Flirting, Secret Signs and Making Something Out of Nothing

fliritngSome people are great with the matters of the heart since they’re teenagers and they can always see through people’s intentions. Most of us, however, need some experience to learn to recognise whether the person we’re interested in is also interested in us. Others seem to never learn.

Secret Signs or Wishful Thinking?

When I was young I used to develop crushes. I’d observe the person I liked and convince myself that he was also interested in me. He smiled, he said “hi”, he replied to something I said – anything really could be interpreted by me as a sign of him liking me too. I could go on for weeks on one secret sign making up a whole story of our future together in my head. I was probably the biggest dreamer in my friends group but other girls weren’t much different.  We would talk and talk and talk. Nothing would really happen with the boys, though, regardless of our overblown expectations.

Most of us once we gain some experience with people who are actually interested in us, realize that these people don’t send secret signs. The behavior of a person fancying someone is rather obvious, often to other people too. Of course, you have people who are more shy than others but even they manage to send a subtle yet direct message. The lesson here is that if you have to look for secret signs in someone’s behavior, seeing them is most probably just wishful thinking. Realizing that will make you save a lot of your precious time. He/she may be amazing but you need two to tango.

Meaningless Flirting

In some parts of the world, making eye contact with someone of opposite sex is pretty much expressing that you want to marry them. This isn’t the case in the Western world. Looking at someone may mean that you appreciate their physical beauty, that you find them repulsive or that you like their pants. On its own it’s truly meaningless and so is flirting. Whether someone is making small talk or actually flirting with you, it means that he or she is potentially interested in you in some way. However, even someone who flirts with you every time he sees you isn’t making you a promise. Being interested is one thing, being interested enough to actually make a move is another. Unless the person makes a move or reacts positively to you making a move and you two end up on a date, there’s nothing to write home about. Sure, it’s irritating if someone you fancy is not truly following up but you should take such behaviors at face value. You guys are flirting and that’s it. Enjoy it for what it is. There’s no promise than anything else will come out of it so don’t get hang up on it.

Making Something Out of Nothing

There’s this saying in Polish that translates into “When there’s no fish, a crab is a fish”. It applies perfectly here. Part of the reason why my female friends and I, as teenagers, would make something out of nothing was that we didn’t know many boys. We went to a predominantly female school and even if we increased our chances of meeting men by attending karate classes, after eliminating all the guys who were our fathers’ age and/or married, guys our age with girlfriends, the undatable ones and the crushes of our friends there still weren’t many men left! In other words, if you liked a boy and there were some chances that he would like you back, fantasising about him actually didn’t seem like a terrible idea. The difference between this situation and an adult woman describing to everyone a guy at the gym who smiles at her as dating potential, is massive. We had not much choice! Adult men and women have so many opportunities to meet other people in our modern world. There’s work, there’s social life, there are limitless activities no one will judge you for taking up on your own, clubs related to your hobbies, let alone online ways to make friends such as MeetUp or regular Internet dating. There’s honestly no excuse these days not to give oneself enough possibilities to stay cool as a cucumber till something is really happening (as opposed to: in our heads)!

To sum up, secret signs are good for teenage crushes and not for adults. Flirting is just flirting so hold on with telling everyone and their dog about your new potential relationship because it’s far-fetched and embarrassing. Last but not least, make sure your social life is busy enough to give you enough opportunities not to turn into a crazy stalker just because someone smiled at you.

Do you know people who as adults still can’t see clearly in terms of opposite sex? Are you guilty of too much wishful thinking?

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“Hi. Do you want to be my friend?” and Other Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Woman

doucheThis post is going to be slightly ranty in nature. Perhaps I will express in it, however, some struggles that women deal with daily.

Last year, I decided to start a writing group. I’m a part of an expat community and at the time it seemed like a good idea to start it there. A part of starting such a group is introducing yourself to the community, which obviously makes sense. How otherwise would people find the group? When I created my spammy introductory message and sent it to the members I expected to be mostly ignored. After all, most people are not writers. Surprisingly, a lot of those who received the message did reply in a very polite way refusing or accepting the invitation. I felt for a bit like the world was a nice, welcoming place.

