Emotional Detachment

I’ve been working a lot lately on detachment and not allowing myself to be ruled by my emotions. I hate letting other people have so much power over me and how I’m feeling at any given time. What other people say and do says so much about them and says practically nothing about me, so why would I let it affect me so deeply?

The other night I was at a bar with a friend whom I’ve had a very complicated relationship with. She assumed I was going to watch her dog while she was away on vacation and when I said I didn’t want to do it (because she wanted me to stay at her place in the deep valley, which is 45 minutes away from my work, friends, and life) she called me a “selfish asshole.”

I’ve never watched her dog in the history of our years long friendship so I had no idea why she assumed I would suddenly be up for the job. Not only that, but to stay 45 minutes out of my way for free was a tall order to ask of anyone. So I had no idea why she reacted that way. It definitely received a, “woah” response out of me, but it ended there. I didn’t let it affect me and I continued on drinking with her for a couple more hours.

I was really proud of myself for having let that comment slide so effortlessly when in the past I would’ve responded much more angrily and I probably would’ve changed my whole attitude for the rest of the night. But I just brushed it off and let it go.

I know my friend wouldn’t want me to say yes to that favor just to ease her stress and yet feel resentful and angry for being made to stay out so far away from my apartment. And I didn’t want to agree to something that would make me feel unhappy just because my friend wanted to save a couple bucks.

So I learned a double lesson in that moment. When you ask someone for a favor, you should never tie any expectations to the response. And when you disappoint someone and they call you a name, remember that it says so much more about them than it does about you.

However, after I had patted myself on the back several times for that interaction I wondered how I could translate that to my romantic relationship. In friendships it’s so much easier to feel less attached to outcomes because you aren’t intimately involved with those people. Detachment tends to become a much bigger challenge when you are opening your heart so fully to someone spiritually, emotionally, sexually, mentally, and physically.

I started to wonder if it could be possible to interact with my boyfriend in the same way I had interacted with my friend. Could I have zero expectation when I ask him to do things? If I want to hang out with him and I ask to see if he’s free and he says no, sometimes it sends me into a deep spiral of fear and distress. Partly from past stuff and partly because I allow the fact that he isn’t available to suggest that I’m not a priority because he isn’t ready to drop everything for me like I usually am for him.

And as I type it here now it seems so pathetic and sad. When he is out of town for work and he doesn’t have the opportunity to say no to me I am happy as a lark. So in essence what I’m upset about is the fact that my boyfriend doesn’t do everything that I say and want whenever I say that I want it. My desire to control him and his actions is terrifying and will do nothing but upset me every time.

Sometimes there are larger things that I ask of him, such as coming home with me for Christmas, that when he says no make me think that he doesn’t value our relationship or see a future. I mean, can’t he just sacrifice a couple fucking days simply to make me happy? But see what the problem is here? I’m allowing his actions to either make me happy or not happy. What will happen if I go home to see my family and I’m by myself? I’ll have an absolute blast playing 19 rounds of card games with my brothers and sisters in law. Would I miss and feel his absence? Definitely. But I don’t have to allow his non-presence there affect the entire relationship or suggest that he isn’t invested in me.

And the danger of implying those things is that he will want to get further and further away from me. Because he feels as though he is walking on eggshells and that everything he says and does affects my happiness. That is too much pressure for anyone to handle and the only natural thing to do is to pull away as to not constantly give someone so much disappointment caused by you and only you.

It’s not a change that will happen overnight but it’s one that I’m willing and ready to accept and work on. I alone am responsible for how I feel. I can blame it on him all I want but the only thing I can change is myself. So if I am committed to him and this relationship, which I am, then I need to zen the fuck out and be happy regardless of his actions.

Keep Going or Give Up?

How do you know whether to give up or keep going in relationships?

I think about this at least once a month. “I want to give up. It’s too hard. I’m disappointed all the time. I’m unhappy. I’ll never get the future I desire with him.” Those thoughts run on a loop in my head anytime I don’t get what I want or have my expectations dashed by him. Sometimes I feel like a petulant child or that I’m pinning too much of my happiness on him and other times I feel like he goes out of his way to disappoint me and show me that I’m not his main priority.

But then I think about having to start over with someone new and it sounds awful. I say to myself, “just hold out longer. Keep your mouth shut. Be agreeable. If you’re patient and cool you may get what you desire.” And then that dialogue runs on a loop until I convince myself that it’s really not that bad. But I think the problem lies in trying to decipher if I’m being too pushy and controlling or if what he is and who he is isn’t enough for me.

