The incureable romantic

We’ve all met that guy who is obviously not over the one that got away.  Whether it be moping about with a gray cloud over his head or his inability to brook any criticism of her, he’s exhibiting some signs that clearly state, “Stay away from me.”

Unrequited love is so romantic.  ~le sigh~

There are other men, however, who aren’t so transparent.  From being unable to cut the umbilical cord (everyone has a close friendship with their ex) to obsessing on her current relationship status (he can’t possibly make her happy), he’s advertising where he is emotionally.  Do not overlook these clues just to avoid the inevitable.

Long story short, if he still has strong opinions on how she’s living her life, he isn’t over her.  (And no, you can’t help him get over it, he has to put his big boy pants on and do that himself.)

He can either be involved with her (with or without her involvement) or involved with you, but he can’t be involved with you both.  Being physically available is not enough; he needs to be available mentally and emotionally as well.  Do not sell yourself short.  A man who is 100% available is a starting point, not an end goal.

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Woe is me

A close relative of the Eeyore is the victim.  A victim wanders through life wondering why he’s so persecuted.  He may seem sweet, sensitive, and born under a dark cloud.  He’s the perpetual underdog.

Victims can be quite attractive.  A nice guy with a run of bad luck.  He may appeal to your mothering side, your desire to help (do NOT give him any money).  Sooner or later, you’re going to realize that he doesn’t attract misfortune, he courts it.

It could be that he doesn’t want to be happy.  Maybe he doesn’t know how to be happy.  He seeks out situations that will create unhappiness and then he revels in it.  Then he paints himself as the unfortunate victim to gain sympathy.  (This last part is pure manipulation – even if they aren’t conscious they’re doing it.)

Should you find yourself involved with a victim, you should politely bring to their attention their pattern of behavior.  This can be difficult without sounding parental or judgmental.  Do your best to keep an even tone and use examples where you aren’t saying I told you so.

Do not be surprised if he flips the script and you find yourself in the role of the bad guy.  He’s accustomed to being the victim so don’t expect his attitude to change overnight.  Victims can be difficult to change, even with counseling so don’t be surprised if you’re soon packing your bags.

Prophets of doom and other fun times

Most of us know at least one person with Eeyore Syndrome.  While having a friend who is a prophet of doom can be annoying, having a significant other who is one can be exhausting.

Moments of sheer pessimism in life are normal.  However, watch for signs that the person is experiencing more than just the occasional blues.  It may not seem so obvious, especially at first when people are attempting to put their best foot forward.  If your partner seems to have more bad days than good, blows small issues out of proportion, or exhibits a strong sense of paranoia, you might want to suggest counseling.

You may feel tempted to help your partner through this.  This is more than just a passing mood – it could be depression or another matter best handled by a professional. Attempting to deal with it on your own can ruin your relationship.  The simple fact of the matter is that there is nothing you can do to “heal” them; they have to do it on their own with or without your support.

Not quite a manchild, not quite a man

There are men in life that we may incorrectly identify as a manchild.  In fact, they aren’t immature, they’re simply bewildered by life.  Not only do they not have it together, they’re perpetually in danger of it all coming apart at the seams.

These men go in fits and spurts but they always cycle.  They have a great idea, pursue it for a few weeks, and then give up when it gets too tough.  The big problem is that they honestly don’t know what they want out of life.  They’re still experimenting, trying to figure it all out.

While helping them may seem exciting at times, it can get downright tiring as you feel as though you’re constantly picking up the ball and running with it only to find him slowing down or even dragging his feet.  The trick?  Don’t pick up the ball.  If he has a direction he wants to go in life, be supportive but let him lead.  It’s his life and he, not you, needs to be in control of it.

Coping with the manchild

Perhaps you didn’t see (or didn’t want to see) the warning signs.  Or maybe you’re too far into a relationship with one to turn back now.  In any case, your significant other is a manchild and now you have to figure out how to cope.

He’s already quite aware of his state and therefore has no desire to change.  So anything that comes off as an attempt to parent your manchild will blow up in your face.  Attempting to control his behavior through threats or manipulation will work on occasion but they will also cause your frustration to grow.

If he’s willing, suggest some form of counseling.  A third party will be able to communicate with him without the emotional load the words would have coming from you.  A neutral observer will listen to both sides and may be able to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement (i.e., if he refuses to clean, you shouldn’t feel obligated to carry his chores as well – a maid might be a better answer for the harmony of the relationship).  Document the arrangement so there are no questions about who does what later.

If he’s unwilling to compromise, you may find yourself in the position of sucking it up and soldiering through.  Pick your battles and let the rest go like water off a duck’s back.  Of course this “solution” will include arguments when you tire of being the bigger person.  At some point both of you will need to analyze how much you truly want this relationship and how hard you are willing to work to maintain it.

