Gotta learn to pull my punches.

With the weather warming up, and the skin being bared, dating has been on my mind lately. Not to mention, I’ve had some strange interactions with the men in my life of late, and it’s made me question a few things.

Like when Mr. West Coast said I was “bellicose”… in the comment I didn’t post, he tried to explain that it was because I took a particularly argumentative attitude when he offered advice. I can admit that after being faced with what seemed to be obvious sexism, I didn’t want to just let that slide. His response was that I¬†was too easily offended, and that he hadn’t worried about my feelings because he thought that (as I had presented myself as an Alpha Female) I should be able to handle his observations.

Most of the people I’ve told about the situation agree that he was out of line, but he may have some points. I did immediately go on the defensive¬†offensive. I’d like to believe that I eased into the discussion by politely pointing out that his observations were inaccurate, but that may not be true… I seem to¬†remember commenting that I had no doubt he had accomplished all the things he bragged about having accomplished, but that he did so (as in bragged) in a similar manner as a peacock strutting to display his plumage.

peacock

The tone of his emails was consistently one of superiority, an overt pride that I had no way of verifying whether or not it was deserved.¬†And as I’ve said before, I don’t mind pride, but I can’t stand it when it is unearned.

Superman was proud, but with no cause. He was one of those metrosexual men who likes to preen for the camera and post his life on Instagram, but it’s all a facade. The things he’s done that he should be proud of, he downplays, while he likes to hide behind his self-importance…which is to say, he told me he was a busy person because he was important, but in reality, it meant he was a party boy.

Another time, the Boy introduced me to a friend of his, one who was overly proud of¬†his educational efforts. No doubt the man was smart, but our interactions came to an abrupt halt when he tried to convince me that his Master’s Thesis was a novel concept, when in reality it was rather dull and didn’t present anything new, which it is my understanding is the purpose of a Master’s Thesis. Admittedly, it was a subject I’m not that familiar with, but when I questioned him about it,¬†it didn’t seem to hold any water.

There is a difference between “Pride” and “Arrogance.”

humilityand pride

Furthermore, he liked to brag about all of these things he was a part of… and while he probably was a part of all those different things, they were distractions from what he was trying to make his passion. We went on one thing that I’m fairly certain was a date, and he spent the whole time talking about himself and all these things he’d done. Every time I tried to enter into the conversation, he would look at me like I had a third arm sprouting out of my forehead or something. After a while I was so bored, I found myself trying to flirt with the waiter in order to just have an interesting conversation.

I think he’d been trying to impress me with his diversity. A Jack of all trades sort of thing…

jacktrades1

But I’m fairly certain¬†that the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none,” is not meant to be a compliment.

At least, I don’t find it to be something to be proud of. I much prefer a man who has a small list of things he is truly passionate about, and preferably those things are what he’s centered his life around.

I will give it to Mr. West Coast, he did have that working in his favor. He was very passionate about his work, and perhaps if he’d spent more time discussing that instead of trying to analyze¬†my¬†job, he’d have fared better.

And see? There I go again, drifting into an unnecessarily negative train of thought.

The Boy has pointed that out as well. In the past, he has said that I immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion. What he doesn’t see is that it isn’t immediate. I hold my negative thoughts and continue to observe to see if my conclusions are correct. When he seems to have proven me right on multiple occasions, then I call him out on it, and we end up in¬†an argument.

Young businesswoman in boxing conceptI think the difference between my arguments with the Boy and my experience with Mr. West Coast is that I didn’t pull my punches with Mr. West Coast for the same reason he didn’t pull his with me: I thought that as an Alpha, he should be able to handle the criticism. Then, as he continued to basically discount what I had to say, while continuing to say that his view of me was correct, I became less and less willing to compromise.

Unfortunately, I do that last part with the Boy as well. I may start by sugar coating things, or trying to explain them in a way that doesn’t paint¬†him in a completely negative light, but he almost always¬†immediately takes the criticism as me saying he is a horrible person anyway… Either way, when he refuses to acknowledge that I just might¬†be correct, I go on, not the defensive, but the offensive.

Part of the problem is that I, like Mr. West Coast, feel like I’ve done my due diligence in my observation. Where the Boy is concerned I even try to add a variable here and there to test my theory… Yeah, with him, I’m definitely guilty of testing him, even though we’re not lovers. I like to go over all the data before I make an accusation.

business person against the blackboard

For example, the latest argument was about which of us puts more effort into our relationship…

Actually, no, that’s not really true. That was what I thought the argument was about, but in reality, I was angry because I felt I had been disrespected.

