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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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dating

What I’ll Tell My Daughter About Love

When I was of what my dad considered an appropriate age, he began talking to me about what to look for in men.  He gave me a lot of advice:  Look at his nails and hands, pay attention to his oral hygiene, make sure I don’t have to depend on him for anything.  He also advised me that when I was ready to make a commitment to a man to make sure that I liked him.  He warned me that “love” or the feeling of love at least can come and go, but liking the person would ensure that I’d be more likely to work on the relationship as people tend to be more kind to those they like.

Well, The Fizzle isn’t actually of dating age just yet. She’s only 10.  However, she is of age where she is able to bear witness to relationships and she has already formed the foundations of what she’ll carry with her when she forges down that road.  Of course there are more things I will tell her about romantic relationships based on what I’ve learned over the years.

  1. I’ll add a caveat to her grandfather’s advice of making sure to like the person.  I’d say pay attention to what liking someone means.  Don’t settle for someone you find likeable because there is a distinct difference between finding one likeable vs. liking said person.  A likeable person is one who you like well enough but not entirely. You have a list of a few traits you like about them but you have an equally long list, or longer, of all the things you don’t really like. But instead of being honest about the things you don’t like, you sweep them under the rug and tell yourself you can live with them.  Well he makes me laugh. I like how he dressesHe’s really good with kids. Or some other such trait.  Instead, ask yourself: Do I truly like this man as a person?  If the answer is no, then Simon Cowell him.
  2. Choose someone whose values are in agreement with yours.  So many people look for surface agreements. We love the same movies. We have the same taste in music. We both love pizza. Sure those things are wonderful, but they aren’t necessary.  What you want is someone whose view of the world is in alignment with your own.  You want someone whose values are compatible with yours and that takes more than having the same tastes in food or music.
  3. Instead of focusing on how much you agree, pay more attention to how well you disagree.  So many place a high emphasis on how many things they can agree upon.  While agreeing is great, differences are inevitable. You’re not going to ever live in the world by yourself. Choose someone with whom you can agreeably disagree with and who can do the same with you. That will be a better measure of how well you can get along than agreeing upon things.
  4. Ask yourself, if this person never changes can I accept him?  If this person never changes can I accept him? And you have to ask yourself these questions because when you sign up for a relationship, you sign up to be with the person as they are.  That means you can’t sign up based on the potential of who you think he may become. There may be things you want to change about him, but you have to be able to accept him as he is because he’s not going to change for you.  He’s going to be exactly who he is.  However, at the same time, we are constantly evolving as human beings.  So you have to be prepared for the change you either wanted or didn’t want.  Sometimes we ask for things and we find ourselves ill-prepared for them once we receive them.  You may find that you wanted your mate to become someone only to find you don’t like what he’s become once he actualizes that.  Or he may actualize into someone else that you weren’t expecting and you may find you don’t like it.  Either way, you have to make space for him to be who he is and to become who he will become.
  5. When considering attraction, don’t make a snap decision. So many people base attraction solely on the first impression of physical looks.  That’s such a tiny part of attraction.  Attraction wanes or increases the more time you spend with someone. You can meet someone who you deem to be a 10 based on his looks, only to find that he’s a 5 or less in every other area.  On the other hand, a modest looking gentleman can easily become a 10 if he has other qualities you find attractive.  Also, don’t listen to your friends or others about his attractiveness.  You are the only one who has to find him attractive.
  6. Don’t go for the “good” guy.  So many pass themselves off as good because they get good grades, make good money, or dress nicely.  Good is an arbitrary term. You have to get specific about what good means to you.  Women settle constantly for the good guy without getting specific about what that means.  Does it mean kind, compassionate, intelligent, hard-working, assertive, etc.  Do you want someone good with kids? Good with explaining things you don’t understand?  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Also, understand that whatever it is you want him to possess, it needs to be compatible with you.  You both must complement one another.
  7. This should be an add-on to number 6. Please, please, please don’t go for the nice guy!  Whatever you do, avoid getting with a man simply because he’s nice.  So many people place a high emphasis on being nice.  But don’t confuse nice for kind.  Nice isn’t actually admirable.  It isn’t authentic. Nice is what people do so that others think well of them.  Nice guys are the ones who are insecure and do things to seek approval from others.  The nice guy is the guy who does things he really doesn’t want to do and later resents you for it. Instead, seek out the kind guy.  The kind guy is the one who is confident in who he is and gives of himself because it’s simply in his nature. He respects himself and others and expects to be respected in return.  He doesn’t need you to make him feel better about himself.  Yeah, go for that guy. But make sure you’re that kind woman first so that you’re not the nice girl he fell for.
  8. Be clear about your expectations. And your wants. Don’t hold back. At all!  Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want from your mate or the relationship.  That way, the person can tell you yay or nay on whether or not they can deliver or if they’re willing to.  And you are then free to decide how you’d like to proceed from there.
  9. Don’t take it personal when a person can’t or is unwilling to give you what you want. Sometimes people love and give the best they have but their best isn’t good enough for us.  You absolutely get to say what’s good enough for you. But you don’t get to assess the true nature of the person’s heart for you.  There’s a lot of advice that says when someone loves you they’ll do whatever it takes to be what you want/need. That sounds wonderful, but it’s so untrue.  We meet people at different stages of their lives and sometimes no matter how much someone loves you, they just may not be ready or capable to give you what you want/need. Doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have though.  It also doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
  10. No matter what happens in the relationship, don’t ever be ashamed or guilty for being yourself, for caring about the person or for showing how much you cared. Oftentimes, when a relationship ends, or when someone doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, or when someone is unable/unwilling to give us what we need/want, there is an emphasis of blame.  People tend to tell the hurt person it was their fault for choosing that person or that the hurt person should not have done all the wonderful things they did in the relationship.  That’s a tit-for-tat mentality that is a relationship killer.  Please know that you never ever have to feel any shame for loving someone with all you have and showing them that.  You’re only responsible for you.  What they do with your love is on them.

