28 May 2012

It's Not Me, It's Me

So remember when I was "Still Winning" and I was all casual about having met someone? Yeah, this is the "Never mind" retraction. Despite how candid I can be about most things, I'm not the type to embarrass someone else in my blog so I won't elaborate. I'll merely say that, so far as I'm aware, I did nothing wrong and this was just one of those things where her feelings, expectations and hopes, etc. all kinda changed for whatever reason. C'est la vie.

Except, it's not just that that's life. It's my life.

Outside of my marriage, I have never been in a romantic relationship that ever saw a fourth month. Ever. To the best of my knowledge, I've never done anything to ruin anything. Perhaps if any of my ex's are reading this, they'd see fit to enlighten me about their side of things, but as near as I can tell what happens is this: I'm not actually like most guys. At first, that's a positive thing. But then what happens is that most girls/women discover they're not wired to actually be involved with me because I don't say or do the same things they're conditioned to expect. I'm very opinionated about many things, but I'm also very committed to civility. Consequently, while I'm not afraid at all of disagreeing with someone, I rarely have an actual argument with anyone. Women who are accustomed to the exhausting cycle of fighting and making up are very prone to finding me boring and leaving quickly.

Believe me, I'll stand up for myself. What I won't do, however, is make a big deal out of something that really isn't worth that kind of energy. I much prefer harmony and peace in my life, and unfortunately so many people are accustomed to frequently getting angry and then experience equally over-the-top phases of making up that they really just don't know how to acclimate to an emotionally stable relationship.

I am not at all the kind of person who will take it on the chin solely to avoid confrontation. In my old age, I've become more selective about when to speak up, certainly, but mostly I've just learned how to speak up without ranting and raving. I can still pitch an absolute fit on occasion, of course, and anyone who has ever watched me play Mario Kart Wii can attest to this. I'm comfortable yelling about the unfairness of game hackers ruining my race.
I am guaranteed to cuss and yell while playing this @#$%ing game.
Looking back, one thing I recall several of my ex's all mentioning ad nauseam when we first got together was how stupid each of them felt for how long they had stayed with guys who were unkind to them. My wife's first husband was emotionally abusive, unfaithful and a grade A jerk. She stayed with him for years. I readily admit that I was not my affectionate self during my Year of Hell with severe depression, and I know my withdrawal was hurtful for her. However, I was never actively unkind to her and never once was I unfaithful in any capacity. Why was it so much easier for her to bail on me than it was for her to leave him? I built her up emotionally, even when it was her own blood family tearing her down, but I'm the one she can just up and leave?

One of the few blogs I continue to read is Nikol Hasler's. In a recent post ("Some of Us Would Like to Hear We're Beautiful"), she states:
Some guys believe that a woman would get sick of being treated well. They believe that I would lose interest if they were good and kind and adored me. Those guys are wrong. I like to be told I’m beautiful with such sincerity. Maybe I should give up on dating and just get a parrot.
That led to the following back-and-forth between her and me in the comments section.
Me All I know is that every girl/woman I’ve ever gone out with has complained of how much they put up with from the guys who mistreated them, but they didn’t hesitate to lose interest in me. I’ve been complimentary, encouraging, patient, faithful…all the things my predecessors weren’t. I’m not qualified to draw any final conclusions from this, but I do know that just being those things is apparently insufficient to satisfy Jane Q. Public.
NH The misconception is that we lose interest BECAUSE you’re nice to us. Are we still with the guys who treated us like shit? Nope. Because they treated us like shit. The reason we’re not with a guy who didn’t treat us like shit isn’t because he was nice to us. There’s just more to it than that.
Me I readily concede that there’s a lot more to it than “leave the nice guy.” But I definitely feel that women have been much quicker to leave me than they were to leave the guys who were jerks. “My ex cheated on me several times, put me down, wasn’t there for me, etc.” I do the exact opposite, but there doesn’t even seem to be any hesitation or struggle about leaving me. Why are women so much more reluctant to leave the jerks?
NH I may be the exception, but I stick it out with nice guys. I would stay with them forever.
Except (not pointing any fingers), I do know that a few of the guys I dated who harped on the whole “Woman don’t want NICE guys! I’m such a nice guy.” song were actually the biggest jerks I ever dated.
And as for choosing jerks in the first place, that’s not my MO. The last “asshole” I dated seemed really nice for about a month. Then he got mean and I’d break up with him, he’d apologize, do a bunch of really nice things, I’d take him back… It wasn’t his asshole behavior that appealed to me.
It's certainly not an issue so simplistic that all women are bored by nice guys, and just as certainly that most jerks don't come across as such up front. Still, I maintain my point about my own anecdotal experiences. Every ex I've ever had complained extensively about how stupid they felt for what they had tolerated and put up with from my predecessors, and every one of them lost interest in me and bailed after just a couple of months without my having committed any of those offenses.
Also, in case Nikol or any of her readers happen to be here, now is as good a time as any to shamelessly promote my own previous blog post, "On Appreciating the Beauty of Women."
Another reader left the following comment:
I agree fully, Nikol. I think that there’s some sort of mass-hypnosis going on that allows guys to think that women “don’t like nice guys” when, NO….it’s that we just don’t like THEM. Telling themselves that women “only want assholes” let’s them off the hook so that they don’t have to face what it REALLY was that made us lose interest.
I'm sure there are some guys who are disingenuous about the "I'm a nice guy" thing, but I am certain I'm not among them. Not because I'm so full of myself that I'm sure I'm a nice guy because I'm afraid of introspection, but rather the reverse. I'm so self-critical that I'm aware of every flaw I have - even ones that go unnoticed by my (admittedly few) romantic partners. I can't account for what it is that I've done wrong that "REALLY" made them lose interest. I honestly cannot answer that question, and I cannot answer it for any of my past relationships. None of my friends can (or will) explain it, either, and there are no sycophants in my inner circle. They'll kick me in the teeth about everything else, so I cannot fathom that on this one subject they've all conspired to keep from telling me about an obvious flaw.