See, he doesn’t schedule things. He and I have discussed this before, and it means that the burden of scheduling is on me. I don’t mind being in charge of scheduling our activities, but his work schedule is much busier than mine (I’m a teacher on summer break after all), so sometimes I’ll tell him to pick the day and time. When he picks a day and time and then we have to reschedule something like 9 times (not all because of his work, but some of it), I get frustrated.

I get doubly frustrated when I have changed my plans in order to accommodate the day and time he picked because, well, my schedule is more flexible than his.

I get triply frustrated when I ask for him to rearrange his schedule just once in order to accommodate my trip to my parents’ place.

I was trying to avoid the tropical storm, and asked if we could change our plans to one day earlier so that I wouldn’t be driving home in the middle of Tropical Storm Bill. Or worse, get stuck because of the storm! He said he couldn’t go because he needed to go grocery shopping.

Yeah, and I need to wash my hair…

washmyhair

So, I told him I was going to leave early. When I said it, I meant it. I was hurt that he would blatantly blow me off like that. I had hoped he would offer to go out for coffee or something like that, since I was going to be gone for an unknown amount of time. When he didn’t, I was even more hurt. Hurt enough that I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the situation.

And I didn’t leave.

It wasn’t until he and I were discussing the situation yesterday that I realized, holy cow, it was a test!

students-taking-test

I had been feeling like he was pushing me away more and more, and it coincided with a strange interaction between us. I didn’t want to ask him about it over the phone or in chat, but he kept pushing me away, rescheduling (or rather asking me to reschedule), and avoiding any situation in which we could be alone together. Logic told me that he was avoiding me specifically. He tells me he wasn’t.

If I’m honest with myself, when I look back at the progression of the conversation that led to the fight, things were good and I blindsided him.

We were talking about a Star Wars game, and sharing videos and reveling in our mutual nerdgasms. We were going on about the graphics and the storyline, and discussing whether or not the game predated the not-to-be-spoken-of prequel trilogy, and if it was part of canon. It was nice to geek out for a bit, and it felt like old times for a second.

But, gnawing at me was this desire to see him and the fear that he was purposely avoiding alone time because I had pushed a boundary… ironically, I was trying NOT to push, but was trying to give him the signs that it was okay for him to take some control in a particular situation. It meant that I pushed him into territory he’s not comfortable with, territory I knew wasn’t particularly comfortable for him.

So I asked. And his response was to try to push our seeing each other even further away.

snapped

I started the fight. I went immediately on the offensive, and the more he refused to acknowledge that he had done anything wrong, even when presented with the evidence, the more aggressive I became.

To say I hit below the belt would be a pretty big understatement. I specifically commented on the one topic he has told me is off-limits. The fact that what I said is true doesn’t really matter.

I was seeing red.

But I was still in the wrong.

He has since apologized. It was one of his heartfelt apologies, and thus I was calmed down. He acknowledged that what he did was wrong, and since I had not been expecting that, I tried to continue on, but he calmly reminded me that he couldn’t go back and fix it… and this beautiful thing happened: I let it go. Not immediately. It wasn’t one of those *poof* it’s gone type of things, but it did go away. It eased until I was able to realize the wrongness of my actions.

I think I apologized, too, but I might not have. Perhaps I’ll send him a link to here so he can see me verbally prostrate myself in an attempt at humility…

See, I know what my sin is.

And it is precisely because I am guilty of being overly proud (and fear that I may not be deserving of that pride… but that’s a post for another day) that I detest that trait in others. Be proud of what you do, but don’t let your pride turn into abject arrogance.

When I see red, like I did with the Boy and Mr. West Coast, I have to win. I need to be told that I am right, or I need someone to prove to me why I’m wrong. Preferably someone whom I respect, and preferably with evidence to support their claim of my wrongness… Mr. West Coast hadn’t earned my respect, and neither gentleman had¬†any evidence… But the Boy acknowledged that he felt I was wrong, and thought he could prove it if given time to come up with the evidence. It made a difference to me that he would take that extra step. It made enough of a difference that I believed him.

That’s the first time I’ve had a man tell me I’m wrong and I have been willing to back down. That’s pretty huge…

See, normally when I see red like that, my pride takes over, and if the other person doesn’t acknowledge, even a little, that I might be right, I go on the offensive with the intent to destroy the other person. And I forget to pull my punches, even when I’m wrong.

I think I might need to work on that a bit.

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2 thoughts on “Gotta learn to pull my punches.

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