When you yell your self-justification at me, I’m obviously going to ask why

Today on my lunch break I settled down onto Facebook to enjoy reading the notifications I had received.  One was from my mother wishing me a happy new year with a lovely montage of Ron Swanson greatness.  Another was from my brother’s boyfriend recommending an awesome sounding wedding band the two of them had danced to a week or so prior.  The latter notification came to me, you see, because I am currently engaged to be married.

After enjoying these tidbits of communication from people I care about, I noticed a link on my newsfeed posted by a friend of mine from high school.  The blog post entitled 23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re twenty three was written by a MISS (and don’t you fucking forget it) Vanessa Elizabeth on the blog Wander Onwards.

Vanessa states in the blog post itself that she would be confused if she didn’t receive some kind of online backlash for her opinions… since I’d hate for her to be more confused than she already seems to be about things like diversity of human motivations, I’ve taken it upon myself to respond to her belligerence as articulately as I can.

Allow me to preface by saying I didn’t get engaged BEFORE I was 23, so maybe I have no business commenting, but AT 23 feels pretty relevant seeing as it’s the number she’s pointed out, and regardless, my fiancé proposed before his 22nd birthday.  I’ll also add the disclaimer right now that I’m not here to justify myself in my fiance’s and my choice to get married.  Those who know us don’t seem to need such things, so I don’t feel that hoards of internet anons do either.

It’s not so much that Vanessa’s rant frustrates me because it hits close to home (though targeting one specific group of people and shitting on their choices is probably what makes THIS member of the group choose to write about it).  It’s the depressingly loud, in your face way this one young woman is willing to scream to the world that she knows everything, she is right, and anyone who does anything differently from her is an idiot destined for unhappiness.  And perhaps it’s the fact that her popular blog post is just the most overtly rageful of hundreds of sources ofinternet anger from single women to their engaged and married counterparts.

I’m not saying the pendulum doesn’t swing the other way.  Tons of messages in our society condemn single and childfree women for being somehow inadequate.  That’s not cool.  If our culture didn’t preach such shame to unmarried women (regardless of whether they are single by choice or not), I highly doubt Vanessa would have anything to say on the subject.  The fact that she feels a need to rally and remind her readers that she and they are not freaks for being unattached, speaks to an unfortunate cultural attitude that reinforces the opposite.

But using the logic “I’m not the freak; YOU are,” is tastelessly ignorant, rudely inflammatory, and unnecessarily hurtful to those she’s pointing her finger toward.  “Anybody engaged before 23” is a hell of a broad brush stroke, particularly as she prefers to define the group she condemns based on grossly prejudicial stereotypes.  She writes:

“I have begun to notice a common thread amongst all these young unions: inexperience.  Inexperience with dating, traveling, risks, higher education, career direction, SEX, solitude, religious exploration, etc… and it’s insane that I have already experienced more of the world in the last 22 years than my married peers will ever experience in their life.”

I’ll grant us all a level of assumed intelligence and say we’re all decent at pattern recognition.  We all kinda suspect that when two young religious high school sweethearts tie the knot at 21, it has something to do with humping and bible-thumping.

Inexperience, though, is a basic requirement of being young.  You’re right V, the younger you are when you do anything, the less life experience you’ve got to your name.  But who made you the authority on what types of experiences qualify as valid precursors to marriage (or anything for that matter)?  While you are busy gaining life experience celebrating Chinese new year in the Philippines, your 22 year old classmate might be busy gaining life experience watching her mother die of breast cancer.  Maybe another is busy leading a church group.  Maybe another is having an orgy in Sweden.  Maybe another is falling in love.  Maybe another is having her heart broken.

And just WHEN does one have enough experience to make the choice about who (if anyone) they commit to being with for life?  You have clearly deemed 22 an inadequate age for everyone, but presumably 90 year olds still have far more experience than 40 year olds.  When does someone’s inexperience (since we’ll never escape such a thing… it’s impossible to experience everything in life) cease to be a problem in this decision making process?