I also follow a few adult bloggers as well, and I recently discussed my woes with one of them (no links to this one). She suggested that I "get the rope out" and look into purchasing a ball-gag and whip, as well as a Sybian. "They may stick around a little longer," she offered. Her perspective, then, was that women lose interest in me because I'm not sufficiently aggressive or dominant. Now we're back to the struggle between my peaceable nature, and the interests of women. All I can conclude is that women are not interested in a peaceable guy like me.

I would love to know just what it is that I have (or haven't) done that has led every girl/woman I've ever gone out with to lose interest in me after just a couple of months. I would very happily work to change that. At present, though, my understanding of my relationships, the girls/women themselves and human nature in general leads me to just one conclusion: I don't behave like most guys, and no matter how frustrated they may get with Joe Sixpack, he's familiar. They may hate all the arguing and insensitivity, but they're used to it enough that when they're with a guy like me where things are peaceful, it's confusing. It lacks the kinetic thrills they associate with being in a relationship, and the truth is that entirely too many people - of any gender - don't really want companionship nearly as much as they really just want the game playing and charades of courtship.

Feedback is always welcome on this blog, and particularly on this post. Some of you know me and my previous experiences well enough to have keen insights. Some of you may simply wish to relate to the broad themes I've outlined here. Whatever it is, I'd love to hear it!
(While I'm thinking about it, Nikol Hasler is made of awesomesauce and you should definitely follow her blogTwitter feed and Facebook page, Nikol Hasler Loves Your Shoes.)

19 comments:

