Review: Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

mating in captivityEsther Perel is a renowned psychotherapist who has been working with couples like forever. One of her main interests are long-term relationships and more specifically domestic sexuality and infidelity. She’s also fluent in 9 languages and in general a very impressive smart thinker. During one of my book shopping splurges I bought a copy of her book “Mating in Captivity” and here’s what I think about it.

“Mating in Captivity” is an interesting read. Theoretical parts of the book are supported with Perel’s clients cases. It’s quite a comprehensive book in some aspects. I did feel, however, like it was written a bit too much on the basis of Perel’s work experience and thoughts and there was too little focus on other books/research on the topic.
The author makes some very important points. She underlines how a good couple is a union of independent beings and how dependence and lack of separation is a desire killer. This is counter-intuitive given our social and cultural programming (just think about the Jerry Maguire everyone’s favorite line to his love interest “You complete me.”). I also liked how she pointed out the importance of society in formation of our expectations and views regarding sexuality and domesticity. As a representative of any Western society, you can relate to most of what she’s talking about. Still, some of her points are very American culture oriented and fall flat with a non-American reader.
The society has a big impact on us but Perel couldn’t be a respectable psychotherapist without mentioning a thing or two about the impact of childhood and our relationship with parents on our sexuality. Last but not least, she discusses the complex reasons why children can be such sex life killers and no, just being tired isn’t anywhere close to the full explanation.

The book provides food for thought and reads well. I do have certain doubts about its use for a troubled couple, though. Let’s say someone, for instance, thinks that spending 100% of your time apart from work with your partner is the blueprint for happiness but after years of doing so is struggling with resentment and a non-existent sex life. I really doubt that pointing out that this isn’t the way to go, even if supported with an appropriate case study will encourage this person to change. In a way, as good as this book is, it does feel a little bit like preaching to the choir. Perhaps the genre of the book is a bit unclear? It has some traits of a self-help book as well as some of a more general “how human works” vibe. Anyway, thanks, Madame Perel for making me feel justified in my judgment of other couples 😉

 

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When Things Change

bloom-blossom-blur-162311Some people dread change, others almost pathologically follow it and then there’s this third group there’s somewhere in between. I’ve been a representative of all three groups at some points in my life. Regardless of what your attitude to change is, things do change so embracing it is just a part of life.

Of course, there are all these unpredictable horrible changes that happen to people. A dreadful disease, a death of a family member, a loss of job or a lover. Life’s full of surprises and many of them are far from pleasant. It’s often not easy to deal with something bad that has hit us unexpectedly, especially that we foolishly consider our lives comfortably predictable and safe. My general make up is more of an expectation of the worst so my relationship with this source of change is weird. It’s not like I’m not angry or sad it’s more like underneath all these feelings there’s a strong undertone of “Oh, hello, tragedy, I’ve been expecting you.” Now, to be honest (touch wood) I’ve been so far spared many of the worst life tragedies and I have had an objectively easy life. Being highly sensitive, however, means that I sometimes take blows that would mean almost nothing or little to other people very badly.

Anyway, let’s not talk about the bad stuff. Change can also be positive but even if it is, it can bring unexpected consequences. For instance, I remember when being a singleton I was the first one to criticize friends who get too comfy with their boyfriends or girlfriends and ditch their friends. Almost two years into being married I still believe that being a separate unit from your partner is crucial to your personal and couple happiness. Say “yes” to hobbies, friends and networking. Still, part of having a functional relationship is spending a lot of time together doing both fun and domestic things with your partner. Even though I used to be so eager to judge, today I must say that life just isn’t the same for a single person as for a person in a committed relationship. When you like spending time with your partner (and if you don’t why are you together?) and they’re your priority, your time for other things becomes more limited. Some things even have to go and honestly you’re quite happy to let them. Sure, it’s nice to have an extended date with your girlfriends from time to time but your preference for a weekend away will be most of the time to be with your partner and/or other members of the coupleverse.

So there’s a partner that will unavoidably change your world in some way. Then there are other things related to being an adult. For some people this means puppies and for other children. The point is, unless you’ve been in the situation yourself you don’t really understand to what extent such things change your life. Surely you’ve been telling people either directly or indirectly “Ah, but you used to be out all the time!”. Of course, when you’re on the receiving end and it’s your friend getting steady with someone or moving abroad or enrolling into a study program on the top of their full-time job you’re the one feeling the emptiness. Unavoidably, however, you’ll be at some point the one changing (and if you won’t is this really a good sign and are you developing at all?). It seems like the best thing to do is to try to get as comfortable with life changes as you can. Both yours and that of others because change is very often a sign of growth and what doesn’t grow is dead (even if just inside!). Also, there’s no point crying over spilt milk and all.

