Dear Men: Court Me like This

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Once again, surprise surprise, my thoughts have turned towards relationships. ¬†One of these days I’ll be able to shake it off like Taylor Swift and mull over some other profound thoughts, but for now, my mind is stuck on love.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what I as a woman have the right to expect out of a courtship and eventual relationship. ¬†So many times we get used to being treated poorly and we think that this is normal, and then something happens that makes us go Oh! ¬†So THIS is what being treated like a lady feels like!

The standards for dating, in my eyes, have been playing a game of limbo for years: how low can you go?  How low can you go?  And yet when you try to stick to a higher principle, it can seem discouraging because that immediately shrinks the eligible bachelor pool down to 1.5 men in the nearest 100 mile radius.  Yet I have decided that when I am ready for another go-around on the roller-coaster of romance, I will not settle for less than I deserve.

So what, exactly, do I feel that I (and all women) are entitled to?

Women deserve to be courted.  And yes, I mean courted in the old-fashioned sense.  Women warrant feeling like the man wants to pursue them and is willing to put in extra effort to make that known.  This means paying for things, that extra text to make sure she gets home safe, making sure to compliment her on her outfit/makeup, and overall making her feel like she is wanted.

In most social settings, you can really tell who likes you and wants to potentially date you versus someone who just wants a piece of ass.  This was made abundantly clear to me yesterday when I had one guy at one bar approach me and start a nice conversation, then offer to buy both me AND my friend a drink.  At the next place, I had a guy talk and flirt with me for hours without offering anything.

In the current hook-up culture that we have going on, being courted is rare. ¬†Yet if a guy really wants to get a quality girl, he has to put in the time and effort that it takes to make that bid for her affection. ¬†Trust me guys, it’s worth it.

Women deserve to know where they stand. ¬†I have seen endless amounts of memes where the woman is freaking out because her man hasn’t texted her back in days and she has no idea if he still likes her or not. ¬†If a man truly wants to seriously date a woman, he needs to make his intentions crystal clear.

Speaking from experience, not knowing how someone feels about you for weeks or months on end is a shitty feeling. ¬†I am all about being busy chasing your own dreams, however, busyness is something that can be communicated. ¬†If a man likes a woman but simply is strapped for time, that needs to be something that is addressed. ¬†Quality women will have things going on on their own and will more than likely be just as busy. ¬†However, days without communication can be misinterpreted if they aren’t given the proper heads up.

Women deserve to keep their bodies to themselves.  I am all about an amorous sack session, but that should not be expected right away.  As a woman, sex is a powerful bonding experience, and it should not be viewed as normal to give that privilege away cheaply.  If a man is seriously interested in a woman, he might hate the thought of waiting, but he will do it without making her feel pressured because he respects her and wants more than just the cookie.

Sex is amazing.  Yet if you were to compare sex just for sex versus actual lovemaking with someone you care about and are connected to on a deeper level, lovemaking will win every time.  You get all the heated passion PLUS a deep level of trust and intimacy that cannot be found stumbling home with some random from the bar.

I am all about women having the freedom to enjoy whatever they want whenever they want with whomever they want. ¬†However, once you’re ready to pursue something real, it’s worth it to hold out; those who want ALL of you will wait, those who don’t, won’t.

Women deserve to feel beautiful. ¬†I don’t care if you are a solid 4 or a 10+; no matter where you fall in the stereotypical beauty scale, the man you are with should make every effort to make sure that you feel like a million bucks. ¬†No woman will ever get tired of hearing “WOW” when she steps out the door or a low whistle when you bend over to grab your purse from the floor.

Feeling beautiful is so much more than feeling like your guy loves your body or your face. ¬†Feeling beautiful is feeling completely seen by someone else, and knowing that they like the view. ¬†Feeling beautiful encompasses a woman’s whole being, and a man who truly wants to pursue the whole woman will gladly make that known.

