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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Girls Can Tell

This week's edition of Leah's Podqast series is on "dating advice for single guys." All three guests hit on some really sore spots for me and that's probably why I liked this episode. As painful as it is to hear about this stuff, it actually puts things in a better context for me. I'd love to be on a rebuttal episode, but even if that happens, I'd probably talk the whole nineteen minutes non-stop. So, in order to rein in my response, here it goes in written form.

Three key pieces of advice given in the episode are:

Women are really not that difficult. It's not rocket science.

Guys don't really have to think about it a whole lot. Just be yourself and be confident. You can smell fear. You can tell when a guy is afraid to come and talk to you or a guy doesn't really feel too confident about who he is. It sort of makes you not take notice of them.

Dating is ultimately a numbers game.

It would be easy for me to take this advice and just relax. The problem is, I can't relax about this topic. Relaxing means putting faith in something I don't have a lot of positive faith in. Almost every little attempt to put positive faith into it has been squashed by the regret of doing "the wrong thing."

Hearing the advice of being myself is a really tough thing to swallow. I've wrestled with the notion of "being myself" for a long time. What constitutes being "myself" anyway? I'm confident with a lot of stuff, but I'm not confident about a lot of other stuff. I'm shy in certain situations and I'm a court jester in other ones.

As you can probably tell, this stuff agitates me because this is an area where I don't allow myself to fail. I'm very hard on myself with a lot of things, especially here. I've played the fool way too many times and wonder if this is something I really need.

A situation presented on the show involves a woman staring at a guy in a bar, hoping he comes up and talks to her. I've never had this experience because I've never given someone I don't know a serious second glance. Besides, I don't go to bars to see and be seen. I'm usually there to see a band and/or hang out with friends. That's the comfort zone and see no reason to step out of it.

If I were to contemplate stepping out of the zone, the mental border police stop me with a ton of questions: How am I supposed to know she's single and interested in me? How am I supposed to know she's being friendly or flirty? How am I supposed to know she's single when she's essentially in a relationship with a guy, but they have yet to be "official"? How am I supposed to know she's got major issues? . . . And these are just some of them.

This approach seems like a poker game to me. You want to be friendly and open, but previous experience says to play your cards close to your chest. You'll get berated by your friends if you say the wrong thing, but you get even more grief when you decide to not play at all. It's a no-win situation.

Something I've recently understood about myself is my tendency to believe reality-based imagination is reality. Taking things out of context can present a distorted reality. These days, I try to distinguish between what's a thought based on my life now and a thought based on exaggerated memories. It can be very difficult.

In the case of this topic, years of hurt present the case that more hurt is on its way. But now I try to not forecast so much in advance. It's hard to not think about this stuff, but I keep getting the feeling there's a reason why this topic keeps coming up. Something tells me I should fix this, it feels pretty impossible to fix.

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