Last but not least, no one changes entirely. Big events in life usually just strengthen the features that people have already had. These moms that tell you they have no time whatsoever for exercise now that they have kids and you’ll understand that one day, in most cases didn’t use to be active before the kids either (just don’t point that out cause they’ll bite your head off!). Active parenthood is a thing and as challenging as it must be many active people fight to upkeep that lifestyle in some modified way.  The people that all of a sudden start to be crazy late after they get a promotion using their Responsible Job as an excuse, usually used to annoy the shit out of you with this characteristic before too. Those who can’t keep any arrangements after they found a new partner, become just more flakey than before. In other words, yeah life sometimes changes drastically but people are also full of shit and LOVE excuses. Am I right or am I right?

When things change and they change all the time, try to go with a flow. Sometimes change pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes your life even better than before. Other times it makes it worst. Sure, it’s annoying when you had been happy about something and this something changed but it’s just life. Moan and complain a little bit and then move on!

Review: 13 Reasons Why, Season 2

13-Reasons-Why-season2Like many people who watched season 1 of 13 Reasons Why, I did not expect another installment. The narrative seemed exploited enough and the end lacked the regular baits allowing the makers to continue with the plot. It’s difficult to stop once you’re successful, I guess, and the decision has been made to give the audience more.

Was a continuation of the series a good idea? Season 1 gave us what it promised: 13 reasons why Hannah decided to kill herself. It was a good series for teenagers to feel they’re not alone and for those of us who are older, it was a reminder of how horrible high school can be. I’d lie if I said that “13 Reasons Why” wasn’t a bit trashy. Still, it was actually enjoyable. I can’t say the same about season 2.
There’s always something more to say about a story or a character but it doesn’t mean that it has to be said. It’s okay for the audience to have some questions, doubts and a sense that their appetite has not been completely satisfied. That’s exactly what makes people remember series, movies and books. The financially driven compulsion to continue doesn’t always serve the initial product. If the producers wanted to milk that cow a bit longer, perhaps a spin-off focusing on one of the characters was a better idea. Season 2 doesn’t really add anything valuable to Hannah’s story.

The premise is a mixture of the present day school life with a court case between Hannah’s parents and her high school. Clay is still the main focal point of the narrative but it’s more split among other kids than in the previous season. There’s also the ghost of Hannah that keeps following the poor boy (I know, right?). The plot is pushed in a way to awaken enough interest in us about other characters to watch season 3 and the end is this time very clearly open to tempt us into wanting more.
What we learn from the new installment about Hannah’s life makes us feel like she wasn’t as lonely and hopeless as it seemed in her tapes. The friendships she had now seem much more meaningful. Was she really as lonely as she described it? We learn more about betrayals she experienced as well but they feel more justified, seen from the point of view of other kids. All stuff that happened to Hannah is still horrible but somehow after this season she seems less not more relateable.

I also was quite disappointed in the didactic nature of this season. I understand the need to send the message to kids that they’re not alone but did they really have to include all the painfully scripted conversations that I never think would come out of the mouth of a real person? It just smells of propaganda. The wildly advertised additional resources are a place to go to look for help. Characters should behave the way the would in real life, even if it’s not always commendable.

To sum up, I was disappointed with season 2. “13 Reasons Why” didn’t need a sequel and certainly not the one it ended up receiving. If you enjoyed the series rather skip it to be able to retain good memories of it.

Unpopular Views and Choices

solitude

Having unpopular views and making unpopular choices may be glorified in film and literature but in reality, it doesn’t make anyone’s life’s easier. Long-term “living life on your own terms” can be annoying and occasionally even depressing. Te reality check often happens when you leave the bubble of your comfort zone and you deal with an outsider who has views so different to yours that he or she may seem like an alien from a different planet.

Let’s be honest, going with the herd is just what’s expected. It doesn’t matter whether you don’t believe in any gods, don’t want children, have 20 of them, dyed your hair pink or moved countries. Whenever you do something that most people don’t do and the effects of it are visible, the question you’ll get is “Why…?” and you’ll get it often.
I remember once hearing a father replying to his son’s question “Why does this lady dye her hair blue?” and him replying “Because that’s the colour she’s chosen for herself.”
It is, of course, possible to make yourself more open-minded. Unfortunately, a lot of people prefer to be surprised all the time, stare and ask. And hey, perhaps I’m a bit jealous. If it rocks your whole world every time you see glitter on someone who’s more than 5 than you truly have an exciting life!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people’s tendencies grow with age. Those who were close-minded get even more into their shells and people who rocked the boat once are not shy to do it again. I think those who by some circumstances were pushed to do something out of ordinary develop a certain liking for it. I mean, it is liberating that you don’t have to do whatever people do and expect you to do but you can rather ask yourself whether it’s your preference.
Such an intrinsically motivated life can be definitely satisfying and sometimes when you’re on your own you can smile to yourself, feeling that you live a life you truly want. However, what people often leave out in their narratives of breaking the rules is the price that they have to pay for it. Sometimes they truly get so self-absorbed in the bubble they created that they forget that there’s a whole outside world out there who judges and disapproves.