Probably the most despicable part of Vanessa’s post, primarily because it comes so, so close to self-awareness before immediately diving into the depths of blind spite is the following:

“What inspired me to scribble down my feelings (so many feelings!) is The Facebook.  I’m seeing all of these notifications that “X and Y” have joined in matrimony and instantly, these waves of anxiety start to flow over me.  Should I be thinking about marriage? I’ve never even had a serious boy friend? Is there something wrong with me? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME AND WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT IT FOR ALL THESE YEARS!?

But then I look at my life, my relationships, and my future… and I realize that, I’m fucking awesome.  It literally isn’t me, it’s them.”

On my first read, I actually thought this was where V was going to get slightly high minded.  You’re right Vanessa, your friends engagements have NOTHING to do with you, and your life, and your choices!  When two people decide to get married, sometimes it ISN’T for the stupid petty reasons YOU see (quote: “It’s cold outside… you want to cuddle and talk about your feelings… life after graduation is a tough transition… so why not just cut to the chase and get married, right?  It’s hip. It’s cool.”).  Sometimes people get married young because the experiences they’ve had (WHICH ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM YOURS!) lead them to believe it is the best decision for what they want to do with the time in their future.

Alas, no.  This was where Vanessa dissolves into her tirade about how peoples’ engagements are about them and THEIR PROBLEMS.  Because it would be preposterous to suppose that anyone getting engaged at an age before Vanessa is ready is ANYTHING BUT A PROBLEM.

Because guys did you know that the divorce statistic is high?  DID YOU?!

Part of me has to wonder what offends women like Vanessa so much about other peoples’ potential to divorce.  Is she really so worried about the sanctity of the institution of marriage for her children’s sake that she would hate to see the divorces of others serve as an example?  Why is it that she’s directing her anger at those forming marriages instead of those dissolving theirs?  Why does it matter if your facebook friend DOES get divorced in her first year of marriage?  How does anybody else’s choice to marry or divorce affect your life in any way?  The lack of an answer to this question is part of the argument we proponents of marriage equality often like to use, but apparently it’s not marriage equality Vanessa wants to see, it’s marriage only as it seems fit to lifestyle choices Vanessa likes.

For how much I would love to see a world where nobody is winning for getting a ring and nobody is losing for being on their own, it’s a serious shame that so many folks are dead set on asserting their own superiority.  It’s sadder still that the superiority Vanessa is busy professing rests not on the genuine awesomeness of her experiences abroad, but on the jealous schadenfreude of her friends’ suspected marital failure.

Why does Vanessa find young marriages to be bad?  Because they will probably fail.  Or they will probably be boring.  Or they will probably be awful and stupid and terrible.

But what about those few young marriages that are none of the above?   If Steve and I don’t divorce and I don’t get “knocked up and fat” soon (V’s words not mine) doesn’t that still mean Vanessa believes I won this arbitrary game?  Despite its slim odds of existing, by Vanessa’s logic, it sound like a successful young marriage is still her idea of winning.  Sure, she’s happy that she’s getting a rockin’ consolation prize while all the other non-winners sit in delusion, waiting for their inevitable fall from the top, but isn’t she still arguing that the genuinely happy young married couple has what she actually wants (even if she believes that couple to be nonexistent)?  Frankly, it’s hard not to read the post as a depressing barrel of the sourest grapes.

Jealous rants about one’s own superiority only reinforce the destructive cultural idea that what’s right for one person is right for everyone.  I don’t know Vanessa at all and so I truly can’t say whether or not she wants to be married.  Her jet-setting life abroad sounds pretty kick ass to me, and it’s likely made serious relationships a bit of a challenge.  There are absolutely zero problems with that as far as I’m concerned, but Vanessa’s choice to belligerently rant her self-justifications does make me wonder what Vanessa herself sees as wrong with her life.

