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.

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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.

Is The Decision To Procreate Just Selfish?

 

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Women in their 30s are constantly being reminded about that ticking biological clock. It’s almost as if you haven’t popped something out by a certain point in your life you are less of a woman. It bugs me that we’ve all been a bit brainwashed into congrats’ing people for having kids. Really, is spreading your legs (or getting acquainted with a turkey baster) really such a great achievement? By all means, congratulate women on fighting oppression and making it to the top of their profession, high five them when they run marathon (there are far fewer people that cross the finish line than those that manage to get knocked up. Just saying!) but don’t glorify an activity that for many is just like breathing.

Anyway, I’m sure there are lots of baby mamas out there who are wanting to smash me up and say I will never understand anything till I have given the gift of life (let me go pewk in my mouth). Anyway,  since everyone has me down as a hater of little people (there some truth to it – there are maybe a handful I can tolerate and sure I will love my own hypothetical children if they should appear but generally I am way more broody about puppies), I’m gonna take things up a level by talking about how the decision to procreate is ultimately selfish decision.

Let me start by not taking any credit for this genius idea. I was actually inspired by this article which was sent to me by a dear friend of mine. You should read it to get a more highbrow account of the issue. I don’t consider myself qualified to go into the deep philosophical arguments here so let me just dumb things down a bit and draw on some of my real life observations.  So, let’s break things down a bit and look at some of the motivations for discarding contraception and letting the flow of life operate as god intended.

To ensure the survival of the human race and generally make the world a better place

So, some of the haters of my post about Me-ternity Leave said the reason why governments/companies in certain countries offer such great perks for those that choose to procreate because their are worried about population decline. Well, I have news for you, there is this wonderful thing called immigration. Let’s just even things out a little and import in a bit of labor from the third world. Surely, it’s not rocket science.

People may justify their decision to bring life into the world by claiming that they are doing a service to humanity by producing a little human that will go on to do great things and make a substantial contribution to society . Maybe it will be the one to discover a cure for cancer? But perhaps it’ll become a paedo or a drug dealer? There are no guarantees. It’s honestly doesn’t matter if you are the best parent in the world children don’t grow up inside a bubble . Even if your child doesn’t become a felon, it’ll still do more damage in terms of its carbon foot print than it is likely to do anything amazingly good.

YOU’re broody and it’s just the right time in life

I honestly believe that most of us (except maybe IVF babies but that’s pretty much a new fangled thing) were ‘mistakes’. In some instances, people man-up and take care of their kids and in other cases they dump them outside a church (or liquor store).  But sure, there are obviously cases that differ, where two people (or one with the help of a sperm donor) consciously make a decision to bring create life.  Apparently once you are married/in your 30s apparently some magical switch gets flicked and you feel the need to create a mini-me, so I am told. I think I missed the memo but fair enough if you are one of the ‘normal’ people who feel the need to give into your broodiness go forth. Just don’t be under any illusion that giving into your natural urges makes you a better person/more of women. You do it for yourself, not for anyone else.

YOU want to leave a legacy

What is the purpose of life if we are all going to end up as dust (or glitter in the case of fabulous unicorn people!)? We want to know that we are not simply spending our whole lives working simply to make ends meet. Everyone would like to be remembered, I guess. The truth is most of us won’t be immortalized for doing something spectacular. Most of us aren’t going to save a small African village or become a rock star. One way of leaving a bit of yourself behind is by carrying on the family line.  Again, not necessarily doing anyone but yourSELF any favours here.

What about adopting orphans?

So I pre-empted this one and used the word PROCREATE in the title of the post rather than ‘have’ because I believe e there is one exception to my sweeping statement about baby people being intrinsically selfish – those are the people that choose to adopt. Unlike, people who choose to put pressure on the earth’s natural resources by popping out kids all over the place, there are truly selfless people out there that go out of their way to do a service to humanity by taking on a kid they themselves did not manufacture  and is therefore actually not their problem at all.

That said, not everyone is cut out for adoption. I wouldn’t do it. There really is no reason you need to take on a problem somebody else created. You won’t necessarily get a clean slate with an adopted child. And if some day I do need to tolerate a child of my own, the narcissist in me wants a real little mini-me (i.e. a cute little chubby kid who quietly sits in the corner and reads books all day). I don’t think it’s a crime to want a biological child that shares your genes, but just admit you are doing it for selfish reasons.

