Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Last Relationship

I was reading this article a few days ago and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.

While I watch Mad Men and have enjoyed the entertainment provided by the character Don Draper, the focus of this article that stuck out to me was the analysis of relationships.

The specific portion that sticks with me is the idea that there are two types of relationships. The first type is modeled by Don Draper on the show. He is married but has various adulterous affairs at points throughout the show. While this life of having no consequences for your actions and seeming to always get what you want sounds appealing, the author points out what is going on underneath the surface. The reality is that Don can have these affairs because the relationship he has with his wife is shallow and meaningless. There is no guilt or regret because the deeper feelings don't exist, only a shallow act, with both parties playing the part.

Now the second type of relationship is not modeled in the show. The author enlightens us though, saying that in it both parties have a real connection. As is seen in writings about marriage, the idea is that the relationship between two parties is so strong that each puts the groups best benefit ahead of that of the individual. If one of these parties was to participate in an affair, it would shatter that dynamic and tear the relationship apart.

The author goes on to discuss the bar scene. Those looking for the second type of relationship fail when meeting people at the bar. This is because the ideal for them would be to find someone who is interested in them uniquely for who they are, meaning no other would do. The reality of the bar scene is that everyone is interchangeable; the reason a person is able to attract another is that the other being attracted could be replaced by any other. There is no uniqueness, no interest in the individuals defining characteristics, only that they embody what is being sought out at this current moment in time.

This has stuck with me for so long because of how much I can identify with it. Having been in a long term relationship, I've seen what the second type of relationship could be like. Unfortunately, I sought too hard to mold the relationship into the second type instead of seeking one that would naturally fit into it. Ever since, I've spent time learning about the first type, trying to come to terms with why I couldn't find the second at the bars where relationships seem so easy to trigger.

I'm looking forward to seeing what further insight can come from the second part of his analysis.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Salary and Incentives

I had a conversation with a girl at one point where we talked about incentives. All these things that you could do: make more money, ask for a promotion, start a new business. The blocking point always comes back to the fundamental question, why?

Her incentive was so that she could stay home and have more sex. Gotta love progressive thinking ;)

In all reality, she is leaps and bounds ahead of me. My life has become a trap of accepted losses. I've trained myself into thinking I have to stay where I am so I can pay the bills with a potential future upside. My focus has become minimizing expenses instead of promoting growth.

Not sure how to incentivize my way out though, since all options seem to contain the subset of working at a job I hate for 8 hours a day until the transition can occur. The decision around if it can happen or not is also centered around a choice made by someone else, unless I miraculously determine how to make someone else do what I want them to do.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Men and Women Interaction

I found this article today.

I sent it to a couple of female friends to see if they agreed with it or not. Both of them did, which completely astounds me as a guy. Being a 5'10", small shouldered, 165lb guy, I've never considered myself much of a physical threat. To see that women think like this is pretty shocking. Frankly, more disturbing than shocking.

My favorite part was actually one commenter who wrote this:

"I have to admit I’m troubled by the idea that somehow every man should be viewed as a potential rapist. Yes, using common sense makes sense. But, to me, assuming that a guy who says hi to you on a bus may want to rape you is taking that a step too far, and isn’t much different from the parents who refuse to allow their 11-year-old to walk two blocks to the bus stop lest they be kidnapped by one of the child molesters hiding in the bushes. Child sexual abuse happens. It’s wrong, it’s tragic, and it should be dealt with so it becomes less common. But, viewing every adult or situation with suspicion is not the best way to go about that, and I think viewing every man or social interaction with a man you don’t know as a potential rape threat is also not particularly productive.

For me, I refuse to live my life in fear. I also refuse to let the fact that some men are rapists keep me from engaging in a friendly way in everyday social interactions with men, even if those interactions aren’t always the ones I’d most want to be having. Do I take reasonable precautions? Of course. If I get a genuinely creepy vibe off somebody, or I suspect I’m being followed, I take action. But, I just don’t get scared (or annoyed, or put out) because a guy on a bus or at a coffee shop or in the library starts talking to me. Because odds are they are NOT a rapist, odds are I’m in a situation where they could not do me any physical harm without causing a scene even if they wanted to, and I just won’t view others through the lens of fear.

I mean, yeah, it’s annoying when you are trying to listen to your iPod and somebody starts talking to you on a bus, whether it’s a man or woman. But, honestly, I feel like I see a little bit of trying to justify that annoyance at having your sense of personal isolation/space invaded by treating it as a genuine threat, when in most cases it isn’t. I don’t know, I feel like part of the price we pay for living in a society–like paying taxes–is having to at times endure social interactions we would rather not be engaged in. It means sometimes listening to the woman sitting next to you in the waiting room tell you about her daughter’s wedding or the guy sitting next to you on the plane tell you about his job even though you’d really rather not have to deal with either of them. We are not guaranteed the right, when we go out in public, to not have any social interactions we don’t want to have. We do have the right to not be harassed, of course. But, a guy (or women, or child) saying hello and trying to strike up a non-sexual conversation isn’t engaging in harassment, even if he is annoying. Some people just don’t have the same set of social skills that we might expect, and in general they mean no harm, and really in a public place they could do very little harm even if they did intend it, so I don’t really see why they need to be treated as a potential rapist rather than as a human being who might just want some human connection of some kind in a culture that seems to be sorely lacking in opportunities for it.

I just see so many people complain about having to deal with other people, and honestly I think it’s something we just need to suck it up and accept as part of life. Some people can’t stand ever having a child make noise around them. Some people (and I admit to being one of them, although I try to just get over it and deal) can’t stand having to sit next to somebody on a bus who doesn’t have the same hygiene habits we expect, or having a fat person near them on a plane. Some people don’t like men talking to them. And while people will have reasons of varying degrees of validity for those feelings, I’m not sure we can expect the world to cater to any of them, unless we go off to live in isolation somewhere, or that we should expect the world to cater to them. I may want to knit and listen to my iPod on the plane, but that doesn’t mean that I have some inalienable right to do so without anybody interrupting me, or that somebody is committing a grave wrong if they dare try to engage me in conversation.

I live in an area with a really high rate of property crime. And yet I’m not going to approach every male between maybe 15-30 (those most likely to commit the crimes) as if they may or may not be a purse-snatcher. I’m just not. I will not live my life in fear like that. I won’t demean the vast majority of men between 15-30 living here who aren’t thieves by doing that. That is, for me, no way to live. And it saddens me enormously that so many women seem to view every single man they don’t know as a potential rapist, just like it saddens me how many parents raise their children to view every adult they don’t know as a potential child molester. We do need to be aware and alert, but I also think we shouldn’t let that awareness turn into a paranoia that causes us to deny the fact that most people–male or female–are basically good people who have desires and intentions not much different from our own."

As a nice guy who this kind of behavior is outside the realm of possibility for, that just summed it all up for me.