Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Happened?



Over the weekend, I had two separate conversations with two different people about the same phenomenon.

“I went out with this girl/boy for a month. Everything seemed to be going fine. All of a sudden, s/he decided s/he wasn’t into it any more. What happened?”

What happened? they ask. But having experienced this myself I know that isn’t the real question.

The real question is the one that keeps us up at night, whether or not we dare ask it aloud or even acknowledge its presence.

The real question is: “What did I do wrong?”

What did I do wrong? Possibly nothing. There are many many reasons a person might lose interest, none of which you are responsible for. Maybe s/he isn’t that into you. Maybe you’re not that into them, even though you might not consciously realize it. It’s possible the other person believes you aren’t compatible in the long term. Maybe that person is a jerk or frightened of their own feelings or thinks they are too good for you or thinks you are to good for them or any of a thousand things. Maybe they are wise for ending things or maybe they are making a mistake.

You may never know.

Whatever the reason, they got what they thought they needed from you and now believe it‘s time to move on. Not every relationship lasts forever. There are other, better ways to measure the quality of a relationship besides its longevity.

You can never know for sure what is happening with another person or why. There’s also no way you can control a relationship.

But there are people who try. Most of us do it, at least to a degree. Sometimes we do it strategically; other times we don’t know we’re doing it. But it can cause problems.

Here are three counterproductive strategies I’ve seen people pursue.

1 - Attaching yourself to them too tightly.
Ahh, the dreaded clinginess. It’s become a cliché, but clichés become clichés for a reason. We get uncomfortable when we get the sense someone is more attached to us than we are to them. When we feel the pressure of being responsible for another person’s feelings, we often feel the urge to pull away.

Most of us know about this intellectually. But when so many songs, stories, and movies celebrate “I-Can’t-Live-Without-You-it is,” it’s easy to find yourself pulled under without even realizing it.

2 - Making them chase you.
Or as I like to call it, Reverse-Clinginess, because a large percentage of people who use this approach, are doing it because they’re familiar with the dangers of clinginess.

If pulling someone in doesn’t work, they figure, why not push them away? Make them chase us. The thrill of the hunt is irresistible, right? It also has the benefit of looking like a great way of protecting oneself from being hurt.

Unfortunately, the chase is only irresistible if there is the possibility of a catch. Romance is about tension and release, push AND pull.

There aren’t a lot of people who will chase indefinitely. If you make a promise,you will be expected, at some point, to deliver.

3 - The Double-Edged Sword of Expectation Management.
A thrid, even MORE advanced strategy is that of managing expectations. Of course when we talk about "managing" expectations, we typically mean "keeping them low."

Keep it casual. Only call/see the other person a couple times a week. Let them know you’re seeing other people, and encourage them to do the same.

This is a good strategy if you really ARE interested in short-term hookups. It’s effective, honest, and doesn’t make any promises it won’t deliver.

The thing to remember is casual is a two-way street. By keeping things casual, you also make yourself replaceable. The more you keep expectations low, the more disposable you are.

If you set things up for a short-term relationship, don’t be surprised when you get what you asked for.

Relationships have a natural ebb and flow, and love has a wisdom of its own. It comes and goes as needed, naturally and unforced. It isn’t necessary to help it along. All that is necessary is to trust and get out of its way.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out Dan's writing on relationships at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com and learn how to get Dan's DATING FOR SHY GUYS book.

First Heart Way meeting of 2011 is January 11 at Woodcroft Library. Email thegatewayboyfriend@gmail for registration.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Offical Studies and Self-Deprecating Humor

Since I was part of the article discussing the studies on self-deprecating humor (if anyone has links to that actual studies, I'd love to see them), I thought I'd add a couple more comments I made that didn't make the article.

Studies tend to measure the big picture, not what works for any one couple. So if 58% of succesful couples wear matching pyjama bottoms that doesn't mean your relationship is doomed if you and yours don't share the same taste in flannel. 42% of couples from are still doing fine.

You are your own authority on what works for you. Do not do what works for 52% of the popuation. Have the relationship that makes YOU happy.

On self-deprecating humor in particular, I'm not about to say whether people should or shouldn't use it. Here, though, are some bullet points.

-There's two types of people who use self-deprecating humor. People with the confidence to laugh at themselves and people who really believe their own put-downs.