Sometimes the meeting with this world is an Uber trip. The driver and I discussed charity. The conversation was full of mutual back-patting related to our amazing awareness of social issues. To improve the good impression the driver said that he’s a Muslim but that’s not why he helps others, it’s because he feels it’s needed. “What religion are you?” he said. Oh dear, I thought but “None,” I replied nonetheless. Then came the silence till I was dropped off and an Uber star rating that lowered my general score. Must be because of this baby I ate for breakfast.
Another time it was my husband’s drunk family member who cornered me in the bathroom at my own wedding, relentlessly trying to learn why my parents weren’t there. The reasons were complicated and none of them was something that I wanted to discuss or be reminded of. She wasn’t accepting any vague replies and eventually, I was saved by another wedding guest pressing bladder.
Yet another time it was actually a funny reminder. A post official misspelled my name and surname in a way that it started to look like a local one.
In any case, making unpopular choices is the easy part, it’s living with them that sometimes is difficult. All I’m saying is: let’s be real and just not forget in our “I’m such a unique snowflake and a rule breaker” narratives that sometimes it’s tough and annoying to be one. Especially, when like me, you struggle to bite your tongue.

Now, even though it can be difficult to express your unpopular views (be it in speech or behaviour), I still think it’s the only way to be. Therefore, what’s left is navigating through the difficulties. Here are certain techniques when people start being nosy and annoying, asking you the question you’ve been asked a zillion of times:

  • Sarcasm

You remember Bridget Jones, the role model of all 30ish singletons? (Btw Poland is so bad in stigmatising being single that I could relate to her in my early 20s!). She had the following exchange with someone at a party trying to publicly shame her:

“- Why are there so MANY unmarried women these days?

– It could be because beneath our clothes, our bodies are completely covered with scales?!?”

If someone is trying to publicly shame you or is asking you a nosy and rude question such as why don’t you have a boyfriend (or when will you have babies or why do you have an accent etc) make a sarcastic remark referring to the underlying cause of your situation this person is suggesting there is.

  • Reply with a question turning the tables

This is my favourite personal technique that unfortunately I often only use afterwards in my head after someone put me on the spot and I got emotional and hurt. Whatever someone’s asking, if you ask them “Why are you asking?” and start drilling, you allow them to embarrass themselves. Ideally, it goes something like that:

– So when are you planning to have children?

– Why are you asking?

A person either gets apologetic and says something like “No reason” or starts to express their actual views, which often end up being embarrassing in the eyes of everyone taking part in the exchange. You can also pull their tongue if they say something too vague with “So is what you’re saying…?” or “So do you think that…?” Expect fun results and blushing!

  • Get emotional and angry

I don’t like this technique but because of my personal characteristics, I use it most often. Many people will back off when you get visibly upset but they also get what they came for. You are, after all, insecure about your silly choice and there is some underlying issue there!

  • Be vulnerable

If you want to shut someone’s mouth forever, being vulnerable is a great option. Sometimes it can genuinely improve your relationship with the person, other times it will at least get them off your back. You can either truly tell them what you think about the issue or share the problems that are related to it. You may end up being accused of oversharing but in this case, it’s a means to an end.

Let me know in the comments section whether you have any more tips or thoughts on the matter! Also, enjoy this sort of related Monty Python clip because Monty Python is always good:

 

 

 

 

Review: I Feel Pretty

I_feel_pretty

Bless ladies nights made for watching chick flicks you’d never dare to watch on your own! “I Feel Pretty” has a 4.6 IMDB rating at the moment (29th of May) so as you’d expect, it’s not a great movie. Still, it’s actually an enjoyable watch after a long day/week at work when the last thing you want to do is think.

The star of “I Feel Pretty” is Amy Schumer so you immediately know that you should expect a comedy. Her character Renee is far from what the standards of beauty teach us about how to be. She is a bit chubby and her sense of style may be questionable. Most importantly, Renee is very insecure, which makes her unsuccessful in her dating and work life. One day she bumps her head at the gym and all of a sudden starts to think she ticks all the boxes the superficial society imposes on us. Can her own percerption of herself, however skewed, change her life?

