Liquid Footprints

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Dating: A Profitable Business?

I don’t normally wear a conspiracy hat, but I will put one on for this post. My younger brother made a good point about how dating and marriage has become a market for businesses the other day. First, there is a lot of money to be gained through societal dating and marriage expectations: movies, dinners, gifts, valentines day, sweetest day (in Ohio), flowers, engagement rings, wedding rings, wedding dresses, and all the hubris surrounding wedding expectations. There are billions to be snagged with dating and marriage.

Next you also have a high divorce rate supported by the American “there is always something better” mentality. Divorces are also expensive and most often lead to another round of dating and marriage.

Did business purposefully set up a culture of expectations that led to the headache we call dating? They certainly have a vested interest and contributed to it. The greater problem is with American culture; we have too high expectations and try to live out fantasies that simply can’t happen in reality. The dream wedding shows on television strike me as supremely wasteful and ridiculous, for example. Spending $2,000 – $20,000+ for a dress you wear once is outlandish. The cost of the reception and ceremony is even worse. Then you also have the rings and all the dating expenses leading up to the wedding. The money is better spent on a honeymoon vacation, on a home, or donating to an aid foundation.

Relationships have turned into commodities. Dating is a transaction done between 2 people with certain expectations fostered by society. It is unfortunate and even offensive.

I haven’t had much luck with dating, for a full disclosure. I am soured to the pressures and expectations people push upon dating. I won’t date anyone unless she is a friend first. That is a no-no in our society, but the point of dating is to increase intimacy in a relationship. I just don’t see how people can jump to a deeper intimacy level than friendship (as our society supports with kissing and more as being part of dating) when you barely know the person. It takes years to know a person well. I also don’t think dates should be expensive. It is best to do inexpensive or even free things like taking a walk simply because you want to spend time with someone you care about.  It shouldn’t be a transaction.

The point of dating is to spend time with someone you already know well to deepen the intimacy you share. Friendship is a better place (with less expectations) for getting to know people.  The market side of dating and marriage is unhealthy for relationships. Money isn’t a measure of affection, yet in America it often is equated. The more we spend relative to our income shows how much we love someone. Pfff.

I often wonder what Jesus and Buddha would have to say about how we have monetized even the deepest relationship we can share with another. I wonder what they would say with out we treat relationships as a throw away commodity.


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The Common Denominator

Relationships are tough. They are hard to establish and difficult to nurture in our too busy world. Often when they go foul, we blame. We blame ourselves, the other person, and others.

When we have a series of break ups that follow a certain pattern we can become misogynistic or misandrous. However, that is falling into the blame game. It does not help. Rather we need to look at the common denominator in our failed relationships: ourselves.

We cannot change other people. We only have power over our own thoughts and behaviors. If we continue to have a series of failed relationships, likely the problem is with our behavior. Thoughts determine our actions.  If we think all women are “bitches” or all guys are “dicks”, than we will act in ways that attract those that fit that criteria. It is like an alcoholic who continues to drive by their favorite bar instead of changing their route.

Likewise we will act in ways that will make people react to us as we expect them too. People generally react to kindness with kindness. People react to misogyny with androgyny.  They will react to a “transaction” relationship in similar regard. The goal of a relationship isn’t to get something. Rather, it is to share. Expecting sex or money  or anything in return poisons the relationship.

Again, how you think shapes how you act. How you act determines how people will react to you. The only person you can change and control is you. Next time a relationship fails, learn from the mistakes and examine your behavior. Breakups are not always your doing. Sometimes things just don’t work. Self reflection is excellent even in these cases as long as it isn’t driven by guilt or depression. Self reflection needs to be objective to be helpful. It shows us areas we need to improve: can I converse? Am I self centered? Am I too other-centered? Am I clingy? What did I do right?

Relationships are about self discovery as much as they are about discovering another person. We must be open to what we find.


Choices and Relationships

From everything I’ve seen, I’ve come to one major conclusion about relationships: romantic, platonic, or otherwise.  All relationships involve a decision.  I think that in large part relationships are voluntary.  Certainly you can’t pick your family, but the bulk of your relationships are your own choices, even if it isn’t a conscious one.  For example my friends and I sort of just started hanging out at one point…nobody can really remember HOW exactly things got started we just know they did.  I don’t think that it just happened, though.  I believe there was a decision there at some point, a type of commitment whether spoken or not.  The same idea goes for romantic relationships.  You pick who it is you date.  Even if they pick you first, you have to choose to respond favorably.  They can’t have a relationship with you without your consent!  The same goes for poisonous people.  At some point the drama queen or the moocher or the succubus came to you and you  let them into your life.  It may not have been conscious but somewhere a decision was made.