And of course, I’ll tell her to look at his nails and his teeth too cause her grandfather was on to something with that. But again, she’s only 10.  I’m sure there’s going to be more to come.  Now that I look at this list, I think I need to remind myself of these things.  What will you tell your children, or friends, or yourself for that matter about love?

I Always Fall . . . For Your Potential

I’ve heard it said before that a mistake that many people make when they fall in love is that they fall in love with the potential of who the person could be rather than fall in love with who the person actually is. Well, to an extent, I agree. I agree that people look to another’s potential as a marker for pursuing and remaining in a relationship. However, I don’t believe that people fall in love with, or, are in love with potential. I say this because potential doesn’t exist. Potential isn’t real. Potential is some made up entity you have created with your imagination to create the perfect person for you. So in essence, when one has fallen in love with potential, one has failed to actually fall in love with the person. You’ve simply decided that your created image is better than the reality.

I have been guilty of this on occasion. I married my ex husband totally ignoring the reality of who he is. I knew who he was and what he was about. I knew that he wasn’t who I wanted. However, I believed in this version of him that I created in my head. And I hoped like hell that one day soon he would grow to meet that image. I found myself pissed  9 years later, when he was no more that man than he had been on the day we met. I felt betrayed. Now, on the one hand, I can say that he did try for a time to pretend to be that man. But as we all know, pretending only goes so far. And even with his efforts, I still saw through the veneer. Yet I chose to look beyond what I saw and hold tight to my image. Once I divorced him, I grieved. Funny thing is that I never grieved the end of our marriage. I celebrated that. I considered that among one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. No, I grieved for the man I never met. The man he never was, but whom I always hoped he would become.  And none of that was his fault.  He was who he was.  He was clear on that even through his consistently inconsistent behavior. It was I who failed to accept him at face value.  And while I may not like the sound of it, I failed to accept it simply because I liked my version of him better.

