that I am interested in, or that a shift in the company might affect me, I get super excited and imagine change will occur, all-upside, right away.  Almost always the very next step is a huge swing back, considering why everything might be super terrible actually.  Of course, as per normal, things are much slower to change and much more gradual than any of my expectations internally.

This could actually just be an indicator that I am way too impatient.  This feels like a special kind of impatience, though – patience here meaning not the ability to stay calm and wait for an outcome, but rather the ability to stay neutral while waiting for an outcome.

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Rejection

Am I afraid of rejection?  I wonder about this, especially when I’m trying to figure out when/how to talk to a woman that I am attracted to.  I used to be super shy… and I still am somewhat shy, but I think it manifests in a different way now than it used to.  I have no problem becoming friends with women, even the ones that I am very attracted to, but moving past just friendship is so hard sometimes.  Why?

Jeremy and I spoke about this while I was visiting with him in Oregon Friday – we determined that I have a very specific mentality about my friends.  I never want to let go of friends.  To me, each friend is kind of priceless.  I want to know that in many years, we will still be as good (or better!) friends as today.  So how does this apply to the question of rejection?  Let us consider the hypothetical case of the Female Friend.

If we are friends and I determine I am attracted to her, I have two options – I can talk to her about it, or I can keep it to myself.  (I am simplifying, to make my point.)  If I talk to her about it, she could say she’s not interested in that way but let’s-be-friends.  Before I ask, we both have a valued friendship.  After I ask, in this particular case, she still has a valued friendship but I have that + emotional baggage.  Whereas she presumably won’t have tons of emotional investment in my attraction, I will, and it will strain as time goes on.  Eventually, if I can’t come to terms with my emotions (and I know I am bad at that), I will have to let go of the friendship for my own welfare.

I know this about myself.  It has happened many times before.  So I err on the side of not asking in the first place, because I don’t want to lose her (hypothetical Female Friend) as a friend, knowing that is a possible outcome when I am attracted and I ask a question that could lead to rejection.  Is this fear of rejection?  Maybe.  A solution suggested to me was “be more attracted to people you don’t want to be friends with,” but that doesn’t make any sense to me!

Emotions are complicated.

As a last aside, Jeremy needs to update his blog!  If you know him, bother him about it. :)

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A Tale of Two Risks

“Hey,” I said into the phone.  It was an evening, early in my Senior year of high school, and I had Megan on the phone.  My (attraction? infatuation? something else?) with her had been growing pretty fast over the past few weeks as we did student leadership type activities, and I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I needed to tell her.  “So, uh, I wanted to say I really like you.  Like, more than a friend.”

(Quotes probably misremembered to protect the naive.)

“Oh,” she said.  “Thanks.”

I’m not sure I said anything for a good minute or two afterward.  Babbled, yes, but said anything?  I doubt it.

—-

Katharina was a really good friend.  Other than Jeremy, my roommate, I doubt there was anyone in college I had hung out with more.  And when she and I were sitting in the library, and she said she liked me (like, more than a friend), I felt my heart leap.  But I was still so shy around women.  I told her I liked her too, and decided I wouldn’t do anything to screw it up.  I mean, she was seeing someone, so it’s not like I *could* do anything until she decided she wanted me more than him, anyway.

That’s what I told myself.  I, being still naive and knowing next to nothing about relationships, applied constant low pressure for her to decide – probably more than I should have, but then, maybe not even close to what I needed.  I was stuck in limbo.  Eventually, she decided she wanted to stay with him and I couldn’t let go.  I know for sure the next year or so, I had only myself to blame for not understanding when I was supposed to rip myself away from my emotions about her – because I didn’t, and they dragged me down, down, down.

—-

I put myself out there essentially without preamble in the first scenario with Megan, and I rel ied on events to develop essentially on their own in the second scenario with Katharina.  Different kinds of risk, but both flawed in a fundamental way, one that over time I have come to recognize and understand.  Timing is so important in relationship development, but it’s also paradoxically the element on which you must focus the least.  Focus is a double-edged sword: it is very powerful at allowing a thinking feeling individual to explore possibility, but it also prevents that individual from making intuitive leaps.

I am reminded of a line from Michael Crichton’s Journeys (his nonfiction book about his life experience – I highly recommend it, I am still digesting its lessons) where he is talking about the mystical art of spoon-bending.  In it, he claims one’s concentration must be in a very specific place.  “It’s like walking carrying a full coffee cup.  If you pay too much attention, you can’t walk.  If you don’t pay enough, you spill the coffee.”

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Date Night

No, not the movie.  Although I hope to see it (and review it) one day soon!

So I spent a lot of the day anxious.  This was for many reasons, but above all it was my date with Emily.  It was difficult to get work done!  As the day drew to a close and my nervousness increased hojillion-fold, I ran into Mike and he gave me two good pieces of advice: she’ll probably be as nervous as you are (yeah, right!) and if you think of anything, just say it (ah, I hope I can do that!).  I successfully made my way over to our dinner and — shocking! — had a great time.

Facts:

  • We have the same birthday (day and month).  What!
  • We had a great discussion about maturity, and then some good chats about philosophy, rulebreaking and Wine for Dummies.
  • We had a lot to talk about, and I didn’t mess anything up.  Woot!
  • We will go on another date. *fingers crossed*

(Okay, maybe that last part belongs in the lower section.)

Feelings:

  • YESYESYES I didn’t mess anything up!  Woooooooo
  • I was super worried I wouldn’t know “how” to do the date thing (it has been a long long time) but everything seemed to work out.  When my head isn’t messing things up with overanalysis, I’m a pretty good person to be around, if I do say so myself.
  • I got a good sense that she likes me. 😀 😀 😀

Alright, I figured being so high-minded all the time with craziness about time travel and justice and identity, I can be a little silly in some posts.

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Kiss the Girl

I have had some recent conversations that seem to boil down to this one question: when should a guy kiss a girl, prior to actually being in a relationship?  This question is tricky, because hidden inside it is the question, “when does a girl decide (for better or for worse) whether she wants to be involved with a guy?”

Some of those I’ve talked to believe this determination happens very early – maybe as early as meeting the person.  We subconsciously evaluate physical attractiveness even as we focus on high-level reasons to be friends.  But does the determination of compatibility come this early?  And is it unchangeable?  Maybe a person doesn’t know that they have already decided on the question of compatibility, but it will be apparent later (regardless of what the other person does).  This camp would say kiss at the appropriate time, “when the moment feels right,” but it won’t have any particular influence on the (potential) relationship.

Others I’ve talked to believe that it’s not as cut and dried – everything that comes after meeting a person, up to and including getting physical (kissing etc.), influences your compatibility in sort of a continuous way.  A kiss is a kind of question that asks the other person to adjust their thinking about the other person – or maybe more accurately, provides more information on which to make that determination.  This camp would say kiss sooner rather than later, to give (and get) more information [feeling] that can influence each person’s stance on the (potential) relationship.

I’m not sure how I feel – I tend toward thinking it relies a lot on the particular guy and girl involved, and thus more on the side of the latter.  But then, I often factor comfort level in (“when the moment feels right”) and I’m sure I get it wrong a lot. 😛

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