I hate to burst your bubble or sound like your grandmother, but the easy hook-up culture has "low self-esteem" written all over it. And it's hurting you, your future spouse and the success of your potential marriage- whether you realize it or not.
The scene: a dimly lit, noisy bar. Two beacons in the night... each sending out signals of "make me feel attractive" and "I'll take anyone who shows interest in me"... find their way to one another. The night's previous beverages have provided them each a handy set of "beer goggles." Introductions are slurred and barely heard over the DJ's request to get your booty to the dance floor. Who needs last names anyway?
Both check their phones for new matches. Nope: swipe left. What's in front of me will do. Back to the intellectual mating call: playfully ordering a Buttery Nipple and a Red Headed Slut. And so goes the night.
Oh, be still my heart! This sounds just like a Nicholas Sparks novel. The stuff solid, life-long marriages are made of. Where are my tissues?
Ah, but I digress.
Popular culture makes it seem like there is nothing more romantic - or normal- than when two desperate-for- uh, "love" single (or more accurately, presumably but not always "single") people happily collide over a googly-eyed love song, fueled by generous quantities of alcohol. Followed by easy sex. And no consequences. And happily ever after. Or, not. Sometimes happily-on-to-the-next.
This makes for good ticket sales but not for good reality. Reality is a hung-over "oh crap" followed by an STD test, potential pregnancy scare, possible child support, and/or a sorely damaged ego when Prince or Princess Charming mysteriously disappears in an age-old act that is now technologically assisted and called ghosting.
The easy pick-up may act like a ghost, but the consequences to sense of self don't. The reality of knowing that we were sloppily used and unceremoniously tossed aside like a dirty rag is a brutal truth in today's wet-n-ready society. The more painful truth is that we were willing participants in this act of self-degradation. Okay, I don't sound like your grandmother anymore. But the truth hurts and I'm not going to serve it to you with a cookie and a glass of a milk. And the sooner we all accept it, the sooner we can get back to actually respecting the act of physical intimacy, our own bodies and the bodies of others. Plus, I'm lactose intolerant.
This isn't simply a moral stance here. Although that aspect is completely valid, this easy hookup thing has become a twisted cultural phenomenon. Sadly, we are damaging ourselves psychologically through our so-called use of freedom. In psychology world, its called cognitive dissonance- when our values or goals are in stark contrast to our behaviors. And we can only live like that for so long before it takes a serious emotional toll. How can I say that I am special, or that the act of sex is actually "making love" when I've given myself to half the people in town? How can I expect a partner to work at having a solid long-term relationship with me when all it took to get me was thirty minutes and price of a drink?
We crave connection, closeness, and that one special person to love and cherish us "till death do us part," but we toss our junk to whomever is willing at the moment. We set standards in our minds for a future monogamous relationship, all while building the foundation for polygamy, serial cheating, pornography addiction and divorce. We say we want Rodeo Drive, but we're putting ourselves on the dime store rack, marked down at half price- while digging in the Goodwill reject pile for a good find.
Not only are we subconsciously telling ourselves that we belong in the bargain bin, we are participating in creating this mentality in others. Using and being used. Actively dirtying something that is supposed to be clean. It's like sticking your toothbrush in the toilet before brushing your teeth.
You Are Not Community Property
Here's the thing, if you want to save yourself some heartache and the cost of therapy, keep it in your pants or keep your knees closed. Cheapening your body and the act of physical intimacy for a quick thrill or a temporary ego boost only causes more damage in the long run. We cannot carry on thinking, believing and acting as if we (or other people) are nothing more than usable, disposable, replaceable body parts without damaging our own sense of self-worth and future relationships in the process.
Remember, private parts aren't private once they have become community property. Let the rest of the world slop their stuff around. As for you, set a higher standard for yourself and for the person who will be in most of your wedding photos. Maybe refusing to participate in hookup culture will not only build your self-esteem, but will lead you to that right other person- the one who has also decided that you are worth the wait.
It's okay to be different, my friends. Sometimes different is better, - M
photo credit: pixabay
Maybe you don't have social anxiety. Maybe you just hate people and would really rather stay at home with a good book or binge watch the eternal quarter-life crisis of Friends. Again. And if that is you, I get it. People can be mean, boring, pretentious, or in general just difficult to tolerate.
And social situations can be complicated. There's that how-to-dress thing, and that who-to-talk-to thing, and that why-didn't-anyone-tell-me-I-have-spinach-in-my-teeth thing. It's stressful.
But, for those of you who fantasize about lighting up the night and being the life of the party... if it weren't for that paralyzing fear of public humiliation. I'm going to give you some tricks of the trade. And for what it counts, I'm shy and socially awkward myself. However, I've been told this is more readily evident in my videos than in my blog posts. Because I wear a cape when I write. And you can't wear a cape when you are in public. Unless you are going to Comic-Con.
Anyway, back to you and your crippling fear of social rejection. I have a few tips that you can try on for size (you know, like a cape) the next time you get a notification for a get-together from one of those annoying naturally social types.
How to Work a Crowd- Or at Least Survive a Party
1) Thank the anxious part of yourself for caring. After all, that inner hermit probably just wants to protect you from unforeseen disaster. Like spinach in your teeth. For random example. It's never happened to me. I'm just saying that would be really horrible if it did. But it didn't.
2) Plan your escape. Before you even click the "I'm going" button, plan how you will handle potential panic moments. For example, you could keep your phone with you. When you need to leave, look at your phone, make a gently concerned face at it and say, "Excuse me" to anyone who is nearby. Do not wait for questions or responses from others. Head toward the door immediately. If you don't want to return, don't. You had a smooth and purposeful exit. If you catch your breath and want to rejoin the festivities, just strut back in. If anyone asks about your emergency exit, shrug it off with a nonchalant, "My sister/brother/babysitter/spouse couldn't find the microwave popcorn." Make it seem like you probably didn't need to take that call in the first place. And you're really needed by people who call you. This may lead to a discussion about how family members can't do anything for themselves- ugh! (Commiserating is a great for conversation.)