  1. I can tell you from first hand experience that it's not as simple as this "one thing" or that "one thing" I've dated plenty of "nice girls", "sweet girls" , and the like. The thing about human nature is we tend to gravitate towards things we can't have. Want more proof? You can spend weeks, months ect planning to break up with your significant other. You have a laundry list of reasons and validations why it isn't working, can't be fixed ect. You plan out what to say in your head, and today is THE day. You get home from work, and you tell her you need to talk. She says ok and that she wants to talk to you. You tell her to go first and say what she needs to say, and in that instant she tells you its over and she breaks up with you. In that split second something happens in your head and you HAVE to have her back. Your goals have changed and suddenly you want her back, you beg her not to leave, you beg her to work things out.....keep in mind just 2 min ago you were gonna end things with her. That's reality.
    Now as far as nice guys/nice girls go, I can't stand a clingy girl. She may be exactly what I wanted 10 min ago but the second she comes across as clingy or overbearing, its an immediate turn off, I'm done and that's the end. It becomes like a game, and the longer you live in this type of state you just want to know you can have someone. It gets to the point where you don't even have to sleep with them, once you "know" you have them, the challenge is over and you lose interest. I know there are millions of guys who "just want that one nice girl" but the issue is that a guy who wants that and a girl who wants that, meeting, are slim to none. The less interest you show in someone who has an interest in you, the more that person wants you. That is where a lot of your "girls like assholes" syndrome comes from. There could be a dozen different ways to spin this one, "he doesn't like her but feels bad so he doesn't leave her but his anger results in treating her bad" " he thinks if he treats her bad she will leave and he won't have to feel like he broke her heart" ect. ect. Now you may find a girl who is IDENTICAL to the last 10 girls you didn't want but because she wants nothing more then friendship from you, you desire her even more. You may watch as she says she doesn't want anyone, then she dates a crappy guy, then she gets hurt, the whole while you sit there and think to yourself that "if she would just give me that one chance, I could make her so happy." Now if this was a movie, you'd get that chance, and you'd wind up together, happily ever after. But this is reality and you are 100 times more likely to end up at home, alone, with a bottle of wine and a bottle of pills watching How I Met Your Mother reruns and passing out every night on the couch in a pool of misery. Bottom line is life sucks, there are people who find a way to coexist in the form of romantic relationships, but the doesn't mean they are anything close to happy. Codependent without a doubt, but happy, not for more then half the time.

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    1. Anonymous, I did acknowledge in my post that at least part of the dynamic is that people of any gender are accustomed to a certain amount of game playing drama, and guys like me who don't feed into that can be perplexing. As for the rest of it...that all sounds like the very game playing I don't do and don't understand.

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  2. OK, I don't have *lots* of insight on relationships. I'm 7 months into the first one of my life, but I thought I'd offer some thoughts as someone who *is* dating a "nice guy" (with no intention to change that any time soon) and as someone who's never been attracted to "bad boys." (Even in movies. I got annoyed when female leads ended up with the wild-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold instead of the OBVIOUSLY more interesting and attractive wise-cracking best friend.)

    I think some of it has to do with the fact that love today is often seen as... a game. A chase. A constant up and down roller coaster between extremes. And that's the way people... maybe not WANT it to be, but expect it to be. When extremes don't happen, the assumption is that the relationship isn't thriving or going anywhere.

    Even though I'm a really laidback, mellow person, I ran into this in my own relationship. I had times when I wondered if I was doing things wrong because I wasn't really dealing with a lot of emotional extremes. Maybe I just thought of him as a friend, because what I felt for him didn't seem to match what I'd been told relationships should be like. And then I realized that was ridiculous - I don't LIKE emotional extremes and would be exhausted if I was always on an emotional high. Quieter warm fuzzies were just as acceptable.

    I think sometimes the draw of the bad boy is 1) the excitement of the up-and-down nature of the relationship, and 2) the excitement of having... a makeover goal, I guess. The idea of being able to change somebody. However, these are terrible reasons to be attracted to somebody, much less to be in a long term relationship with someone.

    None of these thoughts necessarily connect. I've essentially just spewed a bunch of just-formed thoughts at you. Heh. But it's something I've wondered about sometimes too, because I similarly am a "nice girl" - I'm laidback and low maintenance and have felt like this makes me boring or unexciting to others. I'm sure for some people the stereotype of only liking jerks is true and for others (like myself) it's not.

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    1. Hannah, I've explained in the past that my perception is most people have a video game view of relationships. They're an achievement to unlock for many people, and once they're in a relationship, it's all about "leveling up." Go out for x duration of time, do y. There's a formula, it seems, for every step of the way from when to make the first phone call to when you should get married.

      I define a relationship as the dynamics between two people. Those dynamics evolve daily, because each person likewise evolves daily. It's an organic, if abstract, construct. The idea of expecting those ever-evolving dynamics to conform to an artificial paradigm is, frankly, absurd.

      The best example of what I'm talking about is Charlotte from Sex and the City. She was so obsessed with the life she thought she wanted that she reduced her dating life to little more than casting a part in the movie of her life. She didn't even care about how she or he felt about one another, so long as he was from a certain background, in a certain socio-economic group and was willing to indulge her lifelong itinerary. Naturally, she was entirely miserable until she found the one guy (Harry) so smitten with her he was willing to suppress or ignore any of his own identity that was incompatible with her wishes. (Yes, she converted to Judaism for him, but that was for the social aspects of networking and we all know it.)

