Tracey Selingo is a spiritual guide who writes motivational posts. Sometimes they are as simple as a promise to enjoy your day, and sometimes really deep, spiritual reminders to be the key decision maker of your own life. Today’s email link was about the “editors” we encounter in our daily life. You know who I mean: the people that give you advice to “help” you along your path; the ones whose intentions are pure, but may not be looking at the same end goal you are; the know-it-alls who think your way must be wrong because it’s not their way… There are a variety of editors you might come across along your personal journey.
And having recently begun talking again with a friend I thought I’d lost for good, I realized that sometimes the editors in my life may not understand what is right for me because in certain situations, even I don’t have enough information to make a decision, so how can they?
If I’m honest with myself (and what better way to be honest than in front of the whole world?), one of the main reasons I’ve decided to go on this wild dating spree (seriously, the list of dating partners is nearing double digits) and to study how dating works is because there is a small part of me still trying to figure out where things went wrong before. I’m not going to go into the whole back story, but for those of you who are curious, you can get it here.
The problem with that particular back story is that it is entirely one-sided, which for me was a major problem with the entire situation in the first place. I didn’t know what was happening in the mind of the other party. All I knew is what I felt, how it appeared, and the logical (to me) conclusions those two aspects combined to create.
Side note: I hate not knowing things. So much so, that I’ve cultivated my ability to accurately guess people’s intentions! I’m so good at figuring people out that I can spot a potential relationship between strangers from nearly 100 paces… well the initial interest anyway. And it’s because one of my strengths (as in the Clifton StrengthFinder strengths) is “Strategic.” I am good at seeing different possibilities. I like to know what possible outcomes there are… All of them.
You know that whole theory that says that all the possible decisions you could possibly make have been already decided and branch out like tree branches, creating possible alternate realities? My brain works like that. When I am going to make a decision, before I am content to announce my decision, I follow the various paths until I find a way to create a happy ending for me. If one isn’t available, then I tend to move on, and rather quickly.
Let me elaborate. My friend, the Olde Man (long story, perhaps for another day), is always telling me to stop looking so far into the future when I date a person. But I cannot help it. When I date a person, I do think about the possible futures there are. Would we be able to maintain a serious long term commitment? Does he have any habits that would get on my nerves if we lived together? Are our financial management styles compatible?
Actually, that one usually turns into “do I trust him enough to be in charge of the finances?” As in, can I just hand over my paycheck to this guy and expect he’ll be fair in doling out my allowance? I don’t want to be my mother and be completely in charge of the finances for the entire family. I’ll cook and clean and do housework along with hold down a job… so long as I don’t have to even think about the bills!
I begin the process of determining if a guy is worth my time before I even go on a date.
From the very moment a person introduces himself to me, I begin to calculate all potential futures that could be. It is the entire reason for the conversation test. If a man cannot engage my mind in at least an hour’s worth of conversation, then there is no possible way he could keep my mind satisfactorily stimulated in a long term situation. If he texts using poor grammar, or makes me wait too long, it’s the same thing. Bad grammar suggests either laziness or lack of intelligence, which leads back to an under-stimulated brain. A text Flatliner makes me feel under-appreciated.
The point is, sometimes before I even go on a date with a person, I’ve established that we won’t work. Sometimes, I go on the date anyway, to check my initial assessment. A good 85% of the time, I was right the first time about someone being incompatible.
It means, I don’t date much, and when I do, I don’t go on too many second dates. I’m kind of picky.
If a guy makes it to date 4, he’s showing great promise. It means I have seen the potential for something long term.
Please note the word I used was “Potential.” Not “guaranteed” or “definite,” but “potential,” as in more promise than most, and I’d like to see what that person is capable of.
A lot of times, I see the potential and they don’t live up to it. Those relationships last between 2 and 8 weeks. Occasionally, I’ll have one that lasts up to 6 months. For the most part, though, I can tell if it has no hope.
Once I’ve reached my own personal point of no return, I try to have as much fun as possible, like storing up reserve energy, and then attempt to end things in as nice a way as possible. I want the other person to feel good about himself, but know that we probably won’t be dating anymore. It usually ends with the other person accusing me of using them just for fun, and then we part ways in a very negative way, never to see each other again… but the guy usually feels good about himself, and I’m fine with that.
My method works… at least to eliminate the duds.
So when the Olde Man tells me to relax and have fun, it’s not that I’m NOT having fun, but I need to make a decision if a person is someone who has relationship potential or is someone who is just for fun. The just for fun people, I usually don’t keep around for conversation…
Once, in my mind, I’ve established that a person could be a good partner, I no longer worry. I don’t want to push them into a relationship. I’m not in a hurry to settle down. I know they have the possibility to make it long term, and so if and/or when they decide to take it to the next step is fine with me.
That is, until I start listening to the editors in my life who think I need to be in a hurry to settle down, or that such relaxed behavior in relationships is unhealthy or unwise.
See, even in today’s enlightened culture, a man who takes his time to determine if a woman is a good fit is being prudent, cautious, and smart; however, a woman who takes her time to settle down with a man is making mistake, risking losing him, and wasting time.
So, when I got wrapped up in a guy who I saw immense potential with, and he started acting like we were in a relationship, I mentally moved onto the next stage. Partially because I had seen the potential and wasn’t surprised, but partially because when I would tell other people about his actions, they would confirm we were already in a relationship. When he pulled away because we were moving too fast, I didn’t understand, and it broke my heart. I didn’t understand how he couldn’t see our potential because he had been the one to initiate the relationship type behavior. (Another side note: I don’t like being wrong.)
I wonder, though, if I hadn’t been trying to figure out what was going on, and doing so by talking with a lot of people to get their opinion, would I have made the same choices? Of course, that would have required me to be in a healthy enough place that I didn’t need another pair of eyes (or several pairs) to corroborate my assessment of the situation.
Tracey’s post struck a nerve with me because the few people I have told that I’m talking to this friend again are all almost entirely against it. Many because I got hurt and they don’t want to see that again. I can appreciate that. It is nice to have friends, and I wouldn’t be here without them. I would not have survived my little break on my own!
Having said that, I still don’t think my initial assessment of this guy’s potential was wrong. For some reason, he is meant to be in my life, I think. I don’t know why yet. And while, yes, I still think he has potential for something more, I am not in a hurry to reach that point, nor am I even sure if that is a point I want to reach.
I find myself thinking it should be, but I am awfully afraid of commitment…
Now that the worst part seems to be over, and we are actually discussing things to try to determine exactly what went wrong, I see that I did misinterpret things, and I have said that before. In fact, I have mentioned this whole idea of other people complicating this situation before…
I think that because I needed something to be stable, and my friends were stable, that I also allowed myself to believe that their advice and their view of things was completely correct. I know my own temper, but because I’m usually spot on when interpreting people’s behavior, when I would get angry, there was no doubt in my mind that how I was interpreting the situation was in any way incorrect. And when I presented it to my friends for confirmation of my assessments, to be supportive, a lot of them agreed with the negative views established when I was angry. Thus when I calmed down, these same friends would tell me that I was allowing my feelings to get in the way and not see the truth of how bad things were.
There was a lot of bad. But it wasn’t all one-sided. There are always 3 truths to a story: in this case they are my side, his side, and the truth. All of the advice from the editors in my life have been based on just one side. Now I’m finally getting his side of the story, and somewhere in the middle, hopefully we’ll reach the truth.
So to my friends and editors: I still need you to be supportive, but I also need you to not jump to negative conclusions. I don’t think I’m making any mistakes by hearing what he has to say. If it leads to something, then so be it. If not, also so be it. That is how it should have been from the beginning.