Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There IS No Competition in LadyLand!

There is a disturbing phenomenon going on in the Public Dating World. You've been there before; you're going to dinner, holding hands, snuggling around town, finding excuses to whisper in each other's ear...and it's nice. Nice to be around someone you find attractive and who clearly enjoys holding you as much as you letting them. When this happens for me, I'm not always immediately sold on whether or not we're compatible beyond any of the above, but there is a certain delight in being open to finding out if there's anything more to it. But recently, I had the oddest experience of getting third-wheeled...by my ladyfriends! Everywhere we went, women aggressively flirted, fussed and fawned over my companion...when I was right beside him! At one point, a girl actually followed us and then sat in-between us- during church! I was stunned at the lack of civility and blatantly assertive behavior by women I considered to be friends.

Make no mistake; I didn't feel I had claim on the guy who was taking me out and who was continually by my side with his arm(s) around me everywhere we went. But I did feel like his outward actions made some sort of statement to the public world...perhaps not what we were defined as, but that we most certainly had something going on. While I didn't expect either of us to be exclusive, I was certainly not prepared for the lack of civility that occurred day after day when we were amongst "friends."

I hear women complain all the time that they hate feeling like they need to "compete" for attention from men. That women universally dislike being or feeling catty or threatened by other women. Even though no one enjoys this experience, somehow, it continues to be perpetuated. I've considered myself unusually lucky in being surrounded by women I know I can trust and who support me; but this latest experience threw me for a loop. Suddenly having women friends interrupt as I was planning a date with someone, being bumped out of my own conversation and ending up a third wheel...it was all very strange. At one point, deep in conversation with a man I was connecting with, a "friend" interrupted (citing a great desire to catch up with me); I gently informed her that I was in the middle of a discussion and I'd love to find her in a few minutes to catch up as well. She glibly acknowledged interrupting and then continued to stand between us until I walked away (since it was not actually ME she had wanted to "catch up" with).
It was like being on "The Bachelor." And nearly just as awful.

Here's the thing, ladies.
There is no such thing as another woman being your competition.
No. Such. Thing.

You may think you need to make yourself known to a man. You may fear you need to draw attention to yourself in order to be noticed. You may feel that the presence of another woman intrinsically draws attention away from you. I'm here to tell you; she does not. And here's why:
Men know what they want.
I'm not saying they're always smooth. I'm not saying they always approach relationships in an ideal way. I'm not saying men are graceful, suave or that their plans are always executed well (or in a timely fashion). I am simply saying that men know when they want to approach a woman and when they do not. And no amount of thrusting yourself in their face is going to affect their intrinsic interest in knowing you as a person. Sure, you'll get his attention momentarily. Sure, you'll get maybe five minutes of face time. He'll also be looking over your shoulder at every other person who walks by and you'll be pissed. Then, you'll spend the next four days creating excuses for his cagey behaviour. And when he still doesn't call, you'll start saying derogatory things about his character and doubting his masculinity before your girlfriends, amongst other such stereotypically petty slanders. (Sorry, boys. It's true. This is how the social aftershock works.)

The problem is not that he doesn't have the courage to ask you out. The problem is not that he disrespects you or that he's mistreated or mislead you. The problem is that you forced yourself into the path of a man who would have otherwise not pursued you. And then, as he continues on his natural orbit of not noticing you, you are disappointed in having an expectation borne of your own efforts alone. You have worked yourself into a frenzy and wasted time and energy over someone who would have never gone out of his way for you to begin with.

On the other hand, there are men who will go out of their way to know you. I'm not saying they're the men you want going out of their way for you, but I am saying that they do exist. You know this is true because you know you have been approached by them before. We have all been pursued at some point or another, and while we cannot always choose who puts forth the effort, we can know with absolute confidence the difference between a relationship that is created because a man is interested enough to pursue something with you versus a relationship forced because you're continually creating reasons to interact with a man who otherwise has not put forth any personal effort to forge a connection with you.

The reality is that no amount of YOU putting yourself in front of another woman is going to make you automatically more attractive/interesting/"better" than her. Nor does it mean you are not attractive/interesting or someone else's "better." While men may find the attention flattering, all you are doing is feeding an ego; his. And, ultimately, feeding someone else's ego when it's unwarranted and he's done nothing to demand your attention or respect simply leaves you going out of your way for someone who otherwise would have not taken notice of you. And really, who wants someone like that in their life anyway?