      Anyway, back to you. I'm curious: How much of your "laid back" personality is that you're mellow and how much is it that you're an introvert and can be easily mistaken for being someone who's "boring"?

      I do know in the past my prominent introvert side has required something of an adjustment period because it can be mistakenly interpreted that I don't want to be with the woman I'm dating, when in fact I just want to be by myself on that given occasion. Once it becomes clearer that I'm not being flaky about the relationship, that generally isn't much of an issue but early on, it does seem to require some negotiating to figure out.

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    2. (And, several days later, because I forgot to check the blog, here is my response to your response.)

      Oh, I'm sure the mellowness and the introversion go hand in hand for me. There have been studies showing that introverts are less likely than extroverts to express themselves in emotional extremes, and that is absolutely true for me. (My introversion, however, does sometimes make me almost, er... *aggressively* mellow, if that makes any sense at all. Sometimes I will fight to stay home and do nothing rather than go with the flow of a group wanting to go out and party it up.)

      My close friends are people who understand that the fact that I want to be by myself is not at all an indication of how much I care about them - those who do not understand that, aren't close to me. I'm fortunate enough to be dating the person I complained to about being overpeopled even before we were together, heh, so that hasn't been an issue yet because he knows how that works for me.

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    3. I think I get the "aggressively mellow" thing. You sort of have to dig in your heels to avoid being swept up into something more demanding on you than you're willing to endure.

      Throughout my Year of Hell, I withdrew not because of my introverted side, but because of depression. Still, I definitely know what it's like to have to actively resist participating in group events. In my case, I was content to let everyone buy into the idea that I didn't feel well because of Crohn's. It was much easier than saying, "I don't want to be around anyone because I feel worthless and undeserving of your company." I imagine you often feel self-conscious about how "I don't want to go out because it's too draining on me" sounds to your extroverted friends or associates who don't fully understand just what it is that they're asking of you.

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  3. Something about this post really bugs me. (Despite how much I like you, or probably because of it.) Sure, you make all these concessions on how there's probably more to it, but in essence you're pretty much insisting that for a woman, it comes down to choosing between assholes (in which case she's of course the victim) and nice guys (in which case she's spared violence and humiliation, but gets bored). I've never once dated an outright asshole in my life -- at least not of the type you are referring to (abusive etc.). Obviously, we all have narcissistic and manipulative traits, and my ex-boyfriends were no exception. All in all, they were nice men who cared about me, but I'm guilty of breaking up with a few of them. Did I break up with them because they were nice? because they were peaceable? because I longed for drama? No. In fact, the reasons I broke up with them were different in each case. It's not fair to women to expect them to be forever grateful and stay with you simply because you're noble-minded enough not to take advantage of them. Why would it even cross your mind to be an asshole if it's not in your nature? You almost make it sound like it's an option. It also appears to be on your mind a lot, that whole asshole vs. nice-guy thing when there's obviously a whole lot more to both your personality and any woman's personality. I guess what bugs me most about this distinction is that you're reducing women to the victim's role. She's either a defenseless victim of abuse by her asshole boyfriend or she's a defenseless creature who is fortunate enough to be spared abuse because she's with you, a nice guy. Either way, she has no say in how she gets treated.

    Have you ever wondered why, according to what you said in this post, every single woman you've ever dated has a history of abusive relationships? For some reason, it's either that you are attracted to those kinds of women or they are attracted to you, or both. I guess that could be both the cause and the consequence of such a reductive view of relationships.

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    1. I had hoped I had made it clearer that I was discussing only my own anecdotal experiences, and not even drawing a conclusion so much as trying to work out what one might be. It's interesting to me that you read this as my being reductive of women, when I actually see myself in a very reductive way. To illustrate: You see me as depicting women as either victims of abuse or "a defenseless creature" who ought to be "grateful" to be with me, with no say in how she's treated either way.

      From my perspective, I'm the one who's grateful when a woman is willing to give me the time of day. The idea of me being selective is almost laughable, because so few women have ever even been willing to give me a chance. Women have plenty of options and lots of say. They should. My post isn't about how they're making a "wrong" choice by not staying with me, but wondering what it is about me that makes me an undesirable choice.

