FaceBook Pressure

I have written something similar to this in the past and touched upon the idea in other posts, but as seasonal depression is about to set in for many, I thought I’d bring it up again. If you’re single and in my age-range, in your mid-20’s/30’s, I’d like to remind you that there presently is no pressure to get married and have children. Sure, the occasional relative may make a comment, and you might have a few close friends who are at this place in their life, but it doesn’t mean you’re amongst the last to find someone. It’s nearly entirely FaceBook’s fault to blame for many of us feeling this way. We’ve so quickly accepted FaceBook as a social norm, and become so used to it in such a short period of time, we’ve forgotten what this age would have been like had we grown up without it. We wouldn’t see every update of every moment of every person we’d ever attended elementary school with. We wouldn’t know what our ex, their cousins, and the people we hung out with in high school were up to these days. Of course, you’d get an invitation to a wedding or two of those you’re close to. You’d get a few updates at your high school reunion. You’d hear a mention, in passing here and there, of who’s doing what nowadays. “Did you hear so and so got engaged last fall?” “I ran into so and so. Now they’re working over at that place.” But you wouldn’t know the moment they were engaged, the moment they broke up, the moment they found out their baby’s gender. It gives a feeling no one in our past has felt, of it all happening at once, when we aren’t a part of it and should be. It’s FaceBook that we’re instantly updating and uploading our lives to. FaceBook is instantly broadcasting us to the world and it’s FaceBook that’s instantly supplying us with every detail of everyone we’ve ever met. Some of us may keep a smaller number of friends, but for the most part you have some people added who would’ve been in your past and out of your life by now that you’re still hearing news about.

The feeling that you’re not in competition with just your closest friends (not that you should be competing/comparing yourself to your friends either) and now it’s also everyone you’ve met in your life, adds pressure to the idea that you should be at the same point in your life as “everyone” else. You feel like you need to catch up because the idea that “everyone” is getting married, engaged, or having children except you means there’s something wrong. There isn’t. Statistically, yes, in general this is the age that most people do begin these journeys, but there isn’t any reason to feel like we should all be at the same places in our lives at the same time. We’re stuck in this perception of daily updates on marriages, engagements, and pregnancies, that puts on this illusion of being part of the minority. How often do we let the break-ups we see on FaceBook linger in our minds? It’s the marriages and engagements which are always highlighted. (Unless of course it’s you’re crush who’s newly available again.)

The end all accomplishment in life is not your marriage or children. It’s living your life in the way that makes you the happiest. Though, these things can of course accompany you in that, it does not necessarily mean these are the things that you should be concerned with at this moment. I do not have children and I have never been married, so I cannot fairly tell you about the good or bad aspects of either. But I know from others, and other life experiences, there are stresses and grievances that come with these things as well. Do we not have enough stresses the way our current lives are? Why is it now that we should trade in certain stresses for new ones? We should not be in such a rush to jump on board and rather embrace that time, whenever it is right for us (possibly never, for some who choose it.) We should be busying ourselves with what we most enjoy now, and letting relationships fall into place as they may along the way. How many stand-up comedians knock marriage? We laugh, because it’s usually true. (I recommend watching “Aziz Ansari – Buried Alive” on NetFlix, if you’re into that kind of humor.) How many TV shows and movies are about meeting the person you end up with when you least expect it? It’s a relatable idea. How often do those movies end, leaving us with the impression that the two people lived happily ever after, in marriage? How unrealistic is it to believe the end of what you do with your life is marriage and/or children? Yet many of us are living each day under the impression that it is. How many times in your own life were you just in the right place at the right time for something?

Actively looking for a partner doesn’t mean you need to constantly skim your dating profile and send out messages, or frequent bars to meet someone. It’s not the kind of thing that can be forced. More times than not, it’s when we’re not looking that we meet someone. It’s when we’re going about our lives that someone new comes along and stays in our lives. You can be open to dating, while just being out in the world. We need to let go of the idea that we’re amongst the last to find one person to spend the other 50 or so years of our lives with. Many of us need to shift our focus back to ourselves rather than making a new relationship our biggest priority.

