Another day, another few million guys trying to manage relationships like they’re buying a JetSki or setting up a 401K or something.
It pains me. I can’t tell you how much it pains me to see this happen. And it’s happening all the time.
It pains me mainly because I used to be that way myself.
These men aren’t stupid per se. But they might as well be. They’re using the wrong tool. Smart people use the wrong tool all the time. It’s been acknowledged that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It was a smart guy who thought that up.
The tool that young, educated guys have is reason. Reason got them through school. Reason got them their jobs. Reason allowed them to rapidly move from customer-service hell to mid-level management hell. Reason got them a good deal on a nice condo. And a JetSki.
Reason. Reason is good.
So they finally get with a woman. Biggest project yet, eh? Let’s use reason to rationally manage this asset for optimal results. She appears human. Verbalizes quite well. All metrics are within spec. Yes. Let’s get to work, shall we?
Buzzzzzz. Oh no. No no no no no no no. Keep that PornHub subscription up to date. You’re going to need it, bro-sephus.
It’s a fair mistake. Reason should work universally. And actually, it even works in relationships. You just need add something to the rational equation that can’t be quantified, really. You need to take the rational step of admitting the necessity of something irrational, then keep that irrational thing at the top of the stack.
She’s in the relationship for feeling. Feeling is what keeps her there. The irrational part.
You want it that way — trust me. If she were as rational as you purport yourself to be, she’d be tracking metrics on you. And most of us don’t make out so well in the cold light of analysis. See, there are guys who probably can bench a little more than you, are richer, nicer to cats, and might have fewer signs of genetic disadvantage. Also, when you told her you’d meet up at 8, that was a part of the verbal contract. Showing up at 8:05 for any reason formally invalidates the contract. Why should she stay after you’ve invalidated the contract? Because she has feelings for you, maybe?
Hey, maybe you have feelings, too? No?
So, no. The relationship runs on feelings. If you’re trying to “manage” it using reason (or really trying to “manage” it at all) it’s probably going to fail.
It took me a long time to realize this. I think I was about 42 or so. It was with a friend of mine who’s been just as much of a failure in relationships, but for different reasons. We’re both smart guys — relatively speaking — but that night I found out he’s a bit smarter than I.
We’d been in a fairly swank bar and had again failed to find any women who wanted to talk to a fat old guy in a fishing vest (me) and a stiffly-introverted diminutive guy in a suit (him). So we decided to retire to our usual destination: his apartment balcony. We’d spend the rest of the night with cigars and scotch, sharing tales of smart things we’d said to stupid people who were so stupid, as well as tales of various exotic sexual perversions. But on the way there, we passed a couple having a fight. There was no physical contact. The woman was bland and distant–arms crossed before her. But her muscled boyfriend was absolutely freaking out. Crying. Nearly tearing his hair out. In public.
“I’ll be damned if I’d do that,” I said. “Let her leave. Talk it over later. Don’t have it out in public.”
My friend flexed his brows in that Spock-like way that served so well as woman-repellant. “Then, the relationship would fail. And it would fail for that reason.”
Since then, it’s been years. I keep finding more and more validations of his wisdom.
Guys: If you feel something, express it. Openly, honestly and directly. If you don’t, she’ll think you’re holding back because you don’t trust her, or don’t trust the relationship. Or — probably most accurately — that you’re trying to manage her from a distance using your preferred tool: The reason that lets you accurately sort paperclips in your cube.
But she is not paperclips: She is people. People run on feelings.
Use feeling, even if that means letting it use you now and then.
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