He complains that I get my heart set on timelines and goals and if he doesn’t meet those in the time frame that I have decided on in my head then I get upset and pick a fight or try to end it. And I’ve definitely done that. I’ve definitely been close to ending it 4 or 5 times and ended it for real for 6 days once. I don’t want to be the girl who cried wolf but I also don’t want to be the girl who held out for as long as she could stand for a guy who was never going to give her what she desired in the first place.

And he almost has a point, I guess. If he tells me things will happen but they just haven’t yet, shouldn’t I just be patient and relax and know that he just takes more time than me with all of these milestones? But what it he’s just telling me these things will happen to shut me up and keep the peace? He might keep delaying progress until his face turns blue and then I’ll be in a worse position than I was before with even more time wasted and resentment built up.

Relationships are hard and they take work and we have done so much work and have made progress but I just don’t know if it’s enough. I don’t want to feel like I’m begging him to move forward with me all the time and I don’t want to feel as if I’m waiting for the moment when I’ll finally be happy.

Sometimes it just feels like it will never be enough. Never enough time, energy, attention, or care put into cultivating our partnership. I feel like I’m giving everything I have on my end and not getting enough in return. No one wants to be with a needy person and if that’s the vibration I’m putting out, then he will feel that and want to pull away. So at times I don’t even blame him for the way he behaves, but if I’m not getting enough of what I want then obviously it’s going to manifest itself somehow.

Isn’t the point of being in a relationship to share all of the important moments with the person you love the most? Do I just have to come to terms with the fact that I will be going alone to most events and experiencing a lot of life without him or with friends instead? Is that so bad? Or do I want my boyfriend to always be there with me all the time for everything?

Maybe adult relationships are about separate people with separate lives doing their own thing and coming together only to enhance each others’ lives. That sounds really nice and independent and shit, but what about those moments when I feel more alone than I did when I was actually alone? Because you only miss someone who isn’t there. You don’t miss someone you don’t have. When I miss him it feels worse than being single.
I should be grateful and appreciate what he DOES do, right? I need to focus on the ways he tries to make me happy and respect the progress that he HAS made, no? But then why am I always in tears about things that he has failed to do and opportunities he’s missed to bring me even the slightest bit of joy? But if I give up, will I be MORE sad than I am now?

I definitely don’t expect too much. I expect way less than I would’ve in the past because he’s forced me to lower those standards. So the result always feels like I need to express to him that I’m not fulfilled and walk away to find my desires elsewhere.

And then the cycle starts over with someone else at some undetermined point in the future when I’ve kissed enough frogs to find someone suitable. And then what if I don’t like that person as much? What if I realize I’ve made a huge mistake and he won’t take me back? Assuming that this person is good enough and respects me, what if I discover the same problems and then I’m back in the same position after even more years of waiting, wishing, pushing, and hoping.

“Just keep going. Stick with the one you love so much. Give him a break. Relax. Focus on yourself/your career/your friendships for happiness.” This is the cycle of thoughts I usually settle on. But I honestly don’t know how many times I can keep doing it.

So will it always be something? Will I never be satisfied? Once I get the things I’m asking for now is there going to be some earth shattering glow of happiness that will suddenly wash over me? Why can’t he just fucking do everything I want so we don’t even have this issue to begin with?!

For now I guess all I can do is take a breath, have a glass of wine, and wait for the PMS to pass.

No Daddy Issues Here!

“Every girl has daddy issues,” my co-worker stated in the middle of Whole Foods, where we had gone to grab Kombucha while on break.

“I don’t,” I said.

He looked at me as if I was a freak. How could he understand me and my issues and sensitivities if he couldn’t automatically attribute them to my dad. It made me laugh.

Guys are silly. Not every girl has a complicated relationship with her dad or didn’t get enough love and affection from him. In fact, some of us have such an esteemed view of our dads that most men pale in comparison. They will never live up to the man who shaped my childhood and treated me like a princess. So I guess if you want to call that daddy issues then I guess I DO have them.The issue is that my dad is too amazing.

My dad was the first example I had of how a man should behave. What his responsibilities were, how he should treat women, his work ethic, and most importantly, how he should raise his kids. I wish everyone had been raised by someone like my dad because we would probably have a lot less pain and suffering in the world. He never raised his voice, not once. When my siblings and I were behaving badly we received a stern word or two, but most of the time we just never misbehaved around him because we respected him too much.

