My daddy, the one who calls ‘eunuchs’, ‘tunics’, always said that dating was equal parts learning about your date and learning about yourself.
Each & every date, each and every person you dated, was a field trip to learning. You might have thought you liked bowling but, as it turns out, you really only like drinking beer, spending time with your friends and wearing funny shoes. Go blowing with a guy you don’t like and bam! It becomes crystal clear: bowling is not fun, it’s the people you like. Then again, you might not like bowling, but you sure did enjoy spending time with that guy who took you bowling… It takes awhile to do the math, but eventually you figure it — and yourself — out. If you are wise, that is.
Too often, people spend time on dates just evaluating the other person as potential partner material, ignoring the self-evaluation. It’s important because maybe what you really really like about bowling is the flirtation with the guys in the other lane… So then it’s not the date that’s the problem (either going bowling or his seeming unlikelihood as a soul mate) but it’s that you aren’t really looking for a relationship.
I was reminded of this when I watched VH1’s Tough Love. It was the second episode but my first time watching the reality show — you might think that it would be ‘bad’ to miss the first show, but I found not knowing info about the eight women he’s trying to coach in the ‘boot camp’ far less distracting (like the whole “bitchy Taylor returns” thing — WTF?!) Anyway, professional matchmaker Steve Ward was trying to teach these girls some self-awareness. They must be pretty oblivious to themselves & their behaviors because Ward actually used a shocking device to zap the women whenever they broke dating rules — just like my uncle trained his hunting dog, or my sister’s invisible dog fence.
People reverting to old or bad habits, dating or otherwise, isn’t especially odd; new habits and behaviors take time. But the most amazing thing to me was Jody. This woman is completely unaware of the signals she sends. She comes off as a chick who doesn’t really want a relationship, but I think she’s got the same exact problem as Arian: neither one of them has the confidence in themselves to believe they’ll be loved that they’ve created tough-cookie exteriors to push (shove and kick) people away before there’s even a chance. Like those swaggering men with rotten cores I dated. It’s a neurosis as terribly isolating, self-destructive and painful as the clingy stalker chick, Jessa. And no fun for those dating them.
Stasha (who had to be zapped so often for bragging about being in Playboy that it went past comical into abrasive — I can only imagine what it would be like to sit across the table from her on a date. Ugh.) and Abiola also seem to be projecting a confidence they don’t feel… Or they could be so damn unrealistic about themselves and the realities of relationships that they’ll end up only accepting cartoon ones — superficial and, at best, two-dimensional.
Anyway, my point is that these ladies are all so busy looking at & evaluating men — immediately judging the men to be untrustworthy or otherwise unworthy so they can dump them and move on — that they require a third party to give them literal, physical shocks.
And even then they resist.
Along with not knowing how they behave (and how that behavior is interpreted), they don’t even seem to know themselves, their needs, or what motivates them. It’s more than classic defense mechanisms that automatically go off; it’s ignorance about themselves.
If only these women had begun dating under my dad’s dating philosophy. It may not have spared them broken hearts & bad experiences, but at least they’d have walked away knowing something more about themselves. And then they wouldn’t have had to been zapped — on national television, yet.