Interdependent, not independent

If you’ve not heard the word interdependent before, rest assured that you’ve been doing it since you were born.  Interdependent simply means that we depend on each other.  Now I’ll be the first gal to say that we should be self-sufficient.  We should be able to change our own tires (or at least call the automobile club), take care of yourself while ill, and organize like a ninja with OCD.  We should not, however, have to do all of it without any support.

There are two steps to becoming interdependent:

  1. Get over yourself;
  2. Surround yourself with the right people.

The key to getting over yourself is perspective.  While life can be serious business, nothing should be that dire.  When faced with a stressful situation, ask yourself how things will look in a few minutes, in a few weeks, and in a few years.  Base your decisions on that information, not how you’re feeling at this exact second.

Then take a look at the people in your life.  Kick out the frenemies (trust me, they’ll never get better).  To the people you can’t kick out (e.g. family), have a talk with them about being supportive or realize that you can’t rely on them for the type of support that you need.  When picking new people, pick quality people.  Do not just let anyone be in your life.  If they’re not on your team, kick ’em out!  You can do better.

Now that you have your support system in place, use it properly.  Rely on it when you need help and make sure that you’re reciprocating in kind.

The myth of the independent woman and why they’re never called independent men

Oh put your pitchforks down, ladies!  I’m not working for the opposition.  In fact, quite the opposite.  We have been sold a bill of goods that, in order to be real women, we must be independent women.

The dictionary defines independent as, amongst other things, not relying on another or others for aid or support.  So in order to be an authentic female, we must rely on no one else for anything; we must learn everything, say everything, do everything without the help of another person.  This is utter hogwash and impossible to accomplish.

So why does this concept persist?  The sad thing to say is, we all feed into it.  We feel like it’s the gold standard and anything less than perfection is letting down ourselves and our sisters.

You have to ask yourself why have you never heard the term “independent man”?  It’s because they’ve already figured it out.  Notwithstanding a few cliches (e.g., asking for directions), men are not afraid that getting help will rob them of their autonomy.

It’s time for us to drop the act and learn to be interdependent, not independent, but that my lovelies, is another blog.

I hate you, no wait, come back

Everyone has had the experience that they ended a perfectly good relationship on a whim or for a rather small reason, only to change their mind and attempt to get their ex back.  Understandably, if you break up with a guy and then try to get him back, the relationship isn’t going to bounce back to the pre-breakup level.  The more he holds back, the  more you get frustrated at his lack of enthusiasm, the more he thinks that breaking up was the right thing to do.

Don’t be that girl.  When you orchestrate a break up, make sure you mean it.  Do NOT do it on impulse, on your friend’s advice, or because you got scared.  Break ups should be made with cold, hard logic (this is not the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with because of x, y, and z) and not with passion (omg, I can’t believe you just said that, we’re through!).

If you have done this, please be aware that you have a very small window to admit your mistake and make it up to him.  Realize that you’re going to have to do a *lot* of work to get him to trust you again and it probably will never be the same again (which may be a good or a bad thing).  Also, be prepared to suck up your pride for a bit but not forever – 0nce you get it back on the right track, you will both need to agree to move past the break-up and not bring it up again.

The bad news is, it may not work.  He may decide that you’re more trouble than you’re worth.  If you really like him though, you can try to endure a long wait until you both become different people and then try again.

Dithering idiots

Okay ladies, this is going to sting.

So we’ve all been in that somewhat ambivalent relationship where we don’t know where the guy’s head is at.  He’ll tell you that he’s not ready to commit yet but you can’t see a really good reason (really good reasons include a family medical emergency, finishing school, etc.).  Let me break it down for you – he might be ready to commit but not to you.

If the right girl came along, he’d commit in a nanosecond.  However, you’re not that girl and under no circumstances will I advocate attempting to change yourself into *that girl* just to make him happy.  This isn’t about you though.  In all likelihood, you’ve done nothing wrong; you’re simply convenient for the moment, however long that moment lasts.

How do you differentiate the dithering idiot from the manchild?  The manchild refuses to grow up.  The dithering idiot is a already an adult who handles his responsibilities.  The manchild doesn’t realize the relationship has no future; the dithering idiot is fully aware that you’ll never be anything more than his ‘girlfriend.’

If you find yourself in this situation, recognize it, extricate yourself, and move on.  Don’t blame yourself for anything more than allowing him to waste your time, and go find a guy who deserves you.

The lion vs. the lamb

Much like my psycho ex-girlfriend, a married man will often describe his wife in unflattering terms.  He’ll tell you that she doesn’t understand him, they’ve grown apart, she nags him constantly, etc., etc., etc.  Now I won’t say that his wife is perfect because I don’t know her (and neither do you!), but he saw enough in her at some point to commit to spending the rest of his life with her.

At the same time, he’ll be telling you everything you want to hear.  You’re so sweet, uncomplicated, you “get him“.  Please remember that he’s saying anything that he has to in order to get into your panties.  He has nothing to lose at this point – even if you turn him down, he’s still going home to his wife!  This power play also occurs when you argue with your married lover, again, he has nothing to lose.

Do not allow a man to put you into competition with his wife (or with any other woman for that matter).  The moment he tries to set up that dynamic, refuse to accept it.  Human interactions are far more complex than the oversimplification that he’s trying to hand you.  You are neither the lion nor the lamb…..but neither is she.

