Who Am I?

How many times have you taken a look at yourself in a figurative mirror while you were in a relationship or immediately after a break-up and asked yourself, “Who am I? or Who have I become?”  I ask this because a lot of people often get annoyed when friends and family tell them that since they’ve been in a relationship, they’ve changed.  Change for the better is good but change for the worse is bad!  When I say change for the worse, I mean that you’ve strayed so far away from who you were as the person that people knew and loved, into an ENTIRELY different person that people can’t stand to be around since you’ve been in that relationship.

Many times, people don’t even know that they are changing or have already changed.  It’s after others bring it to their attention and they start getting defensive, that they realize that it just might be true.  Some people are just chameleons, blending into the relationship and changing to fit every different situation that they get in.  Then there are the conformists who basically will conform to whatever their mate “expects” them to be.  Finally, there are those people who like to adopt an “alter ego” to keep evolving in the relationship to keep it spicy.  No matter the type, these people CHANGE for relationships!

Chameleons

Chameleons are beautiful lizards that are able to change colors to blend in with their surroundings for social purposes with other chameleons and for survival purposes to protect themselves in their environment against harm.  There are some people who will do these things when they get into a relationship.  I’ve seen women go out and meet a guy and once they get to know his likes and dislikes, they start to try to adapt their lifestyle to them because they think it will be pleasing to him.  In reality, it’s not who they really are and when the lights come on, they will be exposed.  You can only hide behind a farce for so long.  In one relationship, you’re “Holly Housewife”, cooking in the kitchen dressed like “June Cleaver” with an apron on presenting an apple pie to guests because your mate is a straight-laced, no-nonsense, dinner party type of guy.  The next relationship, you become “Hip Hop Harriet”, dressed like video vixen “Melyssa Ford” with nothing but a push-up bra on posing for pictures next to a Bentley because your new man is a gun-toting, drug dealing, pretend rapper who smokes weed all day.  This is very dangerous behavior, especially for the person who constantly changes for every new relationship.  You will become unrecognizable to your friends and family but most of all, YOURSELF!  If you are in a volatile relationship and have adapted for survival, it can be very hard for your family and friends to help you because you have blended in to the situation by making excuses for the abuser, masking bruises and going along with his abuse.

Conformists

The definition of conforming is to act in accord with the prevailing standards, attitudes or practices of society or a group of people.  When you meet someone who you really feel a connection to and can see a future with, you can easily start to conform to their expectations because you want a relationship with them.  How many people do you know that ended up in a unfulfilled relationship because they tried to conform to a lifestyle that their mate wanted to have?  One good example of this is a woman who meets a guy who CLEARLY states that HE DOESN’T WANT KIDS and she pretends that she can live with that and she marries him.  Ultimately, in the back of her mind, she resents herself for going along with this because she really wants a family and starts to “act out” her frustration by trying to change his mind, which causes problems in the relationship.  When someone gives you a clear understanding of the things that they value and their expectations in a relationship, they aren’t just saying it for the sake of conversation, they usually mean it.  Sometimes we hear things that we want to hear but we aren’t “listening” to what’s clearly being said and we think that we can change what we don’t like about them.  Most of the time, WE CAN’T change them as a person or their minds about something that they feel strongly about so we end up conforming to their ideals, ways of thinking and to the direction that they want the relationship to go in.  Sometimes, their thoughts become your thoughts and every response to a situation warrants the question, “What would he/she do or think?”  When you find yourself in this situation you must consider the question, “Have you lost who you are to be what they want you to be?”  If the answer is YES then you are not going to be happy in the long run with the relationship or yourself when you realize that you’ve given up your own beliefs, principles and practices.  The signs that you are a conformist is when your mate tells you to wear your hair a certain way, weigh a certain amount and cut off certain friends because they’re bringing you down and YOU DO IT.  Conforming for EVERY person that you date will only distort your TRUE self.

Alter Egos

It’s hard to uncover all of the layers of a person because people are multifaceted.  People show different sides of themselves around different people for obvious reasons because everything is NOT for everybody!  Men like to say that they want a lady in the streets but a freak in the bed.  The “freak” is essentially her alter ego, the one that she pulls out only with him.  There is nothing wrong with having an alter ego until your real personality and alter ego start interfering with one another and become indistinguishable.  This commonly happens, for instance, when cops go undercover and live a double-life, they can’t separate the two in reality and it becomes detrimental to their relationships.  Alter egos can make you start to believe your own lies.  I can recall an ex-boyfriend who started chatting online using an alter ego to get attention from women.  He made up a fake identity and biographical information.  I started getting weird phone calls to my house asking for a guy all of the time and I would tell them that they had the wrong number but I quickly realized that he was CRAZY enough to give out the REAL house number with his FAKE name.  After we broke up, I had a friend call his cellphone and ask for the fake name and HE TALKED to her.  People who claim to have an “alter ego”, tends to really have an IDENTITY CRISIS.  Get to know yourself and be who you really are and stop using the alter ego to portray who you WISH you were.

