Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The dating lesson, redux

Note: Edited from previous version


The story:

Helping a friend clean her apartment, I used a bagless vacuum cleaner for the first time the other day. It was discovered by her boyfriend that I had accidentally dumped not only the crud but also the HEPA filter into the trash....which had already been taken to the dumpster. Argh...

Friend's Boyfriend was astounded by my blunder. I didn't like his reaction. His tone of voice, facial expression, and body language communicated to me his opinion that I had NO brain whatsoever, just because I didn't pay attention to what I was doing and threw away an essential component to the piece of machinery.* Yeah, I got my feelings hurt and sillily thought I'd be vindicated if throttled him with the cable TV cord or brained him with the Mickey Mouse blender. But I refrained and made light of the situation. I offered to purchase the replacement filter, and he warned me it would be expensive.

"What?" I inquired, "Is it going to be, like, 50 dollars?"

"No," said he. "About 35."

"Oh, well, [my friend] can just count it as an early birthday present."

I ran to the conveniently located Tarzhay, found and bought the thing (and a cute hobo bag purse to assuage my ire--I admit it, I'm a shopoholic), and returned to the frenzy o' apt cleaning.

Props to the boyfriend--I felt he was nicer to me as the afternoon wore on. Maybe the new filter and the fresh package of toilet paper were good peace offerings.

I really deserved the second laugh I got from him when I sucked a shoelace up into the vacuum cleaner...and parts of the shoelace melted. And I did praise him for his application of muscle power when he vripped the remaining shoelace length right off the roller brush thingy. I get some points for being a nice gal. *grin*

He really was helpful---switched the hose to the right spot on the vacuum cleaner so that the machine was converted into Tim Allen "augh augh" power mode. Doggy hair and random plastic thingies were no match for that Dirt Devil!!

And he came over the next day and helped out his girlfriend some more, patching up a hole in the closet door. I may not like him, but she does. And that's what counts...

However, this experience made me think about men who consistently deride the women they date or are married to.

For the guys: Don't deride your gal every time she does something silly or careless or even downright stupidity. Likely, she already feels like an idiot. Don't be a turdbucket by making things worse.

For me, and maybe other gals:
DON'T date a man who consistently derides you. (If you feel like an idiot around him because you find him intimidating [eg. awed by his excellence in some area], that's different---it's not his fault.) A man who constantly treats you as if you have no brain, and therefore a worthless piece of dookey; who does not recognize and praise your strengths and abilities; who only feels strong if you are perceived by him and others as incredibly weak; and who needs to be in control 24-7 is to be avoided as a potential marriage partner.

Be nice to the guy, but do NOT date him.


Update: On further reflection and b/c of discussion in the comments, I admit that I overreacted in my emotions. And certainly, I exaggerated a bit and hammed it up here (which, for the newbies, is my writing style here)---it was a funny story b/c I did internally act like an idiot in my reaction and I did do at least two rather careless things. As I was driving to the store, after the original "moment" happened, I prayed about it and knew that no matter what I had said to him or did around him, he is a human being of value and worth to God--and not beyond God's ability to reach and to change him. Yes, I had operated out of my impression of who this guy is, having been around him several times before, but really not knowing him. He had acted like a jerk in the past, numerous times, and I assumed he'd be a jerk no matter what I did. I didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. He was nice to me, and the niceness may have just come from the goodness of his heart. I don't know.

I have been reminded (for the humpteenth time, over the course of my life) that I have to take responsibility for my part in situations, especially when it comes to emotions. And that I am just as tempted to say ugly things as any other human being is. Question for me is: Will I say what immediately comes into my head; or will I stop and pray and then say something kind or something to diffuse the tension or just keep quiet?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

E,

Not to nit pick here but it sounds like you did something dumb and he didn’t react the way you thought he should. Men don’t react the same way women do. If a man does something dumb we expect our buddies so say something like “you moron, why weren’t you paying attention to what you were doing”. Not fix us a nice cup of herbal tea and comfort us with a carton of Ben and Jerry’s.

A man can’t make you feel dumb, you did something dumb, you felt dumb about it, he didn’t make you feel better. This isn’t the same thing as a guy who constantly needs to put a girl down in order to stroke his own ego.