We’re seeing news about our friends, surrounding countries, local communities, and scientific breakthroughs at a rate none of us have ever been accustom to until today. And yes, for the most part these breakthroughs in technology are positive. For the most part, they do benefit us, but we need to also accept that we may not be growing as a society or species, as quickly. We need to think about things a bit more big picture, sometimes. We’re living as if our perception of the world hasn’t been altered at this rapid rate. We’re growing up either born into it (the younger generation), or switching over later in life, and maybe it’s not something all of us were prepared for. The pace of everything has shifted. We expect instant gratification from everything, and we’re becoming impatient. How many of us would use the internet on a 56K modem without something incredible in exchange? How many of us pull our food out of the microwave 15 seconds early? How many of us feel our entire day thrown off track when we miss our train, though the next one is less than 10 minutes away? We’re multitasking, overloading ourselves, and paying less attention to each detail at hand. We’re assuming this overload of thoughts/emotions is natural, when it isn’t.

I’m not saying everything we do should revert back to a slower pace, but the rate at which it’s increased, and volume of what information/every day activities have been affected by our rapid growth of technology is surely something to consider when our brains haven’t had all that much time to adapt. We just need to be aware of it. The moment you may have spent wondering if you’re going to wind up alone because of the comment your aunt made at Thanksgiving would have soon vanished, if it weren’t for FaceBook feeding you updates about everyone else’s accomplishments. They even announce every engagement and marriage on the upper right corner now, as if it wasn’t enough to see it pop up in the news feed. (I’m clicking the “X” next to one on my own at this very moment, actually.) FaceBook also created a “Life Events” timeline which one can simply list and store all of their accomplishments. We can compare ourselves up to the number of graduations, vacations, engagements, and children someone else has had to see how we stack up. Every event big, or small, is recorded and exploited. We’re constantly comparing each other to our friends and every person we’ve ever met. We want to fit in, so we’re constantly continuing this cycle, posting about ourselves, so that others will think we’re just as accomplished as they are.

Do I think FaceBook is some evil that we should stop? No. I think there is still much good it does in connecting people, as long as it’s not abused. As long as it helps you socialize with someone you’d have otherwise lost touch in, in the real world, it’s still a positive tool. I just think that we need to be conscious of it altering our perception of those around us. Most people don’t post about all of the times they were doing absolutely nothing. Most people who post constant updates spend more time on their computer or cellphone than enjoying what they’re actually posting about. For the most part, we see the best of people’s lives collaged in one place, day after day and use it as a reminder to “keep up.” We need to keep at our own paces, and be content with where and who we are. We need to remember life outside of FaceBook.

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Going Forward

We are constantly on a forward path. (Putting theories of the flow of time and quantum physics aside for a moment.) Whether you have faith in a guided/planned path or believe random coincidences are just occurring, the connections between them which lead one event to the next remain undeniable. Do you ever trace them back to each other? How did you get to this very moment, right now? How did you reach this crappy, awful point in time, this incredibly blissful place, or this nothing out of the ordinary period? One event leading to the next and to the next. One meeting of one person pushing you towards another. One idea following action after action. I like the TV show “How I Met Your Mother” for this. You may have your opinion about the characters, or individual episodes, but the underlying idea of the series holds true within everyone’s lives. The real story of how you met someone isn’t “at a party,” “at a bar,” “on a website,” or “on a vacation” –There is an entire background of events leading up to your presence at that party, bar, website, or vacation (etc.) and it probably goes back even further than you ever thought about. Do you ever trace back the large milestones in your life and connect the moments which brought you to that point? Do you ever look back at all the links in-between? You wouldn’t be wherever you are if even one thing was just slightly different in that path you took. To the failed relationships which twisted you in one direction or another. The awful dates which helped you out of a rut you’d have never dreamed was related. I could say one of my first retail jobs caused me to fall in love with someone I wouldn’t meet until 6 years later, but that’s of course only through a long list of events which lead from one to the next, to the next, and so on. It’s the little ties in-between each event that bring you to the next. This relates to things getter better when they’re bad or worse when they’re great. Things are never really bad or good –It’s your particular point of view as they happen which deems them one or another. When awful news strikes of your ex finding someone new, it’s a highpoint in their life. When you get a promotion, it’s a low point for someone else seeking the position. In the bigger picture, events happen. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to bad people. Neither are good or bad, they just are. We label them as we see fit. We label them as we see fit in our lives, in our opinions, from our perspectives, and on our planet. We never question events comparing them to the universe around us, the planets and the stars. (Putting astrology aside if that’s something you believe in.) We sulk when things don’t go well for us, we stress over difficult moments, and we rejoice when we get what we wanted. There is nothing wrong with the emotions, but with pegging them and the events as final settling points. They’re all merely passing moments leading to the next. Marriages, divorces, cities, friends, jobs, break-ups, personal accomplishments, loss, wealth, love, and so on –cannot be thought of say-all end-points.

