Category Archives: men

Musings on overcast skies.

Today has been one of those which has me wondering a lot about my life.  It’s a dreary, overcast Georgia day, and it reminds me a lot of days living on campus at Georgia Southwestern.  Yes, some of you will think “there he goes again,” but please indulge me this one stroll down memory lane.  You may be surprised to learn this has nothing at all to do with my campus newspaper.

I don’t speak much about my final few months living on campus because it was, quite frankly, one of the darkest, loneliest times of my life.  While not being Editor of my college paper was part of the reason was suffered a severe depression, there were a great many factors in play.  I felt like a fish out of water, and my lake had become a parched, barren lakebed.  The details of what happened are irrelevant now, but today’s weather evoked feelings which I can’t describe as nostalgic or wistful, but rather as reminiscent of that time, despite my best efforts to avoid the memory.

Sometimes, one must face the memory in order to heal. 

That period of my life was depressing and painful.  I felt abandoned and heartbroken on almost every level.  Other words to describe it include hungry (both spiritually and physically), abandoned, betrayed and deceived.  There were people I had grown to count on who I felt left me in the dust, and others who had simply forgotten about me and moved on the greener pastures.  It was a time in my life I also felt profound anger, resentment and even a bit of rage.  I chose to flip off the world and rebel like never before.  I chose to stop paying my bills, stop socializing, and stop taking care of responsibilities.  The anger had me feeling “everyone else could play by these rules, so why do I have to suffer and nobody else does?”

Odd how the truth of a situation is revealed over time.  When we peel back the layers of the story, we find the flaws in our behaviors, the foolish arrogance of absolutist thinking, and how our preconceptions and delusions can create a whirlpool of misunderstanding.  We learn those around us didn’t abandon us, but were instead dealing with their own personal hell.  The people we perceived as having betrayed our own loyalty to them were suffering from losses we couldn’t possibly imagine.  Spurned advances were the result not of something personal, but instead the fact certain lines were never meant to be crossed.  Other lines which had been crossed became minefields which often blew up in the faces of those we believed to be living perfect or fun lives.  We mask our pain and anger in a veneer of hubris, and act out in accordance with how our personality was molded by our environment and associations.

Looking back, I was an arrogant goddamned fool who believed I was entitled to certain things for no other reason than a meager collection of achievement, none of which now matter in the grand scheme of things.

I could say I forgive those who I feel then hurt me, but that’s an exercise in self congratulatory artifice, and an insufferable one at that.  I figure we all make a ton of mistakes in our lives.  Forgiveness of this sort is an internal matter, certainly not one to be made public.  Atonement on a grand scale is equally arrogant and little more than a grand display of emotional theatrics which only serves to assuage a guilty conscience.  No, today is a day which I look at, accept the feelings which exist, and just observe what happens next.  No amount of pining, whining, or promising this or that can undo what is done.  The deeds have been done, the words have been spoken, and all I can do is manage my reaction and healing process as best I can.  Deluding myself serves nothing – acceptance of my errors and misperceptions is the only hope I have for growth now.

That was, indeed, a dark time in my life.  I’m impressed I survived it.  I’m more impressed I’m able to accept just how much of an ass I’ve been about it all these years. 

Maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Some legit reasons men just won’t commit

This is the season for many to become serious about relationships, and Valentine’s Day is one of the most high-pressure days for men in the Western World. Ladies, it’s easy to become annoyed and frustrated with your man when he refuses to commit, but there are often some valid reasons for his cold feet. While I am not a relationship expert, counselor, or qualified professional, here are some legitimate laypersons reasons as to why men are not prepared to commit to a serious relationship.

