First of all, a quick health update: I am feeling better, slowly but surely. Each day gets a bit better than the last. I’m hoping I’ll be OK in another 2-3 days.
I’ve been having a lot of late-night AIM conversations with a new friend of mine. Let’s see, he needs an initial, and I’ve already used S for one of my best friends, so I’ll call him M. (I don’t think I already have an M. Oh well…I do now!)
So why am I laughing? Because M and I are ridiculously alike. First of all, we both own successful hosting companies. We are both pretty young, though he is a couple years older than me. We like the same kind of music. We both agree that college was a waste of time for us (though he graduated and I didn’t.) And we are astoundingly logical and rational.
Now, I have the benefit (if you can call it that) of being female, and thus experiencing both sides of the male/female dynamic. On one hand, I really feel like my brain “thinks” in a male way. I will use logic to try to “win” any argument. I’m quite mouthy. I’m not afraid to speak my mind, and I enjoy logic puzzles and programming. Plus, I’ve been around guys my whole life. So I “get” guys. (Come on. I grew up with a lawyer dad. You want to get more logical than arguing court cases at the dinner table? Bring it!) The guys I get along really well with and bond with tend to be highly rational and they generally pursue rational things like science or computers. My favorites are the ones I can throw logic or word puzzles at that we’ll end up staying all night working on. Or the ones I can discuss physics with. That sort of thing.
On the other hand, I’ve always had to contend with that “girly” aspect of my personality. The part of me that likes watching sappy movies, for instance. Now this side of myself drives the logical side crazy. My logical side will try to rationalize everything. This is a typical conversation that goes on in my head:
Sappy: “OMG Meg Ryan is sooooo cute in this movie!”
Logical: “Shut up and go work.”
Sappy: “But I looooove what she’s wearing! OMG cool clothes YAY!!!!”
Logical: “Don’t you have emails to answer?!”
Of course, 99% of the time, the logical side wins, so I do a lot of work. 😉 But seriously, it’s really hard to reconcile the two sides of my personality.
I happen to have two sides to my personality, so when I duke it out, it’s usually an internal war. Unfortunately for my highly-rational guy friends, this same conflict tends to materialize between them and some girl they have the hots for, or don’t, or whatever. You see, guys cannot comprehend the sappy, emotional girl-type of personality. (Especially the guys I hang around with. Holy f*ck!) I would seriously think that after seeing the typical chick reactions to things that they would get how girls think. But they don’t. They expect girls to act rationally. When the heck do you think girls act rationally around guys they like?! Have you ever seen this? But no, despite the fact that they (should have) seen this over and over again, there’s still that complete resistance, that naivete, that “OMG why is she crying?” question that comes out of their mouths. I just shake my head and sigh.
You know now that I’m leading into a story. M has gotten himself into quite a situation with one of his exes. He is one of those highly-rational guys who thinks all women act rationally when confronted with people they love. Here’s what happened:
M traveled pretty far to see his long-ago ex (from talking to him, I think they dated in high school, so it’s been quite a while.) He spent the weekend at her new house, and she threw a party there last Saturday. During the party, he hooked up with some chick (his ex is saying the chick is a friend of hers; she was probably more of an acquaintance) and ended up having a one-night stand with this other chick. One guess what happened with his ex.
She went ballistic, of course. Wouldn’t talk to him for a day, then once he went back home, she sent him a text message that basically said “I hope you’re happy with your little one-night stand, because you’ve lost a friend over it.”
M came to me and asked me two questions: 1) What do I do and 2) Does she have the hots for me? (Because I can’t possibly imagine that she would send that text message if she didn’t have the hots for him!!)
Poor M. Here is where the logical side of his brain–the side he uses to make ALL of his decisions (except, perhaps, the brain that chose to make the decision to sleep with some random chick last Saturday) is completely failing him. His logical side does nothing to appease this problem. His logical side completely fails to explain why his ex is acting this way. So he’s lost.
I try to explain it from her angle. Since I am one of those “girl” things, I get what she is going through. (I totally get her reaction. I was there myself, hmm, a week ago.) I try to explain what she is thinking. It goes something along the lines of “WTF HE IS MINE (or was mine, but that doesn’t really factor into this) AND I INVITED HIM HERE (so he’s definitely mine for purposes of this weekend) AND HE’S SLEEPING WITH MY FRIEND!!”
