I remember in high school the very distinct feeling that I would never understand men. The boys I had dated long-term in both high school and college sent me such conflicting messages that I truly believed men simply didn’t have emotions. Not like women did, anyway. After all, how can you tell someone you love them one day, and then blow them off to party with your friends the next? It seemed I was always waiting to hear how the guy felt, what he thought, and where he deemed our relationship was going. Everything was on the guys terms because I cared too much and wanted to work through anything, while they took their time mulling over the pros and cons of being with me. It was frustrating, demoralizing, and exhausting. I remember thinking, how in the world can I sustain a relationship with any man if they aren’t as emotionally invested as I am?!
Luckily, after I graduated college, I met and dated a boy that showed me that not all men are cut from the same cloth. He was sweet, fun, and the first real relationship I had ever had. And thanks to him, my previous philosophy on men being void of emotion completely changed. I realized there would be men in the world that would match my emotional investment, and I learned a few very key insights that helped me continue through the dating world, and end up happily married to my wonderful husband today. Had my mentality not changed on this, I might still be dating in circles right now.
Here is what I want to pass on to women who feel as I did back then.
1. Men need reassurance. I realize now, looking back, that I never really gave any love to my high school old boyfriend. I was brought up that men needed to treat me with respect. I was told they were lucky to be with me, and that I needed to keep them in pursuit. In essence, I just had to “be” in the relationship to make the guy happy and my job ended there. My poor BF brought me flowers, wrote me love notes, and met me after every class. What did I do for him? Complained if he had to stay late at practice, or decided to eat lunch with his friends one day out of the week. Sadly, it didn’t dawn on me until later in life that my job wasn’t to just receive love from a guy, it was to give love to him, too. And that included positive affirmations of my feelings – which I never gave anyone because it was drilled into my head that I was to keep them in hot pursuit at all times. But at some point, the chase has to end for the relationship to really begin.
2. Not all men are created equal. Yes, there are guys out there that are jerks, players, or narcissists, and they do not know how to be in a relationship with anyone. But there are also men that are kind, loving, supportive, yet still strong and masculine. I went into a lot of my younger relationships expecting to be let down and hurt because that is what the guy before and the guy before did. However, assuming this made me defensive and suspicious. In other words, a real joy to be around! I spent a lot of time overreacting to certain situations that warranted no reaction at all because I just assumed all men were the same. If one had wronged me in the past, it was only a matter of time that the current one would too. Letting go of Continue reading
You are out with your friends enjoying a few drinks on a beautiful night. Your phone vibrates. You have one new text message. You pick it up and see that it’s Sam, a guy you met three weeks ago and hooked up with because you were really wasted. He’s a nice guy, but ever since that night, he’s been pseudo-stalking you. You’ve been cordial, answering some of his texts and calls, mostly because you like the attention, but he’s just not the one for you. You tell your friends at the table, “It’s Sam the stalker again. He is out in DC and wants to know where I am.” There’s a round of snickers and laughs. Someone tells you to be nice to the poor guy and tell him where you are. You never know, he might have cute friends, she says. You take a sip of your margarita and say, “Let’s see how the night goes. If we don’t find any cute guys here, I will tell him to come by.”
Two hours and two rounds later, no one at the table has seen anyone cute. You are almost forced by one of your oversexed friends to call Sam and bring his entourage over. By now you have a good buzz going and figure, why not. He’ll buy you your next round and tell you how hot you are. So you text Sam and tell him where you are in Arlington. You laugh to yourself because you don’t even have to extend an invitation. You know very well that he’s going to say by some strange coincidence that he’s at the bar next door and will just swing by. Fifteen minutes later, Sam, his best friend, and his roommate stroll into bar. People are introduced, shots are ordered, and the night officially begins. Sam is all over you and the more you drink, the more you like it. By the end of the night, you and Sam are stumbling back to your place. You guys make out all over your apartment and for some reason it’s really great. Maybe it’s because you’ve been going through a dry spell, but whatever the reason, you are into it. You continue to make out with Sam and the more you kiss him, the more you like him. How could you have disregarded him before? Maybe he’s not as bad as you initially thought.
