Your friend has been dating a man for about three months. She, of course, tells you everything — about the courtship, the sex, the conversations, the arguments, etc. And, of course, her concerns about what she should do/not do about his apparently aloof behavior in regards to taking the relationship to another, perhaps exclusive level. You, being the good friend that you are, offer your advice when asked — don’t call him, let him call you, don’t send emails spouting of your affection, don’t smother him, don’t berate him about his backpedaling, etc. (I could go on and on.)
Does this sound familiar to you?
Having graduated from the weak-minded, two-dimensional, spineless-emotional-cripple club, I usually find myself on the receiving end of this situation that causes the ears to get all bent out of shape. This wouldn’t be so bad if each situation described was unique every time. But, for some reason, for certain people, the pattern is cyclical, repeating itself.
Women are emotional about their dealings with men, work, finances, etc. until they reach a certain age or level of experienceThis scenario, in and of itself, is relatively tolerable in small doses. I don’t mind ponying up a rather pliable ear from time to time. However, it’s been my experience that this particular behavior is becoming more commonly repetitive in the relationship arena. It’s almost as if our leading lady is wielding a rather volatile cookie cutter. A new, but oddly familiar gingerbread man keeps popping out of the oven every few months, only to have his head bitten off…..literally. Only too often, I find myself giving the same advice to said person over and over. For some reason, these pearls of wisdom don’t seem to get through to those waxing emotional. Lately, it seems like I’ve been increasingly surrounded by these all-too-impervious Betty Crocker types. Unfortunately, these individuals don’t learn from these experiences, and subsequently create a repeated pattern for themselves.
Is there some subconscious need to make choices that are familiar to us on an ongoing basis, even though those choices may be detrimental to our mental as well as physical health? My observations, as well as my experience, indicate that this behavior stems from an emotional platform. In other words, women are emotional about their dealings with men, work, finances, etc. until they reach a certain age or level of experience. It seems to apply to all facets of life. But, when it manifests itself in relationships in particular, it appears to be much more amplified and volatile. The reason for this is the high amount of variables and lack of control when another human being is involved. This may come as a shock to you, but it isn’t always his fault.
Which bring me to the following questions: What compels us to make the same mistakes over and over? Is there some subconscious need to make choices that are familiar to us on an ongoing basis, even though those choices may be detrimental to our mental as well as physical health? Is our fear of exploring an unfamiliar emotional territory being overridden by the emotional and mental instinct for self-preservation?
When faced with this debacle, I’ve asked people to break out the ol’ pen and paper (which are this day’s version of stones and knives) in order to implement a system that has transcended the ages. It reeks of simplicity and clinical accuracy, and at the same time eliminates the emotion when a crossroad is met in one’s life. The system that I’m referring to is a “Pro’s & Con’s” list.
Once you’re done laughing, I’ll have you know that I, myself, have utilized this system on many occasions. After time, you’ll be able to do this in your head without the muddy water of emotion and mental angst — no matter what the situation.
For instance, if you’re dating one guy in particular that’s walking the fence with you (and you with him), break out the stones and knives. Create a Pro’s and Con’s list. It’s not as simple as tallying up one against the other — each item has its own weight. “But I love him!!!” counts for a big goose egg — that’s emotional. Emotional aspects have no business in this exercise. Little thoughtful things he does for you do count. On the other hand, if he beats you senseless — Con…..BIG Con. And, it goes without saying that if one of the items in the Con list is “Con” — as in “Convicted Felon” — Well, there’s your answer!
After you make your decisions accordingly (of course, you’ll make the right choice), it might be a good idea to keep that list handy for future reference. If you see the same things come up in your columns, then you’ll be able to recognize a pattern and act accordingly. Behavior modification isn’t the easiest thing to do — but your life may improve as a result.
This behavior modification is not unlike beating an addiction. I’m of the opinion that tobacco addiction is not a disease, but a habit that can be consciously ceased. Yes, physiology comes into play, but one can make the conscious decision to get help, break the nicotine dependency and actively make the choice not to indulge in that behavior in the future. People do it all the time. If you apply that same philosophy to your relationship choices, you might be surprised at what you come up with.
I will never NOT be there for my friends when they need a shoulder to cry on. Life is too short and complex not to be there for one another. But with that in mind, life is also too short and complex to make the same mistakes over and over. We all deserve to be happy in our jobs, our families, our lives, and yes, our relationships. Temper your faith with common sense. Try to make the right choices for yourself based on recognizing intimacy and true compatibility despite a sea of bad relationships riddled with co-dependency and drama.