M’s reaction to my explanation was “See, I told you she had the hots for me!”
At this point I just groaned (out loud, even though we were talking on AIM.) M’s reaction was classic logic, but definitely not looking at it from her point of view. She might have the hots for you. She might not. But she definitely loves you. That is what love does for a lot of girls (including me, though I fight it in myself.) It establishes a territory. That territory has Rules. And when you step outside those Rules (and guys, two really obvious ones here are “don’t fuck her friends” and “don’t hook up with other girls at a party she invited you to”), she has a right to get Really Pissed. That’s the space she is in…and no amount of rational arguing and “I didn’t know this would hurt you” will fix the problem. You just need to 1) apologize, 2) admit you were a dumb shit for sleeping with her friend, 3) promise you won’t do it again, and 4) wait for her to accept your apology. In this case, it’s been a week, and it’s been about 24 hours since he last apologized. I recommended he wait another 7 days with no contact at all. His last contact was an apology, so that’s good. When she’s ready to accept it, she’ll come back. It should be within a week. If it’s been more than a week, he can call her again, but right now, she’s in the stage where she needs to figure things out.
Here’s how the woman side of things goes:
1) “WTF you are a complete piece of shit… how dare you… I can’t believe you would do this to me.” Total lash-out, either directly to the person, to someone else involved, or (sometimes, wrongly) to a friend who wasn’t involved.
2) “You are a horrible person” or “I am a horrible person for trusting you/caring about you” (depends on the woman, and sometimes both will show up.)
3) “I need to discuss this with my friends.” This is approximately where his ex is right now. She’s probably dissecting the night in dramatic detail with one or more of her best friends…down to analyzing every word you said and looking for “clues.” (I always need this step, and I always feel better afterward. *cough*last Sunday night on the phone*cough*)
–Somewhere in here, hopefully, you have apologized, which leads us to step 4…
4) She is now “over” it and ready to forgive you. Assuming you have apologized and she acknowledged it previously (even a “yeah, whatever” is an acknowledgement before she goes through step 3), she’ll be friends with you again. This step takes about 7 days to come to after step 3 happens.
Now that I’ve explained what a girl goes through, hopefully you guys who are intensely logical can learn to stuff the logic in a closet sometimes. It is not necessary to “win” arguments with logic. It is definitely not safe to assume that any of these reactions are in the least bit logical. Your logical side didn’t have any part of you fucking her friend, so why would you expect her reaction to that to be logical?
I will wrap it up here with a really insightful quote from a friend of mine who is happily married. He said to me the other night, “I guess that does mean that the game-theoretic optimal strategy is to wait longer, if the object is to procure the best possible partner. My strategy was instead to build the best possible relationship, which benefits from having more time to work on it.” I greatly respect him because he is one of the few people I have seen who has a relationship that really works for both him and his wife, and both of them are genuinely happy to be together.
M focused on the “perfect partner” a lot in our conversation. He said something that I’ve often been known to say myself: “When the right partner comes along, I won’t have to worry about any of this.” Sorry, M, but it’s not true, no matter how much your rational side wants it to be. The “right person” and you are still going to have conflicts. You’re still going to want to duke it out sometimes. And sometimes, neither one of you will act in a rational manner. To have a truly successful relationship, you have to acknowledge that there will be times when you really have to live like that other person. It’s not necessarily about finding the absolute “best” person out there, but rather finding someone you truly enjoy spending time with, truly love, and are willing to commit to…even knowing that it won’t always be perfect. This is something I haven’t yet come to grips with myself, which is probably why I’ve never had a truly successful relationship. But I can say that the best times of my life have happened when I’ve completely let go of my logical side and just genuinely enjoyed the company of others. I have experienced unbelievable, unforgettable moments when my logical side was tucked safely away and my emotional side had full reign. And I know that, somehow, that is connected with having the best possible relationship. I hope more of my totally rational guy friends really experience those moments. Those moments when you know you’ve meaningfully connected with another person, and you see their true feelings inside their heart, and their walls come tumbling down, are what living is all about.