My dad is the original Don Draper, minus the drinking problem and emotional unavailability. He got up everyday at 7am to shower and put on a clean white undershirt. His hair was perfectly parted on the side and had been in the same style for so long that he no longer needed to comb it into place, but he still did, of course. Every morning he shaved his face. I’ve never seen him have a 5 o’clock shadow in my entire life. He wore a full suit everyday, and wore perfectly shined shoes which he used a shoe horn to get into. Then he would have his coffee (never more than 2 cups) and read the newspaper. I would sit and watch his routine on days when I didn’t have school. It was fascinating. This is how a real man starts his day.

On the weekends he would mow the lawn/rake the leaves/shovel the snow depending on the season, fix the screen door, change the oil in one of the cars, or throw a baseball back and forth with one of his sons. He came to all of my games, recitals, gymnastics meets, and plays. He never missed anything, which is crazy considering he has 5 children. If I had a track meet out of town that lasted until nighttime, he would be there at the school waiting for me when the bus got back. He would go outside and warm up the car for me and scrape my windshield in the wintertime before high school.

As his only daughter I was his favorite. He couldn’t have been more proud of me, no matter what my interests and talents were. One time, in 8th grade, I was in the running to be the best high jumper in the city of Indianapolis at the final meet of the season. When it was between me and two other girls, I saw my dad out of the corner of my eye pacing the bleachers back and forth in a secluded area where no other spectators were sitting. He could barely watch, because he wanted so badly for me to win. One girl scratched, and then the next girl scratched. It was my turn. I made it over. I won! My dad would never scream or yell or jump up and down, it just wasn’t his style, but I could tell he was so proud of me. They raised the bar another inch. It was just me alone, in a competition with myself to catch the city record. I scratched all three jumps. I was a little disappointed in myself, but still happy that I won. For the next week or so, my dad kept showing me on his measuring tape how close in inches I had come to the record. “You were only off by this much,” he would say as he showed me the 2 inches that would’ve made the difference. He wasn’t telling me how just a little more would’ve broken the record, he was showing me how good I was and how close I had become to being the best.

My dad is probably worried on some level about the career choice that I made, the challenging city I live in, and the fact that I am not following the same model of adulthood that he and my mom did. Most dads worry about the protection and finances of their children, and especially their daughters, well into adulthood. But even though it’s probably not the stable life he had imagined for me, he has never once been negative or unsupportive about it. He may not understand my dreams, but he appreciates that I’ve had the courage to follow them.

My dad taught me how to ride a bike, how to fish, how to skate, and how to chew with my mouth closed. When I was first starting to drive, and before Google Maps, Mapquest, and Garmins, my dad would draw detailed maps for me to help me get to where I was going. He read bedtime stories to my brothers and me every single night. He and I would go on bike rides through our neighborhood together and watch new episodes of Seinfeld every Thursday. Just him and me. He would even take me on “dates” when I was a little girl. Out to dinner and the movies. There wasn’t a moment where I didn’t feel special.

At age 33, I still need my dad’s help. If I have car trouble, apartment issues, questions about my taxes etc., he is the first person I call. When my car broke down in the middle of the 101 freeway in the middle of the day, I called him before I even called AAA. Even though we don’t talk every single day, I know he will drop everything he’s doing to help me if I need him.

My dad is blind as a bat. Literally legally blind. He wears contacts until they irritate his eyes, and then he switches to the most ridiculous coke bottle, magnifying glasses. He passed that amazing gene onto me, the only child who also has blue eyes like he does. What gift that has been, Dad. Thanks!

My dad loves bananas and peanut butter, Jim Beam and Diet Coke, and The 3 Stooges. He loves to BBQ, watch Indiana sports teams play, play softball/baseball, run, talk about the weather, and most importantly, he loves to hang out with his kids.

No daddy issues here. My issues can be attributed to everything BUT that. My only issue is that I don’t get to see him as often as I would like.

Thanks, Dad, for being my role model, supporter, friend, and hero. I wouldn’t trade you for anything.

The Tinder Generation

I think that the birth of Tinder and its quick rise in popularity can tell you everything you need to know about my generation and its attitude toward sex and dating. And the fact that it has become the norm and an accepted form of online dating has created a ripple effect into dating as a whole.

You must be hot. You must be easy. You must be game.

If you’re not, I can just open up my phone, swipe right and meet up with someone else.

Just like anything else that has been made easier with advancements in technology, why would you want to try and meet people the old school way when you can just shop for people online.

