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Is it Time to Make Banana Bread? January 13, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Change, Dating, Job Search, Love, Relationship.
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8 comments

You look at those last few bananas and think, “Should I make banana bread out of those today, or should I wait? Maybe someone will eat them today.”  How long to you wait before you make banana bread?  How far do you let the bananas go before giving in? Do you wait just ‘one more day’ in hopes that someone will still eat them? But what if you wait so long that they aren’t even good for bread anymore? What happens then? They just have to be thrown out and then all is lost. So when do you make that decision? When does the oven get turned on?

We all have hopes and dreams – fresh bananas that we just bought. They are so green. There is so much optimism there. We make the right moves. Do all the right things. Our bunch is set on the table in a cool dry place – preferably propped on the kitchen table where they are displayed well and noticed more often. It feels so great when one is taken, sampled, tasted. Maybe it was that interview for the dream job. Possibly a new romantic interest. A phone call from a prospective client. A banana is taken, but for some reason, you just can’t get anyone to take the whole bunch. They just sit there and turn darker and darker. How long do you wait before you make banana bread and settle for what you have?

Is that a banana in your pocket?

Don’t ever underestimate the power of self-promotion. Sure there are many apples and oranges out there but how many bananas are just like yours? You have unique qualities. It is important to identify them and then display them. It may be great interpersonal communication skills. Possibly you are a talented writer. Maybe you have a flare for creativity. Whatever it is, know it and show it. Some people advocate splitting the bunch up. In this way, the ripening process slows down and you have more time. Get that resume out there! Network! Diversify your job search engines. If it is a romantic connection you seek, networking is just as important. You know people who know people. Mix and mingle. However, unlike posting your resume on job sites, I do not advocate the use of online dating services. They are just meat markets and really do not cater to fruits and vegetables. In any circumstance, your bananas are rich in vitamins and sweet to the taste. They are a nutritious value for the price and somebody is looking for them. All you have to do is display them properly and in a variety of venues.

Ripen first before eating

Many people want to look at their bananas and eat them too. If they are eaten too early, they don’t have the rich taste that people are really looking for. You have time. Aiming for that dream job? Maybe you have to return to school for new training and skills. You might have to work in a position that will give you more experience for a while. Establishing a good friendship with a person before any romantic interests develop is important.  All of this can take time but will make your bananas look better and taste better in the long run.

Yes! We have no bananas

What happens if no one is hungry for bananas today? This is certainly a commonality in today’s economic environment. There is simply no demand for bananas. This is also a cause for how few are actually actively looking for a new relationship as well. With so many financial difficulties, family issues, career bumps – people are putting their bananas in the refrigerator in hopes of preserving them until there is a demand again. This is the absolute worst thing to do. Everyone knows that hiding bananas in a cold dark place will make them rot even quicker. Something about the gas they produce makes them turn brown or worse, never develop the rich sweet taste that is so desired.

What is in your oven?

What is wrong with making bread? Is it settling when you reassess your goals or maybe tweak that dream? Reinventing yourself to fit the current situation is not always about settling or giving up. Maybe it is adaptation. Maybe it is taking what you own and transferring it into a more marketable package. After all, variety is the spice of life. I am not saying that if you can’t sell your bananas that you have to make banana bread. There are so many other possibilities. How about a banana cream pie for those who are sweet and compassionate? Banana muffins are a good choice for those who are more structured and analytical. A banana split may be a good opportunity for someone who is balanced in creativity and critical thinking.

Don’t wait until your bananas go bad. If someone moves your cheese, it is time to coordinate your dish to match what is on the table. And if you do make that banana bread, just add nuts please. Everyone needs a laugh now and then.

For unique banana bread that will surely be eaten, try this recipe

The Toxic Lover January 10, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Change, Dating, Love, Relationship, Sex.
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8 comments

Have you ever had a partner who doesn’t play by the same rules he or she imposes on you?  How about a girlfriend who continuously holds you down in a continuous pit of depression and hurt? Maybe your companion was so possessive of you that you felt imprisoned within an emotional cage. These are all strong indicators of a toxic lover.

There are many abuses that can metastasize in a relationship. It is so hard to comprehend at times that we DO hurt the ones we love. Some abuses are overt, such as physical abuse. Others are not so apparent and can easily be masked by the blinding effects of love and passion.