      As we've discussed in the past, it's not in my nature to be some other kind of guy or to treat women differently than I do. It's not an option for me to behave differently. Yet, I have to wonder: short of actually becoming the kind of guy I'm not and don't wish to be, what is it that I've done wrong all these years that I could correct? As I indicated, none of my ex's ever explained to me why they broke up with me so I've never received any criticism - constructive or otherwise. If it's not that I'm not part of the cycle of drama that's the problem, then what is the problem?

      As for the matter of being with women with a history of abusive relationships, I have two theories. Firstly, it seems pretty common around here. I've got friends with lots of stories of being mistreated. Of course, it's also worth noting that no one ever seems to talk about the nice ex's. I guess no one wants to admit, "I was with this one guy and he was really nice but I got bored/I wanted something else/we had cumulonimbus clouds in the sky for a week straight and I couldn't take it anymore."

      The other theory I have is that only a woman who has reached a point of disgust with those kinds of guys is even willing to consider an alternative like me. It's like how nobody buys generic brands until they're poor. It's like I'm some kind of emotional Florence Nightingale or something, only considered because I'm clearly harmless and then left when they're ready to re-enter the dating world at large.

      It should also be noted that I've felt awfully cynical the last few days and if/when that passes, I'll probably have a perspective more to your liking.

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    2. Gotta say, my initial reaction is similar to Heidi's. It's not so much the reduction of women to either this or that, but the assumption that "jerk" and "nice guy" are the only two things that factor into a woman's (or anyone's, really) decision to stay in a relationship or not. I don't have a lot of dating experience except for Jonathan (who, for the record, is a nice guy), but all the guys I've ever been interested in or who have been interested in me were nice guys, and the reason it didn't go very far is not because either of us were bored, it's just that we had different likes/dislikes/personalities/quirks/goals etc.

      I guess it just seems like from your post that you're saying "I didn't do anything bad to her so she should love me!" whereas really, it could be any number of things that made her decide it wasn't something she wanted to pursue. Now, whether that decision was over something trivial or not (i.e., she didn't like the way you put toilet paper on the holder), it still doesn't necessarily mean you can boil it down to "I was nice and she left therefore she must not like being treated nicely." She may have left AND you were nice, but she didn't necessarily leave BECAUSE you were nice. It's faulty logic.

      With Jonathan, the guiding factor for me is that I like being around him more than being alone, and as an introvert, I've never experienced that before with ANYONE. That doesn't mean the other guys I've dated or who were interested in dating me weren't nice or that I wanted more drama in a relationship. Far from it. Just for whatever reason that I can't necessarily articulate myself, being with them didn't click, didn't make me happy, not through any fault of mine or theirs. That doesn't help you a lot, I know, but trying to be different or do things differently than you normally would, as you seem to be wanting to do, isn't going to help.

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    3. I think you've managed to pinpoint the specific failing of what I wrote in that I seem to have characterized it as a causal relationship, when in fact it is merely a correlation. I readily concede that point.

      Other than just being frustrated in general, I think what bugs me is that I have never been given any of those possible reasons to which you refer. It's not that I'm a malleable, blow-with-the-wind weakling, but rather that I'm constantly seeking to evolve. For this reason, I identify a failure in my life (i.e., keeping companionship) but my information is so limited that I can only reach a few conclusions, none of which are particularly helpful.

      Still, I think there's something to the fact that all of my ex's made clear to me how long they had "stuck it out" with guys they found deplorable and that they emphasized were nothing at all like me. It's not that I think they should be "grateful" to be with me, but rather that I simply don't understand - given the absence of any explanations ever offered - why the guys that were awful deserved their time and efforts, but I did not.

      Also, any woman who hangs the toilet paper with the roll going "under" is wrong and I should be grateful to be rid of her.

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  4. Is it possible for you to actually contact any of your exes to simply ask them? Might be helpful. All I can say is that while you may not be like a lot of other guys, there are women out there who will love you. You just have to keep trying! If you feel that you are uncommon, you may be searching for an equally uncommon woman and it will be worth the effort when you find her!

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    1. Sort of a High Fidelity thing? I'd be eager to know what they might say, but I'm also reluctant to impose upon them for something so trivial. It's one thing for me to become distracted complaining about it, but it's another for me to actually bother my ex's with my narcissism.

