For most of my life, I have been a complete idiot about romantic relationships. There were a million other factors that got in the way forever, but when I finally began to mature in this area a little bit, I just proved to be a moron.
Having finally, MAYBE, found some clarity and therefore sanity about the whole thing, I have a few things to say.
1. Men, women's magazines are doing you a huge disservice when they tell us "how to be" in order to attract a great guy. I've spent my entire life convincing myself that I will always have more emotionally at-stake in a relationship than a man possibly could have. This just isn't true. We've been conditioned to think that men are simply sex-driven machines who can be broken eventually and convinced that life is just easier with one woman and feelings. And so we cater to it, and end up unhappy.
2. Women are bad communicators. The games we play are simply ridiculous, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Why flirt around the subject and tease and play with someone like that? It isn't to be coy or cute- it is mostly a fear of rejection, a fear of putting ourselves out there. There is a lot to be learned from watching males communicate with each other- just frank and efficient and effective. I know I'm betraying the sisterhood here, but we could probably be a lot happier if we stopped infusing assumptions into EVERY conversation we have.
3. There is nothing wrong with dating. I was raised in a belief system and then went to college in a culture where you just don't date. Nothing is casual, and the amount of strain and stress and pressure this creates is ridiculous. I'm not saying we shouldn't be picky about who we spend time with. I would never seriously date someone who I couldn't see myself with long term- that would just be a pointless and probably hurtful exercise. However, how are you supposed to know that if you don't get to know someone a bit? I went on a very random and spontaneous "date" during college that lasted about 45 minutes, and someone asked me if I thought I could marry this person. I honestly was like, "let me find out his last name first." The pressure just kills chances all over the place.
4. Just because it doesn't look like a storybook doesn't mean it isn't real. For a really long time, romantic gestures just made me curl up and cry, because I wasn't getting them from anyone. I'm talking things like planning amazing dates and sending flowers for no reason and creating memories in beautiful places- movie romance. Now, I just curl up and giggle a bit... because life is about more than that, I've come to believe. I'm not saying couples shouldn't show affection like that, and creativity within a relationship is certainly welcome. But at some point, doesn't it become about choosing to stay when that person has been acting ugly? Isn't it about communicating love every day, even if just by doing the dishes for someone? Isn't it about knowing the other person deeply and caring for their well-being? I'm not saying I would no longer appreciate romantic gestures and sweet words... I'm just beginning to see through the charm to the real thing.
5. Confidence is, as my mother always told me, key. I have spent a good amount of time not only working to change parts of my personality, but apologizing for it. I have good friends who do the exact same thing. We have this image in our heads of what the perfect woman is, and we try to shape ourselves to that. Women have the worst double standards for ourselves. Many of us would never expect a man to fit into a box, and we love the quirky things about their personalities. Why do we think all men want THIS kind of woman? On a deeper level, we really are looking for someone to love us not just despite all of the things we view as flaws, but because of them. So why not just run with it?
6. Baggage makes things easier. I'm not saying that unloading emotional problems on someone is the best idea... but we all have things we carry around with us. It is really difficult to be emotionally vulnerable with someone if they are completely stable and whole themselves. Feeling like the "weak" one in a relationship isn't easy, and really is ultimately unsustainable. I've said this before- maybe not here- but it really is about finding someone whose baggage matches yours.
I think that I am done ranting for now. I'm really not an angry person, I just feel like I've grown a lot in this area of my life recently.
I know that some of you who know the history are chuckling right now, others are simply confused, some amused and wondering what is going on in my life, and some might wonder exactly what kind of narcotic I took this morning. Regardless of what category you fit into, please don't read too much into this. I'm done communicating like a woman for a little while- it is what it is :)
Don't worry... I will go back to being cryptic and sentimental shortly.