Scenario #1

The relationship moved quickly in the beginning for Bob and Linda. It was like magic. Before Bob knew it, he was feeling a close bond with Linda and felt she was coming closer to him as well. When he tried to discuss these emotions, Linda would just say, “I feel that way too Bob, but I can’t make any promises right now.” Promises or not, Linda began to display possessive behavior. She insisted on knowing Bob’s whereabouts constantly. She would demand that he return her texts immediately even when he was in meetings or classes. If he evaded her questions or was indisposed, she would blow up at him and accuse him of infidelities that were completely irrational. Worst of all, when Bob wanted to go out with friends, even though he would invite Linda to go with him, she would relentlessly monitor the evening through calling, texting, or showing up unannounced. At first, Bob felt excited and loved. After all, a little jealousy is an alluring thing. But after a while, Bob found himself staying home instead of going out with friends for fear that Linda would get upset. He felt enclosed and restricted. Bob finally realized that Linda wanted a commitment from him without making any promises or commitments to him.

Scenario #2

Karen met Matthew in her accounting class. He was deep and mysterious in his thinking. To her, this was alluring to have a man so connected to his emotion. Their discussions centered around feelings and connection, passion and love, pain and suffering. In the beginning Karen believed that the relationship they were building was itself, deep and passionate. However, when Karen had good news to share, or just wanted to involve Matthew in positive discussions or do something fun with him, he would make her feel guilty about her happiness by dragging her back into the darkness of his life. She began to feel as if the only way they could connect was through his lens of emotions. She began to feel guilty about feeling happy, wanting to do something fun, or sharing good news with him.

Scenario #3

Patrick thought Crissy was beautiful. She was the woman of his dreams. After a few dates, he was quickly finding himself falling for her. She had no problem telling him everything about herself. It seemed so easy for her to share her life with him and he loved every minute of it. As the relationship grew, she began to include him in her life in various ways. He would help her prepare class notes and prepare meals to take to her nutrition class she was teaching. She would ask for his advice about finances, include him in helping her study for an upcoming exam or writing her papers. When she was upset, she would come to him for consolation and advice. At first, this all made Patrick feel needed and wanted by her. Unfortunately, when Patrick wanted Crissy’s help on something, or even to spend time with her, in most cases she was unavailable for him. He started to wonder how Crissy even knew who he was. All they would talk about was her life. All that they would do together, was her projects. He began to feel used.

I am sure if you look back on your past relationships (or even your present one) you will see yourself in one of these situations.  They are more common than you think. All of these scenarios first feel like true love, want, longing, and trust. However, they quickly become a pattern of inequality, emotional abuse and mistrust. Why does someone tolerate a toxic relationship then? Love is blind that is for sure. The overwhelming excitement of a new love can mask many of the early signs that you are getting involved with a toxic lover. The rationalization that you may be partly to blame makes you feel like you have to work on the relationship. The fear of being alone can keep you there. In general, change, whether it is good or bad, is always difficult. Internally we tend to rationalize because it is much easier than changing our behavior (see Cognitive Dissonance) but it is even more difficult when you are under the mental and physical influences of love and sexual desire. External wake-up calls can be useful in this case.

Have you or are you experiencing any of these external indicators?

  • Does your partner expect you to follow certain guidelines in the relationship that she/he does not place on themselves?
  • Do your friends or family tell you that they see problems in your relationship?
  • Are you hesitant to go out with friends or even on your own for fear of upsetting your partner?
  • Do you feel you have to consistently change your plans to satisfy the needs of your partner?
  • Are conversations with your partner consistently one-sided?
  • Are you pulling away from your friends and other activities that you enjoyed before your relationship?
  • Do you feel compelled to consistently satisfy the needs of your partner before your own?

In the end, it is about balance. If you are feeling more like a possession rather than a mutual partner, maybe it is time for a change.