The premise is, let’s be honest, quite uncomplicated an unrealistic. So what? It still creates lots of entartaining and cringeworthy moments for the main characters and others. Pehaps the strongest criticism of the movie is that it operates on the basis of very simplistic assumptions about inner and outer beauty, love and success. There will be no groundbreaking enlightments after watching it, unless just like the main character you are convinced that if only you were prettier life would have been completely different  and that its the lack of standard beauty that prevents you from making your dreams come true. Well, sorry for the spoiler but it’s really not all about the looks unless you’re a model (and probably not even then).
The oversimplification doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to say about criticising a society that’s so obsessed with not so much looking good as with perfection. The mainstream culture does promote certain standard of beauty and well being that is difficult to achieve. Perhaps the main character’s fixation of achieving it has more to do with the culture than with herself.

I’d not dare to overanalyze, though. It’s a simple, mildly entertaining comedy, which will keep you amused for most of the time. Towards the end it gets painfully predictable and intellectually offensive, to the point that watching it becomes a struggle. Apart from Amy Schumer who’s quite funny and doesn’t mind making fun of herself, the movie is worth watching for Michelle Williams. She’s really entertaining in the role of a seemingly perfect Avery LeClaire.

To sum up, watch the movie but with a bunch of girlfriends and don’t expect too much.

What Getting a Puppy Taught Me About Potentially Having Children

Laika cuteThere’s no doubt that having a child is a much bigger deal than having a puppy. I doubt I will ever join the ranks of those, who require to be wished “Happy Mother’s Day” on Mother’s Day just because they have a “fur baby”. A baby is a baby and a puppy is a puppy. I do feel it’s taking away from the actual motherhood to claim they’re the same or even closely comparable. Having said that, I have to admit that the plan of getting the puppy had something to do with me checking how I feel about taking on a much bigger responsibility in the foreseeable future. I’ve found out, not surprisingly, that I’m nowhere close to being ready for the following reasons:

1. It requires time

You’d think that puppies aren’t a big deal. You know, you give them their food, water and toys, walk them and play with them from time to time and they pretty much raise themselves. Well, no, or at least no, if you’re aspiring for your puppy not to become the hound of the Baskervilles. You have to spend time to train them not to steal your food so that you can sit down when eating a meal, not to bark at other dogs and humans, not to poo and pee whenever and wherever they feel like it, not to jump and scratch etc In other words, it takes up your free time. Of course, you can also just ignore your puppy and let it do whatever it wants, leaving it on its own in the house for the whole day…but then it’s cruel and why to get a puppy at all? Children definitely require this multiply by a zillion. At this stage of my life I’m not willing to give up any more free time than I already do for the doggo.

2. It’s all about priorities

When you have a child it becomes your priority and it’s understandable. When you get a puppy it’s okay for it not to be your priority. After almost 7 year spent in a foreign countries and millions of problems related to immigration I start to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel workwise. Regardless of what my father-in-law says about the state of my career, I am and always have been career oriented. I need to be happy where I am in life (= professionally) first in order to be a happy mother. At this point in my life having a child would cause me to resent it and that’s not something a child should live with. Thanks to the wonder of contraception we can now decide (if and) when we want to have children to give them the optimal experience of us (because let’s be honest, we’ll fuck them up a bit however hard we try).

3. I take everything seriously and 4. I like to be good at the things I do

My mom says I’ve never been much of a child and I guess it’s true. I’ve always been serious about life. As I commented before in my thoughts before turning 30 I have definitely realised that some things don’t work out and it’s almost never the end of the world. I’m certainly more chilled than I’ve ever been but… it still leaves me quite a serious person. I guess some people just ride life like surfers waves. When dealing with a topic like getting a puppy, they hear this or that from friends, listen to a vet or maybe not even that. In general are chilled and hoping for the best. Not me. I read books and articles for general advice and Google everything to double check. Do you know what kind of peanut butter is good for your puppy and what kind can potentially kill it? Do you know which fruit and vegetables are safe and which can cause potentially long term damage? How much puppy blood on a toy is okay and a sign of healthy teething? Just ask me, I know it ALL now. At the same time I’m not ready to enroll on the course baby101 because I don’t want to just finish it. I want 100% and then to get a Master’s Degree.