After the initial wave of nice replies from both genders, I started to be contacted by various men, who clearly didn’t think the message was sent to everyone. In their opinion, it seems, I have sent this personal message to them specifically. Must be, because they’re so hot and I’m lonely and confused as ladies often are. “Hi there. Thanks for the message. I’m not a writer but how about you give me a call on XXXX-YYY-ZZZ?”, “Hi! Don’t do much writing but I’d love to meet up for a coffee”, “Hi! Not a writer but do you have plans for New Year’s?” and my favorite of all, “Hi! Thanks for the message. Do you want to be my friend?”. Eventually to protect my privacy and prevent these people from reaching me on other channels, I changed my surname to initials only. Then I realized that I made a terrible mistake and I didn’t wear a potato sack on my profile picture nor had I  focused on demonstrating a clearly visible sign of belonging to another man. I updated my profile picture to one in which you can see me, my husband and my wedding ring (hint for the more determined types: this man next to me is not my brother). The messages stopped. I never wanted to be this person who defines herself by being married or in a relationship. As I have written before, merely being in a relationship isn’t an achievement.  At the same time, my life is just easier on different networks if I have a profile picture with my husband.

Men are so disrespectful, treating women like commodities they find in a shop. Oh, what a nice pair of shoes! I’ll just touch it and try it on to see whether I like it. WHAT? This pair of shoes isn’t looking for an owner? What a ridiculous pair of shoes! It needs one! Oh, I see they have one. Nah, that’s okay then! I’ll just keep looking. Many men think about women in such terms. She can be approached at any time if she’s not taken and any opportunity can be used for it. Whether a woman is single or not this is very annoying.

Dear men, the list of ways in which a woman shouldn’t be approached include:

  • Hi.
  • Hi, you’re hot.
  • Hi, you’re pretty.
  • Hi, do you want to be my friend?
  • Hi, wana do coffee?
  • Hi, wana move to my country? I pay for everything (true story)

There are very few women who like to be approached in this way. Sure, being complemented on beauty is nice but it’s also nice to be treated like a human being. There are millions silly ways in which a man can strike up a conversation with a woman, which have nothing to do with her looks. She’ll still know you mostly just thought you like how she looks like and had a good feeling about her but will feel nicer that you put some effort into a conversation starter. If she doesn’t seem interested, just let it go. Also think twice whether you should hit on anyone at all. Are they sending you a message that they’re potentially interested? Perhaps she really just wants to have a glass of wine on her own in a bar. A woman isn’t a child that cannot be left on her own. Last but not least, if someone is being friendly or invites you to join their writing group, they may be actually doing what they say they’re doing. At least try to take this possibility into account.

I’m done for today, Dear Rinsers. Any thoughts welcome!

 

 

 

 

How to Set New Year’s Goals

new_year_goalsI will lose 20 kilos, quit smoking, stop drinking, hit the gym 7 times a week…! Sounds familiar? Perhaps you’re also one of the people who try to make radical New Year’s resolutions every year and find yourself failing in week one and giving up entirely? Is it even possible to set truly life changing goals? I think so, you just have to be a bit more patient.

The biggest problem with achieving New Year’s goals is that people tend to be aggressive and not really realistic about setting them. I don’t know how it goes for you but how I used to do it is I’d watch an inspiring video or listen to a motivational speaker before the new year and decide that “I can change EVERYTHING”. And so I would decide to get abs, quit smoking, cut out negative people from my life and write something substantial. I would even make a proper plan how to achieve those goals because everyone tells you they’re meant to be measurable. Year after year, however, I would fail in achieving any of them. Then I realized that often it’s difficult to know what’s an achievable goal. 5 kilos for one person is more difficult to lose than 20 for someone else and if you spent your life being a walk over you won’t become a champion in assertiveness over night. You only learn what’s too much in the process so as slightly more vague goal like “I want to eat healthier” or “I want to learn to say “no”” isn’t a bad idea. Therefore, I decided to try to be more gentle with myself and just make sure that I’m heading in a good direction.

The year I actually ended up quitting smoking was the year I cut down cigarettes first. As a box/two box smoker I failed every time I tried to go cold turkey. My lungs would really suffer from such a quick withdrawal, I would be sad, extremely irritable and very very hungry. That particular year by cutting down I had a nicotine free life by March with minor side effects. I’m still a non-smoker after almost three years. I think part of the problem with setting goals is that people (in life, on TV, in books) often encourage us to have the big change NOW, while often a small step today will give you more long term. If you have ever done any of the this “change in 3 months” courses or read such books you should know that it never really works this way. You can jump start your development with a 90-day solution but nothing gets done in such a short period of time. A lasting change takes time and sometimes requires mini-steps, especially if a habit has been a big part of your life for a long time. In other words, for instance, if exercising is not a part of your daily routine, you may get ripped in three months but you’ll probably also lose your mojo after that. With such experiences in mind, I’d say that a part of setting good goals for New Year’s is deciding on your direction and steering your life there. Very few people manage to move from couch potato to a fitness enthusiast in few days. Don’t make a resolution to hit the gym every day, rather try to exercise three times a week and upgrade it when you realize that you enjoy it. Part of staying on a good path is realizing that your life is getting better thanks to the change. This is the whole point of resolutions, isn’t it?