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So, You see what I’m getting at here. I’m not telling people to stop having children. There really is no reason why the baby making types would listen anyway. Plus, it’s their life to do with what they wish. It’s OK to want to be a parent and give into your natural urges. It’s even understandable that you’d still want a biological child despite the fact that there are lots of orphans in the world that need a home. I’m sure having children brings lots of joy (and stress) into people’s lives (just remember dogs are less likely to break your heart). However, people who opt to procreate aren’t doing the world any favours and they certainly don’t occupy the moral high ground here. The reasons for procreating are selfish but it’s not criminal because so are the motivations for a lot of the things we do.

I believe that there needs to be a shift in society’s attitude towards the people that choose not to have kids. Those that opt to avoid parenthood should not be branded as selfish narcissists who put their own lives of fabulous holidays and Jimmy Choo shoes ahead of some social and biological duty to reproduce. Because in actual fact, these are the people who are mature enough to buck social trends and choose the path that is actually better for themselves, their non-existant children and the world’s population as a whole.

Alrighty, dear Rinsers. Do you think people who have children just need to come to terms with the fact that their decision is selfish? Why does the world always hate on those that choose contraception over a screaming rugrats infiltrating their lives? Can you think of any go unselfish reasons for bringing a child into a world bossed by the likes of Donald Trump? Unleash your hate in the comments below. Please and thank you.   

 

 

 

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?

 

Is Confidence the Key to Dating Successfully?

Confidence

After yet another unsuccessful romantic encounter I’m sure I’m not the only one to have questioned myself as to the reasons for my failure in this all important area of life. Is it because I’m an ugly troll? Morbidly obese? Or maybe it’s the fact that I do not possess a PhD? Or am not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Whatever. This type of questioning really holds no value. All this tormenting of one’s mind shows is a lack of confidence. It’s understandable that knock backs, romantic or otherwise, are sure to dent a person’s confidence and over-analyzing things by going around in circles really does no good either.

They say confidence is sexy. And I don’t think I’m the first girl to ever be lured in by the witty banter of a not-all-that guy. Of course, we can’t all be those extroverts that always want to take centre stage and ooze confidence. But you see, real confidence is a bit more complicated than this basic superficiality. Building it up is certainly important and requires some soul-searching and lot of tireless work. So, if having confidence is more than just being loud and proud and being able to hold a conversation with someone of the opposite sex without acting like a bumbling buffoon, we need to start figuring out what exactly it entails. This is where all the trouble starts.

Confidence isn’t tangible. In high school, the ‘ugly’ chicks, would often sit around and admire the super-model-esque, popular types and assume that such people would be confident in the knowledge they could get whoever they wanted because they had the looks we’d kill for. But the truth is if it were all about such externalities, why were so many of these chicks having the same concerns, considering cosmetic surgery and pewking up their diet dinners in a hope of being skinnier and prettier? The same thing applies when it comes to intelligence. There are lots of people out there with superb academic records that pitch up to an interview without a clue about how to sell themselves as the best person for the job.

But we can all work on building our confidence, right? Well, yes to some extent but it depends on the way you go about it. ‘Morbidly obese’ people may believe that the solution to all their problems will be losing the puppy fat. And while it may certainly help lower the risk of them dying of a heart attack, if it still turns out that they are not sure of themselves after the transformation chances are they aren’t going to get all that lucky when it comes to meeting the right person (although they may attract more attention from some superficial ones!). In a similar vein, you’d think that those getting more sex would surely feel attractive but not necessarily. Deep down most people are looking for real intimacy and it seems the relationship people beat the players in that game!

You could say confidence is a state of mind. I’d sort of agree with that. Being sure of yourself and knowing your strengths are important. But it’s equally important to be realistic and acknowledge that we all have weaknesses (without dwelling on it too much). There are people out there that a ‘confident’ to the point that they are actually delusional (and probably belong in Valkenberg). Let’s be real. Getting straight As or having a tertiary education isn’t going to guarantee a person success in life. But every Tom, Dick or Harry that tells you he is an ‘entrepreneur’ really isn’t going to turn to be SA’s answer to Richard Branson. Similarly, while body positivity is all well and good, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to allow yourself to eat hot chips everyday because you know you are comfortable in your own skin blah blah blah.