Women deserve effort. ¬†This is my last point because I know that sometimes, the things that I mention above are hard for guys. ¬†Some guys don’t make a lot of money. ¬†Some guys would rather choke than say what they actually feel. ¬†Some guys are awkward and have no idea how to interact with a woman properly. ¬†No on is perfect. ¬†However, no matter how far away a guy is from a streamlined dating machine, if they want a woman bad enough, they will put in the effort.

This effort might come in the form of planning out an entire date of free things. ¬†Cost-effective, yet the time it takes to think everything through is work. ¬†Effort might come in the form of someone who hates words mustering up the courage to simply state “I like you”. ¬†Effort also always comes in the form of communication; no matter what your hangups, quality women are infinitely able to work with them if they are made clear and attempts are strongly made to work through them.

Overall, the goal of courtship is to see whether or not this is someone with whom you can build a quality, lasting bond.  If there is no effort put in to obtain this partnership, than there will more than likely be no effort to maintain the connection.  A relationship with a good person is a privilege for both men and women, and its benefits will correlate with the value placed upon it.

So men: if you aren’t ready for a real relationship, don’t try to add notches on your bedpost with women who are. ¬†And if you do want to try to win the love of a real woman, do it right. ¬†Court her like she is a lady of old and you are her knight in shining armor; when a woman feels desired, respected, and safe, there is nothing that she will not do for you. ¬†Put in the work to earn it, and the ROI will be more than you could have dreamed.

 

The Gifts my Ex’s Gave Me

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Breakups suck.  In the moment, it always seems like your world will never be quite right again, and there will always be a part of you missing.  Yet I have gone through enough separations to know that this is not the case; eventually, you will feel whole again, and you will even be able to look back on the relationship with fondness and not pain.

My most recent breakup has led me to contemplate all of my past relationships. ¬†When you’re in smack in the middle and full of new love, they seem amazing. ¬†When they’re removed from your life, you sob in wrenching pain; eventually, months later, you wonder what you ever saw in them and roll your eyes at your past self and her choices. ¬†But for me, years down the road, I am thankful for all of my failed relationships because they each have shaped a part of who I am.

None of my ex’s were rich; they didn’t buy me fancy clothes or whisk me off to Europe in their private jets. ¬†But in their own way, they each gave me gifts that are immeasurable in value, even if their presence in my life was not meant to be.

My first ex gave me the gift of heartbreak. ¬†I lived several states away from my high school boyfriend, and as brief as our relationship was, I was devastated when it ended. ¬†I was SURE that I was going to marry this boy, and I lamented as most stereotypical teenage girls do, writing very bad poetry and pouring my heart out in a song (that I years later found, shuddered at, and promptly deleted). ¬†And yet all of this innocent heartbreak soon healed, and I found that I was able to move on with my life just fine. ¬†It’s partly because of this early, necessary, over-dramatic heartbreak that I am able to move on from all of life’s storms that seem to keep coming my way because it taught me that pain is not forever.

There will be people in life who cause you immense amounts of agony.  And yet, this hurt is able to be overcome with time and personal growth.  It is those moments of overcoming this pain that we discover our true unshakable ability to keep marching on.  When we are in the trenches of more suffering, we can remember how we persevered before, and muster up the courage to burst through yet again.

My second ex gave me the gift of freedom. ¬†I grew up very conservatively and extremely religious. ¬†While I am thankful for the solid foundation that this upbringing gave me in terms of values, I am also very thankful to not possess such a narrow-minded view of the world anymore. ¬†My ex-husband was the opposite of conservative, and while most of his ideas are way too radical to be contemplated in the realm of reality, being around someone who opposed my views so violently caused me to question why I subscribed to certain world-views. ¬†It’s because of him that I have been able to rebuild what I believe and have been able to be so empathetic and compassionate to others in turmoil around me.

Anyone who causes you to question who you are and what you believe is a valuable person.  Sometimes, this self-questioning leads to a more solidified stance in what you think.  Other times, such as in my case, it causes a shaky foundation to crumble, leaving room for constructing one that is more solidly built.

