Breakthroughs and revelations

I was at dinner with a friend over the weekend. We bonded because we could commiserate over being in our 30s and single when all of our friends seemed so happily settled down. We also bonded over a love of self-help type books, female-centered empowering memoirs, and the power of mantras to turn your day around.

Let me paint the picture a little better. We are two incredibly smart women. We work great jobs. We love the arts. We have great friends and great lives. We work those mantras.

But as I listened to her talk about her insecurities around the guy she was happily datings, I had a breakthrough.

I realized that I, and many other single women, are unknowingly creating our own cycle of dating trouble.

We think the problem lies with everyone else. We think that the men aren’t up to our standards. We think that timing is bad. We think that men are misbehaving. We think that they aren’t ready, that we’re not ready. That they were badly hurt in the past so they’re acting badly now.

You know what? It’s all just made up excuses.

It is still blowing my mind. And I think that I never could have seen it when I was in her shoes. We get so stuck in the middle of our own stories that we don’t see a way out.

Then, worst of all, we get attached to our story so we limit our ability to learn from it. We get stuck in this idea that it’s all going wrong for all these external reasons, we spin stories to justify that, and then it all falls apart and we create stories about what caused that to happen, too. These stories are what keep us sane, we tell ourselves. Without them, we would never understand men.

But the truth is, it is taking us farther away from loving and accepting the men in our lives. We distance ourselves from men when we expect them to behave like hairy women.

I know the statement sounds ridiculous, but think about it. We as women expect men to think and behave like we do. And that’s natural, we understand women so we want them to act like we understand. I am sure men do the same thing which is why women are so baffling to men.

Men are more than hairy versions of women, and they should be respected for exactly who they are. And when we try to put them in a box and figure out their actions compared to how we women think and feel we are assigning untrue reasoning to the situation, which makes everyone feel disconnected, frustrated and misunderstood.

Not exactly the way to build healthy, long-lasting relationships.

So, we are sabotaging ourselves. And we are so stuck in our ways and so attached to the fun of the drama (let’s be honest, we create the drama because it is fun and exciting) that we aren’t willing to see it a new way and to let go of everything we thought we knew.

Perhaps you can feel my frustrations for this situation seething through this post. And I apologize for the heat you must feel because boy am I angry. I feel like so much time has been wasted on this.

And I feel somewhat stuck because you don’t see the error of your ways until you see it. I have read countless books and things did not shift until I read The Queen’s Code and saw my old patterns being acted out in front of my eyes. That was the moment I really felt 100% committed to changing the way I relate to men.

Can you relate? Does this ring true to you at all?

 

“Girl Brain”

I have this friend who is in her early twenties and has very little experience dating. She has a tendency to crush on gay boys, although in the last year and a half she seems to have outgrown this habit.

She has a new crush, and it started the way it does for so many of us. A friendship that we never really expected to turn into anything suddenly changes. He starts showing romantic interest, and we think “Is he flirting with me?” And then that changes to “I like that he’s flirting with me.” And then it dissolves into crush obsession where we seek out opportunities to flirt, and hopefully our flirting is so skillful that it turns into dating and a relationship.

I sure hope I am not the only one that thinks like this?

So here she is flirting with this guy and right when things turn interesting he gets really busy. Like we as human beings are likely to do when we work a few jobs. He continued to flirt but it was less frequent because he had work to do. And this flirting still had not materialized into a date.

I think it goes without saying that while she loved the attention and the flirting, she was getting increasingly more frustrated that it was not turning into a date.

And my friend, with very little dating experience, came up with the single most brilliant concept I have heard in all my life. It puts a name to that frustration and internal dialogue that I know I also have (I won’t assume that you have it too, but I bet that you do). She called this part her “Girl Brain.”

She noticed how differently he acted from her. He would take a while to get back ti her messages and she would reply right away. But he always responded with the same flirting and attention, it didn’t seem like he was disinterested. He always found ways to compliment her and make her swoon. But he didn’t seem to have the same urgency that she did.

These differences are the differences between Girl Brain and Boy Brain. Neither is right or wrong, they are just different and function at different levels and speeds.

Girl Brain is extremely vocal and makes everything urgent. She needs to be listened to now. She needs attention now. She needs things to be defined. She needs clarity. She needs…she needs…she needs.

And when things don’t go her way she nags. She nags until she gets what she wants. And it gets louder and more frequent the more you try to stifle her. And then it gets panicky and starts to cause anxiety. She is trying to cause you to act and give her what she needs, and unfortunately if I wait until she gets full of anxiety my actions are usually not logical at all.

Girl Brain likes a fast pace. She likes to have a committed relationship. She likes things to be steady and predictable to her.

