Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

OK Ya’ll,
So I’ve been researching a little bit about the subject of loneliness as of late. Everyone knows that there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely, and while it’s nice to be alone (especially when you have a stage 5 clinger on your hands), it’s not all that fun to be lonely. I know a little about both such feelings, seeing as how I live by myself and have ample time to be alone and sometimes that makes me feel lonely. Sometimes it just makes me thankful that all I have to deal with is two cats and a pile of dishes I don’t have to put in the dishwasher if I don’t want to. Anyhoosle, the more I thought about the topic of loneliness, the more I noticed a pattern of behavior that stems from loneliness in most people. Here’s my take on what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real—real lonely, that is:
1.Unplanned pregnancies skyrocket. Loneliness is simply a feeling of isolation and withdrawal from positive human interaction. And what happens when people who want some interaction don’t get it? They go looking for it at the closest establishment that serves up liquor and loosely moral-ed members of the opposite sex. And what does that lead to? Doing it! Doing it under any circumstances, including without the prerequisite blood test and prophylactic devices! And we all know that the result of such interactions is many times a single mom at the PTA meeting with an embarrassing story to tell when it comes around to signing up for the couple’s retreat. I’m not saying it’s wrong to go out and get you some strange when you feel like it, but for Pete’s sake, make sure you’ve got some form of birth control about you when your wits aren’t.
2.Feelings develop unexpectedly. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it happen—people date someone out of loneliness and nothing better to do and end up mired in a ridiculous situation they would never have gotten into if they hadn’t been so tired of sitting on the couch on a Friday night. Before you convince yourself that Bud ‘just needs some inspiration’ to get a job but is otherwise a great catch despite living in his mother’s basement, try taking a good hard look in the mirror, Sissy. You’re lonely and you’re letting this whole doomed exercise in failure get started because you’re bored. Ask yourself—if I had a whole passel of eligible suitors, would I be looking twice at this dimwit, knuckle-dragging cretin? I doubt it. So get a cat instead—they’re a lot more company, and they don’t ever make you switch the channel to NASCAR when you’re trying to watch an America’s Next Top Model marathon.
3.The plug doesn’t get pulled. I’ve seen this one a lot, too—people let things go on and on and on because they’re afraid of being lonely. So they stay in a galactically stupid dating situation for months, sometimes years, on end. They think that “he/she will come around” or that the person will wake up one day and realize, “hey, I’ve really had an epiphany and I think I’m going to stop sleeping around on you, taking all your money, ignoring your pleas to spend time together, and be an upstanding human being that values your feelings!” Guess what, sweet cheeks? It ain’t happening. Like I always say, GOMO—Get Over it, Move On. There’s nothing left of this relationship but a hollowed out husk of a love story that never should have happened. What’s the worst that can happen? Oh yeah—they get half your stuff and joint custody every other weekend.
4.You show up on an episode of Cheaters. It is possible to be in a relationship and be lonely. Especially if one of the parties is not exactly home all the time or not attentive to the needs of the other. Long distance relationships are breeding grounds for cheating. If you don’t see each other at least once a month, there’s going to be some seriously pent up physical tension going on, and someone’s got to be on the receiving end of it. Let’s face it, you’ve only got two hands, and even that gets boring. So what happens? Sweetykins goes down to the very same establishment we mentioned earlier that serves liquor and loose morals, and comes home 9 months later to tell you something you don’t want to hear. I’m not saying everyone in a long distance relationship that doesn’t see their significant other very often ends up cheating or getting cheated on, but the odds are against you, friend. That said, cheating can occur when both parties are in the same town, in the same house even. If the relationship itself isn’t very solid, if emotional needs aren’t being met, then that can lead to loneliness. And if your honey isn’t getting what they need at home, they can stray. So let’s take a note from that and go home and do something nice for our significant others. Like the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
That’s it for this week! Send me your rants, raves, comments, and questions!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Call of The Wild

OK Ya’ll,
So I was at a party this weekend (I know, I’m a party animal!) chatting with a group of friends and one of the hostesses when the subject of communication came up. The hostess, a lady about my mom’s age, mentioned how she and her husband reconnected and finally married years and years after they had first dated. They had been high school sweethearts, gone their separate ways in college, and then got back together at a high school reunion. The hostess lamented the fact that it took them so long to find one another again, but she also indicated that a lack of communication was partly to blame. She talked about the “old days” when you had to put quarters in a communal pay phone in the dorm hall and had to write letters and postcards to keep in touch. I never had to deal with such arcane communication methods, but I did have a little bit of difficulty even in my college days, what with no cell phone and a dorm phone that didn’t have any calling features. So if a boy I really, really liked decided to call me and my roommate was on the phone, it was sorry Charlie. Line busy, call missed, dating life over. I had an answering machine, but a fat lot of good it did when your housing committee-assigned roommate from overseas answered the phone and took a message that was unintelligible at best because she didn’t speak “southern.” But I digress…