My third ex gave me the gift of experience.  He was almost 18 years older than me, accomplished in so many things, and had a zest for life that drew me too him despite the age difference.  Growing up in the Midwest, I had never dreamed that there were so many simple and varied pleasures to enjoy.  Eating cucumber sandwiches on the beach, gambling in Vegas, drinking wine on the sand while the sun goes down, completely feeling the music at a rock concert one day and an acoustic performance the next.  Because of him, I have a thirst for experiencing ALL of life, and I eagerly grasp any opportunity to try something new.

Sometimes, meeting someone with more experience than you is intimidating.  It can make your life seem pitiful and pale in comparison.  However, if you jump at the chance to listen to their stories and allow yourself to get caught up in the whirlwind, you will inevitably end up with way more interesting stories than standing on the sidelines watching.

My most recent ex gave me the gift of inspiration. ¬†Before I dated him, I was established in my career and going with the flow of life. ¬†But when we met, I saw in him a drive and a passion for more than the status quo, which quite honestly seemed a bit much at first. ¬†Yet as we spent more time together, he influenced me by example. ¬†He’s the reason I started this blog, started exploring my options for other side careers, and started striving to exceed my own expectations. ¬†It’s because of him that I feel that I have a renewed purpose in life, and I can feel that energy trickling into all facets of my being.

There are those people who come into your lives at the exact right moment and with just the right tools to spur you on towards greatness in your own journey.  Sometimes those people get to stay with you, and you get to do that for each other for many amazing years together.  Other times, those people touch us briefly before spinning off into the universe, too caught in their own destiny to stay.  Either way, their inspiration is valuable, and no matter how brief or long the encounter, you have to be grateful for their impact on your life.

Some of us get lucky and find our missing puzzle piece right out of the gate.  Those people get to grow and learn together, help each other out along the way, and build an amazing lifetime of memories together.  Others of us have a more rocky path; we are the ones who reach our hands out again and again, only to have them slapped down by those we desire.  We can choose to ache with each dismissal or to take each experience as a lesson in what we truly want and deserve.  With each rejection comes a stronger assurance that eventually, our hand will be taken with gentle strength, and we will finish this journey together with someone who is worth every bit of pain and sorrow along the way.

 

The Anatomy of a Broken Heart

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In the cartoons that we watched when we were younger, a broken heart is dramatized by a jagged line. ¬†The two halves split apart and sometimes fall to the ground, symbolizing two people going their separate ways. ¬†It’s simple. ¬†It’s clean. ¬†It’s nothing like reality.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of muffled sobs and hot tears pouring down your face. ¬†It’s made up of deep shuddering breaths and wiping the back of your hand across your nose, uncaringly smearing snot across your cheek. ¬†It’s made up of red, swollen eyes and deep breaths that end when another wave of hurt crashes over you like the slap of the ocean on a windy day.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of memories of the good times. ¬†It’s remembering that one time on that one Saturday that he made a stupid comment and you both laughed and laughed until your sides hurt and the best kind of tears streamed down your face. ¬†It’s feeling the sensation of his hand still intertwined with yours, feeling safe and cared for and warm as you strolled along the beach. ¬†It’s hearing his car pulling into your driveway, looking into the mirror one final time to make sure that you look perfect, and flinging open the door before he can knock.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of words. ¬†The “hi” that he spoke when he first walked up to you. ¬†The “miss you” that followed an extended period of time without seeing each other. ¬†The reluctant “goodnight” that came at the end of every phone conversation. ¬†The “like a glove” phrase that become an instant addition to every successful parallel parking job. ¬†The exaggerated “oh yeah” he drawled as you changed outfits, showing him a glimpse of skin.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of fights.  The serious discussions that ended with resolutions that made things better and relieved embraces on the couch.  The play fights that ended with you getting your ass kicked but refusing to accept defeat.  The battle of wits that took place every time he tried to prove that he was smarter and you told yourself you just let him win.