There will always be shortcomings to our circumstances.  Nothing is truly perfect.  Vanessa may not be getting married, but I’m sure not jet-setting abroad on her incredibly cool travels.  When friends of mine from school post photos from their travels around the world part of me sighs with envy.  But I quickly remember that I am where I am because I get to spend every day with Steve, the greatest person I have ever met.  Both Vanessa and I are consoling ourselves about the things we lack with the wonderful reminders of things we have.

Do I think my circumstances are wildly superior to Vanessa’s?  If I’m honest, hell yes.  I get to travel the world with my best friend on earth (our honeymoon in Greece has me pooping my pants a little).  When I think about tomorrow, it feels a little more certain that tomorrow will rock because Steve’s still gonna be there.  But angrily putting Vanessa down for her choices would be ridiculous.  There are no winners and losers in life and I’m incredibly glad there are people like her who have the courage to say “I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna go!”  But I must admit I’m also disappointed people like Vanessa exist because it’s horribly small and destructive to rally the blogosphere with such a bitter and angry message of disdain for those who make different choices.

You said it yourself V, our parents “were raised with a completely different set of values, priorities.”  Why then, is it such a foreign concept that your peers might have been too?  Has jumping on a plane been tempting as hell?  Oh yes, and the money was there.  But my family, my friends, and my significant other all are more valuable to me than a single spontaneous opportunity for adventure, so I decided not to do it.  You decided differently, which I suspect means our values aren’t equally aligned.  That’s ok isn’t it?  Right?

Oh sorry, guess not.

I wish you the best, girl, you’ve clearly got the chops to have one hell of a life.  Maybe eventually your adventures will teach you that other peoples’ choices aren’t worse than your own.  They are different because the people who make them are different.  And if you don’t want your future marriage to fail you might want to stop complaining so much about that.  It’s a pretty childish thing to do.

source link: http://wanderonwards.com/2013/12/30/23-things-to-do-instead-of-getting-engaged-before-youre-23/

the lottery of birth

yesterday was my office’s holiday party, which means i needed to evacuate my work station (because they turn it into a bar) by 2 pm yesterday afternoon.  with a couple extra hours to myself yesterday i decided to watch the documentary the lottery of birth on amazon instant video.

 

let me just say, if you have amazon prime (and, honestly, you probably need a healthy amount of spiritual open-mindedness too; this is not a film for those who don’t care to question faith) i would highly recommend jumping on instant view and watching this movie.

 

it has its drawbacks.  for one, reducing human experience to a deterministic state makes the appeal to anti-capitalism a bit misplaced and illogical to me.  secondly, the film appears to be framed from an overly journalistic perspective; not everyone has as obvious of a moral impact professionally as a reporter.  regardless, the film is incredibly articulate about some things most human beings never consider in their entire lives.  if you possess an inner philosopher, or if you simply enjoy letting the world shake you with eye-opening ideas, the lottery of birth should not be missed.

 

watch the trailer here.

is helicopter parenting really “too helpful?”

The latest trend in millennial trend pieces is the topic very close to my heart.  Everyone’s asking:  Why are our young millennial babes so stressed out?  Our poor children of the 80’s and 90’s are self-destructing in mental illness balls of fire.  What gives?

Recently, social science has come to the rescue:  Sad millennials are sad because baby boomers were too nice to them.  Baby boomers are TOO good, TOO caring, TOO generous.  Millennials have no practice dealing with struggle because we’ve paved too easy a path for them.  How can we expect one to find himself a job if his mother wrote his college essays and got all of his professors to give him A’s?

Brooke Donatone writes for Slate, “If parents are navigating every minor situation for their kids, kids never learn to deal with conflict on their own. Helicopter parenting has caused these kids to crash land.”

While I think social science is onto something with this line of thinking, I can’t help but cringe at the way Donatone is selling this idea.  Understandably, the main audience for millennial trend pieces is probably baby boomers (darn them they just care so much about those little over-grown cherubs of theirs) so I can see why the too-saintly-boomer spin is there.  All things considered, however, Donatone is a psychotherapist, so I sincerely hope her thinking isn’t as one dimensional as her article suggests.  The theme of her article is the same as pretty much all the trend pieces, “millennials have unreasonable expectations.”