Anyway to conclude this rant of mine, confidence is important (and sexy) when it comes to getting what you want in the world of dating and relationships. However, its not always just about the superficial things like looking good and being in possession of those desirable attributes such as money and academic accolades. I would say it’s more about understanding that we all lack certain things and learning to strike the balance of striving to get those things but also being OK with the the potential for failure in our endeavors.  There are still people out there that are unwilling to try their hand (or swiping finger) at online dating. Personally, I don’t blame them for running a mile after hearing my horror stories. That said, I do think getting out their and actively dating (instead of complaining and being lazy AF) gives you practice and despite the knock backs helps increase ones confidence so when the right person does come along you are able to present yourself in the best possible way. Sure, you’ll have to deal with rejection but as time goes on your learn to handle the negative aspects of these interactions and become less afraid about failure.

Alright Rinsers, how important do you think the role of confidence is when it comes to dating? What is confidence really? What do you think differentiates real confidence from the facade? Do you think actively getting out there, meeting people and facing the fear of rejection helps build confidence? Share your views in the comments below.

The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

The_Art_of_HappinessThe Dalai Lama and his teachings may be far away from what you’d consider typical life and self-help advice in general but “The Art of Happiness” has been co-written with a psychiatrist Howard Cutler to suit the Western audience better. It may not be the most engaging read ever but it has a number of good tips on how to live well.

The Dalai Lama’s book will tell you one of the most important truths that so many people want to escape and/or ignore: life is suffering. It’s not suffering all the time but you must accept that suffer you will, seems to be a Master Yoda reading of the book. People can entirely escape suffering only by enlightenment, which comes from years and years of earthly pleasure deprivation and meditation. The Dalai Lama isn’t there yet so let’s agree that it may not be the way to go for all of us, regular mortals. However, with meditation and acceptance of feelings that comes with it, we can all learn to live more in the present moment and less in our heads. Meditation practice doesn’t make the pain of every day existence disappear but it helps us alleviate it. There’s plenty of modern research showing benefits of meditation. I’m a regular meditator myself and I can tell you that it has done wonders to my anxiety, stress levels and much more.

Apart from the meditation practice, the Dalai Lama encourages us to seek happiness and not pleasure in life. What we need is contentment and serenity, while pleasure brings us only short-term highs and lows. Happiness, on the other hand, is long-term. Think about the difference in this way: this slab of chocolate may make you feel better when you’re eating it and when the sugar rush hits you but soon you’ll feel low because of eating it. It’s an indulgence, it’s not particularly healthy and it doesn’t give you much nutrition. Eating healthy is, of course, better for your long-term well-being. We make similar choices between pleasure and happiness all the time in life. Do I want to have a one night stand? Do I want to get completely wasted? Impulsive choices may serve us as temporarily pain killers and distractions but pursuing them actually makes us less not more happy long-term. You want to be happy? Then choose happiness above pleasure in life as often as you can. And yeah, no one said it’ll be easy.

The love and dating advice from the Dalai Lama also goes with the pleasure vs happiness principle. If you get hooked on the drama in the relationship or just the sex, it’s not a good relationship. You should look for wholesome relationships that give you stability and at the same time you shouldn’t depend on your partner entirely. You may wonder what someone who has never had sex or a partner may know about these things but if you think about it, these are the same rules he preaches otherwise. Besides, you would agree his tips are apt, even if they completely dismiss how difficult it may be to find the wholesome relationship, right?

The Dalai Lama teaches us also how to connect to human beings in general. I think a lot of us may feel disconnected and somewhat lonely in this world. We look for people who are almost exactly like us and get upset when others don’t meet our expectations. The Dalai Lama has a solution to that! Instead of getting hanged up on the differences between you and other people, like for instance that you’re Team God and someone isn’t or the other way round, you can try to relate to them on a basic, interconnecting level. We’re all humans, we all want to avoid suffering and find happiness. By applying such thinking it’s easier to grow compassion and empathy towards others and therefore feel more connected.

The Dalai Lama discusses some meditations techniques and some Buddhist teachings in the book but doesn’t go into too much detail. Where his advice may seem unclear, Cutler uses Western examples to make it more understandable for a typical reader. All in all, it’s a good but somewhat unsubstantial read. It will make you maybe ponder on some issues and introduce some better life habits but I think “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” is doing a better job at selling unpopular yet crucial views to the modern audience. The Dalai Lama’s book will probably only be picked up by those who’ve been doing some soul searching for a while and to those people it’ll look very superficial and basic.

Are you actively searching for happiness, Dear Rinser? Any meditators hear? How do you try yourself to lead a happy life?