Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's not my fault, so you have to change!

I know it's been quite some time since I have pontificated my egocentric views on dating. This last year has been a challenging one for me personally as I feel I have regressed into some of the negative and ineffective patterns of which I have so adamantly protested in my previous blogs. In an attempt to adjust some of those patterns I figured I'd blog some more of my thoughts for the purpose of creating additional motivation for me to practice what I will preach. As always my primary intention is to help others who may find anything I share helpful in anyway.

Over the years I realized a strong tendency in myself to blame my "woes" on the female gender as a whole, and I have also witnessed this same pattern in many other guy friends of mine. Of course I have also seen the same blame game on the other side as well as I have heard countless women criticize and condemn men as a whole for their problems. You know what kind of statements I'm talking about,

Men Rants:
"Women only date jerks!"
"Women don't appreciate a nice guy!"
"Women make it too hard to ask them on dates!"
"Women only want men who look like Brad Pitt!"

Women Rents:
"Men are Jerks!"
"Men don't ask women out on dates!"
"Men aren't gentlemen and chivalrous anymore!"
"Men only want women with a perfect body and who look like super models!"

It took me a while to finally realize the folly in such blatant critical expressions toward an entire gender, and now I have really tried to avoid making such harsh and absolute accusations for several reasons.

First, they simply are not true. In reference to the "man rants," There are plenty of women who despise jerks, and find nice men extremely attractive. There are plenty of women who have fallen in love with and married men who are fat, bald, ugly, short, and non athletic or in other words come no where close to resembling Brad Pritt, Chris Hansen, or Ryan Reynolds. The same could be said in response to the criticisms expressed toward men by women.

As I have reflected on why it is that in my life I have been so quick to pass such blanket judgments towards women from time to time, it occurred to me that what I was really doing was avoiding the necessity to confront my own weaknesses and insecurities. If I blame women for my problems, then it alleviates me having to do anything, and necessitates that women must, as a gender, change for ME to be happy. What a powerless position to take!

Upon recognizing this error I determined that my happiness was in my own hands. If women were turning me down or passing up an opportunity to date me, then there must be something I AM doing that is causing the result. If my results are recurring then it is clearly my incorrect actions that are causing the result. It has been said that to do same thing and expect a different result is insanity....Well I would summarize that doing the same thing in hopes that other people will do something differently is no less insane.

However, this is where it gets tough, and in my case it was very painful. I had to be honest with myself. I had to take responsibility for my actions, my demeanor, my character, my approach, my behavior, my appearance and my tactics. If my struggle in dating was indeed a result of my own actions, demeanor, appearance and the like, that would mean that there is something about me that I could work on changing... Humble pie is never delicious.

But my desire to experience different results outweighed my desire to remain in my box of bitterness and cast stones at half the earth's population for my having to stay in that box. I made a list of everything that I felt was unattractive about me, to me. I feel there is an important distinction between what you find attractive about yourself and what you THINK other's find attractive or unattractive about yourself. And that is because I strongly believe that being your best self, or in other words being a person that you yourself like being around is so very crucial. However, if you try to change yourself based on what you think others opinions are of you, you will only be losing yourself in the process.

I wanted to become and I am becoming what I really feel is the best version of myself, and that came by me labeling what it was that bothered me about me. I understand that this takes a lot of emotional mettle, and in this world ripe with depression and self-defamation I would encourage you to be very careful that this does not turn into "beating yourself up." Rather this is an opportunity for you to take control and responsibility of your own actions and recognize that you have the power to change within you whatever you want!

Some questions to consider,

Am I kind
Am I friendly towards people
Am I fun to be around
Am I approachable
Am I easy to talk to
Do I laugh too loud
Do I dominate conversations
Am I cocky
Am I boring
Am I too overbearing
Am I too emotional
Am I too dramatic
Could I use a more fashionable wardrobe
Could I lose a few pounds
Could I gain a little muscle
Could I exercise more
Could I be more involved socially
Could I be more educated
Could I take on an interesting hobby
Could I be clean, physically, emotionally or spiritually
Could I be more organized
Could I work harder
Could I be more driven
Do I get out enough to meet new people
Do I shy away from opportunities
Am critical of others
Am I bitter
Am I angry
Am I too weird or socially awkward (this is a big one for me!)
Do I push people away
Am I too clingy

These are just a few examples of questions to ask yourself that might be lead to some powerful self-discovery. I would recommend taking one aspect of your personality, or character that you would like to work on that you feel would make you more happy with yourself and set up a plan and a goal on how you can work on that aspect. I am a big believer of one thing at a time, as it can get overbearing if you are trying to improve upon too many weaknesses at one. You don't build Rome overnight, be patient, and be encouraging.

