Okay, let’s talk basic respect right here and real quick.
Basic respect is letting a person finish their sentences. It’s treating them like a grown adult instead of like a small child. It’s not talking down to them. It’s not insulting things that are important to them, such as their religion.
I’m back in school for the new semester, and I have had some really shitty experiences so far.
The first was with a professor. She’s obviously smart, but she’s just kind of a jerk. I think she would enjoy being a kindergarten teacher more than a college professor. I just have a big problem with talking down to adults. It gives me a big bad case of secondhand embarrassment to hear someone be so condescending to another adult. If there’s someone sitting in the back row in a bank of computers that can’t be run independently because they’re connected to the presenter’s computer… Shut up. Don’t talk to him like he’s four and needs to sit in front. It’s rude.
Oh, and speaking of the word “rude”, don’t dismiss “rudeness” for “honesty”. They’re two COMPLETELY different things. Honesty can sometimes BE rude, which is why we have the white lie, but that doesn’t work the other way around. Rudeness is hurtful, honesty usually isn’t. It’s not rocket science.
This brings me to my next series of encounters. I have a couple of classmates (in a different class) who, ideologically speaking, are on the same page as me. They’re liberal dudes. Cool, good for them. However, they’re the most disrespectful people I have ever encountered in a college setting. They yell over everyone, professor included, and they don’t let people finish sentences. They interrupt everybody and it’s really difficult because they always get class off-track.
Today, however, this took a turn for the moderately horrific. It’s a class about interest groups, and we have to do a big research term paper on a group of our choosing. One of the obnoxious guys picked the Catholic Church, which is fine. Unfortunately he said that part of its agenda was protecting heterosexual marriage while defending child molestation. Someone in class got really offended, probably because she’s Catholic. So what does this guy say? “Whatever, you’re a child molestation sympathizer.” I wish I could make this shit up.
Now, I’m gay. I’m not really the biggest fan of most religious institutions, and that sentiment probably goes the other way here too. BUT I am also willing to let people have their religious beliefs and do what they’re going to do.
I’m not saying this because I’m some bastion of respectfulness, tact, and wondrous empathy or anything. In fact, I’m usually the one running my mouth with the first thought that pops into my head because I think it’s funny. That all being said, I do think these are some experiences that are forcing me to take a long look at how I am, and how I conduct myself and how disrespectful and stupid I may seem to some people.
I hope this does something similar to you. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to someone, even if you disagree with them.
I hope you all had a fun, happy holiday week or so with your families! I know I did.
I know that for some of you, “family” doesn’t necessarily mean your biological family. It might mean an adopted group of humans you get along with better than the people who birthed and helped raise you. But at any rate, I hope whatever you did and whoever you did it with made for some great times and memories. Did you score any great loot? I got a pile of gift cards and my mom made my girlfriend hand-knitted wool slippers
That being said, let’s get down to business.
Not too long ago, my pal Aaron had a conversation with me about his ladyfriend. Unfortunately it was not such a good conversation. I mean the subject wasn’t good, it was kind of depressing. It was about when a good time is to drop The L Word. (insert pic of TLW cast with “no, not this L word”)
His girlfriend said she loved him. This is great, right? Well, I think it’s great, but I’m kind of a sap and I love mushy stuff (If you ever tell anyone, I’ll deny it). The tricky problematic part comes when the second person is either not ready to say the L word, doesn’t feel like they are in love, or offers some other response that isn’t “OMG I LOVE YOU TOO”. So what’s a dude to do?
If you’ve never been in this kind of situation, here are some sample responses from two of my favorite humans – my girlfriend, and the person who usually makes my delicious iced mochas, Kelly!
Girlfriend says: “I probably wouldn’t but maybe if that helped me realize that I was, in fact, in love with them too, then I would say it back. Imean, didn’t that kind of happen with us? I’m always the first to fall in love anyway, so…”
Kelly: “Eventually it’s gonna get awkward for her and she’s gonna keep saying it and being like “What the hell!” I don’t know, he needs to figure out what he does feel and if he doesn’t feel that way maybe he’s just wasting her time. How long have they been together? How old is the dude?”
