Thursday, April 7, 2011

Checklists: Part 2

Now, to follow-up and finish my previous post on the idea of a checklist...

I don't want to spend this post quoting other people, nor do I want it to run away and turn into "journalesque" reflective rambling. So, I will mix it up and do a small amount of each.

I will start with what a dear friend said to me during a phone conversation last night. While discussing 'where we are' in terms of relationships she made a very accurate analogy. Relationships are like dancing. I had to pause for a second, because I really don't like to relate those two parts of my life. It usually ends up very messy for everyone involved. But, since she is such a good friend I let her continue. ;-)

Relationships are like dancing.
When you first start you jump right in, eager and with all of your being. You want everything right away and can't get enough. You spend ludicrous amounts of time with this new interest. You don't really care if you are doing everything right because it is just so damn fun.
When you hit the intermediate level you think you have it under control--you know what's up. Your attitude is of confidence and flashy moves because "this is how it is supposed to be". Take it or leave it is how you present yourself to your partner because damn straight, you are experienced!
When you hit the advanced stage you throw everything out the window and realize that pretty much everything you thought was right was, in fact, complete bullsh*t. Now, you want the nuts and bolts of things. You care about the little details, about what feels good, and how the other person feels. You want things to actually work, not just magically happen.

I. Dig. This. So. Much.

At the tender age of 27 I feel as though I am slowly moving into the advanced stage. Relationships aren't magic. They don't just work. Nor does your dancing. I am doing so much more reflection on my last few relationships and thinking about the details of what worked and what didn't. (end journal-like rambling)

On to my next point.
I am an organizational freak, and I love checklists. And I mean love. They give me a sense of accomplishment and focus for my slightly ADD, fast-paced brain. So, I felt like after every relationship I 'add' to my checklist of what I want and what I don't want. However, even when everything looks amazing on paper, and he added up, I still wasn't happy. wtf. So, obviously since I was the common element in all of these situations it must be me. The last 8 months have been a hell of a ride of freedom, choices, reflection, growth, and realization. And I have come to some conclusions...that I will share with you in the form of a list for the sake of irony.

1. Don't like what a person does, like how they act. I mean, common activities are all fantastic (and stuff) but the real deal is in like how that person relates with the world around them. How do they treat the person at the checkout? Their server? The homeless person on the street? Are you comfortable with their interactions or are you put off? There really isn't a right or wrong way of dealing with people--beyond the expected politeness--so I am not trying to be judgmental. What it boils down to is, does it jive with you? I tend to be a very open person when dealing with society (as long as the new individual isn't creepy) and I am made more comfortable when the people around me exude a similar confident attitude. Again, not right or wrong. Just an observation.

2. Feeling safe is the bottom line. Why do we end up dating our friends? Because they make us feel safe. There are only 2 people in the world outside of my family who have ever made me feel as though they accepted all the little parts of me that make me, well, me. Good, bad, ugly, funny, weird, serious. And for everyone, not just me, that is a big deal.

3. Communicate. This only happens if point two is reached. You never say what you really mean if you don't feel safe doing it. Either you lack the sense to be afraid (brash and insensitive) or you simply keep your mouth shut because you are too scared to speak the truth. No one wants to feel vulnerable. If you are willing to communicate on an open and honest level then you are completely at the mercy of the other person.

4. Repeat points 1, 2, and 3.

So where does that leave us? Checklists have their place. I know what I want. Hopefully someday I can give what another person wants. But, the bottom line isn't things, stuff, or common activities. (I am being vague on purpose) It is about feeling safe, open communication, and are you comfortable with how that person interacts with the world?

I know that whenever the next time happens there is going to be a lot more understanding, communication respect, and patience--both required and given.

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