Monday, March 8, 2010

Let's Play A Love Game

I’m no love guru – hell, I’ve never even been in love, and my relationships have been far from rosy – but this Shecky’s blog by Kellene McCaffrey really got me in the mood to give amorous advice.

In the blog, Kellene discusses the classic “Disney deception” case – that, as children watching Disney movies, we are engrained with a faulty formula for finding love: boy and girl have a chance encounter, live completely different lives but fall madly in love and then somehow live, as they say, “happily ever after.”

Ironically, coming across this blog was perfect timing for me. Not only have I just recently passed a huge benchmark in my love life – I’ve been single for four years now – but yesterday was the first time I saw the romantic comedy The Holiday with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. Yes, I cried.

Back to the point – after the movie yesterday, I became deeply introspective about relationships and what makes them tick. Here’s what Disney taught us:

Our dream guys are:
1. Busy being “dreamy” – in other words, they have a job that keeps them out of trouble.
2. Ready to meet the right person for them.
3. Just as vulnerable and hurt as we are.
4. Active and in-shape, perhaps even part of a sports team or fitness organization.
5. Open and inviting.

Our dream guys are not:
1. Dancing with their shirts off and tweaking on cocaine and ecstasy at the club.
2. Shady and inattentive.
3. Vindictive, misogynistic assholes.
4. Lazy, unhealthy couch potatoes.
5. Judgmental or jaded.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Okay, those lists are great, but I could’ve made those myself.” And, if you did say that, you’d be perfectly right. But, let’s face it; you weren’t going to sit down and make those lists yourself, were you? Right, that’s what I thought.

Okay, moving on. There are some protective measures we must all keep in the back of our minds as we meet new people and explore our boundaries with them.

Protective measures:
1. He’s just not that into you – you’re not the exception and he won’t change for you. Quit tolerating his bullshit excuses and wake up!
2. Guys enjoy a pursuit, so let them chase you – don’t text him incessantly just to let him know you’re thinking about him.
3. Don’t tell your friends about him – the more you talk about him, the more you feed your “hope baby,” (a term coined by my dear friend Noel - do you have a blog so I can link back to it, boo?) the idea in your mind that this guy is Mr. Right.

So what’s the bottom line? Be nonchalant. Like Chuck Klosterman says in Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs, "Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less." So, be the one that cares less – at least in the beginning when the situation is unclear.

How do you care less? Enjoy being single! Think about the perks of being a bachelor or bachelorette:

Advantages of being single:
1. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.
2. You can do whomever you want, whenever you want.
3. Your only obligation is to yourself, your friends and your family.
4. Time to learn and grow.

So, I bet you’re wondering: “If you know all of this, Chris, then why are you still single?” Well, I’m wondering the same thing. Hell, who doesn’t want companionship? Who would turn down a truly devoted boyfriend who will challenge you and from whom you can learn? It makes me wonder: does the above advice keep one guarded a little too much? Because, at the end of the day, love is being oneself and putting it all out there, right? Sort of.

Let’s take the gay world for example: 20% of heterosexual couples meet online, as opposed to 61% of homosexual couples who facilitated their relationship via the Internet. That’s a pretty staggering difference between sexual orientations, wouldn’t you say? Yeah.

On gay personals sites, nothing is left to the imagination anymore – the days of taking the time to get to know someone have been replaced with interview-like messages and scripts of conversations that detail stats and sexual positions. And don’t forget the sexting and x-rated photographs before you even meet that person on the other side of the wireless connection. It really is all put out there upfront.

Are we really naïve enough to think that complete and immediate self-disclosure will create an exciting and fruitful relationship? Connections take time to develop – spilling your guts and deepest, darkest secrets to someone that you just started messaging thirty minutes prior is probably not the best idea. Think about it!

And then I think about Sarah M. and Julie S., two friends from high school with whom I’ve recently reconnected via Twitter, and whose blogs I read all the time. Sarah M. is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate, an amazing artist and writer and a cute, active blonde. Julie S. is in seminary, remains true to her principles and is a charming, sophisticated young woman. Now, how is it that two intelligent and respectable young ladies have remained single for so long? Honestly, I don’t know. All I can say is that there’s something wrong with a world where people like us aren’t snatched off the market.

So, is the key to put yourself out there or to remain guarded? Honestly, like the blog I wrote about being yourself 100% of the time, I can’t say that you shouldn’t put yourself out there. Life is about taking risks and pushing the limits; however, at the same time, those risks must be calculated and, as such, we must calculate the amount of ourselves we should reveal at any given time. The point is: find your personal balance. What are you willing to tell someone that you’ve only known for thirty minutes? How about 30 hours? And 30 days?

Love takes time. I’ve tweeted this several times, but love doesn’t just come around like Keri Hilson says it does. It takes effort and commitment and mutual self-disclosure that is spread over time in a healthy, non-chat-room-like manner.

And, if none of that works, you know the relationship wasn’t meant to be. Because the person you’ll end up with – the guy with whom you will share your “happily ever after” – won’t lie to, cheat on or judge you. That doesn’t make them a prince; it makes them your faithful counterpart. Monarchies died hundreds of years ago – and so did horses as the primary means of transportation – so why are you still acting like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella? Your desperation isn’t getting you anywhere – smarten and toughen up and play the game just as well as the guys do. Maybe then they’ll respect you enough to let you in.


  1. So I must admit that I am totally in the same boat as you in terms of being single and not knowing why, as well having gorgeous girlfriends who are single for no good reason. But I'm taking this year to completely devote to myself and my art (writing, poetry, design, personal interests and career) is going to be my lover until next Valentine's day. Or so I've decided thus far. And I'm making good time.