First things first, don’t panic. It’s okay to not be ready to say you love someone. It’s also totally okay to not be in love with someone! That’s the great part about human emotions – we can’t really force them, we just have to learn how to deal with them in their own special way. I strongly advise against saying it unless you’re ready (and ESPECIALLY don’t say it if you don’t love that person) Seriously, that should go without saying but it unfortunately DOESN’T go without saying. Some people are just stupid about repeating things they hear back to someone, especially when it’s considered a horrible awful thing to NOT say it.
Second, give her some SPACE. Saying something big like “I love you” is a big deal and people need time to react, even when they’re the ones saying it. This is especially a million percent true if the person who said it doesn’t get the response they hoped for right away. So what is an appropriate course of action for this situation?
My girlfriend probably said it better than anyone else could (except maybe for me): “ideally someone would sit you down and be like, ‘Hey I’m in love with you how do you feel about that?’ and then you’d have the opportunity to voice concerns on the matter and maybe talk about how you do love that person or maybe you’re really really slow to fall in love with somebody because of XYZ but when somebody’s just like ‘I love you’ it’s kind of hard to build a discussion out of that or be rational about that.”
I know that love and emotions don’t qualify as rational, but right now let’s realize that you can speak rationally about irrational things. That’s a little deep so I’ll leave that alone, but really, it is A-OKAY to wait and cool down before talking about something big like being in love.
Here’s some really important advice for EVERYONE to follow: if your dudefriend (or ladyfriend, I obvs can’t judge/discriminate) doesn’t say “I love you” back to you right after you say it for the first time ever, DO NOT PANIC! This is a big deal for them, too – it’s not easy to hear someone confess love, because I honestly don’t think anyone truly considers the fact that someone other than a parental unit loves them in a big way. If you don’t get a response right away, remember to chill out about it. Being upset won’t make them say it out of anything but guilt, and that is SO unhealthy I can’t even come up with a good comparison.
Also, remember that they might just plain old not feel that way. Once again I turn to my trusty pal Kelly to bring this one home:
“I also think I’d be comfortable enough to say it, or maybe comfortable enough to tell them I’m not ready to say it”. (And then she sang Haddaway’s “What is Love?” and the conversation stopped being productive)
To summarize, don’t freak out if someone you’re dating says they love you. (Wait. Freak out if it hasn’t been a longer term thing. If you’ve been together a week, don’t be declaring undying love. There’s NO way that’s a real thing.) Don’t smother those people bugging them about why they think they love you or whatever, unless you are really trying to change their minds. And try to keep it comfortable and intelligent, don’t insult anyone and don’t break anyone’s heart. Most DEFINITELY do not mess with someone in a vulnerable love-declaring state. It’s rude and I guarantee you’ll lose all your friends forever.
Wowser, I’ve been getting some attention from some pretty cool people the past couple days. I’ve even been followed by a few different ladies! (Don’t tell my girlfriend)
Seeing as how there are some girls paying attention here too, I should probably ask if you ladies have any dude problems. I mean, I’m not a guy, but I do date ladies, so maybe if you have questions ABOUT your guy/a guy/something or whatever, I could answer it!
I’m just trying to prove that even though I’m gay, I can play both sides of the field. Hurr, pun.
Okay boys, I told you this was coming. And you know what, I think you’re ready for it.
Today we’re gonna talk a bit about the cold shoulder. This is a common phenomenon among members of my gender(sorry!), so I’m gonna walk you through what it is, why it happens, and what to do to make it stop.
So the cold shoulder. What the hell is it? Urban Dictionary has some, um… interesting definitions for it, but I define it as a general withholding of love and/or affection. To go into a little more detail, if someone close to you stops communicating with you seemingly out of the blue, or for instance if they act mad all the time but just around you, they’re probably giving you the cold shoulder. Also, there’s glaring. Lots of glaring. Glaring is key. If someone glares at you but doesn’t talk or say why they’re mad, this is a huge symptom of the cold shoulder. And so is any of this.
But why, you’re asking, does this happen? What went off in her brain to make her this way?