I ain’t yer momma

Some men just refuse to grow up.  For whatever reason, they are children inhabiting the bodies of fully grown men.  It could be that their mother took care of their every need thinking they’d find a woman to do the same.  Or it could be that they think if they do not grow up they will not have to fulfill the responsibilities of being an adult.  Or it simply could be that they simply don’t understand what they’re doing is wrong.

You may not recognize a manchild when you first see one.  You may find his boyishness charming or even freeing from the weight of your responsibilities.  He may be an adult in some ways and a child in others.  He may appear to have it all together on the surface but his shortcomings become apparent with time and knowledge.

Now, every relationship comes with compromises but you have to ask yourself, can you live with him exactly as he is?  If he never grows up, takes full responsibility for his actions (or inactions), or fixes what you deem to be flaws – can you fully commit to him as he is?  If not, you need to recognize him for what he is and not waste your time.

There is no point in having a relationship where you are half-in and half-out.  This is a recipe for frustration and unhappiness.  Rip the band-aid off quickly and move on.

Direct from my desk – week 47

Normally I don’t do this sort of thing:  Katniss vs. Bella

In terms of role models, I get the feeling that most grown-ups would prefer that young ladies choose Katniss as a role model over Bella.  While I can see their point, I beg their indulgence:

Katniss starts as a strong female.  She’s skilled, brave, and focused.  She’s selfless and intelligent.  She sounds like the type of woman we’d all like to be but not necessarily the one that we presently are.

Bella, on the other hand, is clumsy, awkward, not well-liked.  She’s a bit insecure.  She’s in love with an impossible creature.  In short, she’s how (just about) every teenage girl sees herself.  Then they are given the fantasy that “the guy” wants her and in the end, she not only gets him but it turns out that she is indeed special and she saves the day.

Would I prefer that young ladies choose a better role model?  Of course.  However I can completely understand why they relate to Bella more than Katniss.  Perhaps there is a lesson in this somewhere.  No answers here, just food for thought.

Choosing to commit

So once you’ve decided if you’re in or out, then you need to choose to commit.  In choosing to commit you are choosing to look past the small issues that could derail your relationship and you are choosing to concentrate on the bigger picture.

No relationship is perfect.  (If it is, you may want to ask yourself if you’re interacting with an authentic person.)  In every relationship you will need to make choices – choices in what you do and what you do not do.  When faced with a “crisis”, take a moment and ask yourself how you can best handle the situation.  You can choose how you react.  You can choose to focus on the whole, not the parts.

When you choose to commit, you are choosing the other person with all their flaws.  Do not attempt to “fix” them beyond recognition, after all, you were attracted to them as they were to begin with.  You are choosing to live with their imperfections and they are choosing to live with yours.  Like many things in life, it’s a trade-off.

Keep in the forefront of your mind that committing is a choice.  You should not make the decision lightly but you should do it with your whole heart and mind.  Neither you nor your partner deserve anything less.

In or out

There comes a point in every relationship, perhaps more than once, when you have to decide if you’re in or you’re out.  It’s a simple decision but it can take a while to come to terms with the ramifications.

The moment may come on suddenly or it may be a slow burn.  It may be a sharp strike or a dull ache.  It may be one striking issue or a combination of smaller ones.  When the moment arrives, you may find yourself having to talk yourself off the ledge.

You need to ask yourself one question – are you in? or are you out?  The answer to this question will dictate the rest of your relationship.  It’s your moment of commitment, when you ask yourself if you can overcome the obstacle that has been placed in your path and dedicate yourself to your relationship.  You will need to decide if what you want is what you have.

If you are out, wrap up your relationship as peacefully and quickly as you can and allow the other person to get on with their life.  However, if you are in, be in.  Resolve the issue(s) with your partner and commit to being in the relationship.

Doubtful

In every relationship, you will have doubts.  You will have doubts in the beginning, in the middle, and absolutely at the end.  However, doubts are not a signal of the imminent demise of your relationship.  They are simply doubts.

Doubts are simply your mind’s way of asking you to check something out.  Does he seem like a player?  Are you feeling that something isn’t right?  Did his explanation not make sense?  Your doubts are asking you to investigate – that’s their job.

Now, while doubts can be a great tool, you need to make sure that they aren’t a runaway jackhammer demolishing your relationship.  Ask yourself if the doubts is serving the relationship.  The doubt is serving the relationship if after your scrutiny, the relationship is stronger.

You may also need to ask yourself if the doubt is from this relationship or a previous relationship – doubts have a nasty habit of outstaying their welcome if you don’t tell them when to leave.

In fact, if you never have doubts about your relationship – you might want to check yourself.  Did you feel that?  That was a doubt.