Another thing which I find important in achieving goals is choosing things that make sense for us. Life’s busy and perhaps learning 5 new foreign languages next year isn’t what you should be spending your time on. I think a big reason why I’ve been failing at a lot of my goals was that I just didn’t care enough about them to keep going. The abs resolution is a good example. Yes, it looks great when people have a ripped tummy but it’s not an easy thing to achieve. It’s not only about exercising a lot and focusing on this part of the body but also about  being very rigorous with what you eat. This is why, as much as I want to be fit and eat healthy, I probably will never have perfect abs. This goal is just not important enough for me to keep myself in check all the time and skip an occasional treat. Don’t set goals you don’t care about because the problem with one failed goal is that it changes your mindset to “I’m a failure”. If you’ve set ten goals that year and you failed at one, you’re actually less likely to achieve the other ones. This is why it’s super important to set a few non-aggressive goals around things that matter, if you really want to see yourself changing.

Last but not least, you need to want to change. I know it sounds trivial but it isn’t. All the times I tried to quit smoking before I actually managed to do it,  I didn’t  really want to get rid of the habit. I was thinking that it’s a good thing to quit smoking because it costs me money, harms my health, stinks and for many other reasons why everyone thinks that smoking is bad for you. I was reasoning with myself that I should do it but I didn’t want to do it. The last time I actually decided that I didn’t want to be defined by an addiction anymore. It still wasn’t easy to quit but when you tell yourself “Yes, I can have this cigarette but it will make me want to smoke more and I don’t want to be a smoker”, it has much more power than saying “I shouldn’t have this cigarette”. Remember that “Resistance is futile”. The rule applies to any other goal like, for instance, learning to cook. The element of wanting and not feeling forced (even by oneself) is crucial. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to force oneself to do things, it’s just easier to achieve goals if you consider them to be a a choice based on what you want, rather than a necessity.

To sum up, good goals are those which may be a bit vague but slowly but surely take you in the desired direction, which you actually care about and which you can internalize as a “want”. Good luck with your New Year’s Resolutions! Also, please don’t forget that any time of the year is good for goal setting so you can reuse this post later in the year, if you find it helpful.

Any thoughts on the topic, Dear Rinser? Do you have any success stories about goal setting? Maybe tips to share with others?

Review – Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment

Why_Buddhism_Is_TrueYou may think that this book doesn’t belong here. After all our blog is about dating and relationships. However, I would argue that how we approach life in general and how much we act on autopilot of our programming has a lot to do in how we choose our partners and behave in relationships. A book about a tool that helps us to think before we do, is a tool that has its place on this blog.

Robert Wright’s book “Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment” is a much more down to earth book than the title suggests. Wright is also a very reasonable guy himself and has an amazingly dry sense of humor. He describes the perks of meditation from his point of view, which is that of an evolutionary psychologist. In his book he compares the ancient knowledge with what we know from science. As we are animals (just deal with it), we are ruled by natural selection. This means that most of the things we do have to do with how we’re programmed to perform. Natural selection’s goal is to make us reproduce, this is not a human goal most of the time (even if someone wants kids they don’t want to have kids all the time either). I touched upon this topic in my posts about pragmatism in love and rethinking romanticism, where I explained that butterflies don’t seem to be much more than our body yet again tricking us into reproduction. For the same reasons we are programmed to choose our kin above strangers, to label people and put them into us vs them categories and even to gossip. All these mechanisms were valid tools of survival in the hunter-gatherer society but they don’t serve us in the modern world. Meditation is a tool to undo some of such useless programming. I will not get into any more detail because a) Wright has already written a book about it and b) in his book he actually does a great job at explaining things.

Someone could say that the book isn’t a good manual for meditation but the fact is no manual is really needed. Maybe like me you’ve spent a lot of money on meditation courses, guided meditation CDs and other devices. They may help you but the truth is they usually just make you procrastinate. The simplest guide to meditation is: sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breath, when your thoughts appear don’t follow them but keep focusing on your breath, repeat it for at least 20 minutes every day. Ta-dam! Here, I saved you some money. The book serves a different purpose, however, and this is to help to popularize meditation as it is a very helpful device in living better and just becoming a nicer human being. Of course, there are a lot of misconceptions about meditation. People are scared that it will change them, deprive them of feelings and other things. Wright answers to all of these concerns in a knowledgeable manner of someone who not only studied the subject theoretically but is also a regular, yet not heavy, meditator.