What Have I DoneOnce bitten, twice shy: when a man is deeply wounded in a previous relationship, scars exist. Even if there’s been a so-called “rebound,” it’s not uncommon for a man to want to take his time, or even never fully commit. While most who have come out of a damaging relationship or brutal breakup are encouraged to take some time to themselves, the desire to jump back in to avoid the “lonely bug” can be too great to resist, but with that comes a fear of repeating past mistakes.  This is especially true of relationships where one or both sides were abusive.  Healing time is needed.

kate-winslet-ned-kiss-zA torch still ablaze: guys, we’ve all been there – that woman we once had the strongest feelings on earth for, be it a friend or lover, and then our hopes are dashed. That one “who got away” is the stuff of best-selling love songs.  We try to get past her to move on to someone better.  Still, the fire smolders, waiting for any perceived breath of fresh of air to rekindle it anew, and set our hearts ablaze yet again.  Teensy problem with that; we meet a truly wonderful and committed woman, and that particular little fire still burning in our hearts needs a different fuel for combustion. Until that fire is put out, a new flame cannot hope to burn steady and bright.  The man in your life needs time to put the past behind him, and sometimes a “walkabout” of sorts is needed.

Bachelorhood just feels good: for many men, being single is a great thing. After all, there is nearly zero accountability, zero need to change and almost no risk. By jumping into a committed relationship, the notion of having to actually work with someone, compromise and change oneself for the better ensues. That’s scary enough, but combine that with the idea of children, pets or meeting family, and it feels like a sensory overload most men just are not ready for.  Time won’t cure this one; only maturation will.

yellingUnreasonable expectations: ladies, here’s where it gets unpopular. It’s very easy for women to decide they want a commitment from a man who is, honestly, just doesn’t want it. It could be any number of reasons, but the fact is some men just around ready for commitment, and some never will be. The worst situation of all are men who commit for the wrong reasons, such as custody of children or financial reasons. These almost always devolve into explosive and dangerous breakups.  Communicating expectations is key here, but even the most thorough communication may result in an ending.

Ultimatums: Any self-respecting man, or woman for that matter, will walk away from an ultimatum to be committed. If you tell your beloved “if you won’t commit, I’m out,” you should expect to be alone, period. To give any significant other an ultimatum to commit can be regarded as holding someone hostage emotionally, even if the person being held hostage is the ultimatum giver. Once you’ve gotten to the ultimatum point, the relationship is likely on borrowed time.

Finally there is Superstition: this is the one reason some men use and it’s based on the notion that Valentine’s Day commitments, proposals and such are bad luck. Now, that being said, it’s easy to have serious regrets about saying “yes” in the hoopla of the day. It’s even more common for a woman to not want to let her man down by saying no to that diamond ring. Many relationships which escalate on this day often fail down the road, so many men are skeptical about the validity of proposing in any way on Valentine’s Day.

Some of us just won’t be good commitment material, and sometimes it’s a matter of feeling “they can do it, why can’t I?”  We’ve all been there, and some of us grow out of it faster than others.  So ladies, cut your man a small break if he’s unable to commit.  Let him tell you in his way, in his time but, be aware, some men really aren’t ready to take that big leap. Be kind, compassionate and loving, but firm. Don’t let him hold you hostage, but don’t hold him hostage either. Compassion and love goes far further than demands and frustration, and the commitment which can result may be the best thing you’ve ever known.

FRIENDSHIPS:  Healthy, and unhealthy things which end them

If only all friendships could be this strong

One of the hardest lessons we ever learn is that not every friend we regard as “close” or “best” will be there for us through everything.  You can wish upon a star, mash bloody fingertips together, and pinky swear all you want, the fact is people change, and that means friendships evolve or end.  Usually it is the latter.

There are a ton of theories and hierarchies about friendships and relationships, all of them based in some sort of study.  Here are just some observations of my study of the greatest teacher of all, life.

Most friends are seasonal:  Yes, some friendships can be lifelong, but most friendships only last a short amount of time.  Everything from professional associations to changing tastes can affect a friendship.  People often drift apart as time goes on, and it’s a natural rhythm, just like a season’s change.  Let them be them and you be you.

Money does end friendships:  Let’s be honest – money can and does affect friendships.   Those of means can do things and meet people others can’t.  They often have very different world views and when friends who started out the same financially end up in diametrically different positions, the relationship is often strained.  Resentment can and does often take root and, despite the best efforts friends often make, even the strongest relationships have failed when others plant the dread “why is he/she your friend? He’s not like us” seed in our minds.  The scene in Pretty in Pink where the one rich boy says to the other about Molly Ringwald’s character “she’s not from our world” is, sadly, quite accurate in many cases.

