Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Psychology of a Breakup (Part 1)

I think the psychology of a breakup is fascinating.

It starts with frustration.  I'm all about giving people chances to change.  I've been told that I'm a little too lenient and patient with girls this aspect.  I won't break up with a girl at the first sign of trouble.  I'll let them know that whatever is going on isn't ok with me (in a very nice, calm way.  Emotional explosions aren't really my thing).  If they're willing to change it, great.  If not, then I bail.  So when they say that they'll change it and then they don't, I end up waiting for something that probably isn't going to happen.

When I finally start to realize that things won't change, I start to pay less attention to the girl.  This isn't out of punishment or anything like that.  I'm a strong believer that it isn't my job to punish people and try to teach them a lesson.  That's what parents and natural consequences (read: Universe) are for.  Me paying less attention to her is just a natural consequence of me realizing that if I keep investing in something that isn't paying out, I'm gonna get a bruised romantic ego.  So I start texting less, talking to her less, touching her less.  Normally, the girl realizes that she has begun to receive less attention and starts to do things that will get attention.  She'll text more, talk more, and touch more.  This re-grabs my attention so I start thinking, "Well there we go.  She's made the change.  All systems go."  Once she realizes that the normal amount of attention has been restored, she goes back to acting like she was before.

So I have to tell myself that this change is likely not going to happen because the conversation took place X amount of days/weeks/months ago and it hasn't happened yet.  When I bring it up, she doesn't say much about it.  That's when I completely withdraw.  It's a pretty noticeable withdrawal and they usually call me on it.  That's when I tell them what's been going on.  They usually say they didn't realize it (which is untrue because I told them several times and was very clear about it).  Then I give them one more chance (after letting them know that this is it).  The change isn't made, so I end up breaking up with them.

I've found that I'm pretty ruthless with my breakups.  I've found that unless I really lay into them, it'll be too easy for me to come back for more.  So I've started making "the conversation" as painful and jarring as possible.  I've only been dumped once (technically I ended it, but it was while she was making out with another guy, so I'm pretty sure I'm the one that got dumped), so I have some experience with it.

My latest breakup took place last Thursday.  My exact words (completely taken out of context) were, "I think I'm done with you.  Goodbye [Girl's Name]."  And that was it.  She kept trying to talk to me, to which I responded with nothing more than "good night."  After a few rounds of her lashing out and me responding with "good night", she said that she really enjoyed getting to know me and all of the stuff that she should have been saying several weeks ago.

Then the psychology of a breakup really starts.

I think to myself, "I'm glad that's over.  Now I'll be able to find someone better for me."

Then I think, "But she was really cute..."

Then I think, "Yeah, but she never really got it"

"But she was pretty funny."

"Yeah, but I never really felt emotionally secure."

"But she was really cute."

It's like a game of emotional ping pong with me playing on both sides.  For some reason, I feel lonely even though things had pretty much phased out by the end.  Her and I spent maybe an hour a week with each other at the end.  This breakup really doesn't alter my normal schedule at all and I'm just as lonely now as I was before.  But I feel more lonely now.  It doesn't make sense, but so goes the psychology of a breakup.

As stated above, I've learned that harsh breakups are the way to go.  When they ask, "Can we still be friends?" I'm pretty sure I'm the only person out there that responds with a straight, "No."  Most other people say yes, but know in the back of their mind that it won't really work like that.  Not me.  "Why can't we just be friends?"  "Because I don't need more friends.  I have plenty of those and I don't really have a tough time finding more if I want more.  I want a girlfriend.  Not just another friend.  If you fail at one, you don't get to be the other."

Then I feel bad.  I think to myself, "I should do something nice for her - something slightly more than friendly so that she keeps that hope in her mind.  If we're "good" friends, I can still keep her in a position so that if I feel like I want to, I'll be able to quickly patch things up and go back to having a girlfriend."  Then I realize that's a bad idea and I have to force myself to remember why I broke things off in the first place.

So that brings us to right now.  My past tactic has been to completely delete the person from my life -- their phone number, their Facebook, pictures, notes, texts, anything.  I haven't been able to bring myself to do that this time.  I "hid" her status updates on my Facebook so that nothing by or about her will show up on my wall, but that's all I've been able to accomplish (and I still check anyway).  It'll come.  I just have to go through the emotional withdrawal that happens when a person severs a tie with another person.