Sex, the Master’s Division December 29, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Dating, Love, Passion, Relationship, Sex, Spirituality.
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8 comments

When I run races, I am placed in the master’s division. The master’s division is the category for men from age 40 and up. Now you would think that this is a derogatory classification for men my age but let me tell you something, the master’s division is consistently the fastest and most competitive division there is. Men my age are wiser than the younger crowd when it comes to training and running strategy. We know that we cannot rely on youth to bang out a personal best or win a race. The younger guys think they can just get up off their couch after a week of binge drinking and chicken wing eating and run successfully. I have to laugh when I see those guys around mile 2.5 on the side of the course throwing up after going out too fast and thinking they can hold that pace.

The same is true when it comes to sex. Yes, the master’s division also has the experience and knowledge to perform better than the younger boys in bed. However right now I would like to explore the attitudinal advantages that the older male lover has.

The Difference

I have several young lady friends dating men between 25 and 35. Being the best man friend a woman could ever have (yes, another blog post will explain that) they all come to me for consolation and advice when things go bad. They continuously find men of this age looking for that ‘hook up’ or the ‘score’ so that they can have one more notch on their bedpost or that locker room chuckle with the buddies. Men of this age are all about the physical dimension of copulation. There seems to be no thought about what it will mean emotionally. It is referred to as “thinking with their penises.” Many times, I find my young lady friends going in thinking the same way, only to see them watch their phone the entire day after, waiting for him to call. Correct me if I am wrong if you are a young female reader, but these women may have a hidden agenda of, maybe-I-can-hook-this-guy-by-my-sexual-prowess. I tend to think that your mothers are more correct when they told you, “why would any man buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.” The bottom line here is that the younger man sees sex as more of a short-term release and less of a relationship builder than women of that age.

For older men, there is more complexity. Again, experience seems to be the variable here. More than likely, men my age have been in several relationships. More than most have been married. There are children, ex’s, careers, friendships – life experiences that they bring to the table (in this case, the bed.)  All of this contributes to ‘cognitive complexity’ and with this brings deeper meaning to intercourse. Don’t get me wrong here. Even though men in the master’s division are less likely to consent to sex purely for sexual pleasure, this pool of participants will still not consider the act as a ritual of immortal promise either. However, it will be part of the equation. Unless you are a hooker, you can at least consider that there is more on a master’s division man’s agenda when he asks you to sleep with him. At the very least, you can bet on him calling you in the morning. More than likely, he will end up in your bed again and most likely he will be combining this form of communication with other signals that will give you a pretty good idea of what his intentions are.

The First Love

A man in the master’s division looks back on his life and reflects. He sees much meaning in what he has done, who he did it with, and why. His first love is very important to him. The woman who brought him through the threshold to manhood is considered a second mother to him. The key here is “first love” that was consummated with his “first act.” He will never forget her and places her in the same category as the Virgin Mary regardless of what transpired after that. I am one of the fortunate men who is still in contact with my first love. She is a complete friend who has helped me get through some difficult times in my recent history. She is usually the first one I come to when there is cause for celebration, need for consoling, or advice about relationship. We have a special bond that will never be broken. Master’s division men project that importance onto every woman he has feelings for. Every relationship is compared to his first love because that is from where he came. When he eventually has sex with a woman, it is considered sharing the same bond with her. This is not unlike the same bond that Robert Heinlein labels “Water Brothers” in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. In this novel, sexual intercourse is the ritualistic act that bonds people together as one – the pinnacle of the act of sharing water together.

This will translate to the bedroom in several ways. In the master’s division category, a man will want to re-create this bond with you. His style in bed will be more of a sharing attitude that will consider the woman’s pleasure before his. He will be conscious and reactive of the signals you display that will steer him toward your needs. He will look you in the eye at the epiphany of your pleasure. He will hold you tightly at your release. He will breathe with you in your calm.

The Mother of his Children

It is more than likely that a man of my age will have had children. Again, like the first love, the mother of his children will also imprint a unique stamp within his soul. Regardless of where the relationship stands today, a man of worth will always understand and respect the bond with this woman (or in some cases women.) This is the woman that impressed in him that the sexual act truly possesses higher purpose. It is the means to carry his seed to the next millennia. Master’s division men find this of great importance at this age of awareness that they are in fact, mortal.

The experience of childbirth gives the master’s division man respect for the female body. He will be aware of the power your body has on him directly and to humanity holistically. This is reflected in the way he will make love to you and in the way he will treat you after. His lovemaking will be slow and with purpose. He will be cognizant of your comfort during and caring in his manner after. He will have thoughts of what it would be like to have children with you. He will entertain the idea of sharing a life with you.