4. I struggle with anxiety (in life but also especially now in relation to the dog)

The truth is that since we got the puppy I’ve been spending a lot of time being afraid I will kill it due to my negligence or some terrible mistake. Did you know that it’s okay to give your puppy an apple but not the seeds as they contain cyanide? Yes, the same things that have been used in many terrible instances in human history to get rid of people. I also obsess about the smallest signs of something being wrong. If the dog limps for five minutes I fight with myself not to research 24h vets in the area just yet. When she gets really scared I wonder whether she can die because of it. I worry about her a lot and always think about the worst case scenario. I’m trying to rewire but it’s just like this mental trail that my mind always chooses. I’m really not ready to worry that I will somehow cause some harm to a little human, especially that avoiding all the harm is completely impossible. I either have to find a way to worry less (I’m already off booze and cigarettes, exercise regularly, cut down on caffeine and meditate so don’t recommend me any of that!) or give up and find someone who doesn’t mind giving me a lifetime supply of meds.

5. It’s a massive responsibility

Having a dog (let alone having a child) is a massive responsibility because it’s another being that depends on you. If you won’t feed it, it’ll be hungry and eventually die. Don’t show it enough love and affection and it’ll get sad and so on and so forth. All of a sudden making all your plans you have to take this being into account. Sure, you can leave a puppy alone but it’s rather upset when you disappear for too long. It doesn’t understand where you are and wonders whether you’ll ever come back. That leaves you with making plans for your longer outings: getting someone who’ll take care of it, dropping it somewhere where someone will take care of it or considering taking it with you. In any case, you always have to think about it. It’s a responsibility and a child is an even bigger one.

In short, the puppy is great (see the pic above) but I’m not ready for more. I see myself being ready maybe somewhere in 5 years or so. The fearmongers who worry about my biological clock: 1) I’m not planning to have biological children and seeing I’ve decided that around 15 I think I’m unlikely to change my mind and 2) should I decide to have biological children later in life: more and more women successfully do so, so please kindly worry about your own uterus. Oh and to those who think it’s selfish, kindly read #englishrosiee’s post about it.

 

 

 

 

The Royal Wedding AKA Hey, It’s Me Complaining About the Royalty Again

the wedding.jpg“Have you watched the Royal wedding?” People ask. “No,” I reply and politely don’t add “Why did you?/Should I?”. I expressed my views about the Royals on this blog before but let me quickly summarize them for you:

  1. I don’t think some people are better than others just because of the family in which they were born. The world makes it very unfair as it is for many people around the world who are born in all sorts of circumstances that make their life difficult. From zero to hero is a myth we like to believe and a statistical anomaly. Life is hard as it is. Archaic concepts such as monarchy make it even more unequal.
  2. Seeing that I don’t believe that the Royals are any better than commoners just because of who their parents are, I don’t understand the ado about them. Fair enough the Queen who has a job is salaried but the rest of them? I also don’t understand why British taxpayers pay for their lavish weddings (or why people need lavish weddings at all).

The core of my disinterest in the Royal Wedding lies my 1) dislike for people’s alleged superiority and a little bit 2) the trend of splurging on weddings in general.

Now, when it comes to watching weddings I’m not particularly interested in any apart from those of people close to my heart. I don’t know Meghan Markle and I don’t know Prince Harry (do you?). I’d perhaps be more interested in a wedding of someone famous who I admire for their achievements. Sure, I’ve indulged in reading some gossip about them. Markle has definitely won some affection from my side for being a rule breaker, ignoring the haters and getting what she wanted. I even Googled Markle’s dress because she’s gorgeous and I was curious how she would like on her wedding day. However, to spend a few hours of my precious lifetime to watch two absolute strangers tying the knot seems ludicrous. Of course, everyone is allowed to waste their time as they wish and I don’t feel in any way superior because I binged on the second season of “13 Reasons Why” instead. Still, apart from them being absolute strangers, they also represent something that in principle I’m opposed to. I’m actually curious why people do watch or care about this wedding at all? Especially people who are not even British? Perhaps those that do can tell me in the comments section.

On the top of all I’ve mentioned, there’s of course all the stuff that Markle can and can’t do now to be considered lady-like. Because, yes, this obsolete institution called Royalty is not only elitist but also sexist. The rules are pretty conservative for men, of course, but I don’t remember reading anywhere about the fact that men have to cover their cleavage, among other things. It does anger me when anyone tells a woman what to wear, even if that person is the Queen of England. If you really think about what being a princess means, I don’t think most women would like to be one. You can’t work, you can’t decide what you wear, you can’t even openly express yourself or own a social media account. Even your husband and children aren’t truly yours to enjoy in peace and your pain such as childbirth doesn’t get the much needed privacy. It seems like quite a big price to pay for a free wedding, even if it’s straight from a fairy tale. Anyway, I do wish the Royal couple all the best just like I’d wish any other couple after their big day.

 

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?

“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?