So I end up making a list.  I literally have a folder on my computer labeled "breakup reasons" and each file in there is a girl's name.  The files have lists of things that they did that I didn't like, or things that I expected out of them that they didn't do.  In my opinion, all of the things listed are very reasonable.  I don't expect anything out of a girl that I wouldn't be willing to do myself (except gender-specific things).  I'll highlight some of them for you to give you an idea (these aren't necessarily from the just-ended relationship):

NOTE:  After writing this, I realize that I shift back and forth in tenses and addressing a girl in the third person with "her" and "she and in the second person with "you".  Basically, assume that when I say "you" I'm referring to a girl that would like to date me.

"She was fine with mediocrity" which means that she didn't have any desires to push me to become a better person.  I think that's important in a relationship - that you love each other, but understand that things can be improved on and encourage each other to improve.  If I don't like who I am when I'm around you, that's a problem.

I expect to score pretty high on the priorities list.  I expect to see a girlfriend every day for at least a couple of minutes.  I expect her to put effort into seeing me even if it's not totally convenient for her (I'll do the same).  If that can't be achieved, I expect some kind of mutual lament over it.

I expect to be invited along to things.  If you're going to see a movie or a play or whatever with friends (not as a girls only thing), I expect to be invited along (even if you know I'll say no or won't like it -- it's the thought that I'm looking for ).  I understand that couples don't always want to be around each other and that's fine.  But I'm not talking exceptions - I'm talking about what should be normal.

I expect to be chosen over friends.  Not every time.  I understand that a person needs to spend time with their friends.  You're allowed to have "girl's night" or whatever, but not every single night.  The question, "Why should I have to pick you over my friends" shouldn't be a difficult one to answer.  You're attracted to me.  Not your friends.

I don't do well without a nearly constant stream of affirmation and affection.  This one is a learned behavior and one that I would very much like to correct but haven't yet.  I basically need to know that you find me attractive and I need to be told/shown that a lot.  This one is actually kind of hard to meet, so I'm pretty lenient on it.  Just know that if you date me, if you want me to emotionally connect early or find out what makes me tick or hear stories from my past or anything like that, this definitely speeds things up.  Touch me, give me compliments (as simple as "I like that"), stare at me like you think I'm really attractive, etc.  Basically, this one is cruise control to love.

If I do something, I expect the girl to respond to it.  If I hold her hand, I expect her to hold it back rather than just let her hand be held limply.  If I put my arm around her, I expect her to lean into me (i.e. cuddle).  If I say that I miss you, I really want (but don't necessarily expect) it to be said back.  If I kiss her on the cheek (or lips or whatever), I expect a smile or a kiss back.  I'm willing to make 2/3 of the moves.  If you don't meet that 1/3, things aren't going to last long.

I expect that when I invite you over, you don't ask "why" or "what would we do"  I just want to be around you.  We don't need to do anything or even interact.  When you ask "what would we do," that tells me that you are more interested in the activity than in me.  That's bad and I'll often give up even if you did want to come over and just wanted to know what we were gonna do.  "Yes" before "What."  "Sure, what are we gonna do" is probably the best response.

When I call you and ask you on a date, I expect a "yes" and not "what would we do?"  This is like the point made above.

I expect to have alone time with you.  I don't want to always be with you around your friends.  People are very different in social settings vs. when they're alone.  Alone time doesn't mean makeout time.

I expect makeout time and I expect you to initiate it sometimes.

I expect some kind of response when I say something.  If we're talking about problems and I say that something bothers me, don't respond with an "okay..."  If I say that I care about you, don't respond with saying and doing nothing.

I expect you to remain calm in situations where we're talking about problems.  It's not "fighting" when we talk about things that can be improved upon.  There's no reason to have a hostile tone of voice or to ask me "what the hell has been up with you recently" or things like that.  Communication is a big thing for me, so expect it a lot.

I expect you to be aware of the things I do for you.  When you notice that I've done something just for you, acknowledge it with a "thank you" or a smile.  When I do something and ask you if you noticed, a blank stare or a "whaaaatt?" are probably the worst things you can possibly do.

