Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Month: November, 2013

Our Expectations of Love

I’m sitting here thinking about a lot of things. I was recently given some feedback on my blog by a very admirable friend of mine and I’m going to try my hardest to put it to good use (Thank you Mr. GK). No more generalizations. I realize that in the past I have made generalizations about the Arab male population, and while I distinctly remember placing disclaimers (such as “most” or “the ones I know”) it appeared that I was attacking the whole race. So, I apologize. For further clarification, in future posts when I mention ANY group, it is based solely on my own interactions and not the population as a whole.

So, here I am thinking. One thing that has crossed my mind lately is love. We all have our own views on this complicated emotion. It really is hard to try and put into words the way we feel about someone, and so to simplify it, we take the easy way out and say we love them. But is that true? I look at certain couples and see that they don’t really love each other. They “tolerate” each other. They “withstand” each other. They “adapt” to each other. But it’s not truly love, not in the sense that has been conditioned in our minds since we could understand words.

So, what is this “love” that we try and acquire? Well, according to the Disney movies we watched as children, it’s when a prince comes and rescues you from whatever horrible situation you happen to be living in. Or, according to all the romantic comedies, it’s meeting the guy you end up marrying at an airport while running to catch a flight, or on the street as you cross only to be almost run over by a metal garbage dumpster and he rushes in to save you.

The problem is, our expectations of love are so unrealistic that we are disappointed when things don’t play out like they do in the movies. Who is to blame for this? Logically, it would be the moguls in media who continue to feed us these atrocities and get us hooked on this unrealistic notion. But really the only person we have to blame is our own self. As a female, I myself don’t look for that fairytale ending. The only thing I look for is a meaningful connection and open communication. Too many women get caught up in the motions of a relationship that they actually forget to LIVE in the moment. They have all these steps to pass that they picked up in the movies, and if the relationship misses a step- or God forbid- skips them all, they declare the relationship a failure.

This is when they no longer “love” their partner, but rather “tolerate” them. A lot of times it’s too late to repair the damage; both parties are now so uninspired that they have given up. I’ve read so many articles lately on how to keep a relationship strong, and they all said that the best way to do so is by pretending the relationship is just starting out. Too often we get comfortable with someone that we don’t feel the need to impress them or woo them as we did at the beginning. But to anyone who has ever been in a relationship, what’s better than the feeling you get when you first meet someone? Getting to know them, figuring thing out about each other….it’s the best time!

Love is not an easy concept. It is also no easy fete to conquer. If I could tell the younger generations something, it would be to look beyond the movies and stories of your childhood, and decide for yourself what your love will be. Don’t allow unrealistic expectations to hinder your ability to build a life with someone who may be your perfect match, but you were too caught up in the fairytale to notice.

The Feminist Manifesto

It’s fitting that I use this title, as I am currently reading about communism in my poly sci class. And lately, the term “feminism” has appeared in many conversations I’ve had as well. There was an article posted on Facebook called “How Feminism Hurts Men” that stirred up a lot of debates. The author was clearly sarcastic as he pinpointed all the issues women have tried to fix over the years through feminism, but have seriously failed at. Women still don’t make as much as men, they aren’t elevated into higher positions in the workplace as quickly as men are, they are still harassed, raped, beaten, and made insignificant in the media. And if you are a woman of color? Forget it. You are 10x worse off than any other woman.

A lot of women feel that feminism, in essence, has actually set women back. The fight for equality essentially turned into the fight to rid the world of men period. Feminism does not focus on how to make women achieve as much as men, but to surpass the level men have achieved, and go farther beyond any attainable realm. The idea that “I don’t need a man” or that the “world is better off without men” has turned the phrase “feminism” into a negative concept, not one that was started to fight for equal rights.

Take relationships, for instance. I have noticed two types of women in the world of dating. The first type has been influenced by the feminist movement, thereby asserting her authority in the relationship, often refusing gifts and insisting on paying when the couple goes out. In her eyes, this woman is “independent,” “successful,” and can handle the monetary part of the relationship since she makes a good living. Any offer from her partner to pay, and she feels insulted, going off on a tirade of how men use money to control the women they date, and the fact that she can stand on her own must threaten him.