Experience

Be assured, you will not be the first woman a master’s division man will have sex with. You may have some unjustified reason for wanting to know how many partners he has had in the past but what should be more important to you is that this man has experience. He has had his share of bad sex and his share of mind blowing sex and at this age, will have understanding as to what was the cause of each. More importantly, he will have the knowledge that no woman is alike. Every woman has different needs in bed. Most importantly, he will bring a wide variety of techniques with him that he will be able to tap into to satisfy your need. He will not be afraid to ask questions. He will not be hesitant to explore new options nor experiment outside of the box. You are in the hands of a master who will have highly developed communication skills, teamwork skills, and critical thinking skills. Your time with this man will be rich in want, detailed in desire, and in the end totally satisfied in need.

Do’s and Don’t

So how do you go about entertaining the possibility of spending some quality time with a master’s division man? Below is a brief list of “points of entry” to guide you to that end.

  • Don’t ever accuse a master of “just wanting to get into my pants.”  It should be assumed that his agenda is far more complex than that
  • Don’t assume you will sleep with him on the third date. He will not be looking at the quantity of time spent with you as a determinative factor; he will be looking at the quality of time.
  • Forget body image – this man will make love to you because he loves you. At that point, it is about you, not your body.
  • Prepare for the moment – Again, don’t assume it is all about your body. Take care in the clothes you wear, the undergarments he will slowly remove, the scent he will smell, the skin he will taste.
  • Expect him to spend the night – prepare for the entire evening. Some housekeeping may be warranted. Some breakfast items may need to be purchased.
  • Kids are an asset – Maybe not the first night, but consecutive nights and days he will be looking to see if you are willing to bring him into your entire life, including your children’s lives.
  • Speak up – before, during and after. He will listen.
  • It is the entire package not the singular event – He is going to love making love to you when it comes to that point because he has found traits in you that will assure it. This takes more than sexual cues. Show him you are intelligent, fun, caring, respectful, playful, and can hold a conversation. This will all translate in his mind to sexual complexity.
  • Think beyond the bed – He will put meaning to his moment with you. You will become part of his spiritual collective. Are you prepared for that?
  • Say no – If you are just out for a quick release – a one night folly, do him a favor and say no when he asks you to sleep with him. If you feel you are not ready to receive the deepness he is going to share with you, it is best you go find a man in the rookie pool.  After all, you may do your part in bringing the beginner closer to the enlightenment of the master’s division.

The job hunt dating game December 28, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Dating, Job Search, Love, Relationship.
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As of November 2009, the unemployment rate is 9.4%. Even with the announcement that the recession has ended, the nation continues to bleed an average of 188 thousand jobs a month.

These hardcore facts translate into extreme competition for those looking for employment. Recently the average amount of job interviews a job hunter went on before landing a job is 17. That is up from 9 interviews before the recession.

There will always be the financial horrors associated with being unemployed. The worries range from house payments to putting food on the table. That alone makes for a stressful job search. However, there is an additional characteristic that compounds job hunting even more – the emotional aspect.

Emotionally, job searching is much like dating. Think about how this all works.  You write letters of ‘interest’ to a prospective employer, much like posting your bio on an Internet dating service.  You then wait to see if there is interest. There isn’t much emotional energy expended at this stage but when you get that call asking you to interview, the anticipation rises. The interview is much like a date. You exchange information, maybe talk about some personal things, you exchange business cards and then say, “Goodbye, I hope to hear from you soon.”  Then the waiting begins – more anticipation, more anxiety. You wonder if she liked you enough to give you a callback for another interview. Maybe she didn’t like you as much as you liked her and thus you may not get a call.  Or, like the dreaded Dear John letter, you may even get the rejection e-mail, or a phone call wishing you luck on your job search, however, “We have hired someone more fitting to our needs at this time.”