And that is what Tinder is. It’s online shopping for people. There are so many options that aren’t even offered in the store! You don’t even have to interact with someone if you don’t want to! You just swipe, text, and meet! It’s so awesome!

It cheapens dating and makes people seem disposable.

I can’t believe that so many people I know use it and think it isn’t at least somewhat problematic. You can call me a prude, you can call me judgmental, and you can say I’m not hip to the future of dating. But in my experience, the people I know that use Tinder are fresh out of a breakup, need to get laid, or are bored. File all those people collectively under a bold headline that reads: Lonely and Desperate. In the moments when I’ve been lonely and desperate I’ve actually considered downloading it.

If you are lonely and desperate and don’t use Tinder, you will probably find some other similarly impersonal method for getting your rocks off. You might go to a bar and pursue the prettiest, drunkest chick in the room. However, at least you have to exercise some sort of effort and have a decent amount of game. Tinder makes everyone the laziest version of themselves. Guys send out pick up lines to 20 different girls and go with the one that responds. With a never ending arsenal of supply and demand, you will probably never strike out.

I was on Reddit the other night at around 3am, as I tend to do when I can’t sleep, and I came across a sub-Reddit entitled “Showerthoughts.” Someone posted this thought: “The worst part of Tinder is that it only helps you meet people who are at a place in their lives where using Tinder seems like a good idea.”

Many people who commented argued that it’s about being “sexually open-minded” and knowing what you’re getting and keeping your expectations low. In my opinion, it’s bad enough that we are called the “hook-up generation” now we are going to be called the “hook-up with total fucking strangers without any real-life interaction beforehand generation.” We might as well be Joaquin Phoenix in the movie “Her.” Let’s just skip even being with real people and have phone sex with operating systems!

One guy on the comment thread told this story: “a buddy of mine who is about my age – late 30s – met a girl on tinder who is 21, a law student at NYU, from a rich family, and smoking hot.
she came over to his place on a friday night for their first date. they smoked and talked for a bit before she asked him if he wanted a blow job. he obliged. she obliged. now this 21 year old beautiful overachiever comes over on the odd weekend, blows him and leaves.
as a married dude with children i find tinder more awe-inspiring than the northern lights.”

There have always been girls who are like this since the beginning of sex. However, my fear for my generation and especially for the generation behind me, is that in order for girls to compete we feel we must dole out blow jobs and smiles and pretend not to care. Because if not, you’re getting replaced by someone who will.

It may not be that serious of a problem. Maybe Tinder simply amplifies problems for you that are already there. And maybe I really am a prude and way too judgmental. But social media in general makes dating very challenging as it is. I don’t want to have to compete with the 75 strangers’ photos on your phone if I don’t impress you. And I especially don’t want to have to feel like I’m too challenging because 15 out of those 75 girls are DTF RIGHT NOW.

There was an “article” on playboy.com that several of my male friends were reposting on Facebook entitled, “16 Tinder Girls Who Totally Get It” and featured beautiful young women with bios that read like this: “I am the perfect booty call boyzz! I play lots of softball so don’t worry I know how to stroke a bat and play with balls but I mostly like them in my mouth!” This bio was from a 19 year old.

Another one reads: “Kind of girl you would take home to your mom but would blow you on the way there.” This is just a hunch, but she probably gets lots of right swipes.

Sex sells, as it always has. But don’t those make you just a little sad? Because Tinder is based solely on how hot your picture is and how witty and/or sexy your bio is, it’s showing women that it’s the only way men will be into them. It’s like selfies. If you aren’t validated by a bunch of strangers liking your photo it’s probably doing some damage to your self-esteem. It’s their choice to be involved, of course, but how could that not trickle into how they handle themselves in real life?

Just like all online dating in general, I get that it’s an easier way to meet people. But somehow society has managed to meet people and date and get married before there was the advent of the internet so I don’t know why we find it so challenging now. Oh wait yes I do. It’s because, Tinder. People would rather have their noses stuck in their phones swiping left and right then look up and around at all the people they meet on a daily basis.

People will argue that Tinder is only supposed to be used for hook-ups. But so many others will argue that they know someone who met their current boyfriend/fiance/wife on Tinder. Maybe they are true stories, maybe they are just urban myths to make people feel better about themselves for using the app. Or maybe that’s just what we have to accept about our generation. That the sexual relationship comes first now and then comes the real relationship.

Obviously my personal opinion isn’t going to stop people from using Tinder or make it go away. I guess my real fear is that I will be forced to join Tinder just to keep up.