Life Lessons: When it Hurts

Lately, a lot has been on my mind. I took a break because I was tired of the political post. And the fighting and all that other stuff. And I was looking at the words people were saying and thinking about things going on in my own life. And there’s pain everywhere. I keep asking myself why do we hurt? Heartbreak, loneliness, loss, and just because we’re angry. Anger if you ask me is just at times placing the hurt on someone else. Because you want to hide your feelings.

I used to do that all the time. When I was hurting I’d bottle it up. Bury it. I didn’t want anyone to see how vulnerable I was. How much I was suffering. I remember the first real heart break I had. It was painful. Did you know that emotional pain like that actually becomes physical? You can take pain killers to help. However, I don’t suggest that. You see. People sometimes look at life and think I don’t ever want to be hurt. Saying things like ” I don’t want to be with them because they’re going to hurt me.” or “I keep myself closed out because someone may hurt me.” or one the more interesting ones they act in such a fashion they push people away. Because they don’t want that pain. Continue reading

If You Like Someone, Say It. But Mean it.

I did a bad thing. I slacked off on writing this week. Then again maybe I am being a little to harsh on myself because I’m actually an Analyst. So writing is my hobby and my passion. If I could make a living off it… I totally would. However,  that’s not the point of this post at all. I actually have a topic I wanted to bring up and it is a little different.

I wanted to talk about attraction today. For some odd reason, it crossed my mind. And you know often times we do not give any thought to the things we take for granted.  Remember I like to sweat the small things? But I was reading a reddit post not too long a go and asking What Was The Most Memorable Compliment You’ve Ever Received? reading the comments and the feelings of the users it got me thinking about something.

Why don’t we talk more about complimenting people? Specifically about the importance of it. I mean let’s think about this for a minute. Why wouldn’t you want to compliment someone? In a research study in the Inquiries Journal Olga Yatsenko dives into this topic. To explore what happens to both genders when they’re complimented on their beauty. What Yatsenko finds out and to me it is no surprise, is that  “[…] compliments raise self-perceived attractiveness in all individuals, they do so uniformly across gender lines, and that there is no difference between the self-perceived attractiveness scores between males and females.” In essence we all love compliments about how we look, and it makes us feel good.

And if you think I’m cherry picking and you  want something more hardcore look at the research study titled Social Rewards Enhance Offline Improvements in Motor Skill. It is a mouthful but important to what I am getting at. On the other side of receiving praise and compliments what the researchers of the study discovered is that as the study participants received praise or compliments their performance improved. So you see compliments do wonderful things for the human brain. They help us with image and can even help us do better work. And to be honest it is something we need…but there’s more to it.

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Forgiving Yourself: The Real Challenge

Not too long ago, I wrote about how hard it is to learn to cope with the words people say. How we find ourselves challenged and hurt by things. But something I nestled in there was words about forgiving yourself. Forgiveness in general is sometimes a hard topic to think about. Because at its core it is saying that when someone wrongs you that you accept that it happened but you’re going either move past it or stop feeling angry about something. It is a willingness really. The willingness to just drop everything. Drop all that negativity and accept that it cannot be undone and move on with life.

When you think about forgiveness you think about the things people have done to you. The things that were painful and we still are left reeling from. Maybe it was the man of your dreams and all the disappointments he left you with.  A friend that betrayed you and made you feel small. When forgiveness comes to mind, it usually is what others have done to us. And it is true. People do things that make us harbour such a resentment towards them. That we do have to question it and decide if it is something we need to let go.

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Dating Digitally the Messy Truth.

Dating has changed in the era of black mirrors. A great show if you haven’t seen it . I digress. Recently having being single again. I made the decision to enter the dating market place. I did have a quick conversation with my therapist because it is intimidating at first and more importantly, I want to make sure everything was still true about the progress I made.

I wholeheartedly believe you need to be emotionally healthy before starting to date. And it’s not always about the baggage. Sometimes it’s about what you may begin to inflict on yourself or people throw at you. And trust me over the years I have had some interesting experiences. Some I still scratch my head about. However you live you learn. And you move on, and that I will write about later.

I want to talk about Online dating. I have used it in the past when I was younger with mild to moderate success. Today we have a plethora of options and more importantly slow the stigma is dying. Which to me is great as we live and breathe technology and I see no difference between this and personal ads. Which if you want to see some you can craigslist. And when do look at them it is kind of scary and confusing.

This time around I decided I will be a bit more focused. Last time I looked at it and considered it by the numbers. That I needed to meet as many people I could to explore as much of the dating scene as I could. While it proved to be both interesting and satisfying to an extent at the end it proved that it was exhausting. I felt I did not devote some women the attention they deserved. And for that I would hope that they were able to meet someone special. And not a guy who was a bit of a flake but tried to be nice about it.