In reality, a broken heart is made of touch.  The slap on your ass when he was feeling frisky.  The tender kiss on your forehead when your head was on his chest.  The long, tightly gripping hugs that happened when you walked in the door.  The passionate kisses that fanned the flames of physical love.  The playful squeeze on his biceps to let him know that yes, you notice his workouts, and yes, you like the results.  The secret thrill when he reached for your hand and your fingers intertwine perfectly.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of what could have been. ¬†The joyful anticipation meeting of his mom where she, of course, would love you and tell him in private that “that’s the one”. ¬†¬†The vacation to Hawaii that would have been your first real adventure together. ¬†The nervous awareness of him meeting your parents in the future. ¬†The proposal and wedding that was crazy to have been thinking of already but you allowed yourself glimpses of because you knew in your heart that this was the guy you wanted.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of silence. ¬†The blank cell phone screen that won’t show his name, no matter how many times you look at it. ¬†The endless occasions you tuck a moment of the day away to share with him later, only to quietly push those moments to the side when reality strikes again. ¬†The stark absence of your best friend when a crisis happens or when you nail your goals.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of hurt. ¬†The desire to hate him for leaving, yet not being able to because you still love him too much to want to hurt him. ¬†The crumbling realization that you were not enough. ¬†The ache that comes with knowing that it’s truly the end, and no amount of convincing or begging will change his mind. ¬†The screaming pains that initially hit you, even when you know it’s coming.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of change. ¬†The weekend routine that suddenly ends. ¬†The awkward response when some asks “hey, you still dating that guy?” ¬†The unwelcome reality that no longer can use your status as a way to curve unwanted attention. ¬†The moment when you find a perfect book for him but slowly place it back on the self, your fingers lingering a bit longer than normal.

In reality, a broken heart is made up of the knowledge of healing.  The understanding that someday, your heart will not hurt for him anymore and panicking at the thought of not caring.  The awareness that someday, someone else will take his place and feeling physically sick at the thought of loving another.

In the end, a broken heart gets shattered because it is fully given.  No jagged line can encompass the pure pain of completely surrendering your most precious possession to another, only to have it tossed around for a few months and then given back.  The heart wants what the heart wants, but it cannot do anything but yearn when the other heart stays closed.

Eventually it will heal, and it may even forget the pain, allowing itself to be fully given again, in good faith and with the same wide-eyed innocence and trust as the first time around.

But that’s in the future. ¬†And in the now, it still lies there; bloody, raw, bruised. ¬†It still wants to be healed by the person who broke it in the first place. ¬†It craves the warmth it has gotten used to. ¬†It misses its companion heart, still beating, yet so far away.

And so, allow yourself to fully feel.  Sob at the memories.  Shudder in the waves of pain.  Scream in defiance.  Punch something in frustration.  Something broken must be acknowledged to ever be fully healed, and as much as it feels like you will never rise from your crumpled, pathetic spot in the dust, your heart is stronger then you think, braver than you feel, and even at its most broken, capable of so. much. love.

Worth the Wait

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Yesterday, one of my best friends/roommate spent her time with a guy she had met the previous weekend at Stagecoach.  It was a typical drunken meeting: spying each other across the way, one person working up the courage to say hi, and then talking, laughing, and eventually exchanging numbers.

Usually, in today’s world, that would be it.¬† The next morning would come, and groggy and hungover, a text may or may not be sent, and the ensuing conversation would eventually peter out into the ether.¬† End scene.

However, as luck would have it, this did not end in the typical fashion.¬† In fact, John* turned out to be a really awesome guy.¬† So awesome, in fact, that he seems a bit unreal when compared to the hordes of individuals we women have come to accept as ‘men’.

He treats Leah* like a princess: compliments, opening the door, paying for her, and overall being the consummate gentleman.¬† He was able to converse with me freely, obviously feeling confident and at ease.¬† And the biggest gold star came from the fact that he didn’t once try to sleep with her.

As one of her best friends, I am so incredibly happy and excited.

As a woman, I am so, so envious.