And then you wake up the next day completely sober and realize you had on major margarita glasses. Sam is lying in your bed, snoring like a sabertooth tiger, drooling on your favorite pillow. You are annoyed like crazy. How long is going to be here, you wonder? He finally wakes up, smiling like a cheshire cat, and pats the space next to him, indicating he wants you to lie back down. You’d rather shoot yourself than cuddle with Sam so you make up an excuse about having to run into work that morning. Disappointed, Sam reluctantly and slowly, gets out of your bed. You throw his pants at him and watch him stumble to get dressed, knocking over your alarm clock and family photo in the process. He apologizes and then asks if you have time to grab some breakfast. Ah, sorry no. You really don’t. Some other time maybe. Sam picks up on your unintentional invitation to do this again, and says, “Ok, when? Do you want to meet up later tonight?” At this point you just want him out of your apartment so you tell him to call you later and you will see about getting together. He finally leaves after you pretend to walk to your car. You get back to your apartment and collapse on the couch. You eventually drift off to sleep but not before labeling Sam’s number DO NOT ANSWER into your cell phone.
I know you can all related to this story. We have all had guys we just aren’t into, chase after us relentlessly. We’ve all caved and been nice to them, even hooked up with them once or twice. We’ve kept them on the back burner in cases of emergency and extreme boredom. But guess what? This story is not what you think. You’ve just entered the Twilight Zone. You were not out with your girlfriends having margaritas last night. You were in DC, hanging out with your best friend and her roommate, hoping to hear from the guy you met three weeks ago and had a hot hook up with. A hook up you have not been able to stop thinking about. That’s right, in this scenario, YOU are Sam. You were the one who texted him to find out where he was. You were elated when he told you he was at the Eventide rooftop in Arlington. You rushed over and played it off as if you at the bar next door. You met up with him and his friends, had some drinks and ended up back at his place, where at some point in the night you fell completely in love. You woke up in his bed filled with excitement. You are certain he likes you now. He wanted to go to breakfast, but a work emergency took priority. Totally understandable. You like him even more because he’s ambitious. He told you to call him later and you guys would meet up again that night.
Maybe you saw this switch-a-roo coming from a mile away. Maybe my Twilight Zone blog was totally predictable. I really don’t know. What I do know is this. There are lots of girls out there that string along men they aren’t interested in. They hook up with them when it’s convenient, call when they are lonely and use them when they want to. Those same women often Continue reading
I had an interesting conversation this weekend with a friend of mine. We were coming home from a wedding shower, and as we were weaving through the city, we began to discuss the topic of, what else, relationships. More specifically, the bad ones. We began to chat about why people get into them, why they won’t get out of them, and how powerless we feel as friends watching the people we love slowly die inside because of them. There have been many times I’ve been confided in about a friends’ relationship, and it’s very difficult to hear how much of a selfish jerk a guy is one day, but such a sweetheart the very next. Recently I’ve refrained from giving my two cents about anything unless asked. It does no good to speak out if the person is not ready to listen. The writing is on the wall and me reading it to them just doesn’t seem to make any impact. Speaking of writing…
As this friend and I sat in traffic, she started telling me an interesting story about her cousin, Amy. Amy apparently fell in love and got married to a real asshole. She was twenty-four years old at the time. He was a charmer, and very good looking, but he had a moody and depressed side that he often took out on her. Whenever he was asked to do something out of his routine, he’d throw a tantrum and completely shut down. He’d retreat into their bedroom, locking the door and ignoring her for days at a time. He blew everything out of proportion and blamed Amy for being insensitive and selfish. Every fight was turned around on her. They of course had their good days, but they couldn’t go a stretch of two months without having a nuclear meltdown.
