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Tag: personal relationships

Being Openly Affectionate

This is a problem most commonly faced in American culture: the inability to be openly affectionate. Americans are often looked upon as “cold” and “passionless” by other countries. We tease one another rather than say how much we mean to each other. We go through intermediaries — social media, notes through friends, etc — rather than confront the ones we’re interested in. We are told that “confidence is sexy“. Yet most Americans lack the confidence (or courage) to simply walk up to another human and say, “I think you’re attractive.” Why?

I believe it is because Americans have been brought up in culture where failure is looked down upon. People don’t celebrate the team that loses the Super Bowl. People don’t celebrate the small business owner that goes out of business. People don’t celebrate the actor or actress that went for the part, but didn’t get it. Of course not! We celebrate people’s success. Only when they win the Super Bowl, create a billion dollar business, or get the lead in a movie do we pay any attention. However, there is a LOT of growth that occurs in each of these “losing” situations. It is this fear of losing and rejection that prevents us from simply expressing how we feel. In fact we go to such extremes as forcing affection in settings such as cuddle parties or even speed dating where time is limited so you have to be open and forward.

However, being openly affectionate much just be the prescription:

In dating, when I find a woman attractive, I almost always walk right up to her and tell her that a) I wanted to meet her, and b) she’s beautiful. In America, women usually get incredibly nervous and confused when I do this. They’ll make jokes to defuse the situation or sometimes ask me if I’m part of a TV show or something playing a prank. Even when they’re interested and go on dates with me, they get a bit disoriented when I’m so blunt with my interest. Whereas, in almost every other culture approaching women this way is met with a confident smile and a “Thank you.” – Mark Manson

So try being a bit more forward, a bit more blunt, a bit more honest, a bit more confident (without being arrogant) about your affection towards another person. The worst that happens is that you suffer temporary embarrassment (no one has ever died from being embarrassed), and you’re exactly where you were when you started. However, you never know, something might come of it.

“Never regret anything you have done with a sincere affection; nothing is lost that is born of the heart.” – Basil Rathbone

Sensitive vs Blunt

BLUNT: saying or expressing something in a very direct way that may upset some people

SENSITIVE: easily upset by the things that people think or say about you

These two personality traits are often at odds with each other in a relationship. Someone who is particularly sensitive is often offended by someone who is blunt. Someone who is blunt is often unable to understand why the sensitive person feels hurt. The blunt person will talk about the 8,000 lb gorilla in the room like they would talk about a house plant. The sensitive person will take a very different approach, often not talking about said gorilla at all.

People with higher IQs or those predisposed to logical thinking in their daily life are usually more blunt than those who do not deal with logical thinking daily. These blunt people deal with facts and figures where there is little to no emotion. They interact with computers and machinery that don’t care what your emotional state is. These people often start to become as emotionless and insensitive as the machines they work with.

Sensitive people on the other hand often gravitate towards jobs that deal with people all day. They often interact on a more emotional level. Dealing with personal problems, marketing, or some other non-scientific field. I think Mary Evans did a decent job articulating what it feels like to be a sensitive person, interacting with her brother who is a genius (and I would imagine blunt person) in this Quora post [edited by me, and emphasis added by me]:

… the most common denominator in every interaction – socially, intellectually, and emotionally – is objectivity.

They are able to distinctly identify the source of their thoughts, motivations, and behaviors (if it is coming from emotion, contemplative thought, or past experiences), giving them a higher capacity to choose which information is “true”. Most, then also have an elaborate method of testing information against reality before accepting it as truth.

I could have a conversation with them about any life event, and it would be taken with objectivity. I never feel judged, but I am expected to be able to defend my beliefs. (I find the opposite to be true, sensitive people often feel judged because they’re asked to defend their beliefs.)

For me, the impact was feeling constantly invalidated. As an emotional person, my feelings were rarely validated, they were instead “considered”. I think this is the root of most major relational issues for people with high levels of intellectual capacity. Most people relate on an emotional basis, attempting to manipulate each other using poorly crafted logic based on feelings and personal needs. This type of relating simply is ineffective when interacting with people who have high IQs. They don’t understand it. It quite literally makes no sense to them. Not that they don’t understand or feel emotions, they just may not understand how or why those feelings are relevant to the current conversation or interaction.