Several years after my divorce, I partnered briefly with a man who I’d known back in high school. Ours was a most unexpected coupling. I’d never expected to fall in love—and definitely not with him. He was the last man I would have ever considered as a romantic partner. The thing is, he was probably one of the last men I should have ever partnered with. He was a recent widower. I knew he wasn’t ready for a new relationship. To add even more fuel to this already lit fire, he was incredibly insecure. He was the kind of guy who pretended to be a “nice” guy, but deep down he wasn’t. So he would say things that I intuitively felt were meant to break my self-esteem. I saw that, but I wouldn’t accept it. Why? Because I was so focused on the potential of what could be. I told myself that once he healed, things would be great. He was just hurting and needed some compassion and love. Well, I could have given compassion and love. I just could have (and probably should have) given it from a distance. But I was so busy ignoring who he was because I preferred the image of who he could be.

For a time, I fell into the woe is me trap. Why can’t I find a good man? What’s wrong with me? But I had to do what my father would have told me to do; which is to take a good, long look at myself in the mirror. And so I did. I recognized that I failed to accept teach man as he was.  I have a good heart. I don’t say that in a bragging manner. I just do. And my good heart sees beneath the surface in everyone. I see the good in everyone. I can’t fathom another person being a terrible. After all, no one person is completely good, nor completely bad. Even when I intuitively sense something is off with a person—and believe me, I do, as my intuition is very strong—I ignore it. I choose to create a better version in my head and go with my creation. It’s nicer. Neater. Better. I’m the type of person who you can stab directly in the heart (literally), and with my dying breath I’ll tell you how it’s ok because deep down I know you didn’t mean to do it because you really are a good person. Extreme examples aside, the only thing I have ever done when I’ve chosen to do that is cause myself issues. Now, I am able to say that I appreciate both men for the soul lessons they provided me. But I recognize that I could have saved myself so much heartache had I given up the false hope of potential. I also recognize that my choice to love their potential says much more about me than it does either man.

When one chooses to remain with another simply because of potential, one is failing to see, accept, and subsequently choose the person as they are and where they are in the present. The man has no job? That’s ok. He can get one. We’ll send him to ICDC College and get him a job. My baby gon’ get it together. Well that’s love from a parenting aspect, and not from a partner aspect. Let me put it to you like this. I have the potential to be a killer or a billionaire. At the moment, I am neither. To choose to either avoid or get in a relationship with me based on either sounds, well kind of dumb, right? Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you that it’s the same thing for potential. I know. I had to break it down for myself too.

It can seem tricky because on the one hand, everyone has the potential for growth, and a person’s status in life today is not necessarily indicative of where their path may lead. However, I think there is a bit of a marker, and it’s pretty simple. It’s about vision. Ask yourself, does the person have a vision for him or herself?  Once you ask and answer that, go a little deeper. If he or she has a vision, what is the vision? Now don’t stop there. You’ve got to go even deeper.  Now you need to ask if they have created goals AND taken steps to actualize those goals to create their vision? Now notice that I didn’t say ask what your vision is for that person. I didn’t say ask that because your vision for someone else does not matter. You can’t love, hang on to, or encourage another enough to maximize their potential. That person has to want it and do the work for him or herself. If they don’t, then there is nothing you can do for them. We’ve heard that you can lead a horse to pasture, but you can’t make him drink. Well the same is true for human beings. We can influence, encourage, and desire things for others. But we can’t do the heavy lifting for them. You can absolutely serve as another’s muse–their catalyst that sparks the desire for change.  It’s happened before, and it will happen again.  Marie-Thérèse Walter served as Pablo Picasso’s muse during his surrealist period.  However inspired he was by his favorite model at that time, he still needed to choose to pick up the paint brush, paint, and canvas and start painting.  He couldn’t have stood in front of an audience and simply said, “Here lies my muse. She makes me want to paint.” If he had, he’d probably be known as the crazy artist everyone laughed at instead of being known for his famous works of art.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

If you find yourself in love with potential. Stop. Do not, I repeat, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. In the words of Ghost’s very own Oda mae Brown, as played by Whoopi Goldberg, “You in danger, girl.” Of course I say this fully understanding that there are no guarantees and there are some things that one can truly feel. But I caution you to remember that you can’t take a person to their potential. Trust that person enough to do it for themselves. Trust yourself enough to know that there is room for the person you want–even if it doesn’t come from the potential one.

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