In my dating experience, when I have expressed that I want to wait before we sleep together, I’ve been called a “prude” or “dick-tease”.¬† Men try to flatter me with “but I want you” or “but you’re so hot!” or guilt me with “well why did you even invite me over, then?” *angry huff*.

This has become so normal that I pretty much expect it to be a reality every single time I go on a date.¬† And if the guy doesn’t try to immediately get in my pants, I internally believe that he doesn’t find me attractive.

Let’s just pause there for a moment.¬† This has become so “normal” that if a guy doesn’t want to immediately screw me, he’s either a) a pussy, b) not attracted to me, or c) not really a ‘man’.

Sex has fallen victim to the instant gratification mentality.  No longer is it an act to be treasured, valued, or treated with respect.  In fact, it is frequently used as an icebreaker, helped along with copious amounts of alcohol.

There is nothing wrong with wanting sex. In fact, I’d say that if you’re in a relationship and a day goes by without it, that’s a sad day.¬† Physical intimacy is an amazing way to connect with your partner while also selfishly enjoying all the personal pleasure that comes with it.¬† And it has been argued that there is a time and place for just using sex for selfish pleasure if that’s what the other person wants as well.

However, you cannot sustain or grow emotional health on sex alone.¬† This is akin to trying to survive on eating nothing but cookies, candy, and cake.¬† Don’t get me wrong-dessert is awesome.¬† One bite of a creamy custard or warm slice of pie can send you in to ecstasies.¬† A life without dessert is a very miserable life, indeed.

And yet, imagine your body trying to survive off of a steady diet of ONLY dessert.¬† A constant influx of sugar and simple carbs.¬† Your taste buds may be happy, but your body receives nothing of substance.¬† Your systems begin to function improperly.¬† Obesity starts.¬† Cavities form.¬† The pervading sense of ‘ick’ becomes normal.¬† In short, there is zero physical progress, and in fact, some pretty significant decline.

When you fill up on a good meal, dessert is something that tops it off and sends the experience over the edge.  This is because it follows good, real nutrients.  You are able to enjoy the indulgence because you have taken care of your basic needs first.

This truth is evident in relationships.  If you are constantly grabbing just for sex, your relationships will never flourish.  Your mental and emotional needs will never receive the building blocks they need from real, honest, person-to-person interaction.

In a relationship, there will be times when you have to eat the broccoli because it’s good for you, not because you want to.¬† You will have to pay attention to how each interaction makes you feel and take the time to make sure that it is all net positive, both for you AND your partner.¬† Just like time-consuming homemade meals are the best for the body, so too are conversations, interactions, and efforts that are given the time and energy they deserve the best for relationships.

Truth be told, you can tell a person’s maturity level by how they regard sex.¬† Just as a child wants to live on Sour Patch Kids alone, a young-minded boy or girl simply wants all of the pleasure of a relationship without the meat.¬† Sadly, both the child and the immature adult have not yet learned of how good you feel both physically and mentally when you feed your body and your emotions what they need to thrive.

A relationship is a privilege.  It is an amazing opportunity to weave an unbreakable bond of trust, love, laughter, tears, successes, failures, communication, and most of all, respect.

Respect yourself enough to want the homemade chocolate cake, not the stale store-bought cookies fluorescent with cheap food coloring and crumbling exterior.

Respect yourself enough to wait for someone who appreciates the effort that goes into a three course meal, and who eagerly pitches in to help.

Respect yourself enough to gather the ingredients for a meal yourself, so you don’t show up empty-handed.

Most of all, respect yourself enough to know that dessert tastes sweeter after the meal.¬† Don’t fall victim to the junk food of life; love yourself enough to know that for each shiny, tempting bag of chips, there is a less flashy, more filling pot-roast waiting on the table.¬† And remember, if you fill up on junk food, you often lose your appetite for the good stuff.

And oh, how that good stuff is SO worth the wait.

What are you worth?