      I was going to make the comment that I don't need "women" to love me, just a woman. But then it occurred to me that maybe what I'm doing wrong is limiting myself. Maybe I'd have better luck in the polyamorous lifestyle. "I cannot fiddle, but I can make a great state out of nothing." Perhaps I'd be better off trying to find two women (or more!). :P

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    2. As a woman myself, believe me, you don't want to have to deal with more than one of us at a time! :)

      Is seeking information about yourself narcissistic? Masochistic, maybe, if you think any of the girls might be less than kind, but definitely not narcissistic and definitely not trivial.

      And maybe it doesn't matter...maybe you move on from here and not worry about what came before. I would say a place to start is to build up your self-esteem. You shouldn't start a relationship by feeling grateful that she gave you the time of day! Go find that woman who is as excited to be with you as you are with her...she exists! Have you tried online dating? You might be able to better pinpoint women who have the same interests as you that way. Also give serious thought to what you actually want in a woman. Make a list! And, this is very important...when you meet someone, you need to frame your thoughts around the fact that you are deciding if YOU like HER, rather than worrying about if she likes you.
      You can do it Charlie Brown!

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    3. Exploring the lessons of the past versus plowing forward with the present; yeah, I struggle with that in general. My background is in history, so I'm predisposed anyway to delve into yesterday but the truth is, I feel too many people make too much of the past and I readily concede perhaps that's what I've been doing with this. I feel we ought to look to the past only when we're trying to make sense of the present, though, and not because we find the past more comforting. In this case, I think I'm only fixating on my dismal track record with women in an attempt to better understand what to do/not to do in the present.

      I don't know that I really believe there's a woman out there who would truly match my interest. The idea of me being the one screening women is...well, it's laughable, really! You're very sweet to suggest such an alternate universe, though.

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    4. It occurs to me, Anonymous [#1], that I did not address the question you raised about online dating. I blogged previously about how I've languished in that world an "Dare to Cross That Line: The Dating Bouncer." I wrote that prior to meeting the woman who abruptly ended our nascent relationship, mentioned in the opening of this post.

      http://travismcclain.blogspot.com/2012/02/dare-to-cross-that-line-dating-bouncer.html

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  5. I've had problems commenting on your blog in the recent past so I figured I'd just post as an anonymous. I know you all too well to think that you would ever be reductive of women, and I get your essential premise that it's not about being reductive of the exact or the type of women who have scorned you, it's about seeking answers regarding "What do I do, unknowingly, that fails to hold someone's attention?" The idea that you in any way seek the women who have left a bad relationship (I use 'bad' because I feel 'abusive' creates an overly harsh image in the minds of many), is also laughable. While most people we know are not prone to a lack of empathy and would be supportive of the people who have endured such trials, we simply exist, as you said, in a peaceable state. None of us actively seek out those who've suffered, we just don't reject them or hopefully don't make them feel belittled like charity cases for our sympathy, but rather warmly welcomed by our empathy. I notice a lot of the female responders responded with very similar posts, "oh it can't be just one thing" and "it's not the asshole parts of the asshole guy that we like" and it feels like a "sisterhood" thing, a manufactured excuse that women might buy into as an easy blanket excuse just the way that men buy into a rudimentary "Nice guys finish last" idea. We are all composed of multiple personality traits, often at war for supremacy. And all of us, men and women, while we may pay that idea a little lip service, don't often examine it in sufficient depth to expose ourselves to our own truths. Even Nikol Hasler said "The last “asshole” I dated seemed really nice for about a month. Then he got mean and I’d break up with him, he’d apologize, do a bunch of really nice things, I’d take him back… It wasn’t his asshole behavior that appealed to me." which points out a significant point. It's not the asshole behavior of a person that might be attractive, the asshole behavior might be akin to a condiment properly dosed to improve the flavor of an entree. That this guy can be a dick sharpens the contrast when the same person is not, creating the appearance that said person does not want to be a dick to *you* specifically, and that makes one feel special, by visible action rather than wordplay. And you'll notice as I wrote that I began tailoring it away from indicting women, because as a man I have been in the passive role in a similar relationship where the woman was the one leaving me with a deficit of attention and appreciation and then would come around sporadically to feed her ego with how attracted I remained to her and would ingratiate herself with me again for yet another brief period. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. We are all the same animal, and I think some of the responders could benefit from the same degree of self examination that you've afforded yourself. However, I do agree with the Anonymous who called you 'Charlie Brown' just prior to me. Why not treat yourself as deserving the privilege of being selective, rather than as a puppy dog just glad for the attention? Even if you find it laughable, indicating that you find it absurd, is it not an option that you have never committed yourself fully to attempting and is not the elimination of all other options a strategy in illuminating truth?