Go for it!

Well my lovelies, it’s been an amazing year.  I hope you’ve learned as much as I have through this experience.  I hope you will take this knowledge and use it in the coming year.  If you’ve missed anything, please wander back through the archives.  This blog will make more sense if you start reading it from 1 January and reading forward from there but please, use it as you best see fit.

I would like to leave you with a mantra for the next year – go for it!  You have the knowledge,now go apply it.  There are no trophies for bench-warming.  Yes, there may be more trials and tribulations but look at them as character building experiences and glean what lessons you can from both the good and the bad.  Life is more satisfying when you get out there and live it.

Why failure is a good lesson

The feeling of failure is never a pleasant one.  However, much can be gleaned from our failures if we are willing to learn from them.

  • Failure teaches you to be resilient.  Okay, you failed but the sky didn’t fall.  Get up and try again.
  • Failure teaches what you don’t want.  Thought you wanted the bad boy and it turned out crappy again?  Don’t go for the bad boy.
  • Failure teaches you to work harder for what you want.  If you really want something, it’s not going to be handed to you.  You have to put in the work.
  • Failure teaches you to be kind.  Everyone is fighting a battle on some front, be gentle with them.
  • Failure teaches you to learn.  No point in re-inventing the wheel – feel free to learn from someone else’s mistakes.
  • Failure teaches you to where to start.  You don’t always have to start at zero, although sometimes it’s helpful.
  • Failure teaches you economy.  It’s more important to be effective than to do a lot of needless work.

Can’t we just be friends?

Oh isn’t it grand when you try to be friends with your ex?  It’s a lofty ideal but not exactly what you want to do.  There are a tenacious few who are willing to slog through valley of crap in order to get to the mountain of friendship but these people usually have kids or a business together.  Most couples simply aren’t meant to be friends after they break up.

I can give you a million reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex but it boils down to your history with him.  Until you have some time and distance and can approach the friendship like a new relationship, you’re doomed to fail.  You will continue to treat him like you have some ownership in his life and he will continue to think that he can sleep with you at any point he desires.  And let’s face it, the reason we want to stay friends with our ex is to feel as though we exert some form of control over or voyeurism into their lives.  You can’t move into the future if you’re holding onto the past.

You’re better off with a clean break but if you insist….

  1. Take a break, a long break, from the friendship.
  2. Ask yourself why you want to be friends with him.  Make sure it’s for the right reasons.
  3. Approach him like a brand new person and get to know him all over again.
  4. Do not flirt or have sex with him.  Keep it strictly platonic.
  5. Have full disclosure with current and future boyfriends.

Post mortem

Whenever a relationship ends, it is tempting to hide the evidence.  While I agree that some time and distance can give you perspective on a relationship, you should absolutely attempt to figure out what went right and what went wrong.  You need to conduct a relationship autopsy.

While it would be nice, do not expect your ex to participate.  If he is willing to answer a few questions, make it one session and don’t attempt to defend yourself or the relationship.  Be aware that it’s highly likely that he’s going to lie to you about or at least omit the reasons why you broke up.  He still wants to be the nice guy – even after the break up.  Attempting to talk to him at length about it is not going to improve this, it will only annoy him and make him avoid you in the future.

You may also want to ask some of your close friends and family what they think went wrong with the relationship.  Be aware that they will be unconditionally biased toward you.  So don’t believe them when they tell you that it was all his fault.

Your biggest source of information will be yourself.  Think back about what was happening when the relationship was happy.  Was it merely because it was new?  Were you still putting your best foot forward?  What parts of your personality were on display?  Were you being inauthentic?  Did the relationship go bad after a specific event or length of time?  Did you seem to be fighting more often?  If so, what about?  Did you not fight because one or both of you were closed of?  Did you have different communication styles?  Did either of you give up?

As this won’t take an evening, you might want to journal it out so you have a written record you can go over.  The process may be painful but it is worthwhile.  If you can figure out what went wrong in the relationship, you can avoid the same mistake(s) in the future.

The end of an era

There comes a point when your relationship with your ex changes.  You may wake up one morning and the connection is gone.  You’re not angry with him, you don’t want him back, you just feel a bit…meh.  It can be described as a detached calm.  There has been a shift in your feelings and your relationship with him no longer serves you.  Do not feel bad, this is merely the end.

However, as this denouement is a bit of a disappointment (no bang, no whimper, no absolute finality), you may feel a bit unsure how to properly call it quits with your ex after you’ve already called it quits.  You should inform him, with no malice, that your relationship has run its course, there is no additional benefit to remaining in contact, and it’s better for both of you to say goodbye than to hang on to the last sentimental vestiges of a bygone era.  Do not be hurt if he readily agrees – he just came to the conclusion before you did but didn’t want to hurt you.  Also, do not be surprised or swayed if he attempts to argue the point – no one likes to be the one left out of the decision-making process.  Stand firm and remain calm.  It’s over, the only thing that’s left is acceptance.

Then quietly begin the last of the separation.  Remove him from your social networking sites, delete him from your cellphone (although keep his information somewhere just in case you ever need to ask a question, like did you file your taxes together five years ago), put all his pictures and stuff in a box, or better yet, give it to charity.  Stop commenting on him to friends, in fact, ask them not to talk about him at all.  Soon enough he’ll be that guy you once dated and think fondly of….just don’t look him up again.