Part II: One for all
This blog is actually inspired by recent events which helped solidify a concept that I was not previously able to formulate into words. It seems that bad relationship/dating experiences have a cumulative emotional effect with a strong tendency to trend downwards. These bad experiences can create in the mind a negative expectation towards the opposite gender where we will generalize the entire human population of women or men based on those experiences. For example if a girl stands me up for a date, or cancels rudely last minute, I might create a negative expectation and generalization in my mind of, “Girls are flakey.” If a man leads a certain girl to believe that he is genuinely interested in her only to find out that he is dating several other women as well she might make the generalization, “all guys are jerks!” The reality is the individuals who created those negative expectations and experiences in our mind may actually possess those negative attributes, however the great downfall I have experienced in my dating is career is then assuming that because one woman (or man) is that way, ALL of them must be that way!
This tendency to over-generalize I feel has been a great hindrance to my dating experience. I feel it created within me a tremendous amount of emotional baggage that I constantly added to with each negative experience. This created two fundamental problems in my dating pursuits.
1. I fell victim to the great human fallacy of confirmation bias. Because I had created a negative expectation and generalized opinion of all women I had to prove myself right. We can do this so often throughout our life, and it can be tremendously destructive to our capacity to grow, love, experience life, succeed, risk, challenge, forgive, and be loved. The moment I would meet any woman I had already predetermined that she was flakey, or not interested in dating nice guys, or that she was going to find me unattractive, or that she was going to friend zone me, or that she was going to stand me up for my date, or that she was going to date a jerk instead of me, or whatever other negative expectation that I had created and attached to all women. I would therefore, either consciously or sub-consciously sabotage or manipulate the situation to prove myself right! And as soon as I recognized even a faint possibility that a woman might behave in a manner that was consonant with my preconceived notion I would then write her off, and toss the negative experience on top the pile of my emotional baggage
2. Now that I was towing around this huge pile of emotional dirty laundry, it made it almost impossible for any woman to enter into a healthy relationship with me, even if she was successful at subverting my preconceived notions. Instead of approaching each possible romantic interest with a clean slate I was rather almost saying, “Hi, nice to meet you, would you please do my emotional laundry for me?” We all know how much women hate it when their men don’t clean up their clothes! Now, I’m not even in a relationship with a girl and I’m asking her to do all the dirty laundry that I had allowed to pile up because of my negative experiences with women, when that particular woman had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LAUNDRY! I was in essence requiring that woman to prove that she is not one of “those” girls that I had bad experiences with by her demonstrating a willingness to do all of THEIR chores. Expecting that a new romantic interest will somehow undo all of the mistakes of other people, mistakes she herself did not make, is unfair, unhealthy and in my experience destructive to the possibility of a relationship with that person.
Condemning all women (or men) because of the behavior of one woman (or man) or treating one woman (or man)because of the behavior of all the previous can never yield positive results. As hard as it is, and trust me this is one of the most difficult hurdles for me to clear and I am still working on it, is allowing each new interest a clean slate, a fair shot and a chance to get to know me without having to sift through my emotional garbage. I’ve had to recognize that just because one girl, or two girls, or ten girls exhibited a certain behavior towards me in the past that I found offensive and hurtful does not mean that all 3.5 billion women in the world would all do the same. I have also had to confess to myself that if I have seen a certain pattern of negative behavior in how women have treated me that it is probably more likely in response to something I AM doing sub-consciously to confirm my own bias, and not necessarily a reflection of who that individual person is. My challenge is to pick up my own emotional garbage bags and throw them away and then take my own dirty emotional laundry to the Laundromat. Then when I meet a new girl she is not immediately confronted with the task of acting as my emotional maid before she even knows if she wants anything to do with my laundry in the first place…