Res Ipsa

StarGazer said...

I've worked most of my life at trying to not make people feel like idiots (a courtesy with which I was much less concerned in my younger days). I have to admit, extreme idiocy will still bring out the Daria in me, but even then I do my best to not say anything out loud; I do have some regard for the feelings of others. And I would try even harder than normal to shield any hypothetical girlfriend from an outburst (at least partially because any such person would no doubt have the knowledge to return my fire quite accurately ;-P ).

Besides, when it comes to the inner workings of mechanical appliances and other bits of stereotypically "guy" knowledge, I'm the idiot. I've been on the receiving end of too many self-righteous lectures by those who believe that their advocation should be shared by all to castigate another for lacking specialized knowledge that I may possess.

Elena said...

Res,

#1 He's not my boyfriend. Thank goodness!

#2 He's treated me and treated his girlfriend this way before. I have no reason to believe he is of good character and personality. (And he's not a Christian.)

However...
#1 I give him credit for being nice and civil as the time he was in my presence progressed.

#2 I don't think he's beyond redemption. With God, anything is possible.

#3 True---I'm not around him enough for him to really get to know me and vice versa.

#4 This guy, without knowing it, probably touched an old wound (and therefore, a very sensitive spot)---my dad used to act the same way without reinforcing that he loved me. Dad's different now in a lot of ways. We can both laugh at my "blond moments." He tells me he loves me and he shows that he does. And for that, I'm thankful and love him so much.

#5 I was thankful to be able to identify a personality/character flaw I should avoid in other guys, whether or not this particular guy consistently belittles people. That really wasn't as much the point, in the end. I do need a guy who's either got a nurturing side or is at least willing to develop that side (or learn about and practice love languages).

Anonymous said...

You probably don’t want a guy that needs to learn your “love language”. (IF he’s single and even knows what a love language is, subtract guy points) Pick one that speaks it already. Also pick a guy that is on a similar way length with you on talking.

We all have blond moments (sometimes hours) I think I had a blond year once. Laugh it off.

Res

StarGazer said...

By discouraging her from looking for a man who is willing to learn her "love language" (and, yes, I know exactly what she means by that) are you saying, then, that men cannot adapt (which makes us idiots) or that men should not be required to adapt (which makes us arrogant jerks)? It seems to me that one of the reasons that God made men and women so different, and then gave us the urge to join our lives in marriage, is because He wanted us to learn how to adapt out of love, to place another's need before our own and learn to act in ways outside of our nature to please the other. Marriage is one arena in which we learn to love God better, and in adapting to our spouse we are learning to bend our wills to God as well. It takes an effort on the part of both men and women to do this (and I do believe there should be change on both sides -- women should not go into marriage expecting the guy to do all the adapting), but in the effort to learn the other's love language (or a thousand other things), we are both expressing love and learning to be a greater person.

It is almost impossible to find two people who are on the same wavelength about everything, let alone a man and a woman. Try to find someone who fits every aspect of your personality, and you will end up frustrated indeed. Rather, find the person who challenges you to grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally; that is the key to a great relationship, I believe.

Darlin' Joy said...

That sounds similiar to an experience I had where I did something that I was embarrassed about, and the guy just wouldn't let it go. I found it to be an immature character. Eventually my friend that was with us told him to lay off. I was thankful.

As far as the topic at hand, even though men can be "insensitive" at times, but they shouldn't ridicule a person to the point of making them feel poorly.

Anonymous said...

“By discouraging her from looking for a man who is willing to learn her "love language" (and, yes, I know exactly what she means by that) are you saying, then,….”

No, what I said was don’t do it and “Pick one that speaks it already.”

The reason should be obvious, people don’t change the way they relate to each other, at least not very quickly. There is no reason to start of a relationship when two people are communicating on very different wave lengths. Picking out a mate that already relates to you on the same basic levels is generally a good thing. A guy isn’t likely to bother to learn about this stuff until some women forces it on him, but he’ll be able to do it. E should look for a man that knows how to make her feel loved and intimate together. He doesn’t need to know the latest psycho babble vocabulary, he needs to connect with her emotionally.

Big points for getting the job done. Negative points for reading some book on relationships marketed to women by the pandering pansies.

