Is Her Picker Broken? Or Is It Her?

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A comment by regular “Love” a few posts back got me thinking about the idea of a gal having, “a broken picker.” What I mean by that is when a gal keeps picking the same kind of guys and keeps getting poor relationship results. Or maybe it’s not that she’s got a broken picker, but that’s she’s simply broken?

“Love” brought up this interesting idea in the comments a few posts back about one reason women (and men) may find themselves in relationships that go nowhere and end badly over and over again — is because maybe they are either consciously or subconsciously picking partners who are unable to give commitment or true intimacy, and this in turn allows the gal in question to avoid her own commitment and intimacy issues, while conveniently being able to blame the guy or culture and cry, “victim!”

It is an interesting idea and one I had not considered before — what if it’s not just bad luck, a bad choice, or a con job? What if it’s not because she’s naive, or being manipulated, or mislead, or “doesn’t get it.” What if it’s not the what things have changed with dating and marriage, or the culture, or due to today’s bad relationship advice? What if in fact she’s actually picking the types of guys who cannot and will not commit and who are unable to truly give or receive intimacy because she herself can’t, won’t, or doesn’t want to either?

I know one such gal, I’ve written about my former neighbor Vixen before.  As long as I have known her, her relationship choices have puzzled me. She always has a lot of guy drama and frankly the guys she chooses never seem to be “commitment” types. So they do this dance where she says all she wants is commitment, but her actions are doing everything to ensure that even if a non-commit guy starts to change his mind,  no guy in his right mind would go there. But to hear her tell it, THEY are to blame. It’s always some story of a guy (or guys) doing her some huge injustice and how all she wants is to settle down and be with someone.

I think “Love” may have finally solved the puzzle — I think Vixen herself is unable to commit, unable to truly stop playing the dating game, unable to be faithful or true, and deep down doesn’t want the level of relationship where she would have to give up the games and actually fly straight. She doesn’t want a “real” relationship because she doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone, meet any expectations, or be a real life partner.

Well, I suppose that is a choice and if so maybe she should just get real about it, drop the victim act, and admit she’s choosing this. She’s choosing it by the types of guys she dates. She’s choosing this by the way she acts while she’s dating them. And she chooses this every time she sabotages relationships that start to go toward stability and commitment.

Vixen is still good looking enough and charming enough to get attention from the types of guys she wants attention from. Sure, it may not be for long, but it is still there. However what I can see that she seemingly does not is that window is closing. It won’t be too long from now that she will go from the hot girl at the bar to the bar fly.

In addition, right now she makes a living cleaning houses, and that combined with child support and govt. assistance pays the bills. But as her kids grow up and move out, her chronic back injury starts bothering her more and more, and she can’t do the physical labor she does now (or doesn’t want to) then what? She has no other job skills, no savings, no retirement, no assets whatsoever to sell or liquidate.

Maybe she could live with her kids? Well, sadly and not surprisingly, considering the drama soaked environment they have been raised in, they are not doing too well themselves. The oldest is in middle school but acts far older and is very much following in her mother’s footsteps by making boy drama and manipulating boys with her looks, figure, and charm the main focus of her life.  The younger sister is sullen and withdrawn, spending hours alone by herself, locked up in her room. I wonder how and when the feelings she has locked inside will come out and what the result will be? The youngest, a two-year-old boy, seems oblivious for now but it can’t be good for him to the the center of all the fighting and power struggles with his father and the other guys in and out of the picture, something Vixen doesn’t try to shield him or the older two from.  I wonder if her kids will even talk to her once they grow up?

Anyway, it’s not really about her, but I do think her story is an example of the kind of gal “Love” described in her comment — she’s a Skittles girl who goes for cads. The results are predictable, but somehow and on some level it seems to be working for her enough that she’s not making any changes. And even if she did, at this point, wouldn’t any sane, stable, solid guy just hear her stories and RUN?

I know I stopped being able to take the roller coaster several years ago, and while I hear from her from time to time, I don’t seek her out socially or get our kids together anymore because I don’t want them exposed to that. Plus,  I want to and am taking a different path myself.

In any case, “Love’s” comment got me thinking, perhaps many of these gals who are unlucky in love, with lots of sad stories, and many failed relationships are not victims at all — but are actually choosing their lot? Or if not choosing it, refusing to look at why their picker seems to be broken and what they could do about that?

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

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Look For The Good

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There is something about the human mind that tends to notice what’s wrong more that what’s right.

I would bet there’s a good reason, like being able to spot the potential dangers and threats quickly was once key to survival, and those who did it best survived.

But it can have a downside as well that can steal a lot of joy from life, relationships, work, and play. It can create a filter that screens out the many things going right and well.

Yes it’s great to spot the issue that could lead to a massive project failure so corrections can be made. But it’s also helpful to mention what’s going right with the plan, as well.