The bottom line is that you DON’T need to completely change who you are to be with a person.  If they can’t accept you for who you are, flaws and all, then they’re just not the one for you.  There is a HUGE difference between compromising and caving.  Compromising on some of your rigid ways may be necessary to balance the relationship but don’t cave in to all of the things that they request that you change about yourself just to be with them.  Take it from Mary J. Blige, she said it VERY succinct: “Take me as I am, or have nothing at all!”

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Is Your Bar Too High?

Talking to my single friends, they tell me that the dating pool is very “shallow” these days.  According to them, there really aren’t many “quality” single men out there to choose from when you are over 30.  Is this really true or do women have TOO MANY standards that ultimately disqualifies a lot of single men that could be a good catch?  I’m not saying that women shouldn’t have standards because everybody (both men and women) should but if they are impossible to meet then you’ll continue to find yourselves single.  I once went out with a guy who told me that his ideal woman had to have, long real hair, real nails, a college degree, light-skinned, never been on welfare and a good job.  Well I guess I was HIS PERFECT MATCH because I met that criteria but just hearing it, made me want to gag!  I thought to myself while listening to him spew off his ridicules list, “you think WAY to highly of yourself because you DELIVER THE MAIL for a living and your arms are too long for your body.”  I NEVER went out with him again.  What I want to explore are some common standards that women have and when it IS and IS NOT acceptable to lower them for a relationship.

He Doesn’t Have A Car

Not having a car is an acceptable reason to lower your standard.  A man is NOT defined by the car that he drives but many women place a particular emphasis on this standard for some reason.  You could be ruling out a lot of good men who don’t own a car.  If he doesn’t drive, he should be honest and up front with you about the fact that he doesn’t have a car and shouldn’t try to make it seem like his car is “in the shop” indefinitely.  What is wrong with picking him up for a date if you have a car?  First you need to explore the REASON he doesn’t have a car.  Did he get into an accident and total his car and is awaiting insurance money or a settlement to buy a new one?  Perhaps the payment to fix the totalled car is too high right now and he’s saving money to get it fixed.  Does he even have a driver’s license?  If he does not, you could always encourage him to get one and LEARN how to drive so that he’ll eventually buy a car.  He could be saving money to buy the car of his dreams but you just shot him down at the initial sign of him not having a car.  There are plenty of men who will pay for dates if you are willing to take the bus, drive or catch a cab.  Some women think that they are better than a bus ride.  Will him not having a car keep him from coming to see you or spending time with you?  Some men like to use this as a test to see how shallow you are when it comes to this topic.  They will say that they don’t drive to see your reaction.  I once had a guy refuse to tell me what kind of car he drove (as if it mattered) because he didn’t want me to be enamored with his “Lexus ES 350”.  Clearly he missed the memo that cars are not that high up on my priority list since I have always had one since I was 16.  When I met my husband, he didn’t have a car and he told me up front and I offered to pick him up for our first date and he bought a car during the course of our dating.

He Doesn’t Have A Career

This can go both ways depending on how old they guy is.  It is acceptable if the guy is 35 or under and has not established his career but still has a job.  Statistics show that the average person will have 7-10 jobs before establishing a solid career.  With that being said, you need to evaluate the direction that he is going in with his life.  When you met him did he have goals that he was actively working toward accomplishing such as going to school, starting a business, etc.? It is not acceptable if he is over 35 and has only worked odd jobs here and there and has no real career pattern or any plans of getting one.

Many women like to put men in employment boxes such as doctor, lawyer or executive but there are many other career fields that are just as acceptable and lucrative.  The goal here is to meet someone who you can grow with and perhaps you can push him to his full potential by being supportive and encouraging.  If you rule out the guy with the average job such as a “camp counselor” when you first met, you could be ruling out the next CEO of the camp organization in a few years.  You have to know what his aspirations are and see that he is working toward them before passing judgement on him as a good catch.

