~Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Big Chill

A Gchat conversation with Dr. Kodiak, my ask-anything male confidant:

me: I would love for someone to describe me that way. "She's pretty easygoing and just goes with it"
Dr. Kodiak: That's a pretty typical description of me...substituting "he" for "she"
me: Hahaha
Do you think its a he/she thing?
Dr. Kodiak: I think guys are more naturally suited to the position, we're constantly compromising but a fair number of girls are good at it
they're frequently married though
as that's a very wife-able trait
I am historically not easygoing. We just solved the riddle
Dr. Kodiak: develop the trait, develop a husband?
me: Sounds easy to me

I imagine the easygoing girl would be dressed in boyfriend jeans, some funny hipster t-shirt and Chucks. She'd have her hair tied back in a messy knot, but it would be a pretty messy, not messy where you can tell what side of her head she slept on. She wears Cover Girl and it looks good!

I don't own boyfriend jeans. That doesn't mean I'm high maintenance; it's just I can be a little type A. I can be a little high strung and have problems with relaxing. Yoga helps. So does beer. So does sex.

I wish I was the girl that I described above. She sounds confident. There seems to be a correlation between easygoing and confidence. The easygoing girl doesn't care that plans change because she's confident she'll see the guy another time. She has trust in her heart.

I've spent some time mulling over what it means to be easygoing. It doesn't mean to ignore things you know you should ignore and suppress them and let them fester. It means truly letting go. That's why the easygoing girl doesn't have wrinkles. (Did I mention this? She has flawless, stress-free skin. That's why she wears the cheap Cover Girl stuff.)

Eleven years ago I was in my very first relationship with my very first boyfriend. He said something to me during an argument that I never forgot, "Just because you can get mad at me," he said, "Doesn't mean you have to get mad at me."

I never understood what this meant. A slight is a slight is a slight. As Dr. Phil says, perception is reality, and my perception was that my feelings were hurt. Therefore he had to deal with the consequences. To this day, I could still write pages upon pages of all the injustices that this boyfriend did. But with the easygoing perspective, about 95% of these arguments would be eliminated.

I know what he meant now. I don't know if it's due to maturity or my past experience with S. A man who cannot spend Sundays with you because he's watching football is not a bad man; a man who pushes you around is. A man who is sometimes late or forgetful is a not a bad man; a man who insults you is. Just because you may be warranted in getting angry doesn't mean you have to. Don't treat the good men as if they are the bad men.

I watched Desperate Housewives last weekend. Tom is estranged from Lynette. He moved out, got an apartment and began dating someone new. In a random act of kindness, he brought a pizza to Lynette's house. Lynette commented that the pizza wasn't thin crust.

Tom: "[New girlfriend] would never complain about the pizza crust. Was it necessary for you to complain about that pizza? You always nitpick me. Can't you just get over the little things?"

This is the man's perspective.

I've been more easygoing in recent months, but I'm not there yet. I think back something I once said to Abraham:

"I never do the girl thing, so let me do it now."

"I like you because you never do the girl thing," he responded.

He liked me because I was able to enjoy the moment and have a good time without serious discussions of where this is going. Here’s something I’ve learned: Men often don’t know where this is going, but they are happy in the here and now.

The other week we were getting ready to go somewhere, and he offered to let me pick out his shirt. Abraham is the very definition of easygoing: he doesn't care what he wears, and he knows it makes me happy to pick out his clothes. I flipped through the hangers and pulled out a t-shirt. It was a comic strip of two scenes. In the first scene, a girl stick figure is yelling at a boy stick figure. In the second scene the boy stick figure has his hand extended and the girl stick figure is falling out the comic-strip box. I think it reads, "Problem solved."

"This shirt," I said as I handed it to him. "It'll be funny when you are out with me."

"I like that you're cool enough to appreciate this shirt," he said as he pulled it over his head.

"I'll let you know when that shirt is no longer funny," I teased.

"This shirt will always be funny."

Even the t-shirt embodies the message: men don't want women who are uptight. The times I have been easygoing, I received very favorable responses. The times I have reverted back to being uptight, nothing was accomplished. I didn't even get my way.

This has become my New Year's Resolution, albeit a bit late. I am going to sweep my hair into a messy top knot. I am going to be that easy, breezy Cover Girl. I am going to forgive perceived slights, and then I am going to forgive them again for good measure. I am going to chill the fuck out. I'm interested to see what develops.


Ms_Jones74 said...

I'm not easy going. I wish I was or could but I also know that I can't really change who I am.

By the time 'whatever' relationship I have going has ended I'm so. damm. tired. I'm high strung and worry about everything and I am neurotic and have moderate self esteem and getting an email a half hour later than it usually comes is enough to send me into a tailspin.

I am not easygoing.

Sarah said...

I was *just* talking yesterday about how tiring it is. Maybe I'll do a follow-up post.