The rest of your emotional out break had nothing to do with my post, I hope you’ve validated your feelings by venting.

Res

StarGazer said...

I don't emotionally outbreak and I don't vent; I discuss issues logically and rationally. If you are incapable of recognizing that, if you take my disagreement or discourse as an emotional attack on your own position, than that is your own problem, not mine.

Nor do I use psychobabble, and I don't just echo books that I have read (because most books I have read on the topic have been nonsense). I do endeavor to write precisely and clearly, and if that requires a rigor of language that makes me sound as though I am quoting a book, then so be it. But I will never write anything in which I do not strongly believe, and Elena knows me well enough to be assured that all my posts are my own thoughts, not a shrink's.

Difster said...

I must admit, if someone does something dumb, I'll laugh and do a bit of teasing about it.

I think the difference though is that if I do something dumb, I'll laugh at myself and I have no problem with others doing the same.

Sometimes there is a fine line between humorous teasing and outright derision but I'm usually careful not to cross it.

StarGazer said...

Concerning the "love language" issue:

Certainly, similar communication skills should be a consideration when choosing a mate; my point is that it should not be the only consideration. Any relationship, of any kind, will require compromise and adaptation on both sides, in areas formerly believed to be immutable. To eliminate a man solely on the basis of different communication styles is to imply that men are incapable of change in this area, that this issue alone can serve as a dealbreaker. While learning to express love in a way that one's partner comprehends can be a difficult thing, it is certainly possible, and the man will come out with a greater knowledge of how to put aside his natural instincts for the sake of others.

My own best friend and his fiancee are going through this exact issue right now. They're communication styles are quite different, and they aren't "buddies" in the conventional sense of the term, but they see this not as a reason to end their engagement, but as an opportunity to grow spiritually. Their relationship is built on the fact that they are closer to God together than apart, and learning to communicate with each other effectively has been a big stepping-stone on that road.

StarGazer said...

That "they're" in the second paragraph should be "their". Had to point this out before Elena did. :)

Anonymous said...

Stargazer,

Are you married?

Res

StarGazer said...

No, but that does not mean that I can have nothing to say concerning it. I have experience in relationships, both friendships and romances, and have spent a great deal of time observing the relationships of others. I've seen what works and what doesn't, and the fact that I am not emotionally involved in the relationship allows my viewpoint to be objective and rational. It is a myth that only those who are married can possibly understand marriage; there are many successful unmarried marriage counselors, and they are successful because they have studied marriage objectively. One might as well say that one has to be insane to be a psychologist, or a criminal to be a detective. I have taken all my observations of relationships, combined it with my knowledge of God (both from Scripture and first-hand) and with the wisdom of those who have written worthwhile books on the topic (I would recommend C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves and the portions of The Screwtape Letters that deal with marriage), and come to my own conclusions about marriage. Maybe they don't work for everybody, but neither does one person's experience with marriage cover all permutations of the subject.

Anonymous said...

Wow! It was just a yes or no question.


Having been married for several years, I would point out the following:

1. It’s easier to have a successful marriage when you share basic values and communication styles at the start.
2. Can people change? Yes. Doesn’t happen quickly and your hoping that someone will unlearn behaviors that they have taken a life time to develop. Not a wise place to start.
3. Most marriage books are written for women. They take a female perspective on what is “right” in a relationship. Even the so-called Christian authors neglect biblical principals in order to talk about their psychological topic de jure. Yes they sprinkle in bible verses, no it isn’t generally biblical teaching. Its Pop Psych dressed up for Sunday.

Res

Elena said...

Res, why don't you write some biblical counsel for not-yet-wed Christians? You can e-mail it to me, and I can post it. If Vox can have blogstars, I can too! ;o)

And what DO guys think is right in relationships? I don't think all guys don't care about their relationships with their girlfriends or wives: they have different perspectives/takes on "relationships," perhaps, but they do care.

A married friend just today said something similar to point #2 in your 12:40 comment.

Anonymous said...

E,

I’m not sure I still have your email could you resend it?

Guys don’t change, at least not very fast. Your right to avoid a guy like the one you posted on. He may not be a total loss of a human being, but that doesn’t mean you need to be with someone like that if you’re looking for a mate.