Politics often end friendships, too:  If there is anything this recent election cycle has proven, it’s that politics can fracture and end even the best friendships.   No amount of “besties” could save many relationships affected by vehemently oppositional opinions.  Liberals and conservatives often like to associate with like-minded folks and, as much as this is a detriment to our society as a whole, it is a reality which has destroyed many a good friendship.  In addition, politics often bring out the worst traits and prejudices in people, which also end friendships.

Romantic relationships are nasty things:  A boyfriend or girlfriend can end a relationship with a close friend faster than almost anything.  When you hear them whisper or say directly to you how they don’t like you, that’s a signal you’re on borrowed time.  Your friendship may reboot later but, chances are, with a massive loss of trust and vastly changed circumstances.

Unrequited feelings:  Well, this is a big one.  There are a lot of people who decry the “friend zone”, but it is based in a sound, common sense concept.  Some friendships develop into romantic relationships which are extremely healthy while others, not so much.  In same cases, there is an attraction in both sides but, for whatever reason, one of the friends is either afraid to pursue or wishes things to stay “status quo” because they are afraid to lose the friendship.  It’s time for a reality check:  a friendship with admitted romantic, unrequited feelings on one side are nearly impossible to maintain.  The emotional pain and damage caused can last for years and talking about other relationships only causes further trauma.  It is, actually, better to end the friendship than it is to keep it dragging along despite the wishes of either side.  This is the one instance where an ending of the friendship is usually in everyone’s best interest.  It’s all about growth, and one person cannot grow when they are pining for the other with no hope of anything in the future.  It is truly unfair to the one who has the feelings and if the one who doesn’t can’t see that, there’s even more profound issues which need to be addressed.

May your friendships all be rich and joyful and may you all enjoy a wonderful happy life.  Remember this one quote:  if you aren’t losing friends, you aren’t growing as a person.

A misconception about “friend-zoning,” and what can be done

I recently read a post about the dreaded “friend zone” and saw some genuinely caustic remarks from both men and women about they are tired of hearing this term.  One man said the old refrain of women are not “just machines you can put a few tokens in and hope sex comes out.”  While this is a truism, these gripes and calls to stop using this term and it’s more aggravating related “family zone” slang actually raises a counter argument few want to consider:

This isn’t about sex; it’s about a sense of frustration with people going after the “wrong” instead of the perceived “right.”

Let’s face it; we all make this mistake at some point.  There’s that man or woman who we befriend, get to know and, somehow, absolutely fall head over heels for and take a chance on pursuing it.  For whatever reason, the feeling just isn’t mutual.  Whether it is as basic as a lack of physical attraction, a deep seated fear of wrecking a good friendship, or something  much deeper which makes a relationship impossible, one thing is certain.  This situation absolutely sucks. 

It’s a perfect lesson of “life’s not fair,” but fairness is still essential in one regard, and this is a matter which many who are tired of hearing the term “friendzone” don’t want to admit.

It’s not about sex; it’s about feelings.

Let’s be real; if a so-called “friend zone” situation was just about sex, it wouldn’t hurt near as much.  It would be a mere ego bruise; yes, a deep one in some cases, but still just ego.  The reason these situations hurt is that emotions, however misguided, have been invested.  Yes, said emotions can border on obsession, and sometimes people have a right to be nervous about the person whose unreturned affections have become stronger than expected, but in most cases, the person who was “relegated” figures out a way to deal with it, even if that means being whiny about it or removing themselves from their beloved life for a while.  Pop culture can spin it all they want; a genuinely painful friend zone experience is not about sex.  Making it about sex is little more than a tacit dismissal of the validity of someone’s feelings, and often that’s a defense mechanism to assuage guilt or anger at oneself.