Emma said...

What I learned from my last relationship is somewhat related: I need to learn to enjoy the present.

I've always been so concerned about reaching that next 'level' - whatever it is. Whether it's being officially boyfriend/girlfriend, telling each other we love each other, etc. I've always been in a rush to get there, so much so that I tend to move quicker than my partner, which is I think why I've ended up being the one falling harder in my last 3 relationships.

So my 2012 resolution is to focus on the here and now. To appreciate the person in front of me now and stop focusing on when we're going to hit that next step.

Danielle said...

I think that sometimes the uptightness and insecurity of "where is this going" is also fueled by the man. I've been the questioning girl, wanting to move to a higher level. Looking back, it was a partial blame, on me, and the guy bcs he wasn't helping me feel secure with 'us'. He was game playing.

Then when I dated he who must not be named, I never had that problem. I never wondered where it was going because he wasn't playing the game. I didn't have to achieve a higher level, I knew it would happen eventually. Until it didn't but whatevs.

Easy going is easy, but maybe go Bare Escentuals instead of Cover Girl.

Syd said...

I think it's definitely good to be more relaxed around the minor things, but I also think its important not to change yourself too much for a relationship. Because, at the end of the day, you really should be most comfortable being YOU in this relationship. And likewise, he needs to want to be with you, not only the laid back version of you. I've done the similar type of changes for a guy, and in the end, while not the only reason, it definitely contributed to the relationship going south in the long term. This isn't to say that chilling out isn't good! But chill out for you, not because guys don't dig a girl who is high maintenance. Which is totally not a gender specific trait, nor do I think it's a bad thing. As you mentioned before, you are successful and organised in other areas of your life, so being a little more uptight has paid off.

SaraJk said...

You hit the nail on the head for me. In my last relationship I was easy going in the beginning, but then too much crap started going on and I just couldn't relax anymore.

I have chilled out more now that I have the time and don't have the drama causing ppl in my life!

Thanks for another great post.

JulesDTD said...

When it's the right guy, things are naturally easy. When the guy is making himself available to you and not playing games and showing you that he cares about you and feels for you the same way you feel for him, you are able to relax and be that cool girl that you want to be.

It kills me to see girls chastise themselves for not being easy going enough when they are reacting to legitimate triggers- like a guy going a long time without being in touch. Girls start to worry and react and it's because, deep down, they know this behavior is telling. That it means something about how the guy feels. Girls pick up on that and then react accordingly.

Surely there are some people who are more naturally easy going than others, but I firmly believe that for most, being with the right person, a person who shows you they are invested in you, makes it a snap for you to be relaxed and easy going in your relationship.

Ms_Jones74 said...

I think Singleship raises an excellent point. We know what certain behaviors mean because we've experienced them before.

I think I've told Sarah a few times, "I've been here before. I know what this is and I don't like how this feels."

Angela said...

I guess that's why I attract the men I do (and am not interested in): I mostly am that girl when I'm around them.

I know what you mean, though. I've had real confidence issues, including socially, for years, and it hurts to think of how much time I wasted fretting over this and that (when I was younger, I was naturally "that girl" and got teased for having certain popular boys hanging around me).

Added pressure now, though, is that men my age tend to "prefer someone younger", which leaves me wanting to kick them in the teeth. We aren't geriatric, and even if we were, it would still be a cheek.

Angela said...

I agree with The SingleShip and Danielle, too. And then they turn around and call you crazy, or something, before actually doing what you fear. that's been my experience.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the most easy going people there is. Many things don't even phase me. But being easy going doesn't mean not doing the girl thing. That was clearly an important moment for you and obviously Abraham saw that. You should never give up something that's important to you. Being easy going is about letting the chips fall where they are and picking them up again despite how you feel.

Best advice for women here though would be, be an adult. Show your feelings, get mad at us all you want just be willing to sit down and talk with us about it.

My ex used to hair up over the slightest things and got mad at me, I'd get frustrated and then mad back. When if she'd just come to me and talked to me honestly about the issue it could have been cleared up without a tear shed.

Anonymous said...

Also sometimes women need to try and be more understanding when it comes to the way we act. A change in behaviour isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes when we start acting weird its because we're dealing with emotions that we're not good with. I acted weird with Florida before she demanded to know what was going on when I was just struggling with the fact that I was in love with her and at that point we were still undefined.

lofrede (misslizsarab) said...

I'm fake easygoing, I am chilled on the outside in my relationships but I stress about every little thing in my head

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Schmoozer (aka Kickball guy). Weren't the two of you like BFF/besties...? Has he been replaced by Adam?

Meg said...

This is all so so true. I am naturally far from easygoing, but spend a large percentage of my time trying desperately to be that girl who goes with the flow and doesn't let anything get to her. I figure that one of these days I'll have it down... we'll see. Thanks for putting the struggle into such eloquent words!