I recommend this book to anyone, really. As meditation is challenging in the beginning and often counter-intuitive as it’s not a part of the Western cultural heritage, it’s good to read a book that explains in a (not overly) scientific manner the benefits of meditation. I can only tell you that it’s really worth it. I may be still far away from being the person I’d like to be but both myself and my relationships have significantly benefited from my meditation practice.

 

Is It Ever Too Late To Settle Down?

watchChances are that you, just like me, live in a big city and you see the tendency of people to settle down later and later in life (if at all). Is it ever too late for that? One would be tempted to say “no” but I do think it gets more and more difficult with age.

Not long before I met my husband, a friend of mine who was in her thirties and who listened to me complaining about men told me I was being unrealistic. She said that at 28 I should only be counting on the so-called second market, meaning guys who have already been married and possibly have kids. I actually did follow her advise for a bit in my choice of who to swipe right and went for the daddies. They would send me too many picture of their kids about whom I always said they were pretty because, well, what do you say? This short experiment taught me quickly that I don’t really want to take on a whole family and I became unapologetic about children being my deal breaker. The older guys, however, seemed more mature, usually secure in their jobs (rather than living with their moms and lying about having their own companies) and interested in younger women (surprise, surprise). For a bit there I thought I found my niche.

I went on quite a few dates with first market gentlemen in the age bracket of 35-40 and chatted with a few even above the 40 mark. The trick was there was always something they said on the first date, which made me understand why they haven’t settled down. A lot of them had serious vibes of a commitment phoebes, telling me about how there’s something wrong with women in general (like for instance, their dislike for nice guys) or how monogamy is a bad concept. Some mentioned their mom way too much (one even said he hasn’t met the woman being as good as his mom yet). Others were fine with a relationship but not with living with someone. Yet another group was still hang up on their last long relationship and was clearly not over it, regardless of whether it finished a year or 10 years ago. Last group were people who just lacked social skills/women skills. The group I haven’t encountered during this round were constant travelers but I know they exist. Most of these men weren’t actually interested in a serious relationship. This made me wonder: have these guys missed their time to enter a serious relation and lost flexibility to the point that wouldn’t risk their lifestyle even to accommodate someone very special? Also, there’s a reason why they’re not everyone’s favorite group to date and why their dating market value drops with age.

The truth is that we do get more and more stuck in our ways as we get older. Many people get their own place rather than stay with flat mates in their mid to late twenties. They prefer independence but they could still could mould themselves easily to live happily with a partner, even if that was their first exprience of this sort. It does seem, though that there’s an age when such flexibility as the one required to learn to live with someone happily disappears. Just think about it. If you live on your own you can be as messy or clean as you want to. You don’t have to let anyone know what time you’ll be home or move your schedule around to suit your partner. Even living with flat mates is a different dynamic and gives us way more independence than a serious relationship. Now imagine having such independence for 5, 10, even 15 years. One gets used to it and with age it becomes more and more difficult to see that the perks of a happy relationship are bigger than the ultimate freedom. Especially men are likely to skip settling down altogether, in my opinion, due to the preferential upbringing that still teaches them that as men they can do pretty much whatever they want.

Reaserch seems to support me in my thinking. This article in Time analyses a study according to which the perfect age to get married and not end up divorced is between 28-32. Makes sense to me: not too late to lose flexibility and not too early not to know what you want. I don’t think that people above (or below) the mark should despair, it’s just a study, after all. It’s more an indication that perhaps there’s something to my thinking. I know some people (mostly men) above the mentioned mark, for instance, who have already given up on love because they feel dating is too much effort and they don’t want to compromise their lifestyle for anyone. You can also see a similar tendency among people who are married or in a stable partnership and want to have kids. They also keep pushing the boundaries of when to have kids because they like their lives and are used to them. After years of building a life you want in terms of education and professional sacrifices, it’s difficult to decide to change it just like that for something which may or may not make it better. You know why there are no similar stats for “lasting parenthood” as they are for the best age for a lasting marriage? Because you can never divorce your children. I think when we’re younger we’re more willing to try new things, knowing we may fail. It’s just easier to pick oneself up.

Last but not least, some people have serious relationship issues that prevent them from having their happily ever after. They may be trying to to fix the issues they had as children in the relationship. For instance, if someone has an unappreciative mother and keeps dating people with similar traits hoping they’ll eventually appreciate them. Patterns are difficult to break and sometimes require help from someone objective, you pay a lot of money to, to help you break them. Science agrees, however, that due to our flexibility disappearing, such issues are easier to work on in our twenties than in our thirties or later. Of course, not settling down isn’t the only risk. An even bigger one is attempting to settle down with a wrong person. You can learn more about it in an excellent Ted talk “Why 30 isn’t the new 20”:

To sum up, I don’t think it’s ever too late to settle down but I think the older you get, the more difficult it is to do so. It’s also probably much easier if you had some previous experience with serious relationship than if you don’t. The flexibility disappearing with age, men being used to having their way and last but not least, the lowering dating market value connected to age make settling down above 35 a challenge.