Okay first of all, it might not even be her. It might actually be you, in which case, put on your big-boy pants and get ready for what I’m about to tell you. This all stems from a communication problem, in the most basic sense. Maybe you said something she didn’t take as a joke, maybe you didn’t say something. Maybe you forgot her birthday/your anniversary/to let the dog out/whatever. It doesn’t matter what it was, it matters how you handle it.
This brings me to my next point… How do you handle someone who’s giving you the cold shoulder?
The best advice I can give you guys is to not do ANY excuse-making, especially not before you find out what is wrong. This could be a mix-up, a simple misunderstanding of terms. This could also just be a really, really simple mistake on your part. The key to all of this is finding out what it is, and even if you don’t think it’s a big deal, that doesn’t matter. Do you value your relationship with whoever is angry at you? If you had been enjoying certain privileges and now are not, would you swallow your pride and apologize like an adult to get them back? (Pro tip: If you’re answering “no” to either of these questions, stop reading and piss off. This blog is clearly not for you.)
For those of you still with me, remember it’s always always ALWAYS easier to apologize for a small issue as soon as you come across it. Always. This is how we keep things from being blown out of proportion.
I asked around to some of my friends, to figure out what they do when someone’s giving them the icy glare of anger. The vast majority of them asked me what I did to sabotage my relationship now, but after assurance that this was for research and a few laughs, I got some pretty awesome answers (I have great friends, basically). The overwhelming response was “ask what you did to deserve this and go from there”. Like, literally all but one person said this – we’ll get to that in a minute. Dear Katie and Flannery had the wisdom to recommend doing something extra-sweet or super-nice in addition to a sincere apology. Rachael and Josh said a heartfelt “I am SO sorry for ______” will save a lot of headaches from popping up and reduce the drama in your love life.
What intrigued me was the response I got from my buddy Kim. She didn’t recommend asking what was wrong – her exact words were “confront them”, which personally sends up red flags, but everyone has their own way of dealing with things. The rest of her reply seemed a little counter-intuitive to that whole “maintaning a relationship” thing at first. She said, “If they won’t give you an answer, then do the same thing they are. At least that’s what I’d do. Or ask someone else who knows them well if they know what’s wrong.”
This was a really good reminder that you might not always get the answer you need from that person. They might not be ready to talk about it, in which case I say stick it out, they might be looking for an excuse to break up with you, in which case I say let them break up with you like a grown-up. They might even just be waiting for you to figure it out on your own because they think you’re smart enough. This last case? Definitely ask the friends if you’re stumped. Seriously.
So let’s recap a bit in the “what do you do” department, because this is a lot of stuff to remember.
1. ask what’s wrong – be really REALLY nice and don’t make assumptions
2. take some time to cook up a spectacular apology
3. apologize. Be honest, tell her how you feel about this, listen to what she says.
Now for some really, REALLY crucial stuff, okay? Don’t EVER start in on her with the “well you did THIS and THAT that one time” routine, even if she does it first. Sometimes she will just need to vent about past transgressions and such. Sometimes she’ll try to bait you into doing it – remember these words, gents. Always remember, too, that relationships are built and not made, and it’s one step at a time. This is also how a lot of relationship troubles can be solved – one thing at a time. Focus on the issue at hand, and keep your eye on getting through it. I think you’ll find you’re a lot happier overall.
But wait, you might be saying, I forgot a step, didn‘t I? Isn’t there some magical way to avoid the cold shoulder altogether? No. No there is not. Believe me if there was a way, wouldn’t I have told you by now? Everyone gives the shoulder, and it’s something we all have to get used to – sometimes, life is just a bitch.
So now that we’ve covered an introductory bit of “girl talk”, shall we move on to something more challenging?
How many times have you heard something like this? “I don’t care; whatever you choose will be fine.”
“Just do whatever you want to do.”
This is usually passive-aggressive code for “We both know you’re going to pick the wrong thing, so just ask me leading questions about what I really want to do until I say yes.”
So, WHAT do you do when this happens? If you ask those questions, and even if you double-check that what you want to do is an okay thing, she’ll get grumpy. I know this because I get really annoyed by those kind of questions and the constant double-checking, even though I am just as guilty of doing it as the next girl. This really seems like a lose-lose situation, because if you cave to whatever you think she wants to do, you will either be wrong or she’ll think you’re a total pushover. But, if you go with what you want to do, she may not have a good time or like your choice.