But where do these expectations come from?

While a couple of the articles DO point out that helicopter parenting can undermine children’s confidence (if Johnny is capable of an A on his own, why did his mom have to call the teacher?), i think the issue goes further than this.  Donatone is arguing that the over-coddling baby boomers have constructed unreasonable expectations by over-accommodating their millennial kids.  But what drives a parent to do this?

Are baby boomers really so unreasonably altruistic?  Is it really the pain of seeing that cute millennial face all screwed up in tears that makes a parent crazy enough to write their child’s college essays?  Or is it, dare I say, a sense of entitlement?  A sense of feeling entitled to the child they wish they had, even when the child cannot or will not perform up to standards?  Unreasonable expectations that THEIR child is the exception?  THEIR child is better than the rules?

One of the reasons journalists like to talk about millennials who bring their parents to job interviews is because it is shocking, ridiculous, and still reasonably uncommon.  If this really was the new normal nobody would read about it.  We point it out to establish the insanity of our situation today.

We shouldn’t HAVE to tell parents it is unwise to go to your child’s job interview, but it has started happening.  Meanwhile everyone else is left to pat themselves on the back for being very hands-off if they do less than attend an interview.  What I have failed to see addressed in any article on millennial anxiety or depression is what motivates parents to behave this way.  We keep lambasting the millennials for their unreasonable expectations, but if those are the yield of far over-reaching parental involvement, why aren’t we exploring what makes parents feel the need to bunk accepted social norms like “don’t go to your kid’s job interview,” and “let your kid fail?”

Millennials aren’t crumbling under the stress of facing reality.  Well, some probably are, but the ones deeply crippled by depression and anxiety likely have something more going on:  a lifetime of shame from secretly knowing the truth that their parents refused to accept.  We cannot deliver on what is expected of us, our imperfections are here; it is our destiny to disappoint.  When Johnny’s mom calls the teacher to get him an A, it’s not that it undermines his confidence in his ability to get A’s on his own, it’s that it informs Johnny that anything less than an A is an unacceptable standard of achievement, even if Johnny’s abilities are, at best, B-level.

It is not failure that is so hard on millennials.  For god’s sake everyone’s living in their parents’ house post-college, isn’t that like movie-trope level failure?  No, it’s the inescapable shame that overwhelms a person when they are led to believe they have no RIGHT to fail.  Millennials aren’t all floundering in their millions of career options (haaaaaa) out of “fear of missing out,” many are hibernating in terror of swinging and missing ONCE.  When a person’s entire identity is attached to the message “you’re better than that” the last thing they want to do is reveal to the world that they aren’t.  But nobody is better than failure, and though we preach the adorable mantra “nobody’s perfect” early on, we use it as a message to excuse small mistakes, not as a lesson that we all have the right, or even the duty, to try and to fail at things.

Our culture is sick with the idea that success and failure are a dichotomy; success is good, failure is bad.  If you don’t succeed you fail and succeeding is better than failing.  In reality, however, success and failure are two sides of the same coin.  They are ALWAYS the two possible outcomes of attempting anything.  Sometimes we succeed from luck, sometimes we succeed from hard work, sometimes we fail despite our great efforts, sometimes we fail because our efforts were poor.  Regardless, everyone in our society across generations is poisoned by the concept that failure is for lesser people.

We have formed a generation of terrified children, safe from the monster of failure so long as they don’t actually DO anything until it’s too late to attempt the alternatives.  If we wait long enough until there is only one course of action left before us, our potential to fail will not be our fault.  We can continue to fool everyone around us into thinking we’re better than failure, all the while growing the shame within as we over-romanticize the potential of the possibilities we passed up long ago.

Is it any surprise millennials are praised for their results oriented work attitude?

