I’ve never been a fan of those “get to know you” type of conversations. They tend to seem very rehearsed and canned. The typical, “have you been married?” “do you have kids?” questions get old after a while. Then inevitably a question that is a part of the impromptu compatibility interview is, “what are some of your pet peeves?” Like a traditional interview, I typically have my answer already ready and I know what I want to say. I say something about the fact that my pet peeves are long dirty fingernails and bad grammar/writing skills. But, curtesy of my most recent romantic relationship debacle I’ve discovered that my absolute number one pet peeve is being ignored. Previously I knew that it bothered me but it was lower on the hierarchy. But nope, that’s not true. I don’t think there’s anything as frustrating and annoying for me. I’m not the kind of person who wants constant communication (although it would be nice) but I do want my text messages and phone calls returned in a timely manner. It’s not rocket science, it’s common curtesy. Looking back, there’s been some friendships I’ve actually ended because of this. I’m someone who likes to talk things out and process. I know how to work through conflict but you have to give me something to work with and not ignore me. I know that I can’t make someone change their ways and I understand that everyone has something going on in their lives. Stuff happens. However, it’s an indication to me that the relationship/friendship/whatever is not important to you and thus I have to act accordingly. So yeah, new number one pet peeve.
I tweeted earlier this week about how it was funny we tend to keep toxic people around because we’re familiar with them. I think that there’s so much to be said about the familiar and how much it influences our daily lives. I think that there are people we keep around solely because we know what to expect from them. We know that they will be unreliable, late, and unapologetic and we plan accordingly. Personally, I’m the kind of person who will put up with a lot. However, when I’m done dealing with it–after a few days or even a few years, it’s over. I do enough ensure that I’ve done what I could do and after that I walk away without looking back. There are people who stay around because they’re harmless once you realize that you can’t believe anything they say or count on them. Knowing this takes away the annoyance and frustration and you adjust accordingly. Needless to say, I prefer dealing with someone I know as opposed to someone I’m trying to figure out. Toxic people are less harmful (in my opinion) when you know how they function and you don’t expect anything from them. It’s when you start expecting qualities like loyalty, honesty, and trust that the problem starts.
One of the features that I enjoy on my most used social media site is the one where you can see what you had posted on that same day in years past. Not too long ago I ran across a status I had written describing my excitement of starting college and classes. Looking back, it feels like it happened a million years ago. I remember agonizing about what my major would be and feeling torn between social work, psychology, and music. College was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was great because I had the opportunity to meet new people, manage a schedule, and experience life in another structured and sheltered environment that was in a lot of ways like my home life. I learned a lot about assertiveness when I had to challenge grades with certain teachers. Before graduation I had to advocate for myself when it came down to required classes for graduation and I found a loophole and used it to my advantage. I learned about discipline and while I never perfected the art of studying, I learned about the benefits of procrastination and racing to meet a deadline while still delivering a quality scholarly work. College taught me the importance of time management and balancing conflicting priorities. The untimely deaths of several of my classmates reminded me of the importance of appreciating and living life to the fullest. Looking back, there’s not a lot I would change–except maybe being a bit more open minded and allowing myself to have more fun instead of being in the books all the time. Ah well.
Independence and doing your own thing is something that is valued in many different circles. Single people are told and advised to stay single for as long as humanly possible and enjoy their “season of freedom.” Not too long ago I went on a date where the guy told me numerous times how I was weird and how badly he wanted my life because I travel a lot. Not the greatest thing but I digress. The world is still geared towards couples. From tax breaks to more respect and credibility for others, it’s a good time to be in a relationship. Even travel packages cost you almost twice as much when you travel by yourself. It’s an inconvenient expense that could easily be remedied. Millions of dollars worth of books, CD’s, and DVD’s have been bought giving remedies and steps on how to be a happy and whole single person. The mantra that you have to be ok with yourself before being with someone else is debate-able. I’m not against working out personal issues but it can also be done within a relationship. It’s going to be hard either way. I’m not downing the single life because it definitely has it’s perks at times but there’s something to be said about being able to take advantage of the tax breaks, two for one deals and travel packages that comes along with having a significant other. While these things can be done with friends, it’s still a different dynamic. Must I carry all my groceries up three flights of stairs all the time? Small insignificant but also significant details make you realize how life experiences could change with the presence of a consistent significant other.