Sorry to say it, but we all do that.  If you need proof, just remember how badly you bad mouthed that ex from your last really bad breakup.  You likely bitched about him or her to your buddies or girlfriends.  They were the devil incarnate.  Your BFF was likely ready to throat punch them when it was all said and done but, eventually, you burned through those emotions like a fire in a paper factory.  It’s human nature and everyone who’s been hurt does it.

There is, however, a huge difference between a “friend zone” and a break up.  In a breakup, there was a relationship of some sort which had a romantic element.  In a “friend zone,” somehow a seed of expectation was planted in the mind of the heartbroken.  That expectation is never realized, and it causes an emotional reaction due to rejection.  Whether it was justified by the actions of their beloved or a delusion of sorts, the heartbreak is the direct result of this unrealized expectation.  There is one other thing we all need to face (those who have suffered the friend zone bug recently really should pay attention here):  being “friend zoned” is, at a fundamental level, rejection.  No amount of rationalization or justification can dismiss this.  Still, rather than statement of moral judgment, it is simply defining the core issue, that many friendzone heartbreaks are actually not the result of the lack of attraction, but a much deeper issue – the insecurities triggered by this feeling of rejection. 

For those of you tired of feeling “judged” for “friendzoning” someone, it’s time to face an uncomfortable truth:  there are expectations leading to the feelings of rejection which can, in fact, be created by the person doing the rejecting.  Regardless of how much one denies “leading them on,” sometimes a behavior by the rejecting person creates the expectation, however unintentional .  It could be something as simple as habitually flirtatious behavior, or something as easily misread as an invitation to dinner.  That seed of expectation, if identified early, can be corrected to preserve the friendship prevent an awkward or painful situation.  One other thing to consider; those are well aware of their behaviors, whether it is the rejected or the one rejecting,  tend to become most defensive when called out about it.  This is not to say someone should apologize, but a means to understand the “why” of the heartbroken – granted, some folks have conditioned  themselves, out of necessitiy, to be dispassionate towards those whose hearts they break, but that comes with this territory.

Let’s be clear about one thing before going any further; this is not giving those who disrespect rejection a free pass.  Being hurt is one thing; griping to friends or family is natural and a part of life, but to retaliate in any way which causes physical harm to the rejecting party, or causes them fear of such, is not acceptable.  Those who engage in this sort of behavior need to seek immediate help.  Those who are heartbroken and considering self harm as from rejection also need to seek help.

Regardless of what people may think, those who choose to cope by talking to friends and family, even if it means complaining about the situation, or the person involved, are doing something which is quite healthy.  It is a means of humanizing the person for whom an unhealthy or unrealistic expectation was centered around.  Sometimes it means distance and isolation from that friend, but one fact remains, and it’s one which people who are tired of hearing this term need to come to grips with; a real “friendzoning” is not about sex, but genuine heartbreak.  Sadly, in the extreme case, the friendship must be ended for both parties own good.

To those who have been on the “zoning” end, do you and your friend a few favors, especially if you truly respect them and your friendship.  Give yourselves both time and healthy space to heal.  Show you care, but be detached enough that you can explain things in a healthy, compassionate way which doesn’t reopen the wound.  If that person can’t get you out of their head, encourage them to seek help or, at the least, ask mutual friends to help out.  Also, be gentle, understanding and forgiving.  That friend is suffering a deep wound, and it often takes a long time to heal because their confidence has been shattered.  Above all, never talk to them about your romantic or sex life.  That’s literally akin to giving a suicidal person a loaded gun with the safety removed.  Let them heal, be supportive (even if at a distance) and please remember the prime rule of karma; what goes around does come around. You’d want that friend to be just as caring and tender with you, right?

I’m no expert.  Just speaking from experience, and I hope this helped out a few folks who are either suffering with rejection to struggling with the “why me” question about how someone can feel that way about you when you don’t feel the same way.  The heart wants what it wants but, fortunately, that feeling is often fleeting, even if that fleeting moment lasts longer than expected.  Remember, what you put out is what you get back.  If you put out respect, caring and tenderness, it ultimately gets returned.