The Importance of Being on the Same Page

heartsicknessIf you observe humans, you may notice that among all the other problems they are facing in their relationships there is the issue of not being on the same page. Let me share a few thoughts about it in my post today.

When you like someone it is somehow tough to suspend your wishful thinking about  this person’s feelings about you. However, as convenient as it may be for the time being to delude yourself about the nature of your relationship, it doesn’t benefit you long term. A girlfriend of mine complained to me once about men behaving like they’re in a relationship and yet not really believing they’re in one. She said that their behavior often reminds her of someone who moves like a runner, behaves like one, even wears the appropriate clothing and yet claims he’s not a runner. This is not a good analogy, however, to why people are less invested in a relationship than what we would like them to be, because unlike the runner such people don’t behave like runners, we just imagine they do. I mean honestly, it’s more like they put their running shoes on every six months.

I recently saw a typical example of this at a party. It was an interaction between a man and a woman, who are some kind of an item. The woman kept touching the guy and he remained entirely non-reactive to her touch. She kept using the terms such as “dating” and “seeing one another” and he didn’t use any of these terms, nor react to what she was saying in any way. She said that he’ll be meeting her family very soon to yet again, no reaction from his side. You’d assume that if he was truly a “runner”, he’d react to any of these cues, instead of looking around as if he didn’t hear them. I mean, does someone really have to always say things for people to get an idea that they’re not agreeing or liking something? Why do we tend to assume that someone not reacting to what we say is agreeing with what we say? Wouldn’t life be easier if we made sure that, for instance, we are in a serious relationship with someone who’s worth presenting to our parents and not just someone we can have fun with and that’s it?

Perhaps we are often so comfortable in our delusions that we would ignore even clearer messages about where we’re at. What makes me think about that is that I have seen people expressing themselves very clearly, like for instance saying they won’t get married or they won’t have children and other side just ignoring it and still hoping for these things to happen. A male friend of mine kept mentioning an upcoming proposal from his side, with his girlfriend replying every time he did something to the extent “Do you think it’s a good idea at this point?”. She wasn’t opposed to the idea of marriage in general but their relationship reached the point in which she was really unhappy. EVERYONE knew that. He kept ignoring her complaints and doubts about the future which she kept voicing both publicly (only if prompted by him) and privately. Eventually, while he was busy ignoring her and planning the perfect proposal, she broke up with him. He seemed to be the only person who was surprised by it. Surely, it’s easier to read between the lines (or in this case, just read) and decide that something won’t work on one’s own terms and try again? Why do we keep ignoring the signs of an upcoming catastrophe, especially if avoiding it is possible (like for instance, my friend could have focused on making his relationship better rather than keep fantasizing about the future)?

Last but not least, there are the pity party people. They know they’re not on the same page with someone because after all, no one would like to be on the same page with them. They choose their pattern of pity: someone always choosing someone else over them, someone always cheating on them, someone always marrying the next person they date after them. Life is a tragedy, there’s no hope. Such people leave notes in books they give for birthday to their boyfriends of two months saying that they’ll never have to be alone, if only the boyfriend will have them (true story). I mean even if the person wanted to one day be on the same page with you, how could they if you’re setting yourself for a disappointment religiously believing your pattern must repeat itself?

I don’t really know the answers. I’m just putting the questions out there, hoping that maybe you have something interesting to tell me Coming back to my initial topic: it is very important to be at the same page, if we want to achieve our romantic goals. People looking for fun should be having fun and people wanting babies should be making babies. Why instead of that, do so many people keep kissing the frog hoping it’ll turn into a prince, even if they have a lifelong experience of knowing that it’s not true? Frogs are frogs, princes are princes and you can’t make a whip out of shit (a Polish saying). Please tell me, why are you still trying?

Comment, Dear Rinsers, please.

Review: The Erotic Playbook of a Top Earning Sex Worker

tim-ferris-showI’ve prepared something different for you today; a review of an episode of the podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show. I’m a big fan of the show and I listen to it regularly. This is why I managed not to miss the recently released episode, an interview with an exclusive sex worker, Alice Little.