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    1. I could respond to every point you've raised, but I'm on an antibiotic this week and half-drowsy so I just don't have much concentration at the moment. There are two points I want to make now, though.

      Firstly, I feel the need to defend some of the others who have commented. Just as we all do, they've read and processed this post through the prism of their own experiences. I'm sure what I've written has come across as simplistic to some of them, because they've been through relationships that forced them to examine these very issues differently than I have. That's perfectly fair.

      Lastly, you know what? I am "a puppy dog just glad for the attention." Dignity and self-respect are luxuries I can't afford.

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    2. I don't think they need defense, simply because they seem highly capable of defending themselves, but that you would spring forward to do so is an admirable trait. The key to my point is not to denigrate the other responders but to assert that perhaps they are being too immediately dismissive of your ideas. We are a generation that was made self-aware by media like "Seinfeld," wherein we saw truths of ourselves reflected on-screen, notably in this instance we saw the male and female characters willing to break up with people over trivial things that we make big deals of. This is an uncomfortable truth. And like all truths, it is not universal but because it's uncomfortable the majority of us will pretend it doesn't exist or that we don't partake because that's easier to accept than the idea that "I have made choices that if someone else made, especially the other person in my relationship, I would consider them a bad person."
      My contention is that the conglomeration of posts seem to suggest that you and other men will identify with a binary idea of 'nice vs. asshole' ignoring shades of grey that women will perceive within the individual, the 'it's more than just one factor" ideology, and that these are both blanket excuses that either party could use effortlessly to spare ourselves the pain of realizing our own shortcomings. I do not mean to be dismissive of anyone's opinions or ideas, just as I would not see others dismiss yours. To do so is to curtail conversation, which seems counter to the point of a blog. It is perfectly fair to allow ourselves our own reactions and examinations; all of our opinions are rooted in our own experiences, and appreciation for that alone is often what divides rather than unites. Otherwise I would feel safe to say as I have never suffered from a debilitating disease, or have suffered from diseases but recovered ably, that I do not empathize with the suffering of those who do continue to suffer and can in good conscience vote against support for the sufferers of such affliction because you've just gotta 'Buck up." And that's perfectly okay right? I've examined it through the prism of my own experience and that seems the logical end result...

      These are all just thoughts and that's the point. We cannot accept the rote excuses for either being stereotypes bearing no fact or hard and fast rules. So let's not dismiss things so much as add possibilities, because to live only within our own perception of experience is to embrace ignorance but with the caveat "that we just don't call it that to it's face." As for your final comment, these things are not beneath you, and should you choose them to be, may you only ever fix what the tools you use enable you to.

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    3. I can't say for certain, but I think you inadvertently composed a haiku somewhere in that middle paragraph. ;)

      More seriously, though, I certainly do endeavor to provoke discourse with this blog and if I had one "unwritten rule" for comments, I would ask that they promote that. I do agree that "it's not just one thing" is more helpful as a shield for the speaker than it is informative for the addressee but I also concede that it's a fair point to make.

      I guess my ultimate question is, "Why is it that the guys who exhibited such dreadful behavior - whether displayed originally or not, whether you eventually left them or not - have received greater efforts than I have?"

      I'm hardly surrounded by sycophants, as I think the comments section here demonstrates. My friends and associates are all willing to disagree with me and challenge me on any number of points and I truly appreciate that about each of you. Still, at the risk of hubris, I think those of you who have really any working knowledge of who I am would characterize me as someone who treats his admittedly few romantic partners with respect, patience and warmth. I've often been told how uncommon I am in that regard. Why, then, is something so uncommon and seemingly valued so easily discarded?

      Your earlier response was spot on; I posted this partly just for the catharsis of purging the thoughts from my head but also partly because I have what I feel are legitimate questions that deserve answers.

      Lastly, I would clarify that my quip about being a puppy grateful for the attention was (mostly) a demonstration of my reflexive sense of humor. As I've noted in my replies to Hannah, I do have a pronounced introverted side that is perfectly capable of being in solitude. And I do have standards. No Tea Partiers, no Red Sox fans and nobody who thinks there's anything genuinely emotional in a Christopher Nolan movie.

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