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Gaining from Relationships

Too often with relationships of any type we are too concerned about what we are getting out of it.  Seeking to gain something out of a relationship prevents us from having a deep relationship in the first place. It is simply wrong to expect to profit from something. The entire point of a relationship is to, well, relate to a person. That is, get to know them and spend time with them.  It isn’t a relationship when all you do is seek gain. It is manipulation. It is a business transaction. Continue reading

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Relationships: Advice from Lifetime Marriages

So many relationships are based upon just feelings and not on a firm mutual decision-making process. I have spoken with many couples who were married for 50 – 70 years. They each shared the same bit of information when it comes to developing a long-term relationship.

Don’t go by emotion alone. Emotions wax and wane over time. They are influenced by too many factors to base an entire relationship upon them. Hormone levels, stress levels, and even how hungry you are at a given moment can change emotions.  Emotions are certainly a component, but they cannot replace reasoned decision-making. Sexual attraction will fade over the course of a relationship (and in later years return). It is foolish to base a decision on sexual attraction. Emotions only serve to check a reasoned decision. Continue reading


Quiet Confidence is True Confidence

One day my best friend commented about how she won’t date a guy who lacks self-confidence. Since then I have pondered what people mean by “self-confidence.” While it seems obvious at first, when you really stop and consider what it means it wiggles away. Self confidence is mostly self acceptance and living other-centered. However, we mostly think about confidence as the providence of so-called alpha males or strong women. Confidence in the popular sense seem to be associated with an assertive personality. In many cases, assertive personalities are the complete opposite of confidence when you examine them. Continue reading

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Expectations On High

We live in a world of expectations. We are expected to work efficiently, be happy, own a home, have the perfect marriage, and so on. We expect people to act this way or that way. All the world is a stage…and we are expected to perform.

Expectations are based on our (mis) understanding of reality. Reality is dependent upon our thoughts and the nature of the physical world. We expect this or that, often against the nature of reality. People behave based upon their backgrounds and current mood. To expect any differently is to misunderstand human nature. We can’t always work at our peak efficiency at our jobs. We can’t look like models (they don’t even look like themselves). We can’t always be happy or social. Dating, for example,  isn’t much more than two friends spending time together, but it has expectations associated with it. Dating is to be romantic. In reality dates are usually not much more than the beautiful mundanity that characterizes everyday life. A movie is just a movie after all.  People point and whisper like a couple is a side show at a circus; they are just another part of ordinary life.

Expectations are based in our desire to break out of the ordinary routine. We are dissatisfied by ordinary life, yet ordinary is life.  We want beautiful partners for our own enjoyment and to flaunt as a status symbol. We want to live in a television drama filled with perfect people and excitement. However, in reality we will find people who are a little overweight, have too large eyes, too large noses, or an annoying laugh. They are beautifully ordinary. When you think about a  the extremely kind soul with the crooked nose is a break from the ordinary. Even excitement will get tired.

We don’t have to live with flaws, we have to embrace them. Expectations get in the way of true relationships. We each have an ideal vision of a partner and compare anyone that catches our interest against that photograph. It allows us to find people who are compatible with us. The label does not define a reality anyone can live up to. Really, would we want anyone to be that perfect a partner? Flaws are the source of love. They allow us to grow spiritually and not hold onto shallow and childish expectations.  Flaws mean you are both alive and changing; they are a mark of experience. The most beautiful trees to look upon are those that are bent and twisted by their efforts to reach the sky.

Expectations lead to dissatisfaction. By their nature expectations are often impossible to leap. Expectations are demands to act, think, or behave this or that way. They are an obligation few can ever meet. We expect trust, or kindness, or happiness. Can anyone be trusting or kind or happy all the time? Lovers argue. We each have moments of weakness where we fall to our knees. We let people down. It is part of being an ordinary person. Is there any other kind?  When we hold expectations on high, we will be dissatisfied with living in the dust and dirt of ordinary.

Expectations are unfair. What right does anyone have to force their vision of how things must be upon other people? Certainly some people are far too fat, and it damages their health. But, to expect everyone to be thin is too much to expect. To expect those dear to us to always be happy, kind, or calm is too high a demand.  We have no right to dictate another’s life; no matter how beneficial we think our plan is for them.

Relationships will have arguments. People will be unhappy at times. People will be parted as they grow old. Expectations contrary to the beautiful mundanity of relationships will kill them. Reality is as reality is; it is beautifully ordinary.