Woman need to find a man who is already able to communicate with them without changing. If the guy acts in a way that you find offensive (even though he may not see it that way) and he won’t change it while you’re dating, chances are he won’t change when you marry him.

No guy is going to do things 100% right all the time, but you should be on the same page most of the time. Also, if you need him to talk TO you a lot (not just listen) and he doesn’t share his feelings verbally, you are going to feel shut out down the road. Guys don’t normally share themselves the same way women do. Figure out if you’re on the same page with this. And yes this is 100% on the girl to do, it’s not important to your man, not that we don’t care, we just don’t think about stuff the same way.

Res

Elena said...

Well, that certainly confirms something I've been telling myself about a guy I know. Great person but doesn't readily share his opinions or thoughts and doesn't elaborate without much "teeth pulling," as I call it. A guy like that would drive me nuts.

Yeah, you can't make people willing to share. It's OK if sometimes people need suggestions as to how to phrase what they mean. Most of my close friends and family are open to my suggesting possible words to express what they're trying to say. Good choice is one of my gifts/skills, and it's important to me that a person be willing to accept this from me. (It's not about me being critical of the person's word choice---it's about my trying to understand exactly what the person is thinking/feeling/going through.) I'm very analytical in linguistics/communication.

Yes, obviously, the communication thing is crucial to me. Not the only thing, of course, but VERY important.


Learning to "speak" someone's love language is easy contrasted with the ability to communicate overall on the same wavelength. The two people don't have to communicate in identical ways, but connection has to be made, consistently. They can have two different senses of humor, but the difference cannot be overly wide. A good sense of humor about life-- not just the ability to tell good jokes or make witty--snappy comments, is crucial to a good marriage.

Anonymous said...

Mrs Ipsa and I were watching a show and the women was making all kinds of random and unassociated statements. (the kind that drive me nuts, I can never keep up, but it seems to make perfect sense to the women in my life) Mrs Ipsa asked me, “aren’t you glad I don’t spider web like that”? I said “what do you mean, your even worse”.

My wife laughed long and hard about that. Because she knew I was right and because that has been a marriage long communication issue for us. She could have got mad (she has in the past) but instead she chose to find the humor in it and we shared several minutes of genuine joy.

She could have found my remark insensitive or worse and shown me her displeasure but she didn’t, she got a chuckle out of seeing herself through my eyes. Laughter is essential to marriage.

Ashley the Blue Raider said...

Wow this post string makes my head hurt from all that scrolling. Now that my stupid summer class is over I actually have a life and post again...

Here goes:
I know the dude in question here, and yes, while I know my sister can do some careless things, I have seen first-hand how he treats people. He has never been ugly to me, personally really, but he chooses to constantly condescend to people and his girlfriend, which gets on my nerves. However, he is the bf of one of my good friends and for whatever reason she loves the oaf. (I almost typed loaf there. hehe --Elena, is that an appropriate use of the word oaf??) Anyway, while Elena's faux pas was kind of funny, he should have laughed it off as such too, instead of making a big deal about it. I believe he tries to make himself feel more important than others because he can't hold a steady job and mooches off of his girlfriend/doesn't pay bills, and uses her credit to get by. That said, Elena and I tend to be sensitive growing up and we both have developed a thicker skin, but listening to someone who obviously doesn't have the where-with-all to hold a job eluding to the fact that you're a moron would annoy me too. Res has a point in that it should be laughed off, but we shouldn't chalk up rude or bad behavior to boys will be boys. That's just silly that we can't expect humans to have manners. I know many guys who don't act like that or have said that they are really sarcastic but have to rein it in sometimes, because what you say, without realizing it can be more hurtful than you mean it to be. Even though my guy roommates are messy, I will say they are not hurtful, and genuinely try to be nice to people. No, they aren't sissy boys. They are just conscientious. Also, I've put my foot in my mouth many at time not meaning to be hurtful, but it just came out that way. I've had to work on that over the years; it's called learning how to be mature. Yeah, making fun of people should be left to the middle school crowd, but the rest of us can let it roll off of our backs if we are confronted with a clod.

Elena said...

(By the way, dear readers...
Ashley's referring to the guy in the post---not to any guy in the thread of comments.)