As a blunt/logical person myself, it is often hard to communicate with people who are sensitive/emotional. When I engage in a conversation, I thrive on logic. If your emotions don’t seem logical to me, then I want to pick apart the argument until I understand why you’re feeling the way you do. This “picking apart” often hurts people and makes them feel like they’re being judged and their feelings not validated. In truth, the contrary is true: I’m working to understand your feelings so that I can validate them because the fact is you’re feeling them. I will often try to relate a time when I was feeling a similar emotion to see if that resonates. This too can be seen as insensitive or invalidating because I’m putting words in their mouth. Again, I’m simply trying to relate.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this list of 14 things to know about dating a blunt person from Pucker Mob. I think it’s pretty spot-on, but with all things dealing with people, personalities, and emotions; your milage will vary.

  1. A blunt person will stand up for you. — If someone is bothering you at the bar, your boo will be up in that assh*le’s face, telling them to get the f*ck back.
  2. And they’ll never tolerate any crap. — A blunt person doesn’t like to deal with whiners. They’ll tell you to shut up faster than you can blink. But that’s a good thing, because everyone could always use a little tough love.
  3. Blunt people don’t play games. They get straight to the point. — If they like you, you’ll know. As in, they will tell you that they like you to your face. And if they want to date you, they’ll make that clear and ask you out. Blunt people don’t like dealing with the “what are we?” nonsense.
  4. They’re not easily offended. — They’ll appreciate your honesty. That’s their best quality—being totally honest. So if you tell your partner that his half of the room is a trashy tacky dumpster heap, they’ll appreciate the feedback.
  5. But it’s easy for them to offend others. — If you’re dating a blunt person, you might want to warn your friends. Blunt people won’t give out compliments just to get people to like them. Sure, they’ll be polite to your friends, but they’ll also be real. Blunt people don’t change their personalities to accommodate to sensitive people.
  6. Sarcasm is their second language. — Blunt people mostly use sarcasm to deal with overly sensitive people who can’t handle the truth. Your bae will always have a sarcastic underhanded comment when talking to a moron. And you’ll have to help them bite their tongue, because they just can’t resist telling it like it is.
  7. They will never let you leave the house looking stupid. — If your new hairstyle looks ridiculous, they’ll be the first to let you know. But they won’t judge, because they want you to do the same for them.
  8. And they’ll always be honest and upfront about their emotions. — If you pissed them off, they’ll let you know why. And if you made them really happy, they’ll show their full appreciation. Blunt people will always tell you straight up how they feel about you and your relationship.
  9. You will always know what’s on their mind. — If your partner is staring off into space and you’re wondering what’s going on in their pretty little head, they’ll tell you. Blunt people aren’t the most enigmatic people out there, but at least you’ll always know what they’re thinking about.
  10. They’ll never try to drop hints when they want something. — Wondering what you should get your babe for their birthday? Just ask. And if they don’t really have anything in mind, that will be clear too. There’s no “Oh I don’t want anything…” but their laptop is left open with a million tabs for their gift registry.
  11. Blunt people give the best advice. — If you’re having problems with at your job or are fighting with your friend, your blunt beau will have all the solutions. But don’t expect them to take your side, because blunt people look at the whole situation and call it like they see it. If you’re clearly in the wrong, they won’t butter you up just to make you feel better. They’ll make you a stronger person.
  12. They’ll make you laugh—whether they intend to or not. — Sometimes the bluntness is just too real. Shots fired. You laugh because what they say is so true, and no one else has the balls to say it.
  13. You’ll always be on the same page. — There’s no “what are we?” when dating a blunt person. If they want to break up, they’ll do it. If they sense that you want to break up, they’ll call you out on it. And the parameters of the relationship will always be defined, because blunt people don’t like to waste their time in confusion for the sake of “taking things slow.”
  14. Blunt people keep it real. — No drama, no craziness, no fighting over misunderstandings. Tbh, dating a blunt person seems like the best way to go.

Poem: Love is a Drug

Love is a Drug

“It is better to have loved and lost,
than never to have loved at all.”
That might be the single biggest lie I’ve ever heard

Love is a drug
Love’s high rivals that of any other

Does the addict say,
“It was better to have gotten high once,
than to never to have been high at all”?

Certainly not
He was better off before that first high

He lives with the knowledge of how great he can feel
He lives with the paradox of how easy it is to feel it again,
But to do so will most likely kill him

Love’s high is not as easily obtained
You cannot buy it on the corner
And worse, love’s high won’t kill you but actually can make you live longer

I’m not so sure it is better to have loved and lost
The only reprise in having known love’s high,
is that it will force you to seek it out once again

A Lack of Hobbies are Killing First Dates

Let’s part, be real smart and not start with this romance
‘Cause outside of both having stars in our eyes
And outside of sighing the same kind of sighs
We’ve got nothin’ in common at all

“Nothing in Common” – Frank Sinatra with Keely Smith

Merriam-Webster defines hobby as, “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” This is a pretty inclusive definition, allowing things like watching TV or updating your Facebook status to be considered as a hobby. If you consider watching TV as a hobby, sadly, you’re not alone. In 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked how Americans age 15 and over spent their time. On average, Americans spent 5.3 hours a day on “Leisure and sports.” Included in this category is “Watching Television” (2.82 hours a day), and “Socializing and Communication” (0.71 hours a day) which comes to two thirds of leisure time being spent pursuing what I would consider non-hobbies, or at the very least, boring hobbies. This brings us to failed first dates.