-The thing with self-deprecating humor in a social situation is, a little goes along way. Used sparingly it shows confidence. But too much wears a crowd out.

-If we're self-conscious about something about our romantic partner, sometimes we like to pretend to ourselves it isn't there. And so when they bring it up, especially in public, it's upsetting because they're making it hard to ignore.

-When girlfriends hear me tell a self-deprecating joke, the question going through her head is "is he being funny or does he believe what he's saying about himself?"

-I've never had a woman be embarassed about self-deprecating humor as much as angry, like, "hey, knucklehead. I believe in you. Believe in yourself. When you put yourself down, you're saying I made a bad choice in going out with you. I believe in you and when you put yourself down, you're hiding those great qualities that I think the world deserves to see."

-In fairness, it is tough to deal with. I dated a woman who often made jokes at her own expense and I would get frustrated. If anybody else said something mean about my girlfriend, I'd leap to her defense. But what do you do when she's saying mean things to herself?

-Some of us also have a tendency to use self-deprecating humour as a pre-emptive strike to skate out of conflict. Either the other person laughs at our joke or they hold back on what they wanted to say for fear of piling on. Unfortunately, it also means the issue doesn't get dealt with and that leads to a bigger blow-up down the road.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out Dan's writing on relationships at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com and learn how to get Dan's DATING FOR SHY GUYS book.

First Heart Way meeting of 2011 is January 11 at Woodcroft Library. Email thegatewayboyfriend@gmail for registration.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Diary of a Gateway Boyfriend: The Gateway Boyfriend Makes The News--sort of

What do you know? The Gateway Boyfriend and his humble support group got a mention in the local paper for an article about love and self-deprecating humour.

And I'm wearing my sweet, sweet Transformers shirt in the picture.

"For Love and Self-Deprecating Humour" should be on my family coat-of-arms.

Article is here.

Check out Dan's writing on relationships at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com and learn how to get Dan's DATING FOR SHY GUYS book.

First Heart Way meeting of 2011 is January 11 at Woodcroft Library. Email thegatewayboyfriend@gmail for registration.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don't Try To Control Your Feelings

Some scientists believe feelings are evolutionarily designed to be expressed and shared with other human beings

Grief, for example, lets people around us know we need comfort. Expressing fear alerts others to danger. Love lets people know that…well, that they are loved.

I am not one to argue with science, not even unconfirmed science. At least not when it agrees with what I already believe.

Feelings aren’t meant to be hidden.

We tend to think of feelings as our own. They aren’t. They come and go in their own time and in their own ways. More importantly, they are universal. Feelings are the currency of human connection.

Don’t turn them away. Don’t try to cling to them. Don’t try and keep them from others.

Trying to keep a feeling from someone else is refusing to give. Turning away from someone else’s feelings is refusing to receive.

You can control your behavior. But let your feelings be. Let them ebb and flow in their own time, according to their own wisdom.

PRACTICE

Consider the following questions.

How often are you aware of what you are feeling? How do you feel about the idea of letting people know how you feel? Under what circumstances are you most able to express yourself? When are you likely to hold yourself back?

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Games Brains Play



The other night, I imagined myself suffocating to death, which admittedly makes for a grim opening sentence, but bear with me.

It was hot. The window was closed. I was lying on my stomach, thinking about gas leaks and wondering if it would be silly of me to open a window when I remembered a novel I read years ago about a guy who faked his own death and had himself buried alive with oxygen tanks to keep himself alive, only his wife double-crossed him and replaced the oxygen in the tanks with nitrous oxide.

I hadn’t thought of that novel in years.

After I opened the window and returned to bed, two things struck me about the human brain.

1 - The brain will go to any lengths to be helpful.

2 - There are times the brain is an idiot.

In my case, as soon as my brain heard me thinking ‘suffocation’ it immediately searched through the vault to find helpful information. What it came up was the premise of a thriller novel I read fifteen years ago.

We do this in other situations as well. Whatever situation you find yourself facing, your brain will search through your history looking for whatever it can find on the subject.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes be counterproductive. If the question in your mind is ‘why am I such a colossal failure at romance?’ for example, your brain will immediately start remembering other romantic failures in your life, dropping them at your feet and then wagging its tail like a puppy waiting to be petted. Look! I found a bunch of other times you failed! Now you can sift through them for clues! Aren’t I wonderful?”

When you’re already feeling miserable, the last thing we need is reminders of why we should be even more unhappy.