If you have been unemployed for a long time, much like being single for a long time, it is hard to resist saying yes to any job. All you want to do is pimp yourself out to the first taker. There are so many things wrong with doing this, much like pimping yourself sexually. The very least being that you will end up with a job you are not interested in. The very most accepting a job you just are not qualified for (under qualified or over qualified.) This will only necessitate an early separation and a continued search. Much like the stigma of a divorced single dater, this doesn’t look very positive on your resume. Even worse, after being told you are over or under qualified for this position, it is, “Too bad you weren’t around 6 months ago, we had a position open that you would have been perfect for.” Just like dating, sometimes you fall in love with someone who is not ready for a relationship. Or worse yet, found someone just before you showed up on the scene. Bad Timing.

There is another related scenario as well. You may go to an interview for an appropriate position and see that you just could not live with the organization. It could be that the position is way too overwhelming. Maybe the people you meet vaguely remind you of the TV show, “The Office.” Possibly, what was discussed in the interview is nothing like the posted job description. Much like a first date that reveals personal inconsistencies from online discussions or dating site postings, you tuck tail out of there and hope you never hear from them again. Of course, just like a Dear John letter, it is ethical to call or send an e-mail withdrawing from the candidate pool. I have been in this situation twice. Both were a case of false advertisement. The job descriptions were not really what the actual job was. I wrote a polite e-mail thanking them for their time, however I just didn’t see, “us moving on with this relationship.”

Who knows? You may just get that call that asks you for another appointment. Yes! – another date!  The relationship moves on. There is more discussion. You get to know the organization a little better. They get to know you deeper. You hit it off. There is another round of “goodbyes’ and “we will be in touches” and then … more waiting. What happens next?  Another call? No call? “They must like me, they called back, right?” At this stage there is some jealousy involved. “Are they romancing other candidates?” “Who are they seeing today?” “Can’t they see I am the right person for them?” You may have a deeper connection to the organization at this time. “I thought they liked me. I really like them.” Then, like dating, there is the anticipation of the third call. We all know that in today’s dating world, the third date is the date when you will quite possibly sleep with him/her. This translates into a job offer in the job hunt dating game. The third call comes. There is another meeting set up. You think, “This is it!”  You wear clean underwear. You get a haircut. You wear your best suit. You may in fact hear those magical words, “We would like to offer you the position.”  However, you must always be aware that it may just be another phase in the job search dating game. Some organizations like to get to know you better before going to bed with you. In this case, more waiting, more anxiety, more emotions.

With today’s economic environment, it is a very difficult time to be playing the job search dating game. The emotional roller coaster of all of this is exactly the same as dating.  With several rejections, self-esteem suffers to the point that it impedes your performance on the next job interview. You may even start thinking about dropping out of the job search dating game all together. You become depressed. You wonder if you will ever be wanted or needed again. Keep in mind that it is not always about you. More than likely, you were more than qualified for the position. More than likely, the person who they chose over you was an internal candidate (costing them less than hiring externally) or someone they had intended to hire all along. It could also be a case of reevaluating the need of the position in respect to the cost. Many positions are closed without filling them. Also keep in mind that the pool of candidates for many positions has tripled in today’s market. The competition is stiff and you have to be creative in finding ways to stand out among the others. Like dating, you will never know what qualities they are looking for. Because of this, it is important to just be yourself and display the qualities that you feel are your best. The worst thing you could do is pretend to be the person you think they want. Remember you are looking for a long-term commitment here. Not a one night stand.

Like dating, you need to remain positive. Stay in the game. More than likely, like finding the perfect love, you will find that perfect position when you least expect it. It will be true love and when you love what you do, the money will follow.

We are all going to make it December 18, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Life, Love, Relationship.
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We just need to stay together in the dark.

A letter to my father December 15, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Job Search, Life, Love, Relationship.
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Dear Dad,

My Father

I know it has been a while. You died 11 years ago – May 10, 1988 – Mother’s Day. I remember it clearly. I held your hand. I told you it was ok. You can let go now. You took your last breath as I said goodbye.

I think of you often in these times – my time of change. I often wonder what you think of all of this. I know what you would have said when I left a secure career to accept a graduate assistantship. I am sure you would have told me it was folly on my part to even think I could change careers at my age. We would have argued I am sure. But Dad, I was dying. I was beating my head against the wall trying to maintain an engaging and effective program with no financial or administrative backing. More and more I found myself alone in a worthy cause within an unworthy institution. It became damaging to my soul and body and it was killing me.