Is it any surprise fear of divorce has pushed marriage trends to “delayed and decreasing”?

Our generation was raised on high expectations and no doubt those expectations have pushed many millennials to achieve great things.  Unfortunately, many of the ones who haven’t done so yet seem held back by the following life lesson:  “don’t play the game unless you know you can win.”

But life isn’t a game.  There aren’t really winners and there aren’t really losers.  Certain things in life tend to feel better than others; having a home, having an income, and indeed trying and succeeding at something, all tend to feel better than their alternatives.  But the homeless aren’t inherently lesser people, the jobless aren’t evil, and those of who try at things and do not succeed are not stupider, weaker, or less capable than they were before they made their unsuccessful attempts.

Our culture’s “YOU CAN DO IT” attitude is a dangerous one.  Culturally, we assume everyone ought be capable of anything, and we assume failure to deliver on those capabilities is akin to personal short-coming.  Our rigidly, unrealistically high expectations of one another’s abilities are damaging the lives of millions of people.

Where is there room for compassion in a world where we hold one another to standards of omnipotence?  When we feel held to unrealistically high expectations, we assume it is likely that our healthy, inevitable failure will be met with criticism, judgment, and recommendations to try harder next time.

When have we tried hard enough?  When is failure ineffable?  When are we allowed to be enough instead of more?

The answers are different for everyone, but our culture’s loud universal response of “never,” is taking its toll indeed.  Perhaps it’s time we stopped saying “You can do it,” and started saying “You should see if you can.”

Encouragement is a cornerstone of developmental well-being.  Scolding baby boomers for caring too much about their kids neither addresses the issue of millennial stress effectively, nor teaches good lessons to future parents.  The very idea of “helping too much” suggests we need help if we are normal.  “Helping” your child out of the effects of their actions is not “shielding them from dealing with conflict” it is SEVERELY disrupting their ability to form an identity beyond their accomplishments or lack thereof.

the atlantic thinks it is groundbreaking news that normal people “fantasize” about the death of their spouse.

A not-very-groundbreaking observation on this article:

Worrying and fantasizing are two sides of the same coin.  People imagine a hypothetical scenario and imaginatively insert themselves into it, attempting to predict how they might behave given the parameters of the scenarios they hypothesize.

read: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/the-truth-of-this-is-40-its-actually-not-weird-to-want-your-spouse-to-die/266479/

The Big Ten Dysfunctional Family Tree

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The University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is the cold, patriarchal Grandfather.  He is withholding of affection, but generous with monetary gifts at appropriate holidays.  He is semi-estranged from members of the family of whom he disapproves, though he occasionally sends money to a few of them.  He is a retired lawyer who is inflexible and overly-demanding of respect for his large, but outdated accomplishments.  His favorite activites include shutting down conversations and talking about the good old days.  He votes democrat, but after one too many old-fashioned, is known to make racial slurs, which the rest of the family ignores.

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Michigan State University

MSU is the alcoholic uncle who is always asking Grandpa for money.  He thinks he is accomplished because he bagged a Russian trophy wife and because he is usually too drunk to notice that nobody takes him seriously.

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Indiana University

Indiana University is the super-religious cousin.  He is extremely nice to everyone, which makes it all the more awkward when he suggests the family say grace while everyone is digging into dinner.  He is in a loveless, sexless marriage with his wife Notre Dame, who is twice as smart as him, but oppressed by her rigid catholic upbringing.  They have seventeen children and she is cheating on him with Penn State.

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Penn State

Penn State is the unfathomably good looking cousin.  He is barely literate, but holds down a decent sales job thanks to his Aryan beauty and perfect orthodontia.   He is a functioning alcoholic and serial womanizer.  He is currently sleeping with Notre Dame and three of his coworkers.  He has two illegitimate children and three venereal diseases, none of which he knows about.

