This in one in what’s probably going to be a small series of posts looking back at old relationships. I’ve been married twice, and have had a number of long term relationships, and then there’s the various short term relationships (which I have very little interest in, and haven’t had much affect on my life in general.) Most of those relationships went well, to be honest. I used to gauge success or failure as “am I still in a relationship? No? Then it was a failure.” Thing is, that’s really not that good of thinking. For instance, if you’re in a relationship, and it ends because it’s a bad match? That’s a success, actually. One or both parties realized at some point “This isn’t the right relationship”. Continuing it would have been the mistake, not ending it.
And, of course, a good number of relationships (or even what I might call “near relationships”) resulted in great friendships that last to this day. Those are most certainly successes. I’ve even had ones with women I was already friends with, and didn’t walk away with a bad experience, or a failure: I walked away with a much stronger bond with them. Generally speaking, I learned there wasn’t a whole lot of downside – as long as you didn’t let the wrong ones in.
This is just one example of the things I’ve been rethinking lately. Well, that might be the wrong way of stating it – some of it come bashing it’s way through a locked door in the back of my mind, and slowly shambled to the forefront, doing as much damage as it could along the way. I’m not sure how many blog posts there are involved in this little project of mine. I’ll know when it’s done – there might only be two posts, there might be a dozen, who knows 😉
But, I’ll warn you: this isn’t my happy self. At the moment, I am quite happy – because I had to work through some things, and think through some things over the last… well, I’d love to say weeks, but that would be wrong. I’d love to even say months, but in reality, that’s probably not right either. Some of this stuff I’ve been avoiding for years now. It all came out, in one nice crowd of relationship based zombies, and informed me of things like “Hey, you know why you won’t hardly let people touch you? That’s us, fucker, festering in the corner trying to get your attention.” This post will be probably be the “happiest” of all the posts – from here, they start going downhill, getting darker. Eventually, we – that would be you, reader, and myself – in the darkest reaches of my brain, surrounded by those relationship zombies, without a shotgun handy. Don’t worry, they don’t bit. Much. They’re in my head. They’ve already got all the brains they need (though, some would debate the point that I have much in the way of brains. This is my story, though, so there’s no debate involved. 😉 )
This one is also probably the most loosely connected post to the rest of them. So why post it first? Think of it as a warmup. I needed to find my voice to talk about this, and starting someplace sort of safe wasn’t a bad idea.
If I consider this all so bad, why post it? Well, there’s a couple of reasons. I like to write out some of my thoughts and history. It’s just a thing. It helps me organize them, and my blog acts as a long-term memory storage sometimes. But, this a bigger reason: it’s a set of cautionary tales. If these things are happening in your life? It’s time to reconsider some things about your life. Because, here’s an interesting truth: us “Manly Men” (insert chest pound and grunt) never like to admit we can be abused. Worse, when it happens, we’ll try and ignore that it happened at all. I managed to do it for quite a while.
That’s not to say this is one for the ladies to sit out, and it’s a story just for men. Nope, this applies to anyone, in any relationship. So, let’s kick it into gear with the first post, the happiest one.
One final note before I jump into the rest, and I may repeat this in future posts: if you know me, or follow me on Social Media, you might jump to conclusions like “Oh, he must be talking about (insert person),” “Ahh, I bet that was from when he was married to (insert person),” or “I’ll bet it was when he was dating (insert person)”. Don’t jump to those conclusions. All names have been removed from these posts for a reason: I’m not here to call them out. Second of all, I “cheat” during the process – there are little bits and pieces taken from more than one relationship. (While dealing with one shambling group of issues, a friend looked at me and say “So, are you going to also deal the abuse from (insert person), too?” While I didn’t exclaim “Damn it lady, I’m already dealing with this group – ya’ mind waiting until I’m fucking done?”, I did understate it a bit, and say “Well, she wasn’t as good at it as (other person).” It’s still there, and if I’m already dealing with one set of issues, I better come to terms with those, too. The point, though, is don’t bother thinking you know who all this is about. It’s not. Kick those thoughts out of your head before proceeding on.
Oh, fine, I’ll add one more note before continuing: never forget, this has a happy ending of sorts. While we might be headed into the dark, we’ll find light at the other end. I promise.
Why I Don’t Try And Impress People
Now, I should specify that when I say “impress people,” I mean go out of your way and do something you wouldn’t normally do to sway them. A lot of times, when it comes to relationships, it gets called “wooing” or similar terms. And, it’s not too uncommon for people to talk about trying to impress their boss to get a promotion.
Recently a conversation come up with a friend of mine about impressing people to try and win the favor of someone they like, and she was telling me about her dad’s advice – don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to do for the rest of your life. I had to explain: I already do that.
It doesn’t matter who you set out to impress: a potential date, a boss, a client, whoever. If you go out of your way to impress them, you better be ready to keep it up. Impressing a boss means any performance you pull off, you better be able to pull it off again. That’s not saying don’t do your best – always do your best, and always try an improve. Learn new skills, do new things. But, if you do something completely over the top, be prepared to be asked to do it again.