We are all in a constant state of change. It’s a constant pull of relationships failing, jobs changing, financial situations crumbling or stabilizing, purchases, routes we take home, things we read, and people we interact with at any given moment –All which lead us up to the exact moment we’re in. If the bad days direct you towards the good days, should we still consider them bad days? We are all connected whether we’d like to think of it that way or not. Tiny connections spread out and across vast distances all working together with the slightest of impact on one another, expanding out and out at all times, bringing each other towards each other, pushing each other away, and leading ourselves this way and that. If you believe in fate/destiny then that is the end all workup we’re getting to. If you don’t, then it’s random, but still a point in time with events causing that very moment. All too often we’re focusing on the immediate. All too often we’re holding onto what was when it was amazing, and forgetting what hurt us. It’s never about the lead up. It’s never about the next big thing we can’t yet see. It’s always about what we lost now and not what it means we’re about to find. There is no complete. There is no perfect. There is no settled and done. Everything about our lives is on-going. You never finish. There is no one to race against. You can’t meet someone who has their career, husband/wife, children, car, house, and everything they worked to get, who is finished, completely stable, content, and completed their life. It doesn’t exist because there will always be a change in one of those things. There will always be something else to strive for. There will always be a next thing. The way you perceive a person, is not usually the same way that person perceives their life. There are people that are happy. There are people that don’t want a thing. There are people that are happy with what they have. But not one of them is happy because they’ve completed their life. They have accepted what is. There is always something next. There is always something else, someone else, somewhere else. While alive, there is something else. That’s what life is. It’s the events that keep on coming. The “bad,” the “good,” and everything in-between, they’re just markers, just launch points for what’s next to come. Lives are ever changing and ever connected to the events which unfold within them. Event to event to event to event to an unknown destination and it isn’t about a single one of those events or a single person in them. It’s simply the ride in-between them. We need to stop trying to complete our lives and live them instead. You can’t miss what you’ve lost because it was only an emotion-filled event to get you to the next. There are times it will lack what you want it to and times where you will have everything you want in its’ place. Neither of these periods will be permanent, but they will lead you to who/where/what is next. And half the time it will never be what you’d expect. It’s all about what’s next. It’s all about going forward towards whatever there may be.

“A lot of people seem to have some kind of internal to do list. They have this compelling need to get things done, but it’s hard. When you finish one thing, it usually means it’s time to move onto the next item on the list. The list never quite gets done. We’re forever in a state of unfinished-ness.”
“If you stand too close to a painting, all you see are patches of color, if you stand too far back, you can’t see any of the detail. Right now this is your particular perspective.”
-Television Show: “Dead Like Me”

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
-Helen Keller

There’s Sex & There’s Sex

One question on a dating website asks, “What’s your opinion of the phrase ‘making love’ when it refers to sex? a) It’s beautiful, b) It’s hokey and over sentimental, c) It refers to a very specific kind of sex, d) It’s no better or worse than any other.” On that topic…