The next step is to make a list of EVERYTHING you like about yourself, what are your talents, what are your gifts, and what are you good at. EVERYONE is good at something. I feel this is so crucial because of what I mentioned before, if you only focus on the negative it can turn into "beating yourself up." You have something that is amazing about you and that you're really good at, label them and write them down. Then, pick one of those things that you are going to find a way to use to help others. Everyone feels good when they do something they are good at, so make sure you add this step to the process.

As I went through this process I realized that not only was I excited at the notion that I was able to start working on improving myself but I also noticed that a lot of my bitterness toward women was fading away and I no longer regarding them as "the enemy." This also turned to more favorable experiences with ladies.

Over the last few months I have recognized a slip back into my bitterness box but I have recommitted myself to taking control of my behavior, attitude, actions and demeanor. I offer my sincerest apologies to any ladies who may have caught a whiff of my bitterness and hope you can forgive me for doing so.

To anyone out there right now who is sitting in your bitter box and blaming the opposite gender for your woes, trust me I've been there, it's hard. I feel for you and the negative experiences you've had that must have occurred on a consistent basis to bring you to such depths. My best advice I can offer in love and hope is that, you have the power and control over your own happiness. Not a single person or an entire gender can bring you down unless you allow them to render you powerless and a victim to your own bitterness. Don't let them, you got this!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dating Difficulties Part 4: THE GAME

Well it has been awhile since my last post. One of the main reasons was I became involved in a relationship and my focus turned from sharing my view points on dating to focusing on the relationship of which I was involved. Although the relationship did ultimately come to an end I considered the experience rewarding and she and I ended the relationship on good terms.

Now I am back in dating mode and have once again been inspired to share my thoughts and experiences with all who have the patience to read a blog! So here we go with Part 4!!

In regards to dating so many talk about "the game" or game playing. I often hear men and women alike say things like, "I hate playing games," or "I hate it when girls (or guys) play games!" I am quite certain I have expressed a similar frustration on many occasions. But what is "the game" in regards to dating, and if so many people hate it why is there so much of it going on!?

To me game playing is when someone behaves in a manner that falsifies or disguises their true intentions or their true character and personality. For example a man may behave in a manner that would suggest to a woman that he is interested in a long-term relationship, when in reality he is only interested in a quick fling; or a woman may be ambiguous with her true feelings toward a man who she knows is interested in her, because she likes the attention, free dates and flattery but she knows deep down that she has no real feelings for him. This is not to suggest that all game playing is of malicious intent, but I'll discuss that in the context of why is there so much game playing going on, if so many people hate it!?

I figure there are two types of "game players" in the dating world that I have experienced. The first type is those who play games with the intent to take something from the person they are playing such as, affection, gifts, time and/or adoration. The second type is those who play games as way to protect themselves from getting hurt or taken advantage of...and most likely from other game players. Fight fire with fire! I have felt in the past when girls (and guys do it too, myself included) would be ambiguous and dishonest with their true feelings, inconsistent with their behavior, interested one day and disinterested another day, would make plans and then cancel them with shallow excuses and in some cases with excuses that turned out to be completely false. I used to shake my fist of fury at all this "game playing" going on and couldn't figure out why this would happen so much!!

Although I have experienced these types of behaviors many times with women I learned that not all of them were behaving in this manner for the same reason. Most of the time such inconsistent behavior was a girl communicating to me that she was just not really interested but didn't quite have the heart and courage to just tell me straight up to leave her the heck alone, and hopes that if she cancels enough times I'll get the hint and go away. However, there are times when I realized that the girl had been hurt in the past, and the notion of being interested and allowing another relationship to grow was scary and uncomfortable, as it can be for all of us. "Game playing" for those individuals is not a way for them to take advantage of others, but a way to hopefully protect themselves from men who might indeed be game players themselves, trying to take advantage. And I apologize if it sounds like I'm only approaching this from the women's perspective, because men definitely do this as well. No one wants to get hurt and everyone wants to try and prevent the replication of prior hurtful experiences.

The only solution as I see it is a reiteration of my previous blog post. We have to be willing to give each new possible dating relationship an honest and open chance. Just because a certain type of person has hurt is in the past does not mean that every other person who has a similar description will do the same.

For those of us who are trying to find that great relationship and who truly want to find love and give love, we can all try to not be guilty of the very game playing we so despise. We can be honest in our intentions, and clear in our communications. We can mean what we say and say what we mean. If we know we're not interested in someone who is interested in us, we can kindly, clearly and appropriately express to them that the feelings are unfortunately not reciprocated. It's hard and hurtful enough to get rejected, but so much more painful when that rejection has been coupled with "games" and has been dragged out over a long period of time.

We can all change our own behavior and commit to not playing games, for as the lyric in one of the first songs I ever wrote says, "the thing about games is someone always gets played..."