This time around it is different. I decided I would avoid the conundrum of choice and find someone truly interesting and send her a message. Then rely on what dating really is. Getting to know someone you may want to be romantic with. As crazy as it seems that’s the whole point of online dating to some. And I prefer that. Others my want hook ups or more ‘casual’ things. But not to scare of any potential matches that stumble onto my blog. But I don’t think that’s me at all. I want something more stable, fun, and has the potential of developing into a good relationship.

And there in lies the problem. According to The Pew Research Center 32% of internet users agree with the statement that “online dating keeps people from settling down because they always have options for people to date.” Which means if I am focused on actually settling with a woman who is someone I am interested in… what guarantees do I have she’s of like mind? The main problem here is that because we have so many options and we can browse through a store like shopping for clothes. We may never actually settle down because we’re stuck on what-ifs or maybe the next one will be better. However, that doesn’t have to be the end of it. Which I will address later.

Another problem that crosses my mind as well is that Pew also points out in the same article 11% of people who are in long term relationships less that 10 years in length have met online. Meaning the tough part isn’t exactly finding a person who wants to settle it is actually the settling in itself. And if anything now you’re wondering “Cam. 11%? How the heck does someone fall into that. Or why take that risk?” We already have to major issues that plague users of online dating. And they are quite serious. Then what solutions do we have?

Well I don’t know. But what I can tell you is maybe just maybe there is a reason why 11% online is fairing better than the rest. And I think that’s hard to answer. We can never truly put couples who have met in different environments in a true vacuum and see the results. But let’s assume that for a minute. That all people who are dating or married or in a partnership all have had equal inputs. They met and it didn’t play as much as a role. Because we all know it does in some cases. I think there’s answer somewhere.

Allow me to cite Mandy Len Catron, maybe just maybe she can help us with these dilemma. The title of her TEDTalk really says it all about what we’re all thinking. In her talk titled Falling in Love is the Easy Part she goes deep into her own personal experiences and talk about what makes a relationship last. She even cites a study in which a series of questions were asked, and a lab tried to create a romantic relationship to make a relationship last longer than a fling. What is most interesting is her response to what we all want to know “Are they still together” or did they work out.” She argues that looking at her own relationship that what would it really tell them if they were still together? And the answer truly is people are simply looking for a lasting relationship.

What stuck out most to me was when a student approached at a talk about the study not working for him and all it ended up with was being better friends with the woman he was after. And she said it worked. So then what. What generates a lasting relationship? And again she presents this question when asked to relate it to her own experiences.

How do you decide who deserves your love and who does not? How do you stay in love when things get difficult, and how do you know when to just cut and run? How do you live with the doubt that inevitably creeps into every relationship, or even harder, how do you live with your partner’s doubt? I don’t necessarily know the answers to these questions, but I think they’re an important start at having a more thoughtful conversation about what it means to love someone.

In short she says it is choice. We choose the other person, just as she said she choose her significant other. I won’t spoil if they’re together or not. But definitely watch the TedTalk. Anyways back to my original point. So in the end the reason we have lasting relationships and beat the odds. Is that we choose to. We sit down look at what’s on the table and together enter this sometime scary idea. But willingly we choose to work through things. Cry with each other. Get angry and make up with each other. Share the best and the worst times. And that what makes it last.

As for the earlier point about being able to settle. Well it too falls into the same answer about creating a lasting relationship. We have to choose, to focus on just one person. Because putting your energy into it will at least tell you if it’s worth while. Than after that you can choose (and hopefully they will too) to go from the budding friendship to the romance and relationship you want to last. I guess my point is this. Yes, online dating is great 1,000s of people all over the place. You can meet and browse and keep options open. But maybe that’s the problem with dating. Since when did we start treating it like Warby Parker? That’s what makes it messy it’s not supposed to be looked at as a shopping service. Instead of being focused on one person and choosing to take that risk we get caught up. Eventually we meet someone and maybe it fails because we’re constantly dwelling what else is out there. So by effectively not choosing and not settling we’re dooming ourselves to 89% of all online relationships?

My challenge if you are dating online or dating in general. Is choose to be bold, choose to try something different, just make a choice for what you want. And see it through. You never know what may happen. But sometimes it’s choosing to set a course and focus. After all we don’t know what we don’t know.

You’re a Nice Guy But….