What this conversation sparked in my mind was a little question I have asked myself a few times about communication methods and what they mean. These days we’ve got voicemail, texting, caller ID, email, social networking sites…a veritable cornucopia of ways to stalk, be stalked, and ignore people. There’s a scene in the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” where Drew Barrymore’s character uses every method available to flirt with guys and complains that she’s been dumped through every medium out there, thus making the heartbreak even more painful. Her (ridiculously gay) friends in the office offer her advice, telling her that someone who only talks to her through social networking sites is definitely chasing other tail, etc etc. So that, coupled with the conversation this weekend posits to me the question, what does it mean when someone uses one communication method over another? If someone texts you but doesn’t call you, is it because he/she is not much of a talker but still wants to holla, or is it because they don’t find you chat worthy? If they communicate primarily through a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, are they avoiding more personal, one on one contact or are they publicly declaring their affinity for your every thought? It’s a conundrum that I had to roll around in my head for a bit before I could really make a decision. I thought about what my communication methods mean, and why I choose one over another. For me, the best method is talking on the phone, but sometimes there’s a progression. It could start via facebook comments, to email, to phone. Or it could go from meeting at a party, to exchanging numbers, texting, then calling. But to me, the very end result, the one that says they officially like you and find you worth the time, is the phone call. Here’s what I’ve come up with to explain the other methods:
1. Texting but not calling: I’ve run into this quite a lot over the past couple of years with a few friends and acquaintances. Some people are more textually active than others, and though I resisted at first, I had to add texting to my phone plan eventually so I could keep in touch with certain friends who it seems would only text me, even if I had called them and left a message saying “call me back.” Other friends have become more textual, as have I, and for the most part I find it a handy method for when you don’t have much to say except “I’m on my way” or “good luck today!” or something relatively simple. My old pal Skip (he of mystery girl body language musings) texted me just last night with the question “do you think anyone has had sex in outer space?” These types of texts are ones I can appreciate, and don’t necessarily require a full conversation. My answer, by the way, was “Captain Kirk.” But what about when you meet somebody you like and want to go out with at some point? I think the answer is this: if they, or you, are using text as a primary communication source, it’s a method of protection—they’re feeling you out and deciding if they want to make the step up to calling. It’s a little less awkward to send a text and not get a response than to call someone and have to leave a message when they don’t answer. You never know what to say when leaving a message, and you don’t sound as stupid in writing. There’s a certain amount of nerves that come with a conversation, but texts help bypass that by letting you think about what you’ll say before you text. And honestly, it’s nerve racking to be the first one to call. You don’t want to let go of the security blanket, and you don’t want to cross the line if they’re still unsure.
2. Social networking sites only: This is the coupe de grace of stalking these days. If you can get a friend request accepted by someone on Facebook, you have access to as much personal info, photographic representation, and social circle commentary as you can handle. When someone “friends” you, and proceeds to comment, it’s sort of like saying, “hey, I like what I see and I wanted to say so.” Think about it—how many people do you friend and then never comment or even look at their page? You only comment on those you like, you know, or you want to get to know. Where it gets tricky is when the other party uses the social networking site as the only means of convo. If they email you on Facebook, then you can only email them back on Facebook if you don’t know their real email address, or see it on their page but don’t want to seem like a freak who’s stalking someone on Facebook, right? So it leads to a sort of false sense of insecurity. You both pretend you don’t see their cell number or other communication method staring at you from their Info tab and let it be because you don’t want to be “that guy/girl” who mistakenly thought someone liked you enough to move on from Facebooking to texting/emailing. And you most certainly don’t want to get burned by number three here:
3. Email/text/Facebook with a denied request to move to the call level: This one is the one I can’t stand the most, probably because it has happened to me before and it hurt my feelings. I was on a dating site and met an eligible bachelor that I thought may be a decent candidate for a free dinner. We emailed through the dating site a couple of times and then made the leap to personal email. I thought the progression was going well, and I felt comfortable enough to offer the digits after a few more days of emailing. The expectation was set that a phone call was imminent that weekend. What happened? An email on Monday morning explaining why he had not called over the weekend. Illness or something like that. So I gave it another shot, opening the call window in a subsequent email. And still nothing but emails. And then nothing at all. The way I figure it, he was chasing other tail, and I had taken the step out there for a premature call request. Ouch. So while I am not a fan of texting/emailing/etc. when I think calling ought to happen, I keep texting/emailing/etc. to keep myself from making a fool of myself.