So here's the lesson, ladies. We are not the enemy. We are not in competition. If anything, we are your best ally. Every one of us can name (easily!) five men we respect, admire and appreciate- but aren't interested in dating. Ever think that you could help a sister out and send him in the direction of one of your lady-friends who may be able to return an affection for him? It's more likely to happen than him sending you one of his bro's, that's for sure. What about introducing your girlfriend to someone at a party that you've met who's attractive...but you're not interested? How much do you think BOTH of them will appreciate the introduction and attention? The reality is that attraction exists; we gravitate toward certain people for a reason. Forcing a relationship by jumping your natural gravitational pull is less likely to create a new solar system than it is to place undue strain and pressure around your surrounding atmosphere.

So please. Don't hit on my boyfriend. If you're the one he's interested in, I'm sure he'll find a way to call you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ponies, Husbands and Other Fun Wishes.

When someone says, "I really want to get married," it sounds a lot to me like when I say, "I really want a pony."
OF COURSE I want a pony!
I have wanted a pony my entire LIFE!
I know the colour, the pattrern, the name of my pony...I have dreamt of this magnificent creature since the time I was five years old. I WANT THAT PONY.
And then I think, "Farrah, if you REALLY wanted that pony so bad...you'd get it."
And I say, "Self. You outsmart me again."
It's true. If I really wanted that pony right now, I'd get it. I'd take out a loan. I'd buy it. I'd find a way. I could rent. Borrow. I could even volunteer at a stable. There are a number of ways I could have my pony...but I have yet to do so. Because, you see, the truth is, I DO want that pony...when I want something to play with. To dream about. To fawn over. To pamper. To love. So really...how much do I really want that pony? And how much of wanting it is really just what I like to tell myself when I have too much time on my hands?

When I hear people say, "I really want to get married!" I believe them. It's not the sincerity of the dream; it's the reality of the desire. If I say, "I really want to get married," I stop and think, "Am I really doing everything to show that this is the desire of my heart? Or is it simply a desire (...now and then...) in my heart?" If this were truly my desire, I believe I'd be doing more. Just like getting myself that pony.

So before you let out that lonely thought of, "I just really want to be married!" ask yourself:
Have you asked out your own dates?
Have you gone online?
Have you looked outside your own faith?
Have you asked to be set up by friends?
Are you willing to go outside your own comfort zone, put down your pride, accept different expectations and fully pursue the desire of your heart? Or are you simply whimsically repeating a phrase you've known to be true since your childhood?

I'm not suggesting that the statement, "I want to get married," is insincere. (My desire for a pony is very real as well!) I know relationships require TWO hearts to be prepared and open to one another; and that does take time and it may also take kissing a number of frogs to get there. All I'm suggesting is that we not throw around the desire of our hearts as though it is a mere wish or whim or something that we dream of simply to fulfill our own romantic fantasies. That when we speak the desire of our hearts, we speak it with the intent toward action. That when we finally utter the words, "I want to get married," we do so with a sacredness in which we are prepared to do whatever it takes, to pursue at all costs and are prepared for the consequences of caring for, loving, providing and nourishing an eternal relationship.

Because the other part about having a pony is that you'd better be prepared to shovel a whole lot of someone else's shit.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

Sooo...we're kinda famous now. First it was Mashable, then TIME, Glamour and CBS news. Every time I open my mailbox, there's another article about our little video. It's like Christmas! Now we're in The Huffington Post and NPR and I figure it's about time I posted it, too.
The video posted to YouTube only last Friday, and in a week it has nearly a million views. We filmed it thinking it would be fun to send to our friends, but weren't expecting it to be picked up outside of that- and certainly not to this degree! It's been funny to read the responses and ultra-serious reactions to something so clearly meant as a parody. Through all of this, not one actual contributor to Jane Austen's Fight Club has responded- which makes the rumors of who we are and why we did it all the more hilarious.

It's beautiful how well Chuck Palahniuk's lines translated into Jane Austen's heroines bursting to live fully from out of a repressed society which would tell women they were merely decorative property to be passed from their father's to their husband's estates. Tyler Durden's speech in "Fight Club" was perfectly suited for these women as a reminder of their true identity, "You’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank.  You’re not your job.  You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself.  You’re not your name.  You’re not your problems.  You’re not your age.  You are not your hopes.  You are the strongest and the smartest men who have ever lived." Can't you just hear Lizzie Bennett or Fanny Price reminding her desperate household of sisters of their true identity? "You are not how much money that is in our estate. You're not your father's name. You're not the name you marry. You're not your petticoats or your cottage or the latest fashions from Paris. You're strong and smart and you may live as you choose."
The comedy of manners has always eluded me. How these heroines survived swishing their hoop skirts though a mine field of polite propriety by wit alone never connected with me. I've always been more of a Bronte fan, myself. Give me a man ripping his shirt off and howling at the moon in the moors and going mad with elaborate plots for vengeance any day.