I have seen it in relationships, too. People can hyper fixate on every flaw, fault, failure, and letdown. This approach increases dissatisfaction and leads to struggles or even a breakup if it’s not balanced out by remembering and appreciating the many positive, good, and beneficial qualities a mate has as well.

An old management and personal communication technique recommends mentioning two things going right, then the thing going wrong, and wrapping with another positive. It helps keep things in perspective as well as minimizing feelings of the other party being attacked. I have found it works like a charm.

Try to shift your mind to look for the good as you go about your day, as well as watch out for the bad. My guess is you’ll start to notice there’s lots going right. There’s lots of good people. There’s lots of good circumstances. And while yes there are bad things too, maybe it’s not all bad. Maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe it’s better than it first seemed?

What do you think? Do you notice negatives more easily than positives? Have tips for seeing the upside? Please share in the comments.

Water The Grass

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Its so easy in a long term relationship or a marriage to slip into a place where one takes it for granted.

Doing so is a big mistake though. Too often couples who do so slip into complacency, and then one or the other disengages.

Maintenance is always easier than digging out.

Think of it like a garden. One gardener spends 10-20 minutes a day wedding, watering, looking for problems, tackling them when they are small. The little daily effort adds up, keeping everything looking great with seemingly little effort.

Compare that to the person who only takes action when things have gotten out of hand. The grass is yellow. The weeds are waist high. The bushes and trees have overgrown into a jumbled mess. This garden will take hours and hours of work to reclaim. And because some of the neglect has led to problems not easily reversed (lack of regular pruning allowed some things to grow the wrong way or too big, and even with pruning they will never be quite right, or plants have died from lack of water.) It’s possible to recover such a garden, but it will probably never be as good as it could have been, or look as tidy as the one maintained all along.

Most of the time good things don’t “just happen.” Good things are often born of lots of little good decisions and actions leading to success.

Beware neglecting your relationship until the weeds are knee deep. Instead, spend a little time every day doing positive things that will help it grow and flourish.

The greener grass is the grass that gets watered.

What do you think? Do you have tips for maintaining relationship health? Do you have stories of what happens when things aren’t maintained? Please share in the comments!

Upping Her Game

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A stay at home mom I met via my youngest”s former preschool has been making a positive transformation over the past few years.

Its hard to guess her age, but I suspect she may be younger than I initially thought. As far as I know she and her husband have been together since college. They have three boys, the oldest is around 15.

When I first met her she was matronly. Baggy ill fitting clothes. A short “busy mom” haircut with little style or flair. A thick but not obese figure. And she always looked tired. She looked lonely.

When I met her husband I was surprised how much more attractive he was than she. Tall. Fit. Well dressed. Professional. He’s an architect, his brother a doctor. In college I suspect he was geeky and thin, but today he’s grown into his frame and is a good looking man.

I puzzled at the mismatch and wondered how that had occurred. I suspect she had lost herself in three young children and the stay at home churn. I worried.

Maybe a year later I started to notice little changes. She started adding a bit of flair to her outfits. A pop of color. A flattering style. Her hair improved too. Gone was the blah blob hair, and in its place was a still easy but more flattering layered wash and wear look.  She was slimming down.

Rather than the rudderlessnrss of days before, she seemed to be signing up for activities and had plans for the time her kids were in school.  Instead of showing up in sweats like she just rolled out of bed, she’d showered and done her hair and gotten ready.

Not to be unkind but she’s not a natural beauty. But the changes she made have been a big improvement. Instead of, “a mom who has given up” now she’s striking, pulled together, interesting, polished. Not a head turner but also making the most of the look she’s got, similar to Lynnn Redgrave, maybe.

I don’t get the feeling there was struggle in her marriage, her husband seems like a kind good man, who is good to her, still a bit of a goofball underneath. I really think it was about her, and what happens to many women as moms, who momentarily lose them self, and I am so glad she seems to have pulled herself together and decided SHE needed to make her life what she wanted. And did.

It was a really wise move, to take responsibility for her own happiness rather than blame her husband or family or leave her marriage or some silliness thinking that was the answer.

I don’t know her well but from what I see she’s back on her path. Makes me happy to see it!

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

Phone Zombies

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Phone zombies are everywhere. You know, those people so glued to their smartphone screens they are barely aware of what’s happening all around them, in real life?

I remember watching the movie Wall-E and thinking how silly it was, all the humans glued to a small tablet, right next to each other but not speaking. Little did we all know then the Steve Jobs was showing us a glimpse of the future, as such tablets were already in development and would hit the market soon. I wonder if he ever considered not releasing smartphones and tablets, knowing what would happen to humanity?

Of course smart phones have many good uses too, like maps and information at your fingertips and the ability to check email and such on the go. Things you used to have to be sitting at a computer or before that go to a library to do.