The second type of woman has refused the idea of feminism so severely that she has actually reverted to what I like to think of as the “1800s woman.” She feels the man must pay all the time, for everything, and that it is his job to take care of her. She will buy him gifts, but she will never pay for dinner, offer a surprise trip on the weekend, or buy him anything “just because.” She thinks feminists are idiots for giving up the comfort and security that a man can provide them. The only time she will regret the decision is when, one day, the man will use his control of the money and the relationship to force her to do something she does not want to do.

Comparing these two women, you can see that they are both extremes. There is, however, a median, where men and women can be equal with neither reigning over the other. It is true that women are afforded more opportunities than in the past; although there is no need to flaunt them, nor to dismiss the idea of chivalry. Men will always be the protectors of women; it’s a psychological fact. There is a way that a woman can be comfortable with that if she finds herself a man who respects her for her own abilities while providing support. The same goes for the men. Women need to realize that allowing man to take care of them does not necessarily make them weak; in fact, it allows both parties to be stronger, together.

A man who is threatened by a successful woman is no man. Yet women need to understand that to always diminish the role of men in our society will not lead to the rise of the feminist movement. It will, in fact, continue to hold us back, and when in 100 years we are still working for less wages than men, represent a small percentage of CEOs, and continue to fight the battles of rape and domestic abuse, only then will we realize how futile our fight has been.

Communication Amongst the Sexes

I have a friend who is an Actor in LA, and he also hosts a radio program every week on LA Talk Radio called Imperfect Gentlemen. He took a lifestyle and made it a brand, in that through his radio show and the products he sells, he has changed the way men and women interact. The show is basically an advice column on air, where listeners can send in topics and he and his co-host will answer it from a guy’s perspective. The aim is to allow women who tune in to know what guys think, and for the men it is a lifestyle rulebook to follow in order to be a true gentleman.

Last week on the show, the topic was “Does no mean no?” Meaning, when a woman says nothing is wrong, or that she isn’t interested in dating a guy is that truly what she thinks or is she playing a game? We all know that ever since junior high, guys and girls were taught that it’s “all a game” and that you shouldn’t answer the first call, or you should let the phone ring 4 times before answering, or you should say you are busy the first time a guy asks you out. Guys shouldn’t call a girl for 3 days after a date, they should show no emotional connection, and they should casually mention other girls to ignite jealousy to see if the girl really likes them. But come on! Why all the charades? Why can’t men and women just communicate?

On the radio show, one of the hosts said that girls don’t tell the truth, and they are always playing games and he wishes they would just say what’s on their mind. Yet he also admitted that even if a girl claims to be telling the truth, he wouldn’t necessarily believe her! So what I’m understanding is that guys want girls to tell the truth, but even when we do, you think we are playing the game still. Ok, that makes a lot of sense (not).

It was funny that this topic was chosen for that show because a few days before that I had a conversation with a guy friend of mine. I asked him why a guy would be turned off a girl after expressing interest in her, as I meet many guys and they find me intelligent and likable, but after a few conversations they are never to be seen again. He asked me what I tell them and what we talk about, and I told him normal, getting-to-know-you topics. He then asked me if I tell the truth about everything, and that perplexed me. I said of course I do, why wouldn’t I? He suggested that I hold some stuff back at first and- in his words, not mine- “play the game a little.”

Woah! So this guy is telling me girls SHOULD play the game to create some mystery. And yet other guys say they want the exact opposite. So, which one is it guys? If we hold stuff back, we are playing games. If we are forthcoming and honest, we’re pushy or you just don’t believe us. Call me crazy, but seems like you are the ones with issues to resolve. Make a decision and stick with it. It’s unfair to say that women don’t know how to communicate when guys give mixed signals all the time.

I’ve always been an honest, open person, and I never played games. It’s childish and a waste of time. Even when I was younger, I just didn’t get the point of it. I used to tell all my friends who would date compulsively to just be themselves. A girl would come and tell me she wants to call or text the guy she’s seeing but doesn’t want to see pushy, and I would tell her to just DO IT. Seriously, why the anxiety and stress over a phone call? If your instinct is to surprise someone at work with lunch, DO IT. Don’t turn it over and over again in your mind until you talk yourself out of it. It always amazed me how much time girls spent stressing over such mundane things.

So the deal is that as a guy, if you want open communication, you have to be able to take it. And when a girl does open up to you, take it as true honesty. Don’t always assume that girls play games. And if they do….well, you really don’t have anyone to blame but yourself.