But sometimes, I need to turn down her volume. Actually a lot of times I need to turn down her volume. She doesn’t think like men and expects things that she expects from other Girl Brains. Because Girl Brains know how Girl Brains act so they work well together. But Boy Brain works in its own way.

I have started to tell my Girl Brain “Thank you so much for expressing what you need. I am going to turn down your volume for a little while. It will all be ok.” Or sometimes it is simply “Chill the fuck out, ok? It’s all ok.”

I have another friend that tells me to breathe. It is so funny to me how frequently Girl Brain forgets to breathe. She likes to get herself all worked up and frantic. She goes into hyper mode.

I have another friend that does mantras. Maybe this works for you, but normally Girl Brain kicks those out pretty quickly.

Being able to name this phenomenon has been extremely helpful. And at the very least, I start to laugh which is actually the best trick in the book. I can laugh at this little screaming cheerleader that sits on my shoulder (ok, really she jumps up and down a lot, she is rarely still). I can say “Oh, you. You so silly!”, text my friend and we can laugh and relate to each other.

Do you have Girl Brain? What tricks do you use to get her to chill the F out?

Go With Your Gut

I am in the process of some big changes in my life. And I can’t help but reflect to see how I got here. How did I not do this earlier? How am I ok with taking this big of a risk?

Here is where things stand in my life.

I am going to quit my job, give up my apartment and spend as much time as possible traveling.

I don’t know what you read, watch and expose yourself to, but I have been reading about people that do this for a long time. I have been reading about it for so long that i now accept that this is the beginning of every great success that I envy. I re-read that sentence that I wrote (that sentence which still is full of fear and uncertainty for me) and I can almost brush it off and think “Yeah, and?”

I feel like there are tons of success stories out there where this is the preface. Some person who had a great job and gave it all up to follow their dreams. And then they follow their dreams and the long, winding road leads them somewhere they couldn’t predict but it sure it amazing.

Does anyone else wonder if there are people that quit their job and follow their dreams and don’t find something amazing? They realize it was better in the safety zone all along? Does that ever happen?

It’s one of my fears. It’s one of my fears that I go out there to chase my dreams and it’s actually a dead end road. It goes down a path and it leads me back to where I was – at a desk job supporting other people’s dreams and earning a tiny paycheck so I  can keep running the rat race.

I hope it doesn’t end that way but it’s a fear I have. And I believe it’s important to say those fears out loud. It makes them seem ridiculous and small.

 

Dating Story: The Cop

The Cop is really my only “successful” online dating story. I have a few other online dating stories, but he is the only one that lasted longer than a date or two.

I am not a big supporter of online dating for my dating life. But that’s a different post.

My dislike for online dating led me to conclude that it must be better if pay for online dating. Surely, the matches will be better because people are taking things seriously enough to pay for it and we are all looking for the same thing.

I found eHarmony to be overwhelming, I couldn’t keep up with all the matches every single day. It made me panic. However, I did meet this cute cop that lived in Virginia. He came to Baltimore often for work and we had great banter so we decided to meet for drinks and appetizers.

Our first date was fun. We laughed a lot and created our own inside jokes. I wasn’t sure if I was attracted yet. So we hung out a few more times, and it was more of the same. Lots of laughter but no more clarity.

I think we are the only people in the universe to create an inside joke about undercover sex trafficking, it was so twisted and ridiculous we had to laugh. And because it was so ridiculous we kept making the joke.

So it continued like that. We didn’t talk much between dates. We agreed to hang out for Valentines’ Day even though it was pretty early in our relationship. We said no gifts, but we just wanted to hang out. One of our inside jokes was about Marshmallow Fluff, so I decided to make us Fluff coated strawberries. I found this idea online and you coated the strawberries in Fluff and then dipped them in crushed Oreos. It seemed like it would be perfect, a sweet treat to share and an inside joke.

Well, I ended up eating them all alone because he cancelled the date.  This should have been a red flag. But he blamed it on work, and how can you argue with that when the guy is a cop that has a passion for busting these sex trafficking rings? He had a great heart, and he was making progress on a case.

That’s when it really started to decline. I heard from him less, he was taking an interest in becoming an air marshall and was picking up training work. He invited me to his apartment in Virginia to make up for the fact that we hadn’t seen each other. He cooked, we were going to watch a movie we both loved growing up, and we both alluded to the fact that I was going to stay the night.

I wish I knew why things fell apart after that night. We had been dating for about two months, so it wasn’t like a one a night stand. We liked each other but not in that huge over the top kind of way. The sex was good, but not great (when is it ever great on the first time anyway?). Nothing really adds up to him ghosting me. Nor does it make any sense why I didn’t really care.

And I suppose that is where the lesson lies. Don’t have sex with a guy because you want it to fix something. It won’t. It won’t make you like someone more. It won’t make him call you more or make you want to hang out with him more. It doesn’t solve anything.