The best solution that I can think of is that after double-checking whether or not she actually is going to give you her opinion, look your lady in the eye and say something like, “Okay, this is what I am going to be doing because this is what I want to do, and if you do not want to do this that’s okay, just say it right now.” Be as direct as possible here, and don’t skirt around her feelings. If this makes her mad, maybe you should re-think doing things with her… Just saying. My awesome girlfriend said this:
“You know, he needs to say “Are you sure you don’t care where we go?” And she’ll say, “Yes, I don’t care”, and he says, okay, let’s go to Taco Bell, and if she says “Ew gross no”, remind her that she relinquished all rights to a decision.” THIS IS A DIRECT QUOTE FROM ANOTHER BONAFIDE GAY LADY
I know it sounds like I’m (we’re?) generalizing on gender and making women out to be super passive-aggressive. I am not aiming for this – I just don’t have a lot of experience with men being passive-aggressive. Women seem to worry a lot more about making people really happy, and culturally, they are forced into this subservient role of putting everyone else’s feelings first. I quite literally only know one person who doesn’t do any of this, and every time she says anything like “Do whatever you want”, I freak out a little because I expect to be told I’m wrong and I suck. Really, all she wants me to do is whatever I choose or want to do. (Upshot: I’m dating her. Sorry boys.)
I would like, therefore, to propose a new rule. Girls, be a bit more direct about what you want. If you do or don’t want something to happen, SAY IT. Personally I find assertiveness super hot, and I think a lot of dudes out there would agree with me. Feigning indecision and starting a fight? So not cool. And guys, you have to know what you want, too. Don’t worry about being manipulated or doing the manipulating – throw that crap out the window and move on to an actual relationship.
In short: be direct to each other and I think you’ll be happier, especially when you’re trying to figure out how to spend time together.
It’s here, everybody!
No, NOT the oldies song making the retail muzak circuit.
No, NOT the modern mashup artist.
I’m going to start a series on girl talk. You know, when girls say something but mean the opposite (or WORSE – something completely different!) This is where that word “tone” will come into play a lot, and I think this will have to be a multiple-post event.
Let’s start with something relatively simple. When you ask a girl if she’s alright, and she says in a short, not-quite-snap, “I’m fine“. It’s pretty clear that there’s something very not-fine happening. Unfortunately it’s not always resolved by asking, “What’s wrong?” and listening to whatever is bugging her. In my own experience, more often than not she thinks you already know and are doing something to bug her on purpose. Fair? No. Not at all fair, not at all logical, but hey – how much of your life actually makes sense and is fair?
The best way to get around the “I’m fine” is to be as diplomatic and as patient as possible. Even though you don’t remember doing anything offensive, and even if you think she’s being crazy, none of that matters. (Really, this applies to anyone that might be mad at you – don’t be a jerk)
Acknowledge to yourself that you may have done something without realizing it, and when it’s necessary apologize. Above all, LISTEN. Shut your mouth and let the lady get out whatever’s bothering her. A lot of girls (myself included) hold things in for ages, and it creates this big nasty grudge. This will come back when you have a serious fight. She will pull it out and be all, “Oh yeah, well you did THIS and THAT HAPPENED“. It will make an ugly situation uglier, so if you want to avoid that sort of nonsense, this is the best route to diffuse the situation. Plus, by taking some time to listen to her, she’ll eventually figure out that you’re a good dude to keep around.
And really, I cannot stress this enough – if she’s mad at something you did (or something she perceives you to have done), do NOT argue under any circumstances. I’m not talking about being whipped or giving up your Man Card or any of that idiocy. I’m talking about making a relationship (or friendship, or whatever-ship) WORK. This will help. If you can get past the petty bullshit, this will set the stage for a stronger, longer time with your ladyfriend. (Side advice: if your guy friends make fun of you for being “whipped” or whatever, ask them how their girlfriends are. Watch them splutter – it’ll be fun)
If you have any “girl talk” horror or success stories, let me know. I’m always interested to see what fun and exciting things members of my gender can invent.