Of course on some level whatever vocabulary is used, the act itself basically remains the same, however there is something different about sleeping with someone you’re in a relationship with verses with someone you’re in a “no strings attached” situation with. If you’re not in love, this act is by no means an expression of love you share. While you can “act” or play some things out when you care for someone, there is no way to on demand produce feelings for another you haven’t felt any for. When you deeply care for someone the act itself becomes something with numerous emotions attached. A certain stress of their thoughts and feelings linger above you and your own. Catching a partner’s eye or smile in the middle is an entirely different wordless-conversation than with someone you’re with purely for the action…

If it starts in a dimly lit bedroom, in silence with a lingering look, slowly leaning in for a kiss, with bodies beginning to reach closer, followed by gentle brushes of hair and soft caresses on skin, silent requests with unspoken cues, following clothing gradually vanishing, eyes meeting at moments for an intimate exchange beyond touch and spoken word, and with movements in unison, beginning with acts which only sound poetic and distant from instinctive and primal ritual, it only seems erroneous to identify this as equivalent to what you might experience in other circumstances…

The above can be enjoyable, but compared to alternative situations, cannot possibly be lumped into the same category as shuffling through a crowd, and suddenly stumbling together into a graffiti-covered bathroom, being pushed up and against a wall, and quickly moving to remove articles of each other’s clothing, with hasty requests being spat out, eyes catching just a glimpse of the each other’s bodies, while grabbing hold of hair, with hands rapidly making their way across skin, and kissing like time is about to run out…

When you’re not in bed with someone you care for more than any other friend, a different tone is set. The focus may briefly shift, but the emphasis remains in a more selfish realm. Your concern isn’t necessarily for the other person’s satisfaction, and rather it’s directed towards your own. To be fair, of course one can’t expect to coast along without any effort given. It’s definitely a mutual exchange of satisfying acts, but without true concern for the other at a deeper level, it winds up with each individual seeking their own pleasure, above the satisfaction of the other. While it isn’t a meaningless act, it’s only meaningful to each individual, rather than being an exclusively shared experience. This isn’t to say one may not also find satisfaction themselves when giving pleasure to another. With that in mind, it does of course remain a united experience. Without an emotional bond, you’re free to shift the spotlight to your own needs. In a rush of a loss of inhibition, it can be liberating to let your self-interest exceed the expectation of another. If you ever find yourself in this situation, just remember everything in moderation is best. You will be walking on thin ice if you become too selfish and expect something from another without any type of reciprocation for their contribution. No one should ever “use” someone else, unless both parties are equally “using” each other. (Also see my post “Guidelines Of A Strictly Sexual Relationship” if you ever find yourself in this type of situation.)

(Oh how sexist.)

(Oh how sexist.)

Guidelines Of A Strictly Sexual Relationship

As I wrote “If you’re dating someone wrong for you but the sex is great, stop dating and keep the sex” on my post “Keep It Simple” I thought I’d make a suggested list on keeping a relationship strictly sexual. (Provided someone one day ends up in this position, with this opportunity.) The idea is to make sure neither person winds up attached or feeling as if they’re tied down, so that both can still freely seek and pursue other relationships. I changed this from “Rules” to “Guidelines” because nearly all of these “rules” can be bent or broken (at least once in a while) depending on the specific situation and those involved. Those involved should be able to find a balance between them that works.

-Wear condoms.
(Safety first: Always avoid disease and unwanted pregnancy.)
-Avoid hanging out outside of the bedroom, in the same way you’d hang out with your other friends.
(You probably get along well, but you’re going to feel like you’re dating if there are too many non-sexual meet-ups.)
-Keep it to about once a week, though random late night calls are acceptable -but can be declined.
(If you see each other too often, you risk becoming attached. Too few times and each meeting may feel somewhat awkward.)
-Don’t spend the night.
(Just avoid getting too close and excessively doing anything you’d do in a relationship with another.)
-Get dressed and say goodnight when it’s over.
(If good conversation, cuddling with someone, and kissing goodnight is going to make you fall for them, don’t do it.)
-Limit conversations in-between meeting.
(It’s nice to check-in to be friendly once in a while, but you shouldn’t be talking every day.)
-Get what you want out of it.
(Don’t let the other person be the only one getting something out of the situation.)
-Talk about it and go over the guidelines.
(Make sure you’re both on the same page about the situation and have a mutual agreement. Communication is important for all relationships –even those that are sexual.)
-If you don’t want to be single, continue to search for new potential dates.
(Make sure you stay as active in your search for a relationship as you would outside of seeing this person. Don’t become reliant on your meet-ups.)
-Don’t start a strictly sexual relationship with someone you have romantic feelings for.
(It’s not worth the stress and getting crushed later on. If you start to develop feelings for the person, it’s time to end it.)
-Make the most of it.
(It’s a temporary situation for as long as it lasts, so enjoy it for what it is and don’t let what it isn’t get you down.)
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My Top Turn-Off’s On Guy’s Dating Website Profiles