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 The University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin is the youngest child who can usually be found pouring Jager bombs, or rolling a joint at family functions.  He is an irritating smart ass whose favorite activity is provoking conflict among other members of the family.  He still thinks he is going to become a marine biologist and has done a brief stint in rehab.

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Purdue University

Purdue is the forgotten middle child.  His responsible, middle class lifestyle is typically looked down upon by other members of his family.  His wife is a nurse, his two kids are averagely talented, and they just made the final payment on their three bedroom suburban home.  Contact with his family usually throws Purdue into a mild depression.  All he really wants out of life is to own a Camaro.

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Northwestern University

Northwestern, the first born, is an urban yuppie who never attends family functions.  He owns an over-priced hybrid car he has only ever driven off the lot, and he has a golden doodle that he feeds an all-organic diet.  He secretly votes republican and has two spoiled brats with his wife, Brown University.  He loves to name-drop his Ivy League in-laws, all of whom despise him as the common riff raff who deflowered their most vulnerable daughter.

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The University of Iowa

Cousin University of Iowa is six foot seven and a cool two hundred pounds of corn-fed muscle.  He arrives on time at EVERY family function, without fail.  He rarely speaks, preferring to limit his interaction to brow furrowing and the occasional, quiet chuckle.  He makes everyone extremely uncomfortable.

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The University of Nebraska

The University of Nebraska is a Presbyterian and doesn’t drink.  He rarely attends family functions, preferring to spend his time playing trivial pursuit and scrabble with his elderly female neighbor.  He is 41 years old and The University of Wisconsin suspects Nebraska is a closeted homosexual.

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Ohio State University

Ohio State University and The University of Michigan cannot be in the same room together.  Michigan says this is because Ohio State dishonored the family somehow, but OSU says Grandpa is too senile to know what he’s talking about.  Most of the family agrees with OSU, but disregard it anyway because OSU is a nudist and believes in ghosts.  Plus Grandpa’s really mean when you contradict him.

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The University of Minnesota

Nobody in the family really understands The University of Minnesota.  He shows up to most family events, but typically spends them drinking coors light and watching tv.  His wife is kind, quiet, and unassuming, but most of the family dislikes her for reasons they can’t quite articulate.

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University of Illinois

The University of Illinois is the cousin stuck in 2005.  He drives a hummer, lives in an eight-bedroom mcmansion, and is drowning in crippling amounts of credit card debt.  His marriage is on the rocks because his wife doesn’t want to sell the speed boat, but they still need to somehow pay for their only daughter’s equestrian lessons.  He is generally well liked by the family, unless someone suggests doing anything that costs money.  Illinois will then, without fail, suggest a cheaper, less attractive option, while Grandpa lectures everyone on fiscal responsibility.

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The University of Maryland and Rutgers University

The University of Maryland and Rutgers University are Ethiopian.  They were originally adopted by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, but when the publicity died down they got put into the foster system.  Nobody really knows who is responsible for their welfare.

On why I may or may not really be a “guy’s girl”

In attempting to understand myself (isn’t that what i have this blog for? good lord how narcissistic is that?)  I have noticed a pattern that I tend to prefer the company of platonic male friends.  As loyal readers may have noticed, whenever I discover something new about myself my first instinct is usually to google it.

Today’s topic:  Why do I prefer the company of men to women?

It’s a genuine question.  The average person on the street would almost certainly consider me a feminist (though the staff writers at huffpost women and jezebel might not agree).  I’ve heard many women say:

“I just don’t get along with other girls.”

“Women are so catty.”

“Men are more fun, women just talk about clothes and bitchy things.”

And these are all sentences I disagree with.  Well I suppose women can sometimes be catty, but I’d be full of shit if I pretended I wasn’t too (and isn’t anyone asserting half the population to be catty being awfully catty herself?).  I can get along with women beautifully.  From my numerous friendships with men I can promise you they are NOT inherently more fun than women, and I’ve known lots of ladies who have no interest in fashion.  I myself enjoy a good bitchfest and pair of shoes.  These things aren’t problems if you ask me.

