[Enter modern-day woman, whom, after nine years, is single.]
"I know stuff," she says to herself while straightening her hair. "I'm not a kid anymore."
"Plus, I was married once," she continues. "I've completed the entire dating process, beginning to end. How hard could it be now? Just like riding a bike, right?"
[Flashback: Time changes. New techniques are born. Nuances develop. Etiquette dries up.]
Later that dark and stormy night, before going to bed, she pulls out her cell phone and Googles: how to tell if a guy likes you.
(Ah, the plot thickens.)
[The morning after.]
While still in her pajamas, said woman sits down at her computer, coffee in-hand.
She settles upon her desired virtual destination and reads aloud the title of a suggested webinar:
"Dater's Anonymous: All I Really Need to Know About Relationships I Learned in This D.I.Y. Workshop".
(D.I.Y. being the acronym for Date It Yourself.)
After clicking on an introductory video, and following a short, catchy jingle, a semi-robotic voice insists upon five "Must-Know", "Definitely-Keep-in-Mind", "Always-Store-In-Your-Pocket" rules single women everywhere are missing out on, but need to be informed of RIGHT NOW (and at the end of the video, with a swipe of a credit card, can order an e-book version that delves into each rule in greater detail):
1. Be yourself, but beware of what you say on a first date. And second date. Maybe even third.
2. Let the guy come to you, but if you make the first move, that's cool.
3. Limit your level of intimacy, unless you're going on a case-by-case scenario.
4. Men wait to call or text for a reason, unless you are reason enough for him to break the 3-day rule.
5. Don't give 100%. Leave room for the relationship to blossom into the metaphorical flower that is is.
The woman sighs, pauses the video, and puts down her mug. She proceeds to the kitchen and begins crafting a cocktail.
The Shattering of Advice
She told me to buck up—
less emotion is actually more,
though I have yet to find evidence of
something less being more
besides perfume, make-up, salt, booze, caffeine…
I see what she’s saying.
Secretly I like it, though:
how I’m more alive today than yesterday,
more open now than I was then.
(It’s hard to get around with all those antlers.)
I told her, thanks, but I’d prefer to feel it all,
even if it breaks my heart.
My next heart will not be made of glass.
Relationship advice available to both men and women out there is plentiful. It's almost overwhelming. It's also confusing and often contradictory.
In his book, Discovering Your Soul Signature: A 33-Day Path to Purpose, Passion and Joy, author Panache Desai reflects upon a time when his father said to him: "I have ever only played the role you asked me to play for you." If that holds true for the rest of us, and each day we are actively choosing the parts of others, in this—our own theatrical life, no wonder we spend so much time 'faking it' ourselves!
Here are some of the most common choices for role-play:
Some might call that a boring performance. I consider it to be the best, most raw, fun type of entertainment: Improv.
It's true many people don't truly know what it means to "be yourself." However, I think that's the point. While we continue to develop relationships with others throughout our lives, most importantly we develop an understanding of ourselves through the process. We emerge more tolerant and empathetic individuals as we grow in and out of the various parts that we naturally play for each other. (Or, at least we should.)
That's not to say you'll never end up playing any of the other stereotypical roles; of course you will! However, when you are ready for some new lines, you will have to learn to write (or draw) them yourself. (Tip: Use your past experiences as a guide!)
Don't want to continue being labeled as too nice?
Find someone nicer.
Don't care for one-night stands?
Stop pretending they're for you.
Have a tendency to fall for the same type of person?
Become aware of your own patterns.
See that you're becoming someone you're not?
Notice who your friends are.
The thing is, we're all pretty much doing the best we can at any given time (unfortunately). Sometimes you find yourself not at all where you want to be. That's okay! It just means you're probably ready to play a new part, and facing the truth (and yourself) is the first step toward positive change in any relationship. Still, understand that it takes time, intent, and a great deal of effort to get to a different place other than where you are right now. Much like a road trip, preparing for the expedition is the hardest part; however, after you begin forming new and better habits, the journey will start to feel less like work and will become more enjoyable, not to mention easier. (Pretty soon you'll be set to self-improvement cruise control!)
There is a prerequisite "catch", though: you do have to want to go on this trip, of course—otherwise you won't get far—and figuring out which direction you're headed is essential. Making a list of your wants, needs and goals (honest ones) before you go will help steer you along. (You can always edit the list.)
When you're finally ready, put on some good music and get going! Just remember to take lots of photos, because once you reach your next destination, you'll be left with only memories of your previous showing. You will always want to remember you've come a long way.
From the words of this week's featured artist, jetpacklove: "Everything you've done started as a thought."