I know it hasn’t worked out for me yet Dad. You would probably tell me, “I told you so” at this point. But look what I am doing. I am in a functional institution working with people equally committed to the vision and mission. I am challenged and engaged. I feel like I am making a difference in the outcome. Ok, yes I am not making any money and I am in serious financial stress, living in a back room, watching my pennies, worried about my children’s happiness and welfare. But Dad, I can’t wait to get up in the mornings! I love to go to work. I can’t wait to engage with intelligent, professional people. I now feel like I make a difference.

The best part is that I have learned so much about myself and my new field by going back to school, earning a new degree and working in a new environment. It will carry me dad. I am not done but only starting. I have tremendous potential and all I have to do is wait until someone gives me a chance to prove myself. I know I can do this and I know I can do this well. You watch, you will be proud of me Dad. Just give me some time.

My new career path is one thing Dad. I really feel I am making headway on that. Personally, I don’t know. I am a mess Dad. Here is where I need your help the most. I have been burned. I have been used. I have been lied to. I have been cheated on. It seems almost like I am being punished. Oh I know I am not lily white in all of this either. You had your problems with relationships too. It must be the curse of our line. What is it with us? Why can’t we get it right? I do think that your problems and my problems are different in this matter. Regardless, it would be helpful to me to be able to compare notes with you. It seems so easy for people. What is it with me? Is it a trust issue? Is it an issue of not being able to open my heart to anyone after having it ripped to pieces so many times? I am scared Dad. Maybe I am someone who is just meant to be alone. Maybe this suits me.

I am now on the edge Dad. There is a major opportunity before me. It is right in front of me Dad. I am scared, excited, horrified and thrilled all at the same time. Change, whether good or bad, is always scary. However, if there is one thing I have learned in the past five years it is to embrace change and let it take you. Only in this can new worlds appear. I am going for this Dad. I am heading straight into it with full steam. It will give me extreme challenges that will test me and allow me to grow.

I hope you are watching. I hope you are paying attention Dad. I am going to make you proud. You will see me for who I am, not for what other people think I should be. I am slowly breaking free of chains.

I am gradually becoming…. Me

Your Son

Happy Holidays November 26, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Friendship, Life, Love, Spirituality.
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To all my WordPress friends,

Have a wonderful season. Enjoy connection with your friends and family.

Love and Peace,

Steve

What are you thinking? November 23, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Change, Friendship, Life, Love, Relationship.
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Marry me, NOW!In an effort to give you research-based viewpoints on complex life issues, I also want to never shy away from opposing views. Previously I posted and postured on a theory that explains why there seems to be a high success rate with interpersonal relationship building through computer mediated communication. This not only includes online dating sites but also mediums such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and e-mail. Today you will hear a different view from me and how maybe, virtual dating is causing an epidemic of failed relationships.

We want everything quickly these days – from fast foods to instant movies online. That is all fine and good, however when it comes to intimate relationship building, slow down! What is it with people these days? They are so quick to jump into the fire. It makes me wonder what the underlying force is that creates a nation of microwave marriages. Could it be that online dating implies urgency? God knows.

I have seen several cases of this hit close to home in the past few years. I have both a niece and a nephew that followed the just-add-water formula for finding mates. Both ended with charred results. The nephew came home with his finance after a weekend partying with buddies, the niece found her “match” through an online dating service and accepted his engagement ring inside of four months. They only saw each other face-to-face twice during this span of time. What the hell were they thinking? An even better question is, what the hell was their mother thinking?

First let’s look at the cold hard, sleeping-alone, facts. Depending on if you are looking at the Census Bureau’s statistic or the National Center for Health Statistics, marriages will fail between 42 to 50% of the time. Remarriages fare much worse. Psychology Today’s predictions state that remarriages will fail 60% of the time. After 10 years of marriage, the incidence of failure becomes far worse (if a second marriage will even last that long!) Research also shows that the possibility of a second divorce increases astronomically if the couple has been in a relationship for less than a year.

These are cruel statistics. So why are people ignoring this and jumping into the fire so quickly?

It comes right down to the fact that many people marry for the wrong reasons.

In first marriages, there are the traditional errors that we all are aware of, but still make: Marrying for money, family pressure, children (tick tock goes the biological clock,) even marriage for the wedding! I know women who actually have a ‘wedding scrapbook’ where they collect articles, swatches, pictures, contacts and phone numbers in order to plan their future, picture-perfect wedding BEFORE they even have a boyfriend!!