However, the fact remains.  There is a level of ease I feel when it comes to being friends with men that simply isn’t there with most women.  From a great deal of reading, I present to you the best answer I can come up with, which I originally wrote as a comment to this post.  (I noticed that the post was half a decade old and decided instead of weighing in there, I’d put my thoughts here).

My would-be comment reads as follows:

The fact of the matter is male and female friendships tend to be very different.  I never use someone’s gender or gender identity to decide whether or not I will give them the time of day.  I have had friends that are male, female and genderqueer.  That said, as a straight woman, the majority of my adult friendships have been with men.

As stated, there is often a level of emotional intimacy that seems specific to female friendships.  That isn’t to say it IS specific, but for the sake of clear communication (lest anything I say be thrown out by the semantics being unfit for the  politically correct thought police) there is a level of intimacy that seems like a requisite for many female friendships.  My authentic experiences, opinions, and worldviews are not wildly popular ones with many of the people in my surrounding community.  This doesn’t bother me, but sharing my worldviews with other people is something I am sometimes hesitant to do.  I have a healthy dose of insecurity and self-doubt and when dealing with platonic friendships it is typically my instinct to ultimately attempt to be likable.

The problem with female friendships is the level of communication, information sharing, and heart-felt conversations their intimacy requires.  My instincts to be likable tend to pull me toward being inauthentic with women for fear my thoughts and opinions will not be warmly received.  Indeed, I have often found my female friendships to begin easily, but as my female friends desire more and more intimacy between us I grow more and more tired of the falseness I need to maintain to keep my friends happy.  Often I walk away from female friends due to their every invitation to hang out feeling like an obligation to perform.

However, this lack of authenticity is not required in male friendships because the level of information sharing is not there.  My male friends do not concern themselves with what I or any of their buddies think about complicated, heavy issues.  These friendships are often based on a mutual enjoyment of activity, a common sense of humor, or simply proximity.  There is an emotional detachment that makes these sorts of friendships very easy.  I can go six months without contacting a male friend and text him a joke without concern.  I cannot go six months without contacting a female friend without prefacing my getting back in touch by how sorry I am to have lost contact in the first place (which isn’t true at all).

The type of friendship typically associated with men is more superficial, disengaged and fluid.  Whereas female friendships tend to be intense, emotional, and a genuine balance of give and take.  I tend not to trust people (male or female) to enjoy my thoughts and opinions, but unlike women men less frequently want to know what their friends’ thoughts and opinions are.  Due to the superficial nature of male friendships, I am also more willing to offer up my authentic thoughts and opinions because there is no emotional intimacy attached to the way those thoughts are received.  If a guy friend of mine disagrees with me on some topic it is much easier to say “lets agree to disagree,” and move on.  If a female friend disagrees on the same topic we are left trying to figure out how both of us can feel good about ourselves for holding the opinions we have.  If I do not censor my opinions that dispute a female friend’s, I am left feeling guilty that I have somehow made her feel worse about herself for not validating and reaffirming her ideas.  Perhaps it is my own internalized sexism, but the emotional intimacy in female friendships has always made me feel a great deal more responsible for the feelings of female friends.  When that intimacy is gone, as it tends to be with male friends, I get the sense that I am not responsible for how my friend feels, and thus speak much more freely about my genuine ideas.

For this reason, I find myself more often surrounded by male friends than female.  I do not blame women for tending toward intimacy in their relationships (indeed i am sometimes saddened by the lack of female friendship in my life, as that intimacy has many benefits) but I think there are justifiable reasons why one might prefer the less demanding and emotional world of male friendship.

Having found a long term monogamous relationship, I do not feel so isolated from emotional intimacy that I find it worth the trouble to sift through various women and their hang ups.  I am certain there are women out there whom I could call soul sisters, whom I could be entirely myself around and whom I could support with honesty and respect.  However, there are far too many that do not fill this category, and I do not have the energy to produce the fake smiles it would take to inevitably find her at this time in my life.  Sometimes I wonder, as I wondered when one of my best female friendships began to drift apart the past few years, if the traits that make me who I am mean I will never have a best gal pal.  If a woman enough like me to be my bff existed, I wonder if she might just not have the time to find me either.

the end.