The basis of a good first date, besides physical attraction, is having something to talk about. This usually means having shared interests or hobbies, or at least having the other person be interested enough in your hobbies to allow you to talk about them. If you’re going on first dates and finding it hard to carry on a conversation, then it might be because your only hobbies are watching Netflix, listening to music, and “the outdoors”. The same is true with online profiles. If most of the messages you receive are something akin to, “hey baby, how are you?” It might be because you haven’t listed anything of substance in your profile. Here’s the typical boring online profile, taken at random, from Plenty of Fish:

I like to do a lot of things for fun such as dining out/trying new restaurants. I love to cuddle. I like going to the beach. I love to watch movies and listen to music. For movies I like drama, horror and romance. Some of my favorite movies include all the SAW and Halloween movies. Some other favorite movies are The 40yr old virgin, wedding planner, the notebook, joy ride and more. For music I like to listen to anything but country. I like 80’s and 90’s music. Some of my favorite bands include Linkin Park, Disturbed, Metallica, Seether, Aerosmith to name a few. I also like going to concerts.

There are some specific movies and bands listed, but it completely lacks anything that can start a conversation. You like “The Wedding Planner” and “The Notebook“, just like 90% of all women in America! As a total aside, and to slightly contradict myself, not enjoying the same shows or movies could actually be a strong indication that a relationship won’t work. After all, the folks at OKCupid found out that the questions which gave the highest chances for long-term success included, “Do you like horror movies?” But I digress… you need substance in your profile and things to talk about on first dates. The only way to obtains these things is to go and find a real hobby so you have experiences and interests to discuss.

Drawing a blank on what hobby you can try? Wikipedia has a list of a bunch of hobbies. Try something like knitting, woodworking, pottery, dancing, amature radio, orienteering, or even foraging. At the very least you’ll have something more interesting to talk about on a first date than, “Did you see the latest episode of ‘Orange is the New Black’?” Who knows, you might even find someone else that is interested in this same hobby and hit it off with them. Meetup is a great place to find people who are interested in similar hobbies.

So put down the remote, take the earbuds out of your ears, and try something new!


The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages” published by Gary D. Chapman in 1995, with an update published in 2015, has been on the New York Times bestseller list since August of 2009.

This book is a must-read for anyone entering into a relationship. Most relationships don’t “just work” 100% of the time. Some research suggests (and I’ll address this in another post) that any two people can establish an intimate relationship merely through a series of “self-disclosure and relationship-building tasks that gradually escalate in intensity.” However, to keep both partner’s “love tank,” as it is called in the book, filled with love, you need to understand how you and your partner receive love and feel fulfilled in your relationship. That is exactly what this book addresses.

In the book he outlines 5 “Love Languages” that people use to communicate their love for someone:

  1. Words of Affirmation — These are comments/compliments that are, “best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation.” You can also provide encouraging words to your partner as a way of providing words of affirmation.
  2. Quality Time — This is to provide your partner with your undivided attention, not simply sitting next to someone on the couch while you both watch TV. “A key ingredient in giving your spouse quality time is giving them focused attention, especially in this era of many distractions.”
  3. Receiving Gifts — This one is fairly obvious on the surface, but it doesn’t necessarily always need to be tangible gifts. It can easily blend into acts of service or spending quality time with your partner. Gifts can also be homemade or relatively cheap; they don’t always need to cost a lot of money.
  4. Acts of Service — Doing things that your partner would like you to do. This one is fairly simple and straightforward can be as easy as taking the garbage out for someone that doesn’t enjoy doing it. It shows you care enough, and know enough, about the other person to take a burden out of their life.
  5. Physical Touch — This is straightforward as well, but does NOT always or exclusively mean sex! All people want to feel desired, and physical tough is a great way to convey your desire for your partner. A simple reaching for your partner’s hand or touching their leg while you sit next to each other can be enough to make someone who’s Love Language is physical touch feel warm inside.