I am so tired of all the political posts today. This week. This year. I think I’m done. So I figured I’d write about something a little more personal to myself. And that’s about me as a person. If you’re married, engaged, or dating. Or have dated in general things tend to come. And they really make you think. Sometimes it makes sense other times it doesn’t. And when things don’t make sense it really is okay. But often time some of seek out information and answers.

For me, what bothers me most and I struggle most with is something that comes up frequently. Which is I am too nice. That I am a nice guy to the point it damages me as a person and value to women. That because I am nice. I am stable. I am the safe bet and no one wants that. And the advice I get is often to be honest disheartening to me because I know I am hard coded this way. I am legitimately just nice. Often times it is things like, “you need to be more confident” or “you can just leave it all out there” or probably my favourite. “You need to be a bit of an ass.” None of which makes any sense to me. So like any person when present with a problem I decided to try and look into it. And what I found just made things even murkier for me.

I literally read a ton of articles from varying sources to try and figure this out. One I read was by Doctor Nerdlove (aka Harris O’Malley) a blogger that caters to a variety of needs when it comes to men dating. In his article titled Being A Nice Guy isn’t Good Enough he talks about this very dilemma I thought existed. One key thing that stuck out to me was when talks about what was wrong with being nice saying:

And that’s where the problem with being nice comes in. The issue isn’t that being nice is a bad thing. The issue is that when someone’s primary description is that they’re “nice”, that’s usually all there is to them. They reach the heady heights of being as blandly inoffensive as a show on CBS. They’re pleasant enough, but they’re otherwise as arousing as unfinished dough. There’s just nothing there to stir somebody’s loins or imagination. Assholes, at least, are polarizing. They’re unpleasant to be around, but they provoke emotions that go past “huh, ok.”

What. Wait a minute. So if you’re nice the problem is that’s all we have? I mean is it just me or is that a bit harsh? Well not quite because he goes on further to say nice guys also lack the oomph some sort of swagger type thing. Because “You start by questioning yourself. One of the reasons nice guys are just nice guys is because they rarely reach beyond who they are right now.”….I am completely lost now. So the problem is that when you become nice you end at that. You can’t be anything more. For what it is worth, it is an interesting read. But to me it is off putting. As it plays into two big things that I often hear. And I feel like it is perpetuating some hidden belief or ideology that really has no place in modern society or in the heads of men and women.

So then I did some more reading and found this article by Gigi Engle with Elite Daily (not something I normally read, and often times. I find myself cringing when it comes up) about nice guys. And the title really says it all it was called 5 Scientific Reasons Why Women Just Won’t Go For The Nice Guys. I mean I hand it to her doing her research. But I still don’t like the feel, the ideology or even what is being said. This sticks out to me the most.

No woman wants to be with a man who doesn’t know how to assert himself. Whether we want to admit it or not, we want excitement in our relationships. We want a powerful, aggressive man.

This can be a difficult thing to admit as a strong, independent female, but it is, nonetheless, true.

And there it is again the gross generalisation of being nice. More importantly being a nice guy. I mean I see it and I get it. There is this idea that being a nice guy is bad. That we’re boring we lack oomph or don’t have swagger. The more reading I did the more I found things like this. But I don’t think that is the point and that’s not what I you to think. I want to flat out say they are wrong.

So yes some people are truly boring, lack confidence, lack excitement. That is normal whether they are unpleasant or if they are nice. As a nice guy we are all different and have different qualities. For me the idea that we are all the same is like saying all cars slow because they have only driven a Prius. When we all know Lamborghini makes some fast cars. And I think that’s the root of the problem. The generalisation of nice guys. Assume that all these guys who put their heart on their sleeves or a genuinely interested in listening to you are nothing more than devoid of anything else but their niceness.

I once went out on a date with a young woman. We went out on a few after that. And randomly, I get this text. And what it read was “You’re really a nice guy but….” And the rest just was comments on her realisation she’s scared of commitment. But being a nice guy, I told her that’s okay. She needs to focus on her needs and what she wants. If she wants to continue she could reach out to me but I don’t want to pressure her into something she did not want or wasn’t ready for. Well, when it was discussed with others the very first word out of their mouth was “you’re too nice.” My thinking is. So what? So what I think we need to put others first. When you’re dating you are selling yourself. You telling another person this is what you’re getting with me. This is who I am. And when I look at it I see, it as I cannot change the fact that I am sweet. I go out of my way. I just want the other person to know. That when we’re together I want to make them feel good. Because they make me feel good.