Taking a dump like a champ.

Today I read this “article” on the huffington post about an app that allows you to effortlessly break up with someone through a few simple taps on your touchscreen phone.

Tacky?  Yes.

Tasteless?  I think so.

But when the article ended with the following line, I found myself eyerolling at the huffpost’s typical self-righteous way of ignoring real life:

“If you’re actually trying to end a relationship, you should probably consider having a face-to-face conversation — no post-its, texts or emails necessary.”

As a 23 year old, I am almost four years deep in the 5th “official” romantic relationship of my life.  Four times I was dumped.  Three times I did the dumping.  What can I say?  Teenaged girls have a way of needing to double check if that guy from high school really was “the one” after all (spoiler alert:  nope).

So that’s four ex-boyfriends; seven breakups total.  Want to know how many were face-to-face?

2

And you know what else?  They totally sucked.  Getting dumped in person was terrible.  Getting dumped over the phone sucked too.  Dumping someone over the phone was not fun either.  Dumping a guy with a letter was extremely unpleasant too.  Actually the only breakup that didn’t suck that much was the one I sent via text message to the pre-med sophomore I’d been making out with in a dorm room for the second month I spent at college.

Was it the text message nature that made this breakup better?

No.

It was the fact that that I didn’t know this dude very well and I figured I should probably get out before I started to.  Because one thing is for sure: the more time I spent with the guy the harder the breakup was going to be.  So I concluded our discourse of back and forth texts with a break up.

Why do we have this antiquated idea about how break ups “should” be?  Why can we all sit on our high horse judging people for that manner they choose for dissolving their romantic relationships?  Breakups are simply hideously unpleasant experiences for the most part, and frankly, no amount of eye contact is going to make, “I don’t want to be with you,” easier to hear.

2010 was the year match.com started touting the statistic that 1 in 5 relationships begins on an online dating site.  Steve and I’s first official date after meeting was orchestrated via facebook chat (though only because he lost the phone that would have inevitably scheduled something via text message).  When someone gets engaged the ultimate way of calling this “fact” isn’t a ring, it’s a Facebook announcement.  When I need something done at work I don’t often venture to my colleague’s cubicle and interrupt their work.  I send an email that they can respond to when the moment is convenient for them.

The fact of the matter is, people have a lot of interactions that are not face-to-face.  Is this a great thing for psyche and society?  I have no idea.  But why on earth do we reserve this face-to-face requirement for something such as a breakup?  We seem to believe “we owe it to them” to brave the interaction in person.

Why?

You’re either about to shit on someone’s day/week/month/year/life or about to have your day/week/month/year/life totally shat on.  If you don’t owe it to someone to commit to having them in your life, why do you owe them the awkwardness of an in person break up? 

I’m not saying in person break ups are worse than others (though I wouldn’t have said no to a bit more privacy when making that whole adolescent crying face).  I’m just saying that it seems really stupid that we have this pedestal for “in person breakups” and consider anything else to be less than acceptable… for no real reason. 

On the whole I think the better you know your partner the better you can choose how to break up with them.  Some people want a long, drawn out, face-to-face exercise in futility… some people want their chance to immediately demand, “whyyy???”  But I’m guessing there are other people who would prefer a different method.

I suppose when you have the person in front of you the opportunity exists to “get your last word.”  I’m not one to believe much in the concept of “closure” and I’m pretty sure you can still hit “reply” on the top of your inbox.

The only sense I can make of it is this:

When anyone dumps anyone in a context other than in person, the dumped individual suddenly has an additional reason to be angry at the person who betrayed them.

Reflecting on the bitterness of a couple of my personal breakups, all I can wonder is… do we really need that?