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I’ve been thinking about relationships quite a bit lately, and today has been a particularly contemplative day.¬† Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast on the value of time detailing, among other things, why certain people are justified in charging large amounts of money for their skill set (Forever Jobless, Season 2, Episode 49).¬† He gave an example of a plumber’s itemized bill for fixing a clog:

  • Hitting the pipe-$1.
  • Knowing where to hit the pipe-$199

The point he was trying to make is that people always balk at spending large amounts of money to get things corrected or streamlined, especially if afterwords it doesn’t seem like the fix took very long or needed any effort, but fail to realize the prior time and energy that went into gaining the knowledge necessary to make it that simple.¬† If someone has spent hours learning how to do something well and can provide you with a quality result, their asking price is ultimately worth more than your time spent muddling through trying to figure it out yourself.

To get to the point, I realized that this truth holds water for relationships as well.The only difference is, relationships and people are not bought with monetary funds (with certain exceptions, which is another conversation).

For the majority of people, relationships of one form or another are something that they desire.  Most of us eventually want to find a romantic partner to build our lives with; someone who supports us, enjoys life with us, and with whom we share similar interests and goals.  There are few relationships, however, that seem to truly embody this objective.  Which brings us to the question: If amazing relationships are something that everybody wants, why is it so hard to manifest?  Eventually, it all comes down to investment.

There are individuals in this world who have put time and energy into making themselves desirable by seeking out life experiences, actively working on themselves, and becoming well-versed in their field of choice.  These are people whose value quotient in a relationship is quite high.  Everyone wants to be with someone who is interesting, caring, and successful.  Not many people, however, do what it takes to make their own personal net worth skyrocket.

What does it take to partner with someone of high quality?¬† Valuable people are “bought” by those with similar merits who give honest effort.¬† You could have all the money in the world, but if you are not willing to spend $1000 to get your Lamborghini fixed, you are going to be driving a broken car and eventually spending a lot more buying a new one.¬† This is the same for relationships.¬† You could be a highly valuable person yourself, but if you’re not willing to put in the effort that it takes to procure and retain a person of similar character, you will have a crippled relationship and most likely will be finding yourself trying to find a new one fairly soon.

Value recognizes value.  This is why rich people are willing to pay for things to get done well.  They receive the advantage of spending their time elsewhere, and the labor bankrolls the appropriate monetary compensation for their skills.  Likewise, valuable people find themselves seeking out other people on their level because their worth is reciprocated.  Quality people recognize the effort that it takes to maintain a relationship with a fellow distinctive person, and they are willing to put in that complete energy because they recognize the benefit of the end result.

If I could get an excellent car repair job, high-end furniture, and organic food for dirt cheap or free, I would.¬† But smart people know that bargains aren’t really bargains, and it’s worth it in the long run to pony up the cash up front to ensure optimal results.¬† The only time a true bargain happens is when the person on the other end doesn’t know what their time or product is worth.

Again, this is the same for relationships. ¬†There are so many people who have been convinced that what they have to offer isn’t worth what they are asking, and sadly, they lower their price.¬† And there are others on the opposite side of the coin who try to convince people that what they’re providing is much more valuable than what it actually is.¬† Either scenario results in unbalance, which eventually leads to unhappiness.¬† You should not be providing a 2017 Mercedes-Benz relationship if you are only being offered a 1998 Ford budget and you should not offer a Focus down payment on an E-class.

The key point is that you need to know your honest worth.¬† Some people truly won’t have the resources that allow them to ‘afford’ you.¬† Some people will have the capital but will be unwilling to invest it in what you have to offer.¬† And sometimes, you have to comb through your own emotional bank statements and realize that the problem lies with you.¬† Regardless, your return should match your contribution.¬† And if you’re not happy with your bottom line, perhaps it’s time for better investments.