3) Set a time limit. Tell your host that you are excited to attend but will unfortunately only be able to stay until X o'clock. This provides you with the opportunity to participate- but in a manageable dose (aka, you remain in control of you- not the party, not the people, not your anxiety).
4) Get over yourself. I mean this in the nicest way, really. Take the focus off of yourself and your lack of charming personality, pathetic conversation skills and inability to coordinate an outfit, and become an interpersonal philanthropist for the next few hours. Help someone - or everyone- feel like the most interesting person in the room. All you have to do is be genuinely interested in other people's lives, hobbies, freaky dance moves or favorite restaurant. If interest just isn't there, fake it. You wanted to go to this dumb party, remember? Quit complaining. Focus on them. Inquiring minds want to know. You are the inquiring mind.
5) Ask a starter question like, "OMG! Who does your hair?" or "Cute shoes! Do you mind me asking where you got them?" Then respond to their answer with an acknowledgement and a follow up question .... For example... "I love that store! Have you ever been to Target?" except don't say Target. Everyone has been to Target so that would just sound dumb.
6) Use non-creepy eye contact. Eye contact should show interest, not interrogation or spell-casting. I've seen some people go from no eye contact whatsoever to burning a hole in the back of my head in an act of innocent over-correction. But it's still weird. Don't do it. Try this instead: Look into their eyes, then move your eyes around slightly and casually. Glance at their cheek or eyebrow then back to their eyes again. Look toward some other commotion in the room now and then. Oh, and try not to make your eyes dart around like you are watching a ping-pong tournament. And if they have a zit or a mole or something, don't stare at it. That's rude. But if they have spinach in their teeth, definitely tell them. What kind of a monster doesn't tell someone they have spinach in their teeth?
7) Watch your body language. You might do this because you don't know what to do with your body parts, but crossing your arms and putting your hands in your pockets are no-nos. We don't need to discuss jingling your keys in your pocket, do we? Instead, hold a drink in one hand and gently place your other hand on the other side of the cup. This keeps both hands exposed at all times- and leaves one hand readily available to shake another hand in introduction.
8) Know your limit. If alcohol will be served, don't use it as a method to introduce everyone to your outgoing alter ego, Tina the Tabletop Dancer or Jerry the Inappropriate Joke Teller. You may think the drunk you is funny or entertaining, but chances are you will end up a meme. Or perpetually uninvited. Or both. Probably both.
So there you have it, the secrets of becoming an amazing shindig master! Okay... tips for not totally freaking out and staying at home your whole life.
I wish you a reasonable amount of pleasant social interaction, my friends. Unless you are a true introvert. In that case, I wish you an empty calendar - M
Photo credits: WWE (Fun Fact- I share a birthday with The Rock)
Lady Gaga (if she can do it, so can you)
You have a friend or family member who acts a fool. They hurt your feelings, they walk on your boundaries. And, sometimes they even blame you for it!
This is so annoying. What's a human person to do? Well, now, quit asking me trick questions because you know I can't do therapy on my blog. But, I can mention some generic coping skills that help in generic situations like these...
- Know your own worth/purpose/value, my friend. You are not someone else's doormat. It's actually not helpful for you (or for them) to keep getting walked on and/or treated like a giant turd.
- Don't take it personal. Look, Sister Girl or Brother Guy (we are on a first name basis, so I call you that), if someone is a jerk- that's a clinical term for tromping on your boundaries- that is NOT about you. They try to make it about you. It's a trick. Don't fall for it.
- While you are practicing knowing your value and not taking things personally, learn how to use your voice. You don't need a very loud voice or very many words. In fact, yelling or lecturing won't help. A simple, "That's not okay with me. Can you try that again?" may suffice. You can come up with your own healthy boundary phrase and put it to good use. You might have to sound like a broken record. You might have to sound like a broken record. You might... that was funny. Laugh.
- Be okay with distancing yourself from a person if they don't get with the program. This is not to cut all ties forever and ever, amen. It's not to be a bully and threaten them with the loss of the relationship. It's to protect your heart and send a firm message that you don't tolerate that nonsense. Are you thinking "Ain't nobody got time for that?" Because I am. And now you are, too. That's the power of the pen- or keyboard. Anyway, the faster they learn this, the better- for you and them and everyone.
- And, here's the secret sauce that many other 'dealing with difficult people' blogs, books and videos fail to mention: allow for restoration. It's not all about enforcing your newly learned healthy boundaries. It's not BoundaryTV- all boundaries, all the time. Geez, relax willya? Seriously, though, there is a time to correct and a time to embrace... or something like that. If someone struggles with demonstrating unacceptable behavior, they most likely also struggle with the opposite: having consistent appropriate interpersonal interactions. You can model these warm-fuzzy human behaviors to hopefully facilitate a greater frequency of positive behaviors from them. By the way, I think you should know that when I write the word "model" I usually write it modle then spell check corrects it for me. But by then I'm already thinking of moodle and noodle. And that reminds me of rhyming preschool songs which makes me wonder why I write at all. Random thoughts.
As always, guard your hearts, my friends -M
Photo credit: pixabay
The Motley Ms.
Hi! My name is Melinda. I'm a saved-by-grace-er, lifelong learner, INFJ, health & fitness trynabe, Mom, #vanlifer, mental health vlogger, and Director & Clinical Supervisor at a Child & Family Therapy Practice in Northern California.
The Motley Ms
The Therapist's Therapy Blog