I am going to start this post with something totally unrelated to what I am going to post about. Tonight I realized that I am an addict. I don't drink alcohol. I don't smoke cigarettes or weed. I don't do any type of pills or illegal drugs. My addiction is to the narrative.
I mainline Butcher, Rice, King, and Goodkind. I snort greedily my weekly fix of Batman, Justice League, X-men, Spider-man, and the Avengers. I run down obscure side quests in Skyrim. I shoot up expansion packs of Arkham Horror. I have a stash of movies, books, comics, and games to feed my addiction. I feed myself a steady diet of narratives in all their different presentations and from that I begin spinning stories of my own.
Interestingly enough, not all narratives are fictitious. One of my earliest ideas about writing a book was to put together a set of hints and tips for guys about how to get dates. I approached this work seriously by talking with all the women I could about what guys do wrong. What makes a girl say no to a first date? On that date, what makes her immediately want to not ever go out with the guy again? I wanted to put this work out into the world to improve the way that men interacted with women.
Ultimately, I decided to scrap the project after several hundred interviews and a few thousand hours of effort. I was writing a guide to getting the girl. I was writing the fast pick up book to getting straight men laid. That was not the goal even though that was the result. I had missed my target and with the results I couldn't salvage anything of great value.
I trust in the moral taught by Spider-man: "With great power comes great responsibility." I couldn't bring myself to arm guys with any kind of knowledge to get one over on females. I have heard too many horror stories. Please don't take this as any form of altruism or goodness. I just don't need more douche-bags muddying the water for the rest of us. Doing things out of self interest may make me an asshole, but results are much more important to me than motivation.
One of the Commandments I came up with while writing the book is,"Everyone already has some sort of significant other." If you are going to let her (or him) having a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, fiance, friend with benefits, or paid arrangement stop you from talking to a person then you are probably never getting a date. Be bold. If a person is willing to talk to you while they have their status then that person is interested in you.
Another Commandment that accompanied this concept is,"If you can take her away from him, she was not his anyway." This is a two way reality check. It should also be read as," If he can take her away from you, she was not yours anyway." This wisdom saves an amazing amount of drama. It does away with jealousy and being possessive, at least in theory. You weren't in a relationship with the poacher. Don't be mad at them. They have done you a great service.
While pointing out these truths (and manipulating them all the time) certainly does prove that I am a complete despicable asshole, it is all based in a primal understand that all relationships between people are based on mutual agreement consent and trust. (It is worth noting another of my Commandments says,"When she says it is over, walk away completely.") I don't care if you are married or on your first date the relationship is an ephemeral idea that only holds as much power as the two of you believe in it.
All too often the trust in the relationship dies and the people involved drag the corpse of the relationship around for days, weeks, months, or years after the fact. Both of them are miserable. They are holding on to the memory of what was rather than dealing in the reality of what is. This is insanely unhealthy.
Now, I am not so jaded that I believe that it is impossible for two people who have been through a trust breaking scenario to begin to trust one another again. I am a closeted optimist. I believe all sorts of ridiculous things to be possible and maybe even true. Don't get too warm and cuddly on the idea of rekindling that relationship just yet.
THAT relationship, the one where he cheated or she checked out, that relationship is dead. It cannot be resurrected. Let it die. Bury it. Mourn for it. Go through all of the Kubler-Ross model.(google it, if you don't know) Believe in the,"If you love something let it go...," thing. Basically, let the relationship go whatever it takes.
By that I mean let go of all the hurt, sadness, anger, guilt, blame, and outrage. That stuff is all baggage. This will take most people a very significant amount of time. Time does heal most wounds. It doesn't typically do anything about the scars. If a relationship left you mutilated, I would strongly suggest doing everything you can to avoid future harm. Add distance to that time as necessary. Cut communication as needed.
If you have done all that and somehow rekindle the spark of a new relationship then it MIGHT be worth trying to rebuild trust. I think it is VERY important that you recognize that this relationship is not the one you had before. Things should be different this time. You aren't trying to play with the ghost of the past. You aren't haunting the dead relationship like some morbid ghoul unable to let go of a place and time that has passed by. Together you are nursing something new to life.
Trust is the mortar in a brick wall. It can be chipped away easily. It is the life blood of the relationship. Betrayal opens a vein. Thoughtless action bruises and cuts. The bad news, ladies and gentlemen, is that even if someone says that they forgive you that person and the relationship is still wounded. It may be dying. Wounded, dying animals are incredibly dangerous. A smart person isn't willing to confront one. In 99 cases out of 100 I would recommend walking away from a dying relationship rather than trying to resurrect it. None of you assholes are the relationship equivalent of Jesus.