This list is pretty much all-inclusive.  If you do these things, I'll be a happy camper.  I don't expect them all at once because relationships are a process.  If any of these are unreasonable, let me know.  Leave a comment or whatever along with the reason.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Accidental Discovery

I find people to be infinitely interesting.  Not people in general.  I'm talking about individuals; the way they think, the habits they have, everything.  It's all fascinating for me.

There is a girl I know (not Sarah, for those of you wondering... that wasn't going anywhere).  This girl is very attractive (she scores about an 8 on the scale).  When I first met this girl, I was extremely impressed with how smart she was, how socially aware she was, pretty much everything.  I was already planning on how I was going to ask her out.  I remember asking some of my friends about her and they all had the exact same thing to say: "She's crazy."

Now, I'm not one to trust the specific judgement of other people.  I just like hearing if someone likes her or not.  I don't care what they say beyond that.  I find that when lots of people like a person, that's a good sign.  When lots of people don't like a person, that's a bad sign.  I want to end up with someone likable.  So while I understand that there is far more to a person than what other people think, knowing if other people like her is a good indicator.

So I started talking to her in the library.  All was going well.  I was flirting.  She was flirting back.  She seemed perfectly normal in terms of sanity.  She was intelligent.  Conversations would go to interesting places and always had a witty, clever subtext.  I was confused why anyone would think she was crazy.

Then it was like a pillowcase of bricks to the balls.  Floodgates of liquid crazy.  She suddenly became the most childish and obnoxious person I'd ever met in my entire life.  She'd start to do and say things that were completely stupid.  She literally turned into a 13-year-old girl (and by "literally" I mean "figuratively" - we seem to be twisting what "literally" means in English lately).  I couldn't stand to be around her.  I decided to avoid her for a while.  She'd still appear and do things like say "libary" and want to play Clue at weird times.  Then she'd tell me to die a slow painful death, go running down the hall, stop and play with some lint, then come running back to show me a booger.

Then, out of nowhere, she was nice and charming and intelligent again.  This pattern continued for several months, so I decided to take note of when she was charming and when she was crazy.  As it turns out, she is charming for one week in a month (the second week, in case you're wondering), and crazy for three.  A girl acts differently for one week out of the month...  I feel as though I've accidently stumbled onto something far more creepy than originally intended.  Did you see that episode of Community where Abed figures out all the women's menstrual cycles by accident?  I think I did exactly that with this girl.

My hypothesis has yet to be proven.  This is something that has been a charted pattern for 2 months, but I started noticing a month before I started keeping track (so there's not enough data).  We'll see when I get back to school after Christmas break.

This post became something entirely different from what I first set out to write about.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Something Deep and Meaningful

I feel like it's time for me to write about something deep and meaningful that will benefit mankind.

Something Deep and Meaningful

Urinal Etiquette is something that is instinctually engrained in a man's being.  When presented with a "urinal puzzle", a guy will invariably pick the correct urinal every single time.  It doesn't matter if it's a 4-year-old or an eighty-year-old blind guy.  They'll have a 100% chance of success.  Unless they purposefully try to throw off the balance of the universe.  Even still, they know what is right and wrong and choose to ignore it (which is a sin).

If you walk into a bathroom and there are four urinals along the right wall which we will also say is the same wall where the sinks are located (urinal #1 being the one closest to the sinks and #4 being furthest, close to the back wall), the first guy in there will pick urinal #2.  The second guy in there will pick urinal #4.  The third guy in there will pick urinal #3.  The fourth guy will pick urinal #1.

Why?  I don't know.  Social convention?  Dude protocol?  I don't know.  That's just the way it goes.  It's good manners.  Why don't you put your elbows on the table?  You don't know.  That's just good manners.  If you violate the basics of urinal etiquette, you throw off the entire balance of the bathroom and people become frustrated and upset but can't understand why.  It's the unfortunate truth that females most likely don't (and probably refuse to) understand.

There are a few types of urinal and urinal setups, and it gets a little complex.  There are some with dividers and some without.  There are urinals that go all the way down to the ground (and it feels like you're peeing on a waterfall) and there are some that are so high that you have to stand on your toes a little to reach.  There are some that are right up against the wall and some that protrude out and look like a regular toilet, but much much higher and lacking a seat.

I immediately give up and walk out if there is a combination of no dividers, high up, and protruding.  It's just asking for embarrassment in an already exposed situation.