 

 

Optimal Connections

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Tonight’s thoughts have been about our day-to-day connections; specifically, what it takes to create optimal relationships.¬† These thoughts were spurred by a small act of kindness that I received this morning:

I had 3 minutes to go until my first period class started, and the copier was acting like a spoiled brat.¬† Since I have a slight flair for the dramatic, I was making quite the comic scene of frustration and horror as my coworkers passed by.¬† After some (well-deserved) eye-rolling and snickering, one of my colleagues said “Here, give it to me, I’ve got kids that can help during this period” and proceeded to troubleshoot the copier, make me two different sets of copies, and deliver it them before first period finished.¬† I was relieved and amazed by my stroke of luck.

And then I started thinking.¬† Is it really just luck that caused me to stumble into having awesome alliances at work?¬† Maybe…but I feel like the answer really lies in the value I place on all my relationships and the steps I take to maintain them.

If you want to receive, first you have to give.¬† This is true for everything in life, but especially for relationships.¬† In today’s world, there is so much emphasis on what others can do for you.¬† What can YOU contribute to MY life?¬† People rarely ask themselves how they are contributing back.¬† Based on my personal experiences, I feel that there are at least five things that you need to do in order to create valuable connections with quality people in your life.

  1. Be Positive.  Nobody likes to be around someone who is constantly sighing and moaning about this or that problem or this or that person.  Constant negativity can shut down a budding relationship or sever an established bond.  While I definitely have my moments, the majority of the time I am happy and giving off positive vibes by smiling, waving, and goofing around.  Being upbeat makes quality people want to be around you, giving you an opportunity to establish firm connections.
  2. Be Earnest.¬† Sincerity has become a luxury today, and people tend to gravitate towards someone who is being honest, whether they completely agree with their statements or not.¬† I am able to create great relationships with my students, even during times when I am grumpy, simply by being honest and open with them on a daily basis.¬† I rarely put up a “teacher front” and I make sure I verbalize both the positive and negative things that I see in the classroom.¬† This has created an atmosphere of trust and accessibility, and even if my students don’t always like what I say, they never respond in a disrespectful way because they know that I am genuine.¬† If you trust quality people with your true, honest feelings, they will reciprocate in kind.
  3. Inconvenience Yourself.¬† Being selfish has its place in making sure that you are taken care of and healthy.¬† However, there are times when the duties that come with relationships are inopportune and annoying.¬† Do those things anyway.¬† Recently I had a friend’s housewarming party scheduled for the same day as I had planned on going down to San Diego.¬† The kicker?¬† The party was an hour in the opposite direction.¬† I had already committed to both, so, I did both.¬† Later, she sent me a text thanking me for being a such a good friend and coming to her party even though it wasn’t convenient for me.¬† Quality people will notice the sacrifices you make, and will make sacrifices in return.¬† I am not advocating that you completely neglect what you need in order to please everyone around you, but if the relationship matters to you, little inconveniences are a small price to pay.
  4. Communicate.¬† There are few things more frustrating for both parties than finding out you mistakenly took something someone said, did, or texted completely the wrong way.¬† Always try to convey your message clearly, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are tempted to get offended by something.¬† Quality people will not be afraid to work through any issues that may arise.¬†¬† As I have gotten older, I have become more straightforward with asking people what they mean with this comment or that text, and it has saved me a lot of hurt feelings and wasted time sulking.
  5. Make an Effort.¬† If a puppy is not fed, it dies.¬† If a flower is not watered, it withers away.¬† If a house is not maintained, it falls into disrepair.¬† This is analogous to our relationships.¬† Many times we get so engrossed in our own lives that we can go for months without speaking to a friend or a colleague.¬† Take the time to keep your relationships alive.¬† My best friend lives in South Carolina and we see each other once a year.¬† But we always make time for phone calls, texts, and the occasional Skype session.¬† Every time I pass a coworker in the hall, I purposefully say at LEAST ‘hi’, if not have a slight exchange in passing.¬† Making an effort does not always have to mean dedicating hours and hours-it can be as simple as shooting off a text or picking up someone’s favorite food while you’re at the grocery store.¬† Any effort you give is a gift that quality people will appreciate and return.