I have a very, very important rule that applies strongly to trust. Rule #2 is," Don't Get Caught."Now this sounds like an incredibly asshole based rule. In one way it is. Don't get caught is a literal rule. If I am robbing a bank, taking a nap at work while on the clock, or cheating on my significant other it is really important to not get caught doing so. The literal answer is profound. Every time I see someone get caught for some foolish thing I wonder how they don't understand this basic premise.
The truth is very few people set out to get caught. Either they don't put enough thought into the risks of what they are doing or, much more likely, they miscalculated the likelihood of being caught. This is amateurish at best and buffoonery at the worst. I am not willing to be either. I consider my actions very, very carefully. Getting caught itself is almost as bad as the repercussions of whatever trespass I have committed. It proves a lack of mastery. We simply cannot have that.
Don't get caught though has a much more deep meaning. When you consider the risks of any plot you are determining the damage getting caught will do to you. If you weigh those risks and aren't willing to suffer the consequences you do not carry on with the plan.
That calculation sounds like this:
David's Basal Ganglia: This girl is making heavy eye contact. She clearly likes you.
David's Frontal Lobe: You are considering cheating on your significant other.
David's Hypothalamus: I am always down for adventure and having sex. Quick, off with her panties!
David's Prefrontal Cortex: Wait a minute! We have gotten ourselves in trouble this way before. We best weigh the risks. Also, this is a McDonald's. You cannot unwrap her here.
David's Hypothalamus: Screw that noise. We can breed, man. Rationale thought is for communists and Nazis. What sort of man are you?
David's Prefrontal Cortex: I am clearly British. Could you not tell from the accent?
David's Basal Ganglia: She is losing interest in you because this internal monologue is carrying on a bit long and you look like a slack jawed neanderthal at the moment.
David's Frontal Lobe: This is no bad thing. If you proceed you will lose your relationship, and it is likely that this young lady might not be as good a match as the one you have currently.
David's Hypothalamus: If you all listened to me more we would be less stressed and more frequently laid.
David's Prefrontal Cortex: Indeed. We would also have 35 children.
David's Hypothalamus: Now you are thinking right, sissy boy!
David's Frontal Lobe: This is not worth the risk. Move along.
David's Hypothalamus: You think I am defeated, but I will return.
David's Frontal Lobe: The Hypothalamus is easily startled, but he will be back and in greater numbers.
David's Prefrontal Cortex: Well quoted, but scientifically inaccurate.
David's Hypothalamus: Nerds! Screw this. Let's see if the motorcycle can get up to 120 mph.
So that won't make its way to the stage any time soon, but it does somewhat demonstrate the quick internal conflict between lust and reason. It is fair to say that reason does not always win. Remembering Rule #2 at least gives me a moment to stop and consider before I move on.
I consider Rule #2 so fundamental that it spent years as Rule #1. It took a really basic thing to unseat it, but Rule #2 is something I live and breathe. It is the simple calculation of risk versus reward. When it comes to trust you have no better ally than actuarial thinking.
Here is the thing, Trust isn't just broken by sex. You can break your partner's trust by telling their private business. Being in a relationship with me requires that you keep a certain confidentiality. I suspect that is true of most people. If you put my business out in the streets, I will be done with you faster than you can say," I shouldn't have said that."
I was friends with a couple who didn't understand bedroom confidentiality. One partner was exceedingly viscous in exposing the other. She would trumpet things like," At least I wasn't in the bathroom watching Tranny Porn," or "At least I don't get off in 2 minutes." Let's ignore the ignorance of the first for a moment (although it was this statement that made me dislike her) and focus on what the evil little bitch was doing to her guy. She was trying to out and embarrass him in front of his friends. She used privileged information to hurt his reputation and cause harm. That is down right contemptible. Interestingly enough it wasn't the last damage I watched her deal him.
Trust can be broken easily by not providing support for your spouse. That can mean supporting him through family differences or it can mean bringing home a paycheck. Causing a financial hardship for any reason other than a medical problem is betrayal and breaks trust completely.
I could go on all day about ways to break trust. The lesson here is don't ever put your toe to the line of breaking trust. If you do you have ended the relationship just as definitively as if you smacked your partner across the face. Moreover if you get caught or don't, the relationship is over. Deal with it like a grown adult.
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