And the best part is we have this “swagger” that people say we lack. We have deep and rich personalities. We have confidence too. I believe that if someone doesn’t want to be with you that’s okay. But I know I am a great guy. And what you’re getting with me is a lot of good things. But at the end of the day that’s not my choice if she stays. So I am okay with that. This idea that nice guys being labelled and it becoming a death sentence for dating is wrong. And that’s what I am trying to say. That right there is the problem. My point is to the women out there it is okay to date a nice guy and realise he’s not okay for you. We still have personalities and if it doesn’t match that’s normal. For my fellow nice guys it is okay to be you. You are unique and no label will tell you otherwise. You have to embrace it and find someone who values you… for you. That is what this all boils down to. If someone values you as a person nice guy and all you’re okay. It is all about wants and finding the person that matches that for you.

Crazy thing is. As I was writing this, I was going to be shouting out to others in my situation. But this is what I would want to hear. I think there’s nothing wrong with how we are wired. There is nothing wrong with what I do or what I present in a relationship. It all comes back to finding that fit for you. Being rejected because what you are does suck but that’s okay. Because at some point you’ll find what you want and what works. And if you don’t think what I’m saying is true. Read what Amanda Martinez had to say yeah sure she plays into stereo types. But she highlights what good you can find in guys like us. And honestly there’s nothing wrong. It is finding out what works out.

Because when there is nothing left. Just two people together then only thing matters is what they want out of that relationship.

(Repost) A Hard Topic for Men: Vulnerability

I remember the last time I had a good cry for a beautiful reason. It was my brother’s wedding, after doing my toast…. The sight of him on his special day. I had written a speech and did away with it. I spoke from my heart. The whole time I kept thinking. I’m going to cry. I’m going to sob my freaking eyes out. And I did. The tears couldn’t stop coming and even now I can feel them sitting behind my eyes. I cried because it overwhelmed me with good emotions. Things that felt good. I had opened up my heart in front of a room of friends, family, and loved ones.

Since then I am sure I’ve cried other times from the emotions I was feeling. And as a male, especially a young male. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I was on Reddit the other day and I saw this question from one the users posed to women of the site asking “How do women feel about vulnerable men?” The responses were many responses to me were eye opening to read. However, it really got me thinking. Are men like me in fear of appearing vulnerable in front of women? In front of the ones we love? Or in front of anyone? Are we hard-wired to shy away? If you do reading on it there is a plethora of information. One of my favourite sites to read Psychology Today, they posted it about it and had some interesting revelations. Dr. Emma Seppala wrote ,

Although we may try to run from vulnerability, it is an inevitable part of social relationships. Even outside of romance, vulnerability is something we encounter frequently: calling someone who has just lost a child, asking a friend for help, taking responsibility for something that went wrong at work, confronting a family member about their behavior, or sitting by the bedside of a friend with a terminal illness. Opportunities for vulnerability present themselves to us every day, the question is whether we will take them.

She goes further to cite examples about how we as men try to find pragmatic solutions or try to fix problems in our relationships. That we do avoid vulnerability. And I kept thinking about the “why?” And the depth of what this really is. Being vulnerable in front of someone who you really care about is daunting. I am sure men and women go through it. However, part of me leans towards the fact that as men we learn to face it and try to skate around. But why? Why avoid something that enables us to feel. That enables us to relay emotions and share a social connection at a deeper level.

I am not ashamed to admit I cry, have these feelings I want to share with that special someone. My family, my closest friends, my girlfriend. I am also not ashamed to say I am scared as hell to open up for the fear of getting hurt. However, life is about the risks. It is about the chance that it will hurt us. If you look at it from the position of a romantic relationship, it is important that we look at our vulnerability. That the very moment you’re feeling scared to say what you’re feeling. Or cry in front of this person or anyone in fact. Admit when we’ve done wrong. Raise our hand and say that we’re drowning and need help. Say when something doesn’t make us feel good. Or even grieve in the presence of another soul.

Intimacy is only successful when we are open and honest. Being open and honest allows us to be vulnerable, and that seems scary. Frightening is the idea that I will show my heart and have no assurances of what happens next. And no one likes the hurt or the unknown, sure we can act tough pretend that we don’t care. Yet, the key point is we’re only human. We have feelings; we have hopes; we have dreams; we have these things that everyone experiences. We feel things. And here I am questioning why avoid vulnerability?

The people closest to you, those who love you…. they love you for you. Vulnerability isn’t this evil lurking to destroy you. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “[d]o one thing every day that scares you.” I am not too afraid to even admit sometimes I’m scared myself. Allowing myself to be vulnerable. How do we know we’ll get hurt if we don’t take the chance? How do we know that vulnerability is bad if we’re never vulnerable?  I think it is something we as men (and women too) need to remember isn’t out to kill us. That moment where we are at the edge... that we’re vulnerable.  Why not take the chance and see what happens? Life is too short to hide.