None of the five things that I have listed are easy.¬† But as I’m discovering more and more, nothing worth having in life is easy.¬† Optimal relationships with quality people are 100% worth the extra time and effort they take to establish and maintain because those people make you become a better person.

Take the time to observe the people you choose to surround yourself with.  Are they people of high caliber?  Would they inconvenience themselves for you?  Do they raise you up with positive energy?  If the answer to these questions is no, turn your focus towards yourself.  If you are not attracting quality people, chances are you lack the traits that make you attractive to people of such character.

Everyone is capable of creating relationships that are optimal.  Hardly anyone is willing to do what it takes.  Trust me when I say this, however, the effort is worth it.

 

Optimization is Hard

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Today I came to the realization that optimization is hard.  The desire to make every aspect of your life as amazing as possible is not hard to ignite, but taking the actual steps to do so? Brutal.

I’ve come to this realization because of the conversation I had this morning with the guy I’ve been seeing for the past four months.¬† We had briefly discussed where our relationship was going (or wasn’t) last weekend, and I wanted some clarification.¬† This was not easy for me to bring up again since his conversation had previously leaned towards staying uncommitted.¬† I expressed that I did not want to waste my time simply “hanging out” every weekend if it wasn’t going to go anywhere, and he expressed that he felt that he was too young to settle down.¬† Which, of course, leaves us at an impasse.

This has forced me to sit down and think about what I actually want out of a relationship.  What are the things that, for me, make an optimal partnership?

I want to be secure in the knowledge that I am someone’s first and only choice, not just an option, because they will be my first and only choice.¬† I want someone who can love the goofy side of me, the serious side of me, the emotional side of me, and all other sides that choose to surface.¬† I want someone who I can be proud to show off to my friends and family.¬† I want someone who is unselfish with their time and affection.¬† I want someone who will support me in everything that I want to accomplish, and who will share in my excitement over things both monumental and inconsequential.¬† I want someone that I can walk demurely down the street with but pounce on the second the door is closed.¬† I want someone I can bare my soul to because I know that he will show it respect and understanding.

There are so many things I want out of a relationship.  And I know that listing even just that small number of criteria might make me seem stuck-up or demanding.  However, I feel that I deserve those things because I know what I bring to the table.

I am the girl who will support your dreams unconditionally while still offering a critical eye when needed.  I am the girl who will wake up in the middle of the night to pick you up at the airport if you need me to.  I am the girl who will cook you breakfast and pack you a lunch with a note slipped in the paper bag.  I am the girl who will clean your apartment one day out of the blue just because I know it will make you smile.

For me, doing all of those things for the person that I love is easy and it makes me happy.¬† And what made this morning’s conversation suck so much was that fact that there are so many parts about this guy that fit into my optimal partnership.¬† He makes me laugh, is SO affectionate, makes me feel like the sexiest woman alive, and can carry on a serious conversation for hours.

And yet.

There are things that are NOT optimal.¬† Which brings us to the question: what is the line between compromise and settling?¬† Choosing to have an optimal partnership requires you to have healthy compromises.¬† If you are simply settling for someone because they are “not all bad” or “better than the last one” or “I don’t want to upset the status quo” then you are selling yourself short of what you deserve in a relationship.

Optimization is hard because it requires you to not settle.  It requires you to take a stand for what you want and actually take steps to attain it.

For me, it would be so easy to keep things going the way they are.¬† I love hanging out with him and the way that he makes me feel.¬† It’s been so fun to have a secret little thrill when his name pops up on my phone and to have a go-to plan every weekend.

But.

Right now, our relationship is not optimal.¬† If I were to continue to hang out with him and not actually expect a commitment from him, this would be a compromise for me that crosses the line into settling.¬† I know that in the long run, I’ll be miserable.

And so, with full commitment to the Optimization Operation, I have to let him go.

Which sucks.

I hope that if you are reading this, you have found someone who meets your optimal relationship goals. And if not, I hope you know what you’re worth and refuse to settle for less.