Erroneous second marriages have a different set of miscues. Loneliness is a deceptive motivator. Self-image needs to be fed after bleeding. It can be very difficult to think with a clear head. It is very easy to fall prey to irrational thought.

Because of this, there seems to be a sense of urgency to finding a relationship for people who have recently been thrown into unplanned singlehood. Whether it is for regaining self-esteem or showing the recent ex that “I can be a player too,” or even the fact that being alone in a bed is so foreign and the dog just ain’t doing it for them.

Slow down for God’s sake! You have to find out who YOU are before you can understand how you will relate to another.

In all this irrational chaos, there are people who seem to get it right.I recently had the opportunity to have a discussion with a wonderful woman I met right here in WordPress. She is a divorced single mom who refers to her significant other truthfully and honestly as her ‘friend.’ They share the same attitudes about relationships and life. They stay together by choice and without formal commitment. Their whole relationship is based on friendship, appreciation and trust. In that respect, she will tell you that marriage is unnecessary. They stay together for all the right reasons not because a simple ceremony and piece of paper tells them to.

Friendship first. Isn’t that really what matters? If you are going to position yourself in an agreement of “death do us part,” you better have the foundations laid for that. That takes time. That takes a gradual unveiling of understanding, openness, acceptance, respect, and trust. Well, being a good kisser is important too 😉

The Internet is full of convenience. It has the power of rational connection with wonderful people but also for unnatural expediency with intimacy. Use the powers for good. Stop, look, and listen before hitting send on that next message. You don’t want people like me to post on their blog… What are you thinking?

You’ve Got Mail (And very possibly a whole lot more!) November 21, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Friendship, Love, Passion, Relationship.
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SIP that messageYesterday a colleague came into my office and waved her hand around in the classic move to have me admire her newly acquired engagement ring. After all the pleasantries were played out, I asked her, “So how did you two meet?”  Her story is not an unfamiliar one in these times –  “We met online.”  In fact, according to Online Dating Magazine (2007) there are over 120 thousand marriages that occur every year as a result of online dating.  That statistic does not even take into account free dating sites such as Yahoo Personals and other computer mediated communication (CMC) sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and old-school e-mail.

So what gives here? How does this all work?  You would think that meeting someone without the advantage of visual cues, voice inflection, and eye contact would certainly be a deterrent to developing an intimate relationship. And what about that assumption of being “physically attracted” to a person that gives us the incentive to strike up a conversation? You don’t get that with e-mail baby!

There are several communication theories such as Social Presence Theory and Media Richness Theory that explain CMC as the absolute worst medium for interpersonal relationships to begin and grow.  These theories are based on the concept that the less “cues” a person has available to them for communicating, the less effective the medium will be. So what gives? If these theories are correct, wouldn’t the online marriage statistics reflect that? That doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, the online dating industry has seen financial growth of over $642 million (Jupiter Research) and continues to grow.  Zoosk, one of the newest online dating services (affiliated with Facebook) has more than 40 millions users as of October 23, 2009 (Internet Dating Industry Weekly News.)

What is going on here?

Well, think about it this way. Let’s say you have a fine French Bordeaux wine in your hand. How is the best way to enjoy it? Would you chug it or would you gradually take your time and sip it gently as you savor every smell and flavor. Cornell professor Joseph Walther states in his Social Information Processing Theory (appropriately acronymed as SIP) that communication can be savored in the same way – The slower the intake, the more flavorful the experience. People can gain the same information needed to develop relationships through any medium, it will just take longer with CMC. This may seem to be a disadvantage, but in fact, it is one of the parameters that make CMC so effective in relationship building. The players have more time in between encounters to ‘process’ information – savor it, so to speak. I think that we can agree that in all things ‘intimate’, slower is better!

Other characteristics are in play here as well. In related empirical research, Walther discovered that CMC-specific elements, which he labeled Chronemics were a positive factor in relationship development. For example, time stamps on an e-mail can signify affection simply by when it was sent. A late-night message is considered more amorous than a mid-afternoon note. Response time is also an indicator. Quickly returned responses early in the relationship can signify liking and excitement and the frequency of responses reflect attentive priority. Face it, we know that sipping can be tantalizing, but we love to gulp!  CMC holds us back and disciplines us to taste lightly.