My friend tried to talk her cousin out of marrying this guy, but once she decided to take the plunge and do it anyway, my friend backed off completely and tried to be supportive. Throughout the years she listened to her cousin rant one minute, but rave the next. All the while keeping to herself, not saying a word, and trying to be optimistic. Finally after five years of marriage, her cousin told her, out of the blue one day at lunch, that she was filing for divorce.
What or who finally convinced her to get out? You may be surprised by the answer. Since she was twelve, Amy had kept a diary. For the last five years she had written in it less frequently than she used to, but tried to keep important thoughts and feelings documented throughout her life. One night after a huge fight with her husband she sat down on her bed to record her feelings. As she finished her final thoughts, she began flipping back through the previous pages. What she read hit her like a ton of bricks. The last one hundred and twenty pages were filled with nothing but sorrow. She read the same words over and over again. How he was mean, how he promised to be better, how she hoped he would be. But sitting on her bed reading this after five years, she finally realized nothing would ever change. He wouldn’t be better next time. He’d be the same as he always was before, and it took her listening to her self for 124 pages to finally get that.
A lot of women have told me that giving birth is an excruciatingly painful experience, and if they didn’t forget what it was like over time, they probably wouldn’t have any more than just one child. I think that we can apply this same theory to bad relationships. After your boyfriend or husband tells you he’s sorry and makes amends with you, you begin to forget how awful he treated you and how hurt you were. The memory of that pain dissipates and you are renewed with hope and possibility. Until the next time…
This story of my friend’s cousin has given me a great idea. Because most people turn a deaf ear to outside advice, what better idea is there than to keep a journal of your own relationship? That way instead of hearing your mom, best friend, or even your dating coach tell you how bad things are, you can now hear it straight from the horses mouth (yes, the horse is you.) We often don’t want to hear that we should leave someone we love, or that things will never change. We want to disregard advice that tells us there is no hope. But it’s different if you see and hear your own words over time and realize that you are in an unending cycle that keeps repeating itself. I now think keeping a diary is not only for nostalgia, but a powerful tool that can help you to make good decisions for yourself throughout your life.
If you are currently in a volatile or unstable relationship (meaning one day everything is great, but the next day the sky is falling) then it may be time to start your own journal. Start to write down your feelings and your thoughts about your significant other. Keep track of the good and bad times. Try to be specific because when you go back and read a year later, you will barely remember the experience. I think this can be a very valuable tool for us women and will prompt us and encourage us to take more action when action is necessary. You may not like hearing your friends tell you he’s not the one for you, but you may just heed a warning coming from yourself.
For more advice on relationships, check out my book You Lost Him at Hello, or Was It Something I Said? or sign up for a personal consulting session. Follow me on Twitter @iamjessmccann Continue reading
The reports are fuzzy, but they are there. Jon Mayer and Jennifer Aniston may not be fully back together, but something is definitely brewing between them. For me, that is all I need to hear to say what I am going to say. Is Jennifer Aniston perhaps the dumbest woman alive? Wow. Please for the love of God, someone give her my phone number. I’ve been a big fan of Jen’s for years and yes, I even had the Rachel haircut back in the day, so I’m pulling for her, but cheese and crackers she is making it tough these days.
If she does give Mayer a chance, this will be three times and it won’t be a charm. Hello, Jen, ever hear of the definition of insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. That is what you are doing. Dating the same ego-centric bad boy musician and expecting him to suddenly turn into loving, selfless, committed boyfriend. Ain’t going to happen.
While I’m at it, Kate Hudson, you may as well get in on this too.
I had a woman email me a few months ago asking for some advice. She has been having an on-and-off relationship with a guy much like Aniston. They would fight and break up but ultimately get back together again. Every time, he swears he’s going to be better, but so far it hasn’t been the case. So how do you know when it’s a good idea to take back your ex? How do you know if it will really work this time?
There are a few good ways to tell if taking back your ex will yield the result you want. Here is what you must do: Continue reading