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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dismissed Connections

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 24, 2013

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The search for sex and love is almost always put in a competitive context—it’s a game, a hunt, or some “Hunger Games”-like combination of the two—but unlike other competitions, there aren’t many reliable measurements of your dating success. Sure, it always feels like you can tell how you’re doing by whether you feel sought after or dumped, but those feelings really have nothing to do with success; feeling sought after can be arbitrary, distracting, and over-stimulating, and feeling dumped when you’ve merely been dismissed can make you lose your confidence and will to keep looking. So instead of paying too much attention to how dating makes you feel, keep your eye on the real trophy—contacting a large pool of candidates and using solid search criteria to screen out the out-of-control, the unacceptable, and the time-wasters. If you stay focused and work hard, you’ve got a fighting chance to win, especially if you know how to actually keep score.
Dr. Lastname

I rarely meet men who are interesting, make me laugh and when I kiss them find I have a sexual chemistry with. So when this happened and he took my number, said he wanted to meet up again and texted me the next day (I replied and we had a bit of text banter), I thought, great. Only thing is, he never arranged a date (having said he was a traditional guy), and I just don’t get it. I’m trying to think that I wouldn’t want to be with a man like that anyway but why text the next day if you don’t want to see me? To validate himself by getting confirmation that I like him? I know I shouldn’t analyze this but I find it weird and annoying. How do I let it go and move on?

If you considered how doubly rare it is to find a guy who both triggers the right chemistry and is a decent human being, accepting the long odds would make for a shorter sting. Getting brushed off by a potential partner in the game of love is as personal as a quarterback getting sacked in a game of football, and just as routine.

Since most women have ended up with a copy of “He’s Just Not That Into You,” either because they had a long lay-over, or because their secret Santa phoned it in, most ladies are familiar with the notion of not-quite-connections.

The problem with the title/thesis of that book, however, is that it makes the problem seem personal, when it isn’t. Most of us just aren’t that in to most people, and guys, with their sexual preoccupations, are even less so.

Understanding the long odds against finding a good match is the key, however, not only to protecting yourself from heartbreak, but to doing what’s smart and necessary, which means both widening your search and increasing your selectiveness. These two goals, which are inseparable, are necessary to overcome the needle-in-a-haystack problem while protecting your time. Widening your search means finding and attracting more prospects, but that won’t work unless you also do hard, tough screening to protect your time, not to mention your heart.

When it comes to your priorities for screening prospects, put reliability over personal attractiveness. If a guy is really reliable (with money, job, prior girlfriends, substances, etc.), you may build on the subtle chemistry you have with him once you get to know him. It’s much harder to stop liking an attractive guy with whom you have explosive chemistry once you learn he’s unreliable, even though, when you mix two compounds/people with unstable chemistry, they often explode.

When it comes to putting together a statement about yourself, emphasize your strengths and what you want. The clearer you are about who you are and what you want, the more likely a guy will respond in the right way, liking you more than your hair color or bust size. Others need not apply, let alone text.

It’s impossible not to feel hurt when a likeable guy suddenly drops out of what seemed to be a friendly conversation. If you keep in mind the harsh reality of the mating process you’re up against, however, you’ll ignore your feelings, review your techniques, and give yourself a better chance of finding the right guy who you can be into for the long run.

“The dating game sometimes takes the heart out of me, but I work at becoming tougher and more discriminating about the qualities that matter. I will not stop trying to find myself a good match while protecting myself as well as I can.”

My sister sometimes gets into high moods, lasting for weeks, when she is extra sociable, talkative, friendly, and attractive. (A psychiatrist told her she may be “a bit bipolar” but she doesn’t want treatment.) She becomes a guy-magnet and her phone never stops ringing. She loves attention, dating, dancing, dining out, and sex (which she particularly enjoys when she’s in that state), and I see nothing wrong with what she’s doing, except that she isn’t careful about who she goes out with or how much she drinks, so she could easily get herself into trouble. When I try to warn her, she tells me I’m just jealous and, honestly, I am, but I’m also worried. What can I do to get through to her and protect her from herself?

Whenever you try to protect people you love from something they really, really want to do, strong emotion is usually your enemy. That’s because they don’t want to let you stop them, so they have to invalidate your emotions or show that theirs are stronger than yours. In addition, your sister’s emotions may be amped up by a bipolar temperament, meaning that her mood swings rule, and your worried feelings stimulate an emotional reaction.

As you’ve found out, if you tell her you’re worried because you love her, she’ll tell you you’re worried because you’re jealous, and instead of pulling her into safety, you find yourself pushing her into greater isolation and vulnerability. The last thing you want is for her to try to prove you wrong, with a vengeance. So, instead of expressing your warnings with passion, try invoking the reasonable side of her personality by asking her to spell out her own rules for keeping herself safe and focused when her emotions are telling her it’s time to throw caution to the wind.

Make it clear that, when it comes to having fun, you’re happy that she’s happy, but you’re curious how she keeps herself on track with her long-term goals, including staying safe, disease-free, true to her principles, and busy at whatever else is important to her.

If she’s been too busy to keep up with old friends, don’t tell her that they’re pissed off or that she’s letting them down, which will just make her paranoid and push her away from even more people who care about her. Instead, ask her whether she’s seeing them as often as she thinks is important, given the whirlwind of her current romances. Don’t try to make her feel guilty about messing up work or family, just ask her to consider her own standards and how well she’s meeting them so she can make the assessment herself.

If she’s too far gone to think about standards or consequences, you can tell her your own observations, declaring that you think, if she were her usual self, she wouldn’t be happy with what she’s doing. Then, later on, when she’s back to normal, you can say “I told you so,” really meaning, “I told you you would have told you so;” you know what her more thoughtful, careful and principled self is like when she’s not carried away and that, in listening to you, she is listening to her wiser self.

What you hope, however, is that she can listen now when you ask her whether she’s having unprotected sex, or doing dangerous things while drinking, or blowing off commitments for the sake of excitement. As long as you stick with her definition of her standards and she’s ready to acknowledge the risks and consequences of her own behavior, you may be able to get her to see why she would want to rein herself in now, even if, in doing so, she poops the party.

In the end, of course, you can’t protect your sister from mood swings that are too intense or a character that isn’t strong enough to manage them. Hopefully, she’ll reconsider exploring treatment for her mood disorder, and won’t have to wait for a traumatic event to change her mind.

It’s good, however, that you care enough to try to help. If you do it the right way, you can avoid conflict and give her tools for, sooner or later, pulling herself out of the dramatic maelstrom that has swept her away and into the arms of too many others.

“I can’t warn my sister without feeling like a jealous killjoy, but I know she needs a warning even if she’s in no shape to listen. I will appeal to logic and her own moral standards. Whether she can use my help or not, I know I’m doing the right thing.”

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