A natural question to ask from this is, “Are there more than 5 Love Languages?” While I have not found concrete evidence that there are more, I think the number of Love Languages is actually less important than simply being in-tune with what your partner needs to feel loved and fulfilled in the relationship. Maybe your partner doesn’t always feel as though you take their opinions seriously. While this isn’t a specific Love Language, it is an important part of being in a relationship. Unfortunately for the title of this blog, Gary states in the book, (paraphrased because his quote is only about marriage, but it applies to any intimate relationship):

We are trained to analyze problems and create solutions. We forget that a relationship is not a project to be completed or a problem to be solved.

Figuring out the specifics of how you and your partner feel loved isn’t always easy. I wasn’t really sure myself until reading this book and taking the quiz: While the quiz is not perfect, it does provide a solid framework for understanding yourself and your partner. As is suggested in the book, if you cannot immediately figure out what your Love Language is, you can probably figure out which ones it is not. By elimination, you can usually narrow in on your Love Language(s).

Once you have an idea of your Love Language and your partner’s, it’s important to do things in your partner’s Love Language and vice versa. The book states this is one of the common missteps in a relationship, trying to “talk” your Love Language to your partner. For example, I’m someone who feels loved and fulfilled by Words of Affection. However, if my partner tries to provide me with gifts or performs acts of service for me, I won’t feel as loved as simple a simple statement of, “Good morning, I love you”. Once you figure out both people’s Love Language, it is pretty easy for most of us to do what is needed for the other to feel fulfilled.

The book also provides some tips on how to listen, a cornerstone of any healthy and fulfilling relationship:

  1. Maintain eye contact when your partner is talking. That keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that he/she has your full attention.
  2. Don’t listen to your partner and do something else at the same time. If you are doing something you cannot turn from immediately, tell your partner the truth. A positive approach might be, “I know you are trying to talk to me and I’m interested, but I want to give you my full attention. I can’t do that right now, but if you will give me ten minutes to finish this, I’ll sit down and listen to you.” Most partners will respect such a request.
  3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself, “What emotion is my partner experiencing?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, “It sounds to me like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot blank.” That gives him the chance to clarify his feelings. It also communicates that you are listening intently to what he is saying.
  4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movements may give you clues as to what the other is feeling. Sometimes body language speaks one message while words speak another. Ask for clarification to make sure you know what she is really thinking and feeling.
  5. Refuse to interrupt. Research has indicated that the average individual listens for only seventeen seconds before interrupting and interjecting his own ideas. If I give you my undivided attention while you are talking, I will refrain from defending myself or hurling accusations at you or dogmatically stating my position. My goal is to discover your thoughts and feelings. My objective is not to defend myself or to set you straight. It is to understand you.

All-in-all this book is fairly enlightening for most people. It is only when you truly know and understand yourself that you will be open to love and loving someone else. As he states in the book, “Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.” Once you know how your partner needs to be loved, it is as simple as making the commitment to love them that way or not.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” should be required reading for everyone that over the age of 18. In a nutshell it tells you to be really nice to people. This is reiterated throughout the book with stories of people being nice and getting what they want. It doesn’t always work out this way, but often a good place to start and something to keep in mind.

The book is very textbook-like (probably because Carnegie intended to use it in his course). He has three fun­da­men­tal techniques for handling people:

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere ap­pre­ci­a­tion.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

These are probably the best tips in the book with respect to personal relationships (ie not professional and not intimate). Carnegie also provides lists of techniques for the following topics:

  1. Six ways to make people like you
  2. Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
  3. How to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment

You can see all of these techniques (without details) in the Wikipedia article.

All-in-all a very good book that everyone should read. I don’t buy everything 100%, but it is a good place to start with ne­go­ti­a­tions, dealing with people, and just getting through every day life.

What makes me wonder about these techniques are that I read about a number of people who do the exact opposite and succeed. For example, I was just reading today about an anecdote involving Richard Fuld, previous CEO of Lehman Brothers. Quoting from “Too Big to Fail” by Andrew Sorkin:

Kaplan, cupping the receiver with his hand, turned to the young trader, ex­as­per­at­ed. “You always think you’re the most important,” he exploded. “That nothing else matters but your trades. I’m not going to sign your fucking trades until every paper is off my desk!”

“You promise?” Fuld said, tauntingly.

“Yes,” Kaplan said. “Then I’ll get to it.”

Leaning over, Fuld swept his arm across Kaplan’s desk with a violent twist, sending dozens of papers flying across the office. Before some of them even landed, Fuld said, firmly but not loudly: “Will you sign it now?”

While it makes for a good story, and goes completely against what Carnegie advocates, we never really know if Kaplan signed the trade or not. My guess… he did.