Yet despite the convenience, they have also created this inconvenient 24×7 tether, too. Instead of walking away from that computer, now it goes with you. People expect a reply at any hour, day or night. Sometimes even your boss!

Even if you don’t want a smartphone to take over or change your life, somehow it seems like they do anyway. I know very few people who can keep it in its place. It’s like the devices were built to be highly addictive, to be very “sticky.” To replace human interaction. To supersede even your friends and family. To replace hobbies and real world activities.

I am curious how others feel. Am I being too negative? Do others have ideas for how to keep smartphones from taking over their life? Ways to put it in its place? A technique to reverse phone zombie-ism?

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

Musings on a Post Social Construction World

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Over the past few decades, we’ve gone from the belief that much of human behavior is determined by biology to the idea that humans begin as a blank slate and their behavior is largely learned, not predetermined.

It’s called a “social construction of reality,” this idea that we are who we are and think/believe like we do because we’ve been molded by outside forces and social/cultural norms, that these forces then determined our reality, who we become.

One example would be going from the idea that chromosomes determine gender, XX or XY,  to the idea that gender is something imposed and taught from the outside: girls and boys act the way they do  because they have been taught to act like and/or have been treated like girls or boys.

Except the idea has been pushed so far, the narrative has seemingly gone beyond social construction to post social construction.

Take the gender debate, for example. It’s gone from something that one is born, to something one is taught, to now something one chooses themselves, independently of biology or cultural forces.

This would mean gender is not a biological or social construct, but a self construct.

This shift dovetails into the also increasingly popular idea that each person is as unique as a snowflake, rather than the previously held ones that people are who they are due to genetics, or then culture.

However, logically the progression is an unstable one. In the first two models, it is not an individual choice — it’s either predetermined biologically (XX or XY) or predetermined by culture and those around you. To jump from that to its something that is decided at some point along the way by the individual themself (and could change at any time) is a radical departure from the two previous models.

And yet it’s being presented as a natural progression of, even another shade of, social construction.

I am not sure how or when that happened, but I suspect there’s little science but lots of emotion backing the view.

This is one obvious example of the rapidly shifting Overton Window of our time, but certainly not the only one. I find it interesting how it seemingly slipped in, unannounced, on the tails of social constructionalim.

What do you think? Are we now living in a post social construction world? And if so, when and how did that happen and what does that mean?

Are we born who we are, taught who we are, or choose who we are? Perhaps some combination of the three?

Please feel free to muse on the idea in the comments!

Stinking Thinking

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I’ll admit it. I can suffer from stinking thinking. And when I do, it’s a sure recipe for feeling unhaaaaapy and seeing everything in the worst possible light.

At least now I usually recognize the stinking thinking and can talk myself into a more productive space. But not so many years ago I could not. Back then how I FELT equaled THE TRUTH. Trouble was, it often wasn’t the truth but became so after I would act or make decisions based off thinking it was so.

Stinking thinking has cost me personally and professionally. Sometimes significantly so. Stinking thinking could take my very worst fears and actually make them my reality. Not good.

I used to keep the stinking thinking to myself. But the problem with that was it would then fester and grow stronger, like an infection. But I was afraid to share those thoughts for a long time, not wanting others to see my weakness and vulnerability.

Now I have a handful of trusted people who I can share with when stinking thinking occurs (no surprise, it can be worst during hormonal times.) They can then help me recognize that it’s not reality talking, it’s simply stinking thinking. During such times I try my best to be especially mindful to make sure I am eating and sleeping well, staying busy, and taking steps to focus on solutions, not dwell on problems.

I recognize also that I come from a long line of stinking thinking folks. Because it can come to me maybe more naturally than others, and because I did not have the best examples of managing it, I have to be more vigilant and watch out. I have seen the joy it has robbed from the lives of others, and I know I must consciously take steps to prevent it from doing the same to me.

If you have ever suffered from stinking thinking yourself, I invite you to join me in giving it the heave ho. Feel free to call it out, put it on notice. It’s such a freeing feeling to be able to get a handle on it mid spiral and say, “Sorry stinking thinking, not this time, I am so on to you!”

The other great thing about learning to recognize stinking thinking is that it diminishes its former power, I now know I can choose NOT to participate in its dastardly plan. I can control it, it doesn’t have to control me.

I wish I could say I have overcome stinking thinking entirely, but it would not be true. It still happens, whispering negative and destructive things here and there, but I realize now I don’t have to believe it. Maybe with time it will go away entirely, or at least fade in frequency to less often than not, then rarely, then nearly never. It’s an unfolding journey.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced stinking thinking. Please share in the comments!

Skittles Guy

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Shortly after my guy and I started dating, an 8 pound bag of skittles arrived by mail. It was a gag gift, based on the game advice to, “Be a Skittles Guy.”