In no particular order here is what you should NOT have on your dating website profile (in addition to the overly used phrases from my previous post)…

1. Pictures of yourself with someone who a stranger might believe is/was your girlfriend. (Sisters included.)
2. Pictures of yourself with your ex-girlfriend obviously cropped out. (Or covered up with a smiley face/black dot/etc.)
3. Pictures of yourself with your girlfriend. (Why are you on a dating website?)
4. Pictures of yourself without your shirt. (Especially when you’re not on the beach or in a pool.)
5. Excessive typos/Misspelled words.
6. A detailed description of your perfect woman.
7. “Just send me a message if you want to know anything about me.” (Why should I do all of the work? The point of your profile is to give me enough information to decide if I want to send you a message.)
8. Pictures of yourself taken in a mirror, in your bathroom, with your phone in the picture. (Though, I’ll usually let it slide if you have more pictures and your shirt’s on.)
[I will update this list as I think of more…]

Most Frequently Said On Dating Sites

Over the years I’ve skimmed through a great deal of guys’ dating website profiles.
The following is a list of the most frequently written phrases I came across (besides the bit about long walks on the beach…)

1. I’m adventurous and outgoing.
2. I love to travel.
3. I’m tired of the bar scene.
4. I’m down to earth.
5. I’m laid back.
6. It’s hard/weird to write about yourself.
7. I’m not good at writing about myself, just send me a message.
8. The most private thing I’m willing to admit: I’m on a dating website.
[I will update this list when I remember some more of them…]

*Also, when I did a search for straight girls in my age-range I found that many of them mentioned banjos (playing them, wanting to play them, or wanting a guy to play one) and toast (liking it, liking the smell, or disliking the smell.)

So you know, in case you thought you were out there being all unique and original with one of these, now’s your chance to click your “edit profile” button ;-)

Keep It Simple

[I actually wrote this one week ago…]
In a relationship there are things that work for some that don’t for others. I think you should never try to turn something into something it isn’t. Drop what isn’t going to work, fix what can be improved, and just do what does work. If you’re dating someone wrong for you but the sex is great, stop dating and keep the sex. If you’re having an argument with your significant other about something insignificant, compromise. Too much of the time we’re living lives in which we try to make them into something they aren’t. We focus on details that throw us off track in the bigger picture. Sometimes our emotions screw with us and toss us in undesirable directions, but for all of the times in which we have control over, we should experience things for what they are, and keep them in their simplest forms. There is no concrete set of rules in which we can all follow when it comes to dating and in our relationships. They bend and vary as much as our personalities. What works for one couple drives another apart. What makes one person smile upon reading a dating website profile, makes another roll their eyes. Each couple on each date is as unique as the individual people experiencing them. Though, there is not chaos without formal structure or rules. There are agreed upon ways which end up expressed throughout the experience of dating. The problem which I’ve been running into –as most others seem to be as well- is the problem of finding someone who’s ways you can share. To find someone who will match up with you in the ways that work for you. Too much of the time we’re mismatched with each other, yet trying to make it work, and causing the creation of this blog (along with others’ similar ones.) I recently discovered a situation that seems to work well and although it’s temporary I plan on continuing it for the time being. I’m not down about what it isn’t and won’t be, and rather enjoying what it is and that it works. And now continuing to search for someone who I click with in nearly every aspect…
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