When there is one with a divider, you are free to let your eyes wander a little bit.  You can stare down, look at the dude next to you (brief eye contact, only! be sure to nod slightly as you look away), look at the ceiling, or read the pleasant literature that is often inscribed on the side of the divider.  I've learned many-a-thing by perusing bathroom literature.  For example, there is someone out there that has difficulty spelling and likes to do disgusting things to my mom.  Also, apparently there's someone out there that thinks the previously mentioned individual sucks.  The secrets of the universe are right next to us and we often ignore them.

This is an important point that all men need to focus on - reduce splashback.  Peeing directly into the water in the urinal often has reverse-from-desired consequences and you get some water splashed back on yourself (hence "splashback).  That's gross.  To avoid this, men aim slightly higher than the water.

Be sure to lift your shirt high enough.  Every guy has a story where he accidently peed on his own shirt in a public restroom.  Don't be that guy.  Don't lift it too high, though.  Just below the belly button is the safe zone.

This should go without saying, but I've seen a few men violate this rule:  You don't peek over the divider.  It may be strangely tempting, but it's terrible and disturbing and you will forever be branded as disgusting and you will immediately have your Man Club membership revoked.  You don't even get a strike on your record.  We just take it from you.

If there are no dividers, you keep your eyes straight down like you're staring at a car wreck that you just can't take your eyes off of.  I, personally, look at the water in the urinal.  It may be tempting to look at how the other guy is doing, but then you are basically shunned for the rest of your short visit in the bathroom (and you don't want that).  For some reason, every guy feels the urge.

For me, it's not a desire to see another man's junk.  I'm just the kind of person that likes to watch people do stuff.  I like to sit in parks and watch them go for walks or play.  When I'm eating dinner, I like to watch other people eat.  When I watch a movie, I'm far more interested in people's reactions to the movie than in the movie itself.

This natural urge to observe carries over into the bathroom and I have to actively restrain myself from accidently ogling a dude's equipment.  It's not homosexual.  It's curious.  But not bi-curious.  Just regular-curious.

Nine out of ten guys agree that if you step up to a urinal next to a guy that's already using the one next to yours (read: peeing) and you finish before he does, you feel like less of a man.  I don't know why.  Of all the things to be competitive about, why does bladder size and the ability to empty it slower than the other guy rise to the top of the list?  Eighth wonder of the world.

Most men rarely wash their hands upon exiting a bathroom.  We don't have much reason to.  We don't exactly need to touch ourselves to get the deed done.  It's not like an unattended fire hose that goes flipping and flapping and spraying about willy-nilly.  Everything is very clean and very efficient, so the washing of hands is merely a social convention that men only do halfheartedly.  There are really only a couple reasons for washing your hands.

One is if you have a legitimate reason for washing your hands - like you just ate some ribs or something and your hands are kind of sticky.  Probably the biggest reason, though, is to avoid judgement of the other men in the bathroom that are waiting for an open urinal.  But washing your hands just because you peed is something most men skip.

If a dude appears to be one a date, he'll splash some cold water on his hands and quickly do a poor job of drying them off with a paper towel, then make it a point to leave the bathroom while wiping his hands on his jeans to give the impression to his waiting date that he has just washed his hands, but the paper towels in the bathroom weren't adequate enough to dry his super clean hands.  Then later in the date, he tries to hold her hand with his secretly unwashed hand.  You may think it's lying and kind of gross, but so is makeup.

Occasionally there is the drunk guy in the bathroom.  This is always the highlight of the bathroom experience.  The drunk guy is the one that steps up to the urinal and completely drops his pants and underwear to the floor, exposing everything from the shirt down.  He's usually very hairy and kind of fat.

He then puts his entire body weight against the wall with one hand and uses the other hand to "direct himself."  During this disturbing display of ok-edness with his unflattering body, he moans and groans like he is having the most pleasant experience of his entire life.  His head thrashes about and he closes his eyes to make it all more dramatic than it really is.  During this animalistic display of idiocy, all the other men in the bathroom look at each other and try to keep from busting up laughing.  It's like we're all in on a joke that the drunk guy isn't.  Invariably, when the drunk guy stumbles out of the bathroom, someone will say "I'll have what he's having" and then we all laugh.

There are other things but that basically sums it up.