He Has Kids

When I was under 30, this was an ABSOLUTE deal breaker for me.  Once I passed 30, I realized that the likelihood of finding a man WITHOUT a child would be like finding a needle in a haystack.  It would be acceptable to lower your standard in this case IF only one mother is involved.  If he has multiple mothers of his children then NOT ACCEPTABLE!  When you don’t have children, being involved with a man with children takes a special kind of women because women are generally catty.  The mother of his children will inevitably give you a hard time unless she has moved on and is COMPLETELY over him, which is why you should only deal with a man who has ONE of these women!  Having to deal with two or three different women and different attitudes toward you can get exhausting.  The other thing to consider in this case is that he will have to split his time between you and his children if he is a good father.  If you do decide to get involved with a man with children and HE NEVER spends time with them or talks about them, that is a red flag and you should consider that when you are looking for a more serious relationship with him.

He Doesn’t Have A College Degree

There are many men out here in jobs that don’t require a college degree so this should be acceptable.  The only caution is that he might not be able to relate to your enthusiasm for “homecoming” or your “sorority life” because he doesn’t have those experiences.  Blue collar workers make very good money and often are in business for themselves so they should not be overlooked.  Being a barber is also a lucrative business since people will always need a haircut and they are unlikely to be out of work but do tend to work long hours.  There are jobs in the medical field that don’t require a degree such as radiology technicians, medical assistants etc.  The key here is not hinging your hopes on a man with a college degree because that doesn’t necessarily make him a good catch.  There are many men with college degrees who are TERRIBLE boyfriends or who are bums.

Dating these days is hard enough without all of the added pressure of a checklist.  When you meet a guy, don’t start going through your checklist to rule him out right away unless you see OBVIOUS red flags.  Consider being open-minded and broadening your horizon.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  If you keep sticking to your standards so hard, you may drive yourself insane trying to find the right guy.  You have to step out on faith and try something unorthodox.  Give that younger/older guy a try.  Take your contractor up on his offer for lunch.  Go out to dinner with that not-so-attractive guy.  You may find your hidden treasure in the one that you would never consider.

Check out the new “Single of the Week” link and show her some love!

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Love Will Lead You Back

While driving home the other day from dropping the kids off at school, I threw on my iPod to enjoy a much-needed break from the radio and the 20 questions from the kids.  I turned to my “Love Songs” playlist, which is packed with nearly 200 classic love songs from “Adore” by Prince to “Heaven Help Me” by Deon Estus and suddenly, “Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne came on (video provided).  Now of course I’m dating myself a bit but this was my song in the late 80’s (when good music was colorless on the radio).   The lyrics to the song got me thinking about a twitter friend of mines who I have been giving advice to regarding his lost love.  There are a few questions that I pondered while listening to the song such as, “Can you ever get over a lost love? and Can you get a lost love back?”

Getting Over A Lost Love

Have you ever had a relationship that you felt was rock solid and you were truly in LOVE?  Your whole world practically revolved around the other person.  You didn’t make many moves that didn’t involve your other half.  You thought about your love constantly and could complete each other’s sentences.  There might have been times that you picked up the phone to call them and they were already on the line because they called you first.  Some would consider this a “Soul Mate” (a concept we will explore in a later post) and you just knew that it would last forever.  Of course in every relationship there are problems, arguments and blow ups.  This is just a part of the natural course of healthy communication in relationships.  Somehow though, you don’t see that the love is fading or that the two of you are growing apart.  You probably stayed in the relationship going through the motions because no one wants to be the first to admit that the flame is burning out.  Finally, one of you decides to call it quits or take a break until you can sort things out.  Either way, breaking up with someone you TRULY love HURTS!

When a break-up of a serious relationship occurs, people tend to go through a range of emotions similar to grieving the death of a loved one.  Those emotions can consist of shock, denial, loss of sleep or over sleeping, loss of motivation, social withdrawal, guilt, intense sadness and crying or indifference.  We sit around listening to sad love songs that reminds us of our relationship and try to keep the memories alive.  Will this wound ever heal you ask?  My best answer is ABSOLUTELY, but you have to give it time and stop obsessing over it.  Yes you are going to think about that lost love a lot in the beginning, but over time those thoughts will diminish and they will only pop into your mind when you see or hear something that reminds you of them because something or someone WILL INEVITABLY remind you of them.  What do you do to start moving past it and begin the healing process?

