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.

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.

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.

Striking a balance on holiday commitments

Holiday invitations are starting to roll in and quickly your free time will be taken over with social commitments.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even easier to feel disconnected with your partner.  Here’s how to handle it:

  • Keep an online calendar that both of you can check remotely (work, smartphone, etc.).  Check before you book anything and put anything you commit to on the calendar.
  • Establish a mandatory transition time if you have two events schedule for the same day.  A good calculation is one hour plus preparation time/transportation time.  This will keep you from feeling stressed out and sniping at each other.
  • Determine an arrival time and a departure time.  Stick to your schedule even if you’re having fun.  It’s better to leave them wanting more.
  • Learn to distinguish between a mandatory commitment and an optional commitment.  Family commitments are mandatory.  Work commitments may seem optional but be careful – a lot of socializing with the higher-ups occurs at company and department holiday parties.
  • Stock your kitchen with easy-to-prepare meals and healthy snacks you can eat on the go.  Don’t let your blood sugar get the better of your emotions.
  • Where possible, carpool only with your significant other and use the time in the car as your opportunity to connect, not just exchange small talk or information.
  • Stick to your sleep schedule.  Sleep-deprivation can lead to forgetfulness and short-tempers, neither of which is conducive to a healthy relationship.

When he wants to have a baby

Possibly the four scariest words coming from a man are, “Let’s have a baby.”  While this could be taken as a good sign, if you’re not married (or on a similar commitment level), there could be a variety of reasons why a man suggest this and you should fear it or not.

First, find out why he wants to have a baby:

  • Your relationship is in trouble and he thinks it will make things better.
  • He doesn’t want to get married but wants to “show” that the relationship is progressing.
  • Your genes and his genes would make cute babies.
  • He wants a baby and the uterus is irrelevant.
  • He honestly wants to have and raise children together.  (Obviously this is the only good reason.)

After you know why, then you can work out how to handle the situation. Gentle confrontation and tactful honesty will probably work best.

If the relationship is unstable or he’s unwilling to make a commitment to you (there are a number of men who will try to tell you that a baby demonstrates more commitment than marriage), suggest counseling before you opt for getting pregnant.

Cute babies?  Tell him he’ll need a better reason; it’s probably a passing fancy.

If he’s getting broody, it may or may not pass.  If, when discussing having children, he makes you feel irrelevant, absolutely refuse.  He may go find a more accommodating woman but it’s better than attempting to co-parent with a person who believes you do not matter.

There are good guys out there, use your judgment.

Possessive, not possession

Possessiveness is often described as an undesirable trait and, in fact, the obsessive, controlling type of possessiveness is terrible.  When you meet someone who wants to treat you like a possession, you should run (unless you want someone to command your every move but that is another blog entirely).

There is an upside to possessiveness-within-reason.  It is a manifestation of your investment in someone’s life.  Being possessive benefits the relationship when you want what is best for the other person (hint:  they have to want it, too).  It can keep you present in the relationship and interested in the life of your partner.  It can increase the intimacy and the commitment within the relationship.

However it is a thin line between possessive and possession.  Be on your guard to ensure that neither of you is attempting to control, manipulate, or guilt the other person into doing something.  Use possessiveness as an asset, rather than a liability.

Direct from my desk – week 41

So what if you’re the one who cheats?

First and foremost, own what you did.  Even if you decide not to fess up to your partner (more on that in a minute), you certainly shouldn’t live in a state of denial.  You were in a relationship and no matter how bad or good it was, you weren’t faithful to your commitment.  It doesn’t make you a horrible person, it just means that your actions don’t always live up to your expectations.

Analyze why you did it.  Was it unhappiness?  boredom?  fear?  Put some time into figuring out why you did it and how you can fix it.  Cheating is rarely about your partner so you’ll need to find what it is about you that needs to be improved upon.

If you decide to tell your partner, pick your moment carefully.  Be calm.  Answer their questions.  Do not give details.  Understand their anger.  Suggest a way to get the relationship back on track but don’t expect that it will be accepted.  Realize that they will need to be healed from this experience and that it won’t be easy or pleasant.

If you decide not to tell your partner, consider why you’re in the relationship.  If you’re thinking that it was a one-time-thing, then make sure that it was.  If you prefer not to burden them with your mistake then you need to make sure that they’re never going to find out.  Think long and hard about it before you take this course of action; honesty is long regarded as an essential component of any successful relationship.

Lastly, forgive yourself.  Neither you nor your relationship can move forward if you’re clinging to that past.

My mailbox is open:  girldontbestupid@gmail.com

Direct from my desk – week 33

I’m always amazed at the people who think that a relationship should run itself.  To me, that’s akin to saying that our only responsibility to our (future) children is to birth them out and after that, they’re on their own.

There are people who will break up with their partner when it’s no longer fun or when things start getting tough.  You probably have a friend with a story of how, when the chips were down, their partner cut and run.  While it may not seem like it at the time, the partner leaving was a blessing.  Who wants to be involved with someone who is only kind-of committed?

Relationships require work.  They’re sometimes uncomfortable.  Most of the time, a relationship requires your best efforts.  Only a tiny amount of the time, you can be on cruise control.  That’s part of the beauty of a relationship – it’s not perfect and it’s always evolving.  You are challenged to adapt and to better yourself through that adaptation.  There is a certain nobility in a long-standing relationship.  It is a manifestation of character.

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”  ~Barbara Bloom

My mailbox is open:  girldontbestupid@gmail.com

Creating your own traditions

Creating and engaging in your own traditions will help strengthen your bond with your partner.  Traditions unite family members, span generations, and create memories.  Humans enjoy a certain amount of predictability and traditions build stability.  Just remember that it should be equal parts commitment and fun.

Creating your own traditions can be a bit of trial-and-error.

  1. Start with something simple.  When you try to get too elaborate, the chances of the tradition sticking is reduced.
  2. Make it something everyone agrees with.  If you attempt to override someone’s objections, they’ll get you back by not participating.
  3. Write out what the tradition is.  Include day, time, participants, and general rules.  Don’t make the rules too inflexible.
  4. Participate in  your tradition, evaluate what works and what doesn’t.  Revise your tradition as necessary.