10 December 2011

Do Not Press Send

By now, you've likely read the email "Mike", the New York investment banker, sent to poor "Lauren", a classical-music-loving single lady in the jungle of Manhattan. If not, get a glass of something good and settle in to read the 1,600+ word, cringe-inducing missive poor Mike sent. Really. We'll wait.

Rather incredible, no?

I'm sure we've all received a similar communication. A pissy text, sad-sack voicemail, or an electronic diatribe about what you're missing out and why. More often than not, we don't reply...because, clearly, we didn't ever want to see or speak to the gent ever again, which is why we didn't respond in the first place. Or we send back a simple response, which is typically a more polite version of "Wow."

The odd thing is, when women don't respond -- don't return that call, that email or text -- it's our seemingly kind way of saying, "Thanks, but I'm just not interested." BUT, when men don't call, reply or text back, they clearly have fallen off the planet, are being held hostage in some glamorous foreign country (in a tuxedo, no less),  lost his phone, is in a coma in a hospital brewing a nasty case of amnesia, or is scared of feeling something so real.

Kind of see where I'm going here? For those who still think that there's a rather dramatic/romantic reason he didn't call, it's just his seemingly kind way of saying, "Thanks, but I'm just not interested." Sure, that stings, especially if you felt there was chemistry and really thought his last name sounded good going after yours. It's a great, big, juicy bummer to think there's potential and find out there's not. Just don't make it worse by pressing SEND. Because you certainly don't want your 1,600+ word, cringe-inducing missive hitting the internet and going viral.


02 December 2011

Single Bells

The full statistics aren't in, but I think anecdotal evidence proves that we are deep into breakup season. Between Halloween and Valentine's Day, you see more Facebook relationship status changes than any other time of year. Tis the season for "Single".

There's a great deal of pressure that couples can face during the holidays. From selecting symbiotic costumes for All Hallow's Eve, to meeting the parents at Thanksgiving, bickering over which family to spend what holiday with, what coast in ring in the New Year, whether to take the relationship to the "next level" or not.

This, my friends, is why people spike the egg nog.

You might very well survive the holidays, just you and your special other. Enjoying the season and all the pleasures it brings. That is until December 26th, when all of your friends and co-workers want to know if you found a rock in your stocking, examining your left hand for a ring. Suddenly, you start to wonder if your relationship is heading in the right direction. Because, clearly, everyone else was expecting him to propose. By New Year's Eve, you're in a cranky mood because he only asked for your hand to the dance floor, not forever more. By February 15th, you're miserable because he still hasn't proposed, asked you to move in or even given you a key to his place.

It's almost inconsequential if you've been dating for five weeks or five years. There's just a lot of expectations -- whether by you or others -- about what will happen to your relationship during this time of year.

My advice? Relax a little. Avoid big relationship "talks" until the pressures of the season have passed. Somewhere between Epiphany and the SuperBowl, sit down and have a chat if needed. Sometimes these things work themselves out on their own, or look a little different outside of the tinsel haze.

But what if you end up in a breakup?

Well, the upside is, you're surrounded by sugar and spiked nog -- and, hopefully, lots of people who love you. And, if the relationship wasn't going to make it for the long-haul, at least now you know. Better to ring in the New Year knowing the truth than dragging it out any longer. That's not to say your breakup isn't a total suckfest during "the most wonderful time of the year." It is. There's no getting around it.

But, you can make sure not to make it any worse but quickly vowing to follow the Ground Rules and the 10 Steps to Getting Over Him. Because, as Step 3 states: "Don't Honor Your Relationship With Pain". You don't need to hurt like hell just to prove your were really in love. There's no merit badge for that. Because, when you really, really, really think about what you are sad for, it's probably not him so much as it is him and all the broken hearts that came before. What you are really experiencing is disappointment for yourself and what you hope to have, not the devastation of the end of that particular relationship. So, mourn that, then move on. Let it go as soon as you can. Because there's a New Year coming, a clean slate, a new page. You now have the chance to find the right relationship, a really great person you can share your life with. But you'll never find it if you keep looking back.

Enjoy the season as best you can. Keep the sugar and spiked nog consumption in moderation. And have A Christmas Story and Bad Santa playing on a loop. You're going to be just fine.

02 October 2011

The Other Breakup

They say that if you change one thing, you change everything. If only. But, sometimes, when your life goes through a major upheaval -- or even a graceful shift -- you notice that friendships break, or simply fade away.

Friendships are relationships. I know. I like to state the obvious sometimes. But I think it's easy to forget that. We don't always have the clear ups-and-downs in friendships that we do in romantic relationships. Could you imagine talking to your BFF like you do your BF? Exactly. Friendships are typically a little different in tone, a little more slack is given, fewer arguments occur, and the endings are sometimes very quiet. That, however, doesn't make it any less confusing, frustrating or painful.

I mean, do you really bother with the "it's over" breakup conversation with a friend? Probably not. And, if you do/have done it, bravo to you! You are an official grownup. But, often times, friends don't want to hear what you might find problematic in your relationship. There are talk-to-the-hand gestures or tears or "Oh, yeah. What about you?" comebacks. I've been surprised that, when bringing up a questionable act with a good friend, I got all of the above before the simple matter was resolved. Perhaps it was the margaritas. I'm not sure.

I suppose that's not much different than fighting with your S.O. But, somehow, it seems a little more challenging confronting a friend than saying (with hands on hips), "Honey, seriously, seat and lid down."

Friendship issues can arise when a breakup occurs, or a new love enters your (or your friend's) life. When there's a new job, or the loss of an old one. Gain weight, lose weight, anything that shakes the norm. Sometimes, it's just a blip. Others, it's the end of a longtime friendship that, somehow, was able to survive bigger deals, but collapsed under the weight of something seemingly banal.

What to do?

Well, if you can have a conversation about it, please do. It's not always easy. You might be ready to talk but they aren't, or vice versa. Don't force it if it isn't going to happen, but do give it a shot. Avoid the texts and emails that are too easily taken the wrong way or out of context. No passive-aggressive Facebook updates or thinly-veiled tweets. We are grownups, after all. Set a face-to-face and be prepared to listen as much as you want to talk.

If there's not a shot at reconciliation, be gracious. You don't want mutual friends to have to choose sides (even if, deep down, you do). Keep your upset and judgments to a minimum. After all, you never know when the ice will thaw and the friendship will blossom again. That's easier to have happen if you keep yourself open.

Some friendships, though, simply aren't healthy. They hurt and hold you back. Those you should simply bid a fond farewell to, or at least keep in perspective. No matter how long you've been friends with that person, if they aren't helping you grow and move forward -- preferring to hinder and harangue -- end it. You know the kind: they insult you with a smile, accuse you of being overly sensitive and point out your every flaw. Not that we don't need people in our lives to give us reality checks from time to time, but, really, we don't need a constant critic, either.

There's another old saying: Friends come to you for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I think that's true. Friendships should always be appreciated for what they are as well as the gifts or lessons they bring with them.

Much like any relationship.