    Emotionally I'm more stable. But I find myself finding other addictions, I went on like a two-day chat roulette binge talking to strangers from Germany about literally nothing. Lanther-rinse-and-repeat conversations. And then there's HULU with a limitless amount of distraction. I just had to exhaust those options and realize to not substitute one all-consuming conduit with another.

    But overall the sense of power in not looking for a relationship has been the best thing for me. As they say, bring the mountain to you. And the mountain's been coming. I'm learning a lot more about the people I meet by not categorizing them as datable or not. I also find that people are more interested in me if I am just genuine and upfront without any cutesy games. If you just keep everyone on the same level, if someone is really interested, they'll rise to the top. If not I've got important things that I can shower with my attention.

    I've been reading a lot here and there about certain couples and I came across something about Marc Jacobs and is his beau Lorenzo, and they actually met while Marc was seeing someone else, and they kept in touch as friends until they found themselves both unattached and the equation just happened. So you know I've put away the childish games of "I'm not looking, but secretly I am," and have totally given myself to this pavement chasing.

    I know everyone gets swept up in that "without someone to share it with," notion and I believe that to an extent to. But I've also learned that if you seek happiness in things or people your mood will be conditional as to whether or not they'll be around to keep you sustained. And right now I don't enough of what I want out of life to really share with anyone else. If we follow Disney and wait for those magical moments, they might come much too late and life might past you by. So if I really want to do something fun, I bring a friend. If I want to cuddle I find a teddy bear. And I don't what to tell you about sex, because if you're the relationship-type you probably don't want to just sleep around. But that's not the worst thing in the world as long as you're safe. But I mean sex with yourself is at least sex with someone you love according to Woody Allen.

    I know my thoughts are overflowing here, but you hit a nerve. Keep writing, I <3 it.

  2. I'm a Libran and a true romantic. I believe in love. I believe in love at first sight. I believe Mr Right can still be Mr Right even after he hurts you or you hurt him. The secret to a 'perfect' relationship is to stop expecting 'Mr Right' to be 'Mr Perfect'. If he is 'Mr Funny' or 'Mr we can work on this' then it's worth cultivating and building on. Great relationships take time and love can be nurtured in anybody.

    You will find love when you're ready Chris. In the mean time, enjoy yourself!!

  3. After re-reading my post, I think I used too many absolutes. I mean, love is by no means governed by absolute rules - if that were the case, we would all master them and relationships would be cookie-cutter.

    Noel - you make some great points. I definitely agree with the notion that you should keep yourself occupied with your own gamut of hobbies and activities to 1) stay out of trouble and 2) develop your talents.

    And the point about keeping everyone on an even playing field instead of just pretending is interesting - I never looked at it that way. I may steal that approach from you!

    Dominique - I love your point that "Mr. Right" will never be "Mr. Perfect." That's really the epitome of the argument against Disney's brainwashing. Oh, and don't you worry: I'm having plenty of fun - maybe too much, even. Ha! I'm in no rush to fall in love, just a little nostalgic for the feeling of having something to work at - but, like Noel said above, that energy can be focused elsewhere! And, if that doesn't work, I'm moving to Oz. The end.

  4. Heyyy thanks for the shoutout! The "he's just not that into you" principle is clutch, though painful at times. And the benefits to being single? Right on. Sometimes it's freeing and a relief not to have to deal with someone else's drama on top of my own. So, I'll keep up the search for Modified Prince Charming (how boring would life be if they were all Disney cutouts?!), but I'll also be my own person, thankyouverymuch. He's out there somewhere, but he's probably falling for all of those fake princesses along the way ;]

    Love ya, crackattack.

  5. Julie - I completely agree that our men are out there. And I also concur that they're busy making their own mistakes. You're so right about not having to deal with anyone else's drama - that's the WORST part about relationships. WOOF.


  6. I've been asking myself for the last few weeks where all the men are. Everyone tells me that good things come to those who wait.

    Employed people told me that while I was unemployed. They were, of course, right, but at the time, it seemed like high and mighty advice. Because it's all well and good when some asshole in a stable job with benefits is telling you that it will all end, but when you're in the trenches wondering where it all went wrong, you just want to tell them to go shove it. At least I did.

    Now that I've stopped job hunting and turned my attention to man-hunting, I'm hearing the same advice. People who are in relationships keep telling me it'll happen when I least expect it. And I'm sure, like the people who I talked to during my job hunt, they are right. That doesn't mean I like hearing the advice.

    So, I'll settle for surrounding myself with friends who love and care about me. With platonic heterosexual friends who pick up the tab when they take me to lunch and who will go beer for beer with me at our flag football team's flip-cup tournament.

    And I'll have fun while doing it.

  7. Sounds like a plan to me, Sarah! I think they're right: it comes around when you least suspect it because you aren't looking for it. I guess the reverse is true for a job. But then again most people who are great at their job are not so great at their relationship. But I digress...

    Flip-cup tourney, huh? I want iN!

  8. Stumbling onto your blog is probably my favorite random moment of the week. This post is fabulous and true and exactly what I needed to hear at the moment. Cheers!

  9. Just started read your blog today and I find your writings and honesty yep, gonna follow you and learn...expand my mind...create


  10. you cant look for love...its will find have fun go out be with your friends..let the unknown person who may be your soulmate for life..see you and how assured and content you are...let that unknown person know by your actions that what they drama..