Probably the most effective element for relationship building in CMC is the ability to send and receive messages at different times. The very fact that CMC can be used asynchronously can be a tremendous advantage. Think about it. There is a sense of urgency when communicating face to face or on the phone. Both parties need to be available to be “in the moment.” In today’s fast-paced world, it is a challenge to build a relationship when there are busy schedules, careers, and children involved. When an e-mail is sent, there is an assuredness that the other party will receive and read it at a convenient time. And remember that this also contributes to the ‘sip’ factor – savoring the moment. It can also come in handy if there is a mis-understanding or argument. The writer can take their his and carefully construct a message, hopefully after the emotion of the moment subsides.

The 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail” is a classic rhetorical case study for Social Information Processing Theory. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks slowly build a relationship though their computers much in the same way that Walther describes SIP Theory. I can name close to 20 friends of mine who have a significant other that they originally met online. I can name another 20 who are active in online dating sites. Is there something to this madness? Think about this, Computer Mediated Communication works in just the same way as pen pals of the last century. How many of your parents and grand parents developed or maintained a relationship through the mail?

My grand parents did.  Read their correspondence to each other in 1937 on The Philadelphia Letters

Have you got mail?

Waiting is… November 17, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Life, Love, Relationship, Spirituality.
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Stranger in a Strange LandMy last post entitled, Running is… is a play on a phrase in Robert Heinlein’s cult novel, Stranger in a Strange Land. I didn’t put much thought into titling the last post but now I am sure that it is drawn from my deep understanding of Heinlein’s story.

Stranger in a Strange Land is categorized as a science fiction work however it goes much deeper than that. Masterfully crafted by author Robert A. Heinlein, it is a parody on social mores taken out of context for the purpose of allowing us to look at them through a different lens. In this light, Heinlein challenges our views on religion, money, power, monogamy, and death. It is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a lone survivor from an expedition to mars who is born from fated astronaut parents and raised by Martians. Upon returning to Earth, his perspective of society is from a completely different viewpoint. Eventually his reinterpretation and restructuring of norms and values influence humans to adapt new ways of social understanding.

Thou art God

For example, his understanding of “God” is that of completeness and connectedness with every living person, plant, and animal – Wholeness in love. “Thou art God” is his phrase to express this concept and the idea that God is within as well as throughout. “One who groks” describes a person who understands this concept.

Water Brother

The most poignant ideal for me in Heinlein’s novel is the concept of the “water brother.” It emphasizes the importance and priority of connection with one another. Based on the fact that water is a scarce commodity on Mars, Valentine ritualizes the importance of human connection by the sharing of a glass of water.  Taking something that would normally have no significance in our world, Heinlein masterfully uses the sharing of water as a metaphor for how we sometimes take our relationships with one another for granted. In placing huge value on something that is casually considered abundant and trivial, he shows us that sometimes we erroneously devalue our connections in the same way. However, much like water is essential for the body to live, so is connection to others vital for the soul to live. In the novel, to be someone’s water brother is to be within the innermost intimate circle of that person. The water brother concept is the target for many critics of Heinlein’s book because it questions the societal norms of monogamy, family structure and stratum.

We should all be so lucky to have even a few water brothers in our lives. Together, “Thou art God.”

And that brings me to, Waiting is…

“Waiting is…” is a common phrase used between the followers of Valentine. The open-endedness of the phrase emphasizes the uselessness of trying to predict and weigh the future. It is meaningless compared to the glory of the now.

More often than not we look for the “next” and lose the “now.”  Yes, many of us are finding our current situations difficult. However, it is times like these that make it so crucial to see the value of the moment. We must value today’s beautiful sunrise, the smell of a flower, a conversation with a friend, the taste of chocolate, the touch of a lover … the sharing of water.

Look around. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Thou art God.

Embrace now because, Waiting is…

Do you Grok?

_____________________________

Activity time:

Do me a favor.

Do yourself a favor.

Look away from the computer and experience RIGHT NOW.

……

……

What was the most pleasing part of your moment?

Share it with us by posting a comment here.