If you’ve ever watched American movies or series like The Deuce, you’re probably aware of the fact that sex work is illegal in the United States and it can get you in trouble. However, in Nevada and more specifically in one part of the state it is legal to provide sex work. The industry is also regulated and sex workers need to be tested and pay taxes on their earnings. The guest of the podcast works on The Moonlite Bunny Ranch as an independent contractor. She didn’t go in too much details but I’m assuming it works like with Virgin Active personal trainers, meaning that both pay a monthly fee for the use of the premises.

Such arrangement of course has its perks. Alice talks about safety on the ranch in terms of personal safety of a sex worker but also of the clients. They know they’re using services of a professional who’s free of STDs and STIs and the service is safe for credit card use as the transaction is named something different than “sex worker services”. The ranch has also a very good reputation, which can help the contractors with finding clients. Alice, however, does not seem to struggle with it. She’s a highly rated and popular sex worker with her own website, where you can learn all about her services. I obviously checked it out and was a bit surprised by the nudity right out there (no, are you 18? questions) but the website is tasteful and Alice looks exactly how I imagined when listening to the podcast.

Miss Little is a strong advocate of legalization of sex work. She believes that sex is a need and not a want and this fact should be recognized officially. In the interview audibly excited Tim Ferriss asks her a lot of questions. It turns out, for instance, that the most popular service is the girlfriend experience. She also speaks about virgins she works with, teaching them not only how to have sex but more importantly how to treat and touch a woman. Another service in high demand are threesomes, which Alice really enjoys as a bisexual individual.

Little also gives very detailed instructions on how to have sex and in particular oral sex better. She tells you about sex toys, explains what’s important during an intimate encounter in terms of touch and technique. Perhaps more importantly she talks about the human connection that’s crucial during intercourse. She stresses that she’s trying to know her clients as people, before she starts knowing them as sexual partners.

Alice seems to be a real professional and is very self-aware. She sounds honestly passionate about her job and has a good sense of humor. The podcast is very light and interesting to listen to. It’s also absolutely not safe for work. I may not agree with all she says (like for instance, how she finds threesomes beneficial for couples) but I certainly have a lot of respect for her after listening to the podcast, as you would have for any professional who’s passionate about their job and has high work ethics. I’d recommend this episode especially to those who think that sex workers are always people somehow forced into the profession. I think it would be fun and interesting for anyone, though. You can find the episode of the podcast here.

Enjoy, Dear Rinser, and don’t forget to let me know your thought about it in the comment section, when you’re done listening to it.

 

Why Sex Work Should Be Legal

clipartI think sex work should be legal. This post was inspired by a number of things: The Deuce, an interview on Tim Ferris show with a legal sex worker I’ll review for you tomorrow, encountering a representative of Sweat (a South African organization fighting for sex workers rights and well-being) and a loud-mouth lady, whose argument against sex work I’m going to be discuss.

Honestly, I’m not sure why I feel so strongly about sex work being legal but I think it mostly has to do with the society denying how humans truly are. Sex work has always existed and it will always exist. This is because humans have a need for sex that they’re going to meet in this or other way. You can tell teenagers they’re going to go blind from masturbating and they’ll still masturbate. If you tell them that you will just make them feel guilty about their sexual needs which may make their sexual lives more difficult in future but you won’t stop them (and why would you want that anyway?). Honestly, why just not to accept that humans are sexual being and sex is an important ingredient of well-being?

I don’t find sex work appealing on the receiving end. I don’t think that paying someone for sex can make it as rewarding as with someone who just wants to do it with you. I’m not everyone, though and perhaps for some people it’s a perfectly acceptable and fulfilling experience. Perhaps other people because of some issues struggle to find sex partners and that’s the best they can get. What is more, I think we have a misconception of sex workers as being forced to do the profession because of some circumstances. It may be true for many but I’m sure that some of these ladies and gents are truly enjoying their work. I mean, they’re having sex all day! I’m sure there are worse things one can do, like spend 10 hours per day in an office in a meaningless job that makes you question the meaning of life, for instance 😉

Now so that’s it’s clear, I’m talking here not only about decriminalization, which means sex work is a grey zone and which is already present in many countries but about legalization. What I think should happen in any country is a creation of a proper legal framework that would eliminate or at least  significantly minimize the issues associated with sex work. Such problems are: human trafficking, workers unchecked for STDs and STIs who may be engaging in risky sexual behaviors (not using condoms, for instance), safety risks for sex workers in terms of abusive clients, exploitation of children and teenagers below the age of consent, exploitation of sex workers in general and connection of the whole sex industry to the world of organized crime. All of these problems could be at least partially solved if sex work became a regular industry, the representatives of which would pay taxes and had to be tested. Why not to approach this issue responsibly, given that it exists anyway?