I rarely browse articles but the title of this one caught my eye. After reading it I immediately realized that it was the best non-scholarly article I’ve read this year to date. I’m a psychology junkie and I love reading articles and books related to relationships, human interactions, and patterns of behavior. Very interesting stuff. Now, outside of the fact that the author is a good writer, she also took the liberty of attaching the original research article that she was referencing. This was great because it gave me a little more background on the original study that had been done. Which, by the way, would have been an excellent dissertation topic. The whole idea behind the article is that we choose who we fall in love with and that we can fall in love with someone based on interpersonal interactions we’ve had with them that were meaningful and required both individuals to be vulnerable to each other at the same time. The study the author referenced was conducted with college psychology students that were paired together. They were tasked with asking each other a set of questions and their emotional closeness was measured afterwards. There was also a component that author of the article noted that included looking into the eyes of the person for four minutes straight. Yes, four minutes. The idea behind that is that it is a way for both individuals to feel equally vulnerable at the same time. This builds emotional closeness. The author in the article tried this with a guy using the same questions from the original study and got positive results. It’s interesting how relationship dynamics can change when there are opportunities to talk about personal topics. You can sometimes see a different side of someone when they are by themselves versus when they are in a group because their defenses are down and a one-on-one interaction can foster an environment of intimacy and emotional closeness that is much harder to achieve in a group setting. So hypothetically, you could “gently persuade” someone to fall in love with you by looking into their eyes for four minutes and the facilitation of these discussion questions the author mentions and includes a link for in the article. Interesting.
As I’ve mentioned before in some previous posts, I don’t watch a huge amount of television. As a result, I’ve grown to have an appreciation for the commercial free atmosphere of Netflix. In addition, it’s nice to watch seasons of shows instead of waiting for a week before the next episode. One show that has really grabbed my interest is Dexter. I just finished season 4. I only watch the show in short bursts because it can be fairly intense, but I’m drawn to the complexity of Dexter’s childhood and how it has affected his behaviors as an adult. By no means do I think that the show is child friendly but it is SO intriguing from a human behavior/psychology perspective. The show is about a blood splatter analyst (Dexter) who has a secret of his own. He wrestles with being a traditional family man and keeping his big secret from others. Dexter has had a traumatic experience in his early childhood that has set him apart from other people. He had a father who taught him how to function in a way that would prevent him from spending the rest of his life in prison. The unique thing about the show is that the storyline is in first person. Dexter struggles in every episode with what he is expected to be and who he really perceives himself to be. While Dexter’s challenges with his secret are more marked than many other people, in every season he becomes more of a person. Watching Dexter navigate his personal and work relationships is a reminder to me of how often we can stereotype or assume things about others. On the surface, no one would ever guess that Dexter has this huge secret because he struggles with being genuine and honest with himself and others. As a result, Dexter has few close relationships.
One of the most common pieces of relationship advice is to be what you’re seeking. If you want someone mature, be mature. If you want someone clean, be clean. The thing about this whole train of thought is that life isn’t always that simple. While this might work in certain contexts, it’s not an absolute rule. Opposites attract, people change, life happens. One of the things I knew that I couldn’t expect or require in a significant other when starting my doctorate was a similar education attainment as me. I’ve met so many people who’ve used their education as a crutch for their loneliness. This has been especially true of women. The fact of the matter is that complementarity is more important than mirroring. If it was that simple we would just clone ourselves. I don’t expect my future significant other to have a stupid amount of degrees. I’m not necessarily requiring even a bachelors. There are so many other factors that matter more. I’m more concerned about fathering skills, ability to provide, family dynamics, and genuineness than a piece of paper saying that some program of study was completed. Because at the end of the day, that’s not a challenge or an issue unless someone in the relationship makes it one. A significant other should make you want to be the best version of you as possible and sometimes that route includes education. Mutual respect and a teamwork mentality will go a long way. We get so caught up on the physical and what they do for a living that we forget about the daily characteristics and habits that make them who they are as people. The truth is that an educated man can beat you just as hard as an uneducated one. And while that example may be a bit out there, the point still stands. Stop trying to find a human mirror and look for someone whose dreams, goals, and ambitions mesh with yours. Values should be shared but you want a different perspective that complements your own. These impossible standards have to be re-evaluated.