Looks like the ‘What were you thinking, girl?’ post evoked a lot of responses. Here are some that I got from you:
I LOVED this article. I have a wide grin on my face right now and just one word for you: GUILTY. I’ve done most of these things and I’m not proud of them. It makes me think back to earlier this year, I was going with a guy in his late twenties (whereas I just turned 20) and I never returned his calls..and he even remarked that he doesn’t usually get treated like this (he was a quality guy in just about every sense of the word). You can guess where that relationship went…. *sighs*
Over time I’ve realized a lot of my dating/relationship misfortunes have been mostly because of self-sabotage! Can you recommend/write an article for how to end it? I know there are tons of materials out there, but an expert’s recommendation is always appreciated. :)
I look forward to your upcoming blogs and newsletters.
All the best,
Thanks for the note, Jackie. The original title of the article was ‘How to stop being in your twenties.’ Perhaps it wasn’t too bad a title after all, hmmm…
And there there was this one:
You make some excellent points, as usual. I would just like to state for the record that there are men who are just as guilty of this as women might be, and nice women who have to put up / decide not to put up with the same poor form from a lot of guys. Just saying.
But I am sure you knew that already and sent out a similar e-mail to the men who e-mail you?
all best and thanks as usual for your encouraging advice about these things…
Interesting. Grudgingly accepting, but ever-so-subtly attempting to pass the buck. And then there was this one:
Ha ha! It’s the other way around. You need to be telling the guys that they need to get back to US. Please, I am always polite to them, to a fault. Then I’m the one who ends up screwed. They think “getting back” to them seems too needy. Gimme a break.
No comment necessary on that one.
So in my position as self-appointed big brother/consigliere to the nation of smart, professional, single women (not the worst spot in the world, must say), sometimes I have to be the bearer of not-so-good news.
After all, a good consigliere would tell you if you had ketchup stains on your suit, if your plaid sweater was clashing with your polka dot pants, or if your eyeliner had smudged and made you look like a very thin version of a panda.
In other words, sometimes I have to break it to you that you’re screwing up. From having written dozens of articles of this nature, by now I have a statistically significant sample of your responses to them. And the most common one basically goes like this:
“Well, sure, okay, I see your point. But what about the guys? They screw up even more.”
To start this discussion, humor me for a moment as we entertain a metaphor. Let’s call all the unexpected things that can happen in the dating arena ‘the weather.’ In that case, my job is to tell you what kind of weather to expect, and how to respond to it. Kind of like a super-prescient weatherman.
If it’s rainy outside, I would say take an umbrella, wear a raincoat, don some galoshes if it’s really hairy. If it’s hot, I would say wear linen or something else that’s breathable. If it’s cold, I’d say dress in layers and wear thermal underwear. If there’s a hurricane, I’d say stay in your favorite bomb shelter and don’t even think about going out.
Pretty straightforward. There’s no arguing with the weather — you do what you’ve got to do.
So may I propose that you stop telling me “I’m fine — why don’t you tell the weather to change?” Because men are like the weather. Let me re-phrase that by repeating it verbatim, which actually is not a re-phrasing at all but rather an attempt to burn it into your head through sheer dint of repetition:
Men are like the weather.
And can we see that in boldface? Say hallelujah:
Men are like the weather.
Underlined and in all caps? Sing it, sistah:
MEN ARE LIKE THE WEATHER.
You can’t change the weather. And you can’t change men. However, you can change the way you respond to them.
Here’s an even more important principle that I learned from one of my teachers: when you defend yourself in any way, you have completely blocked the path of growth. When you say “Sure, but”, you just killed whatever lesson was contained in there. You’ve made it impossible for yourself to learn.
Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” My job is to empower you. And you have power to work on yourself and make positive changes.
If I were to say that, in order for you to be happy, you need to change Mt Rushmore, 535 Congressmen in D.C., a eucalyptus in Australia or some cute guy you just met, I have disempowered you because those things are not under your control. You, your mind, and your behavior, on the other hand, are under your control (at least more than anything else).
So take responsibility for your actions (without blaming yourself, of course). Think of responsibility as the ability to respond. That’s basically the same as power. In fact, you’re more empowered when you take responsibility even for the things that clearly he screwed up, because then it brings it into your zone of influence, as opposed to the vast uncontrollable we called the weather. Defenselessness, openness to feedback, and responsibility will hold you in good stead in your path to authentic happiness and fulfillment in all spheres of your life.
All the best
PS: FYI, before one of you digs into me and tells me to write this article for the men, too — I have. Eons ago. Now go re-read it ’cause clearly you didn’t hear a word I just said :) And it’s high time you got yourself a copy of the infamous book for women — it does a mind, body and soul good.
Dear Dr. Alex,
after enjoying your emails for a couple of months I finally downloaded and read your book for women. Most of it struck me as right on, except for the part about where to meet men. I was going to write you an outraged e-mail asking what you were smoking when you wrote that section, since I’ve been doing all the things you list for 15 years or more and have yet to meet an unattached man at any of those venues. This post changed my mind (aren’t you glad!) I think I’ll go back and examine my “yeah, BUT…” and see what I can learn. Thanks!