  • Come to terms with what happened to end the relationship.  –  Many times, we aren’t willing to accept the responsibility for our part in a break-up or even acknowledge that we saw it coming.  We like to blame and point fingers at the other person because it is easy to do but it really doesn’t allow us to adequately assess ourselves.  Don’t spend a lot of time BLAMING YOURSELF either because it is easy to fall into self-loathing. If a person wants to leave, there is nothing you could do to stop them even if you lose weight, change your hair color or get a different job.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings with other people or a professional. – I’m not saying to stop random people in the grocery store to pour your heart out but talking about it is healthier than holding it in.  People are very afraid of seeking the help of a counselor but we can be very effective at helping you cope and giving you strategies to move forward.
  • Get a journal or a blog. – Putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard is also another healthy way to get your feelings out if you are not a talker or don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with other people who might possibly judge you.  You will be surprised at how you can see your growth by going back and re-reading your past journal entries.  It is like looking at yourself in the mirror.
  • Get to know yourself better. – Spend some time with yourself and get to know who YOU are and what you have to offer in a relationship before jumping RIGHT back into another situation.  People tend to believe that the best way to get over an old love is to immediately find a NEW one but that is not the best idea.  A rebound love will more than likely not be genuine simply because you haven’t discarded the baggage from the old relationship.  If you TRULY loved someone, they can’t be REPLACED.
  • Begin dating again and don’t try to compare EVERY person to that lost love. – Go out on casual dates without expectations of finding “THE ONE” again.  Just let things progress naturally and have a good time.  If things start to get more serious, don’t start making comparisons and looking to recreate your previous relationship.  This new person WILL NEVER be the old person reincarnated!

Getting A Lost Love Back

How many times have we gone through the motions of breaking up with someone we truly loved only to find our way right back to them?  It happens quite often but it isn’t always a success.  I’ve always operated on the notion that an “ex” is and “ex” for a reason and those reasons usually don’t change when you get back with them but sometimes they do.  Is it good to go “backward” or should you just move on? That really depends on why the two of you broke up in the first place and whether they are worth fighting for.  If you are someone who is contemplating a return to your love, there are a few things to consider in doing so.

  • Gauge the willingness of the other party to reconcile. – This is very important because you will be fighting for nothing if you aren’t sure whether the other party is willing to give it another try.  I know of a situation where a guy went out and purchased an engagement ring to carry around with the hopes of running into his ex-girlfriend and proposing to show her how serious HE was about making amends for the mistakes he’d made in their tumultuous relationship that ended in a bad break-up.  When he finally ran into her, the woman was NOT hearing any of it and told him NO and that she’d moved on with not an ice-water’s chance in HELL that they’d EVER be back together.  He’s still single today.  Rejection is always a possibility here if you go in blindly.
  • Don’t try to force a friendship on them right after the break-up. – Many people try to pull the “Let’s be friends” card after breaking up but you REALLY can’t be friends with someone you have intense feelings for because the motive is fake.  You will always want more than a friendship from them so don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that you can separate your “friend” feelings from your “lover” feelings.  Give them their space to heal and it’s okay to talk to them occasionally but to pick right up where you left off in the relationship as ” just friends” is a recipe for disaster.
  • Write down the pros and cons of being with them. – I know this seems textbook but it works if you ACTUALLY listen to yourself.  If the pros outweight the cons then perhaps they are worth fighting for but if they don’t then let it go, cut your losses and start the healing process.  The problem here is that when people start seeing the cons outweighing the pros they start exaggerating the pros to make them win because they REALLY want the relationship back.
  • Can you REALLY put the past behind you? – If you decide that you are going to move forward with a reconciliation, you must decide whether or not you can put the pass behind you.  If trust was broken in the relationship due to cheating, lying or abuse (for which I don’t recommend a reconciliation), can you really trust their word that they won’t do it again or will you always be suspicious of their every move to the point that it ultimately breaks you up again?  If these issues aren’t resolved, they will ultimately rear their ugly head as soon as you two are back together.  I had a relationship once where the guy just COULD NOT let go of something that I did in the very beginning of our relationship and he just didn’t trust me at all and we broke up over it at least four times in the span of four years.  Ultimately, we weren’t right for each other but every time I went back, he had never gotten over that situation.
  • Don’t become a STALKER! – No matter how much you miss the person and want to be back with them, don’t try to stalk them into being with you again.  Calling or texting excessively and constantly sending them gifts or flowers will only make them annoyed by you.  They won’t think that it’s cute or you really love them.  They’ll think that you are acting irrational and it might give them a new perspective on why the two of you broke up in the first place.  Trying to guilt them into being with you will only get you but so far.  They may feel sorry for you and take you back because they sympathize for your broken heart but their heart isn’t really into it so it will be a farce.  I can’t stress enough how important space is in a serious break-up.  It gives you both a chance to think clearly and to miss each other if you really care for each other.  Be patient and if it is meant to be it will be.  As the old adage goes, “If you love something set it free and if it comes back it’s yours, but if not, it was never meant to be.”

Love is an action word and it takes both parties to be active for it to flourish.  I will leave you with my favorite love scripture usually read at weddings and hope that it feeds your souls:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

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