I seem to work best from my soapbox. I climb up onto this seemingly unearthly foundation of logic and devil’s advocacy from which I spout clips of indented helpful advice and vision. I am invincible. I am the self-proclaimed all-powerful advisor. I am steel in my ability to solve your boyfriend problems and your girlfriend issues and your “good friend’s” sexual instability.
Why, then, with all this superhuman brainpower am I completely incapable of climbing out of my own relationship ditches. Somehow, grounded again in the reality of my own love life, I manage to break every rule and counter all the wisdom I readily share with others. Peculiar.
It happens to me now and then that I really have to reflect on my own actions. Those who know me well would likely peg me as an often overly emotional, hard-headed control freaky extremist.
I’m a little much to swallow at times, and coming from a sex columnist, that should be all the more threatening. Pun intended.
I have learned a few things about myself in my past few crash-landing dating attempts that I thought I’d share with you as a semester opener. As per usual, I’ll probably end up making fun of myself, which is typically a good time for everybody.
First, I want to acknowledge that it is human nature to openly and obviously go against the grain when following the rules isn’t really what you want to do. It’s how people end up eating an entire bag of potato chips, how they miss the school bus in exchange for another twenty minutes of sleep and how they make gaping mistakes in the beginning of relationships that cripple their credibility.
This is okay. You know there is some sort of minimum-of-two-days callback rule. Why, then, do we convince ourselves that texting someone really isn’t calling and that one day is almost two?
In my case, I end up losing all sense of cognitive logic and opting to follow my heart when I really like someone. I decide I am above the game-playing and better than having to make choices that depend on ticks of the clock. If I want to call you, I’m calling you. The seventeenth ring isn’t any better or worse than the first, right? I already saw you four days this week, what’s a fifth in the scheme of things?
I completely agree that this is jumbled, self-serving strategy on my part. If I want you around that much, it’s probably because you make me feel good about myself. Unless I voice that, it can easily be misinterpreted. And this last time I made some irreparable mistakes. There is nothing wrong with being guided by your emotions. I am a huge proponent of following your guts, but not at the expense of your instinct.
It is important to be able to draw the line between showing affection and interest and making yourself much, much too available. I am, as most are, initially on the defensive about my actions. Why can’t I act how I feel? Why can’t I show this person how I really am from the start? Why do I have to censor my intentions?
You don’t. I say life’s too short. (Keep in mind that I’m still single.) Nowhere is it written in stone that you should curve your personality to suit a specific situation. Am I going to continue on with my similar strategy for my own personal life? Probably. Part of this is me being stubborn about how okay I am with myself. Somewhere there is a person who will relish my sixteenth call of the day … hopefully. If he’s not you, he might be the next guy.
However, what happens when I (inevitably) meet that guy and he is calling me twenty-six times a day? Will I then be overwhelmee just as I have been the overwhelmer?
I think a lot of dating is perspective and middle ground. The other person is either more or less of a quality than you are on all levels. It is fundamentally important that you judge the other person’s intensity level and try to stay within a close range. I have my cell phone as good as stapled to the side of my face at any given moment, and were I to lose it I would wander around googily-eyed from lack of communication.
He might not be that way, so until I get used to how communicative he is, I am feeling him out and trying to maintain his pace. I think this is how people came up with the “no call” plan. If no one is calling, no one gets one-uped by the other.
We are so ready to yell “HAH!” and take off running with the upper hand that we become obsessed with limitations and guidelines. The fundamental flaw with the “no calls” rule is that no one ends up calling.
Especially at first in a relationship, you are under that person’s microscope like he or she is under yours. You are not being a pushover if you decide to bend your ways a little in order to insure their interest. Compromise is not a weakness. In contrast, it is also okay to stick to your guns if you feel you’re doing things the right way. Being crazy about someone is just that – crazy. People fall off their rockers. Men have died. I’ve been fitted for a straight jacket. They’re not flattering.
The most genuine advice I can give you is to give that person the benefit of the doubt. That is the only real foothold you have in the beginning – the decisions you make about the other person. Unless they pull a gun on you, try not to judge too harshly because you just don’t know how to react to each other. What you interpret as a land mine of a flaw at first could end up being an endearing quality (again, gun pulling does not apply here, unless you’re into that kind of thing). Before you throw in the towel in a cold sweat of anxiety that he might not meet your standards in every imaginable arena, try taking a deep breath, evaluating a little with a fair attempt to see their point of view, and communicating your issues clearly if you decide your relationship is worth the effort.
“Listen, I like hearing from you, but I’m not used to this much attention and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.”
Maybe he or she will come back with another perspective that changes your mind about it.
Really, what have you got to lose either way? Seems I ended up on my soapbox after all.
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.