Same goes with relationships. Let’s say you hate the opera (I’ve been once – wasn’t bad at all.) Loathe it. But, you buy tickets because the girl you like is totally into opera. She love it, and thinks you’re awesome for it. Congratulations: next time she’s interested in an opera, she’ll want you to go. You’ll try an make an excuse to get out of it. Repeat this cycle over and over, and repeat it for everything you did to try and impress her. Now, there was a thing that could have been done here – a simple statement could have been made: “Well, I really don’t care for the opera. But, I do like spending time with you – let’s go.” It’s not ideal, but it at least make them understand that you’re not into that thing, but you’re into spending time with them. (BUT: Even that better be sincere.)
Truth is, setting out to impress someone you want to be with it more about getting laid than setting the foundation for something long term. Want to have something long term? Do the things you want to do with them in a year, two years, five years. And notice I said “want” – yes, from time to time there is some drudgery in some people relationships. Show them the things you want to do with them. Show them the things you want to do for them both now and a year from now. It’s incredibly rare for me to have to slog through a situation like a movie I don’t want to see: I’m happy to be there with the person, quite sincerely, in just about any situation. I’m with ’em for a reason, and I love to share in their experiences they are attracted to. But, that’s just me.
I learned that lesson pretty early on, and I’ve never regretted learning it, it’s served me well. Now, that’s not to say I don’t do things that impress…
“Romantic Whims” And Consistent Performance
“Romantic whims” are a general term I use for weird little things I do. They’re rarely huge things, but they’re somewhat frequent things, and I love to do them at random times – basically, whenever the whim strikes (and that’s why they’re called “romantic whims”.) Well, it’s a little more complicated than that in a way: I do sometimes stop and think them through.
So, what are they? A good example of a romantic whim is leaving a rose on the windshield of my significant other while they’re at work. After a hard day, they come out, and they get a smile. Now, before you think “that’s cool – I should do that,” be sure to think it through for a moment. You’re putting a rose on someone’s window – for some people, that could be a problem. They may end up creeped out, thinking it’s not you who did it. Be sure they KNOW, one way or another, that it’s you who did it. Anonymous stuff sounds nice in movies, but in a world where women are stalked, assaulted, and abused, it’s also sign of danger.
I’ve written poetry before. I’ve sit and narrated a book to one lady (it was my first attempt at a novel – never finished it). I’ve done various works of art over the years. I’ve done… geez, a lot.
There’s two important points: I’m an information sponge most of the time. I love finding out the likes and dislikes of someone I’m interested in. I absorb everything, and retain a good chunk of it (but, far from all of it.) With that, what ever I’m doing, I’m creating a thing or situations specifically for my target. I genuinely LOVE doing this, because I’m an artsy person, and well… vaguely a romantic. It’s a great way of saying “I love you” to your wife or whoever, or even just saying “You were on my mind.”
In some ways, the whole “romantic” part isn’t right – there are times where it’s not been about romance, but just saying “For some reason or another, you’re in my head.”
The second point is while they may be called “whims”, they aren’t as whim as they appear on the surface. Sure, a rose is easily obtained, and putting it on their windshield is easy. Remember that part above where I mentioned in some cases, that could be creepy? Be prepared to stop yourself, and think it through. Very recently, I had a “romantic whim” moment that was of the “for some reason you’re in my head” type, and drafted the plan out in my head. Then I stopped short: what I was considering doing could very much be considered creepy as hell and worrisome until they opened the box. I nixed the plan and moved on. (Side note: the fact that I had thought of performing a whim is a good indication that my brain is cleared up.)
So, think it through for a moment before you do it.
Now, all that stuff I just put up there isn’t a guide for what you should be doing. It’s an example: this is something I love to do. If I’m with someone, I continue to do it, and improve upon the romantic whims as I get to know them better over the time we’re together. I’m not saying you should be doing it. I’m saying, instead of trying to impress them in return for a short term reward like sex, find the things you’d like to do with or for them that you also enjoy, and that they’ll enjoy. Find those points of compatibility. Don’t get me wrong: there’s always going to be at least one moment where it’s not something you want to do. But, if you really enjoy you’re time with them, you’ll probably find delight in even the things they want to do that you’re not as interested in.
But, the same goes for non-romantic relationships. Instead of impressing the boss by doing something you won’t normally do, and have no interest in doing in the long term, make sure they know of your achievements. Try to work yourself into situations you enjoy, and would like to continue doing. If you’re trying to get yourself an upgrade in status at work, make it for the things that you really want to do.
it seems like we’ve become so short-term goal oriented, we can’t see the forest for the trees. Take a step back, and take a deep breath. Fuck impressing people. Just be impressive. In the long term, being impressive is a road to happiness.