Not everything your brain tells you is true or even accurate.

Your brain is like a two-year old trying to make you breakfast in bed. The good intention is there. The ability…slightly less so. The result is sometimes messy.

And just like a child, the answer is not to punish your brain for doing its best. You give it a hug, say thank you, and then provide the guidance it needs to learn.

PRACTICE

For the rest of this week, spend a few moments each morning paying attention to your thoughts. You don’t have to believe, disbelieve, evaluate, or judge them. For now, all you want to do is notice what sorts of things you are telling yourself.

What comes up for you?

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day




Today in Canada is Remembrance Day where we take a moment to remember the sacrifice of those who fought and died for us.

I know there are a few military folks who read this blog, so I wanted to take this time to tip my hat to you.

Thanks for everything you do.

-May All Beings Remember

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Six Things I Noticed About Screwing Up




I am annoyed with myself right now, and I’ll tell you why.

On the bus (Gateway Boyfriends believe in public transit) to the Heart Way meeting last night (Thanks to all who came out and made the last 2010 meeting a success--watch this space for 2011 dates), I struck up a conversation with an attractive young lass. We talked about travel, religion, and what I did for a living.

What I didn’t do was give her a Gateway Boyfriend business card or promote the Heart Way group.

I am unhappy with myself for that. I KNOW darn well I need to work harder at promoting myself. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but it’s hard to help people when they have no idea who you are or what you do.

But it also reminded me of dating a little bit. Because this is not the firs time I have kicked myself for not doing the things I believed I should be doing.

If I saw an attractive woman, I’d be angry that I didn’t initiate a conversation.

If I initiated a conversation, I’d get flustered at myself when I ran out of things to say.

If I saw an attractive woman, initiated a conversation, had a nice talk, and then didn’t ask for her phone number, I’d get annoyed.

In short, it didn’t matter what I did, I always believed I should have done more.

I’m not the only person who has dealt with this. I heard similar stories when I taught Dating for Shy Guys, over emails, at the group, and even from friends and family.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, here are six things to consider.

1 - You are not the only person in the world who has done this. Not all of us are great promoters. Not all of us are natural social butterflies. Making mistakes, being inexperienced or even not having natural strengths in certain areas of your life doesn’t make you inadequate; it makes you human. We all just do the best we can.

2 - It’s not the end of the world. Many of us have made mistakes, and most of us are still here and kicking.

3 - Beating yourself up rarely does any good. Sometimes it feels helpful because it’s possible to convince oneself that feeling really really bad about something is the same as making an effort to fix the situation, but it isn’t. Don’t be fooled.

4 - Sometimes you will beat yourself up anyway. Hey, we’re all human. Forgive yourself for this too.

5- Failure is actually a good sign. Mistakes happen to people who put themselves out there. And people who keep putting themselves out there and learn from their failures eventually reap the rewards.

6 - A mistake doesn’t negate progress or cancel out the good things you did. Not getting a stranger’s phone number after a good conversation does not take away from the fact that you approached and had a conversation with a total stranger. It does not erase the good things you’ve done. So hold your head high and remember your progress as well as your mistakes.

PRACTICE

The next time you make a mistake, notice the way you treat yourself. Does this help you do better next time? Is there something different you can try? Do different types of mistakes cause you to react differently? What happens?

What can you take from these observations?

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Heart Way Meeting Tonight & Updates For the Week

Today: Found a hole in the butt of my jeans.
Saturday: Bungee jumped for the first time.
Last Thursday: Dawn demonstrated her elk call in a loud bar which caused the bouncer and waitress to run over an look at me suspiciously.

Tonight: Heart Way Meeting.

See You There

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Five More Days...

...until the next Heart Way meeting.

email thegatewayboyfriend@gmail.com for questions and registration. Yes, it's free.

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Good Men/Women Out There? I Don't See It

As I write this, it’s 6:40 in the evening.

I've had a full day.

The thing I’ve noticed is just how many people are out there. It’s easy to miss them. Here in the city we get so caught up in The Very Impotant Things We Have To Do Today that we miss them.

But they’re there. On the bus. On the street. On the internet. In the stores.

The world is full of wonderful people.

Sometimes I hear people say there are no good men/women out there.

I look around and I don’t know what they’re talking about.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook.

Join The Heart Way Support Group on Facebook here.