So there it is folks. Let me know your thoughts, rants, raves, and comments!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

OK Ya’ll,
So I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine, we’ll call him “Skip” for now, who is staking out a lady. This lady is a patron of an establishment that Skip frequents (and by “frequents” I mean I think he secretly lives there) and he’s had his eye on this gal for several months (and by “eye on” I mean he tracks her every move like a hound dog in heat). I don’t blame him, she’s a cute girl, and God knows he needs to get himself a woman. Anyhooser, one night last week this covert operation of his came to a head and he actually had a brief, albeit enlightening, conversation with Mystery Girl. I was not present for said interaction, but he did text me to let me know that the jump had been made; I did what any other friend would do and insisted he call me after he left the bar to discuss in detail. I mean, I do write a blog about relationship issues and what have you, so who better to go over the minutiae of even the smallest of conversations with your intended amour? We broke it down like MC Hammer, analyzing the mannerisms, conversation, company kept, and body language. The funny thing about this whole scientific process, beside the fact that Skip and I are both firmly in the 30 and over category but we talked like two 16 year old girls after the school dance, was that he actually noticed things that I did not think men (well, straight men) were too aware of—specifically, the body language angle. Either he’s been stealing his friend’s Cosmo and reading “How To Subconsciously Trap A Dude” articles, or he’s smarter than I give him credit for. I’m voting for the Cosmo, but it still made me curious. As a woman, I read said Cosmo articles and other media regarding the entrapment of hapless gentlemen, and frankly I find it a little elementary; however, there are people who make their living off of reading body language, so I can’t completely discredit their research. These articles always say things like “don’t cross your arms and legs together—it makes you seem closed off” or “brush your neck with your hand and run your fingers down your arms to subtly show him your secret erogenous zones” or something like that. Personally, I don’t think that kind of body language is all that subtle, and I think it ruins the allure of an interaction if you’re constantly repositioning yourself like a GPS in hopes of drawing attention to the inside of your elbows or whatever. To me, body language is something that should be natural and reactive, and I don’t think it’s hard to tell if someone likes you or doesn’t like you without having to maneuver yourself too much.
But I digress, so back to the lecture at hand. Skip said that MG sat down next to him to have a chat and a smoke (insert anti-smoking propaganda here), and the conversation was good, but her body language was awkward. He said that she crossed her leg away from him, which is an indicator of uncertainty, but her upper body was fairly relaxed, which is a sign of comfort. So you can see his confusion—do you go off the convo alone, or is the body language that he’s unnaturally attuned to an indicator of her feigned interest to procure a cigarette? It gave me pause to go through and consider my own body language for a moment, specifically the leg crossing and it’s strength of schedule. In combination with the crossed arms or hands tucked under the legs, it could indicate a couple of things—disinterest, sure, but also perhaps that you should have brought a sweater because it’s a might bit nippy where you are. I cross my arms not so much to close myself off from someone, but because I’d rather them talk to my face and not my glaringly obvious nipples due to the chill in the room. Without the crossed arms, I’m banking that she just has a preference for one leg over the other when it comes to crossing them. The way you clasp your hands is hereditary—right thumb over left, or left over right—so perhaps you have an affinity for one leg crossed over the other for comfort’s sake. I tend to go left over right most of the time, because I’m a lefty all the way and my right side is only here for cosmetic purposes and balance. I asked another girlfriend of mine, and she said she crosses a particular way to make her legs look more comely and appealing. I even paid particular attention to my leg crossing when meeting a new gentleman for the first time, and I noticed that though my legs were crossed away from him, I liked him quite well. So, Skip, in my estimation, man cannot gauge interest from crossed legs alone. If it were me, I’d enjoy the conversation and hope that she runs her fingers down her arm later.