I think part of the problem that people have with sex work is that, well, it’s sex. This is already a taboo and something a lot of people don’t want to think about. Many certainly think that the legalization would work as some sort of encouragement. Legal sex work won’t encourage people to cheat or look for sex work professionals for other reasons, though. People who have an interest in such activities will find their way there, anyway. If that wasn’t the reality, all the problems I enumerated above wouldn’t be taking place. The loud-mouth lady I mentioned before said that sex work is a job with no career prospects. If you’re a waitress, she argued you can save money and buy a coffee shop. If you’re a sex worker what will you do? The answer is: earn a lot of money, save and be much more likely to buy a coffee shop than a waitress. I’m not arguing here that you should necessarily pursue a sex worker profession. I don’t think it’s for most people. However, if some people don’t mind providing a service that is in high demand and make a lot of money out of it, I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business what they do with their body? The only interested party could be the government but if they want to get a chuck of someone’s earnings, they have to first provide a legal framework that will protect the workers, just like they do for all other professions.

What’s your opinion on this issue, Dear Rinser? Any experiences you are willing to share? Thoughts? Anything?

Review: The Big Sick

the big sick“The Big Sick” is a love story about a cross-cultural relationship in the modern USA. It took me by surprise as I was expecting more of a “Notting Hill” sugarcoated and occasional chuckle type of story rather than an extremely funny and yet very moving film about family and cultural issues.

Pakistan-born Kumail meets Emily and they quickly, yet somehow reluctantly fall in love. They seem to be a real match: they have a similar sense of humor, way of thinking, they’re supportive towards one another. Unfortunately Kumail comes from a very traditional family. They don’t want him to pursue his interest in comedy and more importantly they want him to enter an arranged marriage with someone from their culture. When Emily contracts a mysterious disease, he’s forced to make a choice about his future… What will he do?

I cannot stress enough how much I liked the movie. It has a very strong drama element in it and I felt deeply moved numerous times but the comedic aspect of it was equally important. I don’t remember ever watching a movie that had such a perfect balance of both. I could really relate to the main character and his struggles. He knows what he wants but feels like he should rather want what his family wants for him. It’s also difficult to think that you owe nothing to your parents, if they moved countries to give you a better future.

The main couple has a very good chemistry on the screen. Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is cute in a dad kind of way and his acting skills are really impressive. He almost always jokes, even if a situation doesn’t call for it. Emily (Zoe Kazan) is also very convincing in her role of a slightly crazy girl with a great sense of humor. They form a couple you really cheer for when watching the movie. The drama element is so strong, however, that you have no idea what’s going to happen towards the end of the movie.

The film has a lot of un-PC humor about race and culture. Watching it is a very refreshing experience in the world of movies these days which are obsessed with appropriateness. The main actor is also the co-writer of the script and, I have a feeling, a major source of jokes in the film. The story line and comments on culture’s clashing bring to mind Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None”, even if it’s much more comedic and light in nature than “The Big Sick”.

Last but not least, do yourself a favor and don’t read too much about the movie before you go to watch it. The Internet is full of spoilers and particularly with this movie, knowing too many details will not serve you. Try to trust me if you can and just go for it!

Do you think that parents have a say in a choice of their children’s partner and career when the child is financially independent? Is it acceptable for parents to bully and blackmail their children to make they do what they want? Have your say!

 

 

You Don’t Owe Anything To Your Parents

angryIt’s good to be a nice person in life and help others, especially if they’re in need. There’s no point in being disagreeable or mean. However, it’s also important to design your life according to the rules that matter to you. This often means that you have to disappoint your parents in this or other way but that’s okay because you don’t owe anything to them.

The common misconception is that you owe to your parents because they brought you into this world, gave you food and clothes and sometimes even emotional support. That’s all cool and you should be grateful for that. It doesn’t mean, however, that you’re now in debt and have to live your life in order to please them. Your parents made a (somewhat) conscious decision of bringing you to this world because they wanted to have a baby. Some of them just had this feeling that it’s the right thing to do, others wanted to have a mini me in terms of looks, yet another group of parents count on their children achieving what they didn’t and the last group uses them as a surety for the future, just like a savings account in a bank. The thinking of the latter two groups of people is: I’m going to give birth to this thing and it’s going to do what I want it too/help me when I’m old. It’s like as if they were signing a contract in their heads with someone who didn’t agree to the terms of it. Did you ask them to bring you to this world? No? Exactly, this is why a contract signed only by one party doesn’t work.

In life there are no guarantees. You may spend a few years in a relationship, sacrifice yourself for a person and then they meet someone else and they leave you. It seems ungrateful and harsh but that you made a decision to make sacrifices, doesn’t oblige people to give you the same thing back to you. It’s exactly the same thing with parenthood. Sure, it’s nice if you help your parents through thick and thin when you’re an adult but it’s up to you to make such a decision.