Of course in this case it was a joke between two red pill types, but I do have to say by the time they were gone, my girls and I were skittles-proof. If we never eat another Skittles again, we’d be OK with it.

The Skittles Guy concept is based off a story of a gal who complained online how bad her jerk boy lover was to her, he was mostly only interested in booty calls, would disappear for stretches of time only to explain when he resurfaced that he, “was busy,” and never gave her anything but a bag of skittles. Despite this, she was upset he’d decided to end things!

I have seen acquaintances in such relationships (if one could call them that) in real life and the dynamic can be irrationally strong. Gals will cling to guys who give next to nothing in return. Hope it will turn into more. Will jump through hoops to be with him. Will often have sad stories of broken plans and ways he’s wronged her, yet she continues. If she asks for more, Skittles Man usually vanishes rather than changes his ways or puts a ring on it.

Women in such situations often view themselves as the victim, the injured or wronged party. But are they? Or are their own choices leading to their outcomes?

My advice would be to beware getting involved with Skittles Guy in the first place. If you already are in such a relationship recognize this and break it off so you can find more. Or if you choose to continue, own it and realize you are agreeing to the deal, you are not a powerless victim.

Maybe the Skittles Guy is a bad guy, maybe not. That’s kind of irrelevant versus seeing he is who he is. And understanding that no matter what one sees in the movies, Skittles Guys do not magically and suddenly turn into something else. Maybe someday he will be in a place where he’s looking to commit, but if he’s not doing it already, it’s not now and it’s not with you. That’s the reality.

If you don’t take my word for it, here’s an excellent post by a guy explaining the price of being tied up with a Skittles Guy if what you really want is something more.

Life is a series of choices leading to good things or bad things. Choose wisely.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

 

Target Your Audience

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A recent post at another blog got me thinking about how so many young women today who say they want marriage and family may not be putting out the right message with their image.  It’s really important to know and target one’s audience.

Girls today are taught to be bold, fearless, sexy, hot, strong, independent, fun, fit, lean, and fierce. Many work hard to meet those goals, and post images of the results of their workouts for the world to see on social media. Sultry bikini model image? Check!

It seems to work, such images get lots of clicks and likes and comments which only reinforces to the girl she’s on the right track. Attention! So she posts more, and it becomes a self-affirming loop.

Except the Internet is forever, and let’s face it potential dates (and later their families) are going to later Google those same images. Nights out drinking with the girls. Sultry sexy barely clad shots. Sad breakup shot after sad breakup shot. Through the marriage lens, the fun time party girl is starting to look like a real train wreck…

A woman seeking marriage would be wiser to put out a completely different image — wholesome, chaste, domestic, nurturing, loves animals and children, does and says the right things, has it together, NOT a train wreck, someone you’d proudly bring home to meet mom (and not worry about what she’s going to wear, do, or say!) These are really the qualities a man is looking for in a wife, even if it seems like times have changed.

(And hopefully it goes w/o saying don’t just look it, do your best to BE and develop all those qualities. Your life will be happier and better, trust me! Pain is overrated.)

It’s ok to be a touch sexy, and every guy wants a gal who is a secret sex kitten behind closed doors, but a gal with an overly sexy image more likely catches the eye and gets approached by caddish guys looking to “hit it and forget it” than by the solid-but-steady type who would make a fine husband but thinks to himself, “Danger! Risk! Not worth it! Look but don’t touch.”

Target your audience ladies! And don’t forget, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior — make sure your social media isn’t unintentionally sending the wrong signals. Future bar fly is not what men seek in a mate or the mother of their children. So keep it classy!

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. How others perceive you, especially at first glance, can both work for or against your goals. Consciously make sure it’s working in your favor. Set yourself up to win.

What do you think about all this? Please feel free to share in the comments!

Take Some Time For Wonder

Something I have noticed is that life today seems to be jam packed with things to do, places to go, and people to see.

Every minute is booked or overbooked in most people’s schedules. Even with gadgets like online calendars it’s tough to keep track of everything.

My advice would be to make a little time for wonder. For walking around a lake, laying in the grass under a tree with a book, or simply watching the clouds roll by.

Such moments are like nourishment for a starving soul, and far too rare today. Quiet time for contemplation isn’t wasted time, it’s essential.

If you have children, encourage them to do so as well. Plan in downtime, so they learn not every minute needs to be filled with “something to do.”

If like me you were taught that every moment needed to be productive, try breaking free from that idea, and just “waste” some time now and then doing seemingly nothing.

Chances are (after you let go of the guilt) you’ll find life feels less frantic, your mind will stop spinning non-stop, and the rest of your hours will be more fruitful for taking some moments to simply relax, enjoy, and ponder.

Consider it busy life burnout prevention, if it helps.

What do you think? Do you find it hard to put life on pause? Please share in the comments.