Financially help your parents when they get older is one thing and most people would agree that it has more to do with human decency than with owing anything to anyone.  Nevertheless, your parents expectations are certainly not something you’re obliged to meet. If something doesn’t cost you anything, you can do it to avoid family frictions. Your mother really likes you to eat your greens? Sure, why not to comply with it. At the same time, when your mother wants you to be a doctor and you don’t want that, you’re not being difficult for not listening. If your parents are religious and you aren’t you don’t have to pretend that you are either. Last but not least, if your parents would like you to make a choice of whom you should marry, it’s also an important issue you should fight for.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. As much as theoretically we don’t owe anything to our parents, it doesn’t mean that on the emotional level we don’t think we do. My parents, for instance, always thought they were bringing up a lawyer. I’d even internalize it to the point that for many years I’d tell people that that’s what I was going to do. Then puberty happened and I realized that it’s really not something I want for myself. I fought and fought and eventually my parents understood I made up my mind. Still, neither of the two options I wanted “had a future” according to them and instead of becoming a psychologist or a journalist, I studied languages. It was an acceptable compromise that I wouldn’t have to be making if I could afford to pay my way through studies myself. A part of us relying on our parents is, of course, financial. This is why up to some point in our life, they actually have a say in our decisions. Ideally, they’d love us for who we are and accept our choices just wanting us to be happy and bla bla bla… but mostly they think they know better. Fair enough, if our parents are supporting us, we must obey some of their rules. They’re a bit like an Airbnb hosts till we’re truly adults.

At the point when we become financially independent, however, we can truly make our own decisions. A lot of people shy away from doing so because of a thing called “respect”. Oh, you see, my parents are religious I couldn’t live with my boyfriend before we got married. It’s just a matter of respect. Oh, my parents would never accept me if I decided to date someone outside of our culture etc. Those are just excuses. You shouldn’t respect your parents just because they’re your parents, you should respect them for being human beings and such respect should be mutual. In other words, if your parents are trying to impose on you how to live, it’s not you being disrespectful towards them, if you disobey. It’s them having no respect for you as an individual and understanding that you’re no longer a child they can control. As an adult everyone is entitled to make his or her own decisions. Sometimes such decisions are contrary to our parents preferences.

I’m not just theorizing here. I did disobey my mom in a rather serious way once (my father didn’t even know). I fell in love and pursued a relationship with a Muslim. My mom’s grievance was mostly on the grounds of racism, telling me things I wish I never heard from anyone. The relationship lasted for over two years and during this time I my mother would constantly go on rants. When I say constantly, I mean daily. Shouting, offending me and my former partner, emotionally blackmailing me, intimidating me and using all sorts of disgusting techniques to make me break up with him. Eventually, I fell out of love and I ended the relation. I kept quiet about it for a month because it did feel like the unconditional love your parents are supposed to have for you, wasn’t really a thing. After all the fits, when I told my mother about the break-up, she just said “Great, you’ve finally came to your senses”, smiled and never spoke about it again unless I brought it up. My mother, of course, was proud as she “won”. In her head I understood that she was right all along. The problem was that she was wrong. I made my own decision about the break up because of a shift in feelings and it had nothing to do with her shouting and screaming. Without it, the relationship would have ended too but my mom and I would have had a chance at a relationship like adults do. We don’t have it now and we never will because since then, as much as I love her, I do not treat her as a source of support or advice. I tell her what I think she’ll be fine with hearing and otherwise I just have a thousand layers of a secret life she’ll never get access to. Even if our decisions turn out to be objectively wrong, we have the right to make them and no parent should try to take it away from us. They have their own lives to live.

Parents can react to what we do in outrageous ways and perhaps even cut us off for the time being but they usually come around. Sometimes they’re just broken people and their my way or no way attitude is so strong, they’d rather lose a child than be disobeyed. This is their cross to bear and you can never satisfy such parents, anyway. This is why rather to try to pleas them, we should focus on pleasing ourselves. It is difficult to come around ourselves, if we decide not to pursue a relationship with someone we love, abandon a passion or in another significant way, decide not to do something that’s important to us. Parents may hink that they know better but with things like profession, marriage, having or not having children, they don’t. We may not know what we want exactly but we usually know what we don’t want. We don’t owe anything to our parents as financially independent adults. We may tell ourselves we do and decide to please them but we should never compromise on important things.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my longish post, Dear Rinser. It was inspired by a movie “The Big Sick” which I will review for you tomorrow. What do you think about the issue? Have you ever disobeyed your parents? Were your parents respectful of your life choices?