NatInSydney said...

Really great post Sarah!

bluemoon said...

The general premise of letting go in general is my NY resolution. It includes letting go of things, perceived slights, as well as the bigger picture, like people I need to move past. More power to both of us!

Lindsay said...

I totally agree with Singleship. I am naturally pretty easygoing when it comes to relationships. Unfortunately, all the tiny things that I'm willing to overlook are actually just parts of the bigger picture. "Sure, I'm cool with you being friendly with your ex" turns into "Oh, she's pregnant with your child and you lied about that?!"

Anyway, I think it'll be easy for me to be easygoing again when I find someone who is worth being easygoing with.

Scrumps said...

I do try. And to begin with I succeed. But then I get too comfortable with people and it leads to me actually being mad at them and letting them know. Probably why I have more male friends than females - because I'm easy going and can appreciate stupid things.

Sometimes though, we can't help but overanalyse things and that always seem to be to our detriment.

But I'm going to be like you too. I'm going to chill and like you said - just because I can get mad at you doesn't mean I have to. I'm definitely going to try!

nuttycow said...

I think I'm lucky in the fact that I'm so relaxed I'm almost horizontal. However, there is a downside - you have to be careful people don't take advantage of that. Enjoy your top knot (although I've never figured out how to make it messy/pretty - mine just looks...well... messy)

LP said...

I think sometimes being easygoing is about putting things into perspective. I have recently moved in with my boyfriend and for the first 2 weeks I kept getting upset about silly stuff like unwashed dishes and bottles of beer being left everywhere, then something happened that remind me what a great guy he is and how much he cares about me and I realized that the other things are not worth getting upset about. If the important things are there, the rest will come around eventually. Now we use the dishwasher and while there is still the occasional bottle of beer on the side, I am too happy to care about that.

treacle said...

Sounds like you've been reaping the benefits of this resolution even before you made it!

Here's to choosing battles that matter x

Sarah said...

LP - This is exactly my point. Thank you.

Lea said...

Really? Really? We've gone to sweeping generalizations about what "guys want" and find sexist t-shirts funny. You've bowed to social pressure to be a personality cookie cut out of what you think men want from a woman. Where is your vagina? Where is your integrity? It is just bullshit that women need to be more easygoing, and men are the easygoing ones. Women are continually gaslighted by the media, society and men, don't know what it means ? Look it up. It's a good thing in life to pick your battles , it is a shit thing not to address them because youre concerned about being considered high maintenance, which is a shit term anyway. I'm sorry, does your partner maintain you and it's not the 1920's? In society; men complain, women whinge; men say what they want, women nag; men get angry, women start fights. Don't continue to spread this sexist crap through your blog. I can suggest some lighter reading if you're not up for reading the female eunuch, how about how to be a woman by Caitlin Moran.

Anonymous said...

@Lea interesting points. Having said that but nobody forces you to read this blog. Secondly and probably more importantly, this post is less about women chilling out and more about changing the approach we (as people) take to life for the better.

Lea said...

@Kingofhearts I've been reading this blog since the beginning and up until now have not read anything so ridiculous. Just because I disagree with something she has written does not mean I should not read it. I'm being honest about how I feel about what she's written and if she didn't want any views or criticism she should keep a diary, not a public blog.

I'm sorry but re-read the article and you will find atleast a few references about; easy going being a male trait, women don't make a big deal about issues more likely to be married, and men not liking women who complain. The whole taste of the article is pretty gross and sexist. That's my view KingOfHearts, you can have yours too.

Sarah said...

I appreciate the thought put into this. My intention was not to change personalities, but to choose your battles and not sweat the little things like pizza crust and discarded beer bottles. I thought I could convey that without using those overused phrases.

I make very clear distinction between good men and bad men and just wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to the ones that deserve it. I did not use this post as away to justify putting up with unacceptable behavior.

I think I would be happier if I were more accepting and bitched less. I think the people around me (including friends and coworkers) would be happier too. I just don't see anything wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

Schmoozer update please.

Anonymous said...

How do you change being honest? I've found that friends have come and gone because of my honesty. They ask me a question, I tell them the truth, they get mad, I get mad = friend lost.

Time and time again the same pattern happens, my perspective is that a friend will always tell you the truth, will always give her opinion and whether it's taken it's up to them but at least they know that someone is honest.

So frustrating.

Anonymous said...

There's a fine line between changing behavior and changing who you are. As long as the change is internal and not just external, and made for yourself and not others, there's nothing wrong with self-improvement.
I've read your blog for years, and just hope you aren't applying the easy-going change to your need-to-know-where-you-stand. There's nothing wrong with that. Some people need that and some don't. Abraham strikes me as a "don't" and that's okay, too, but he should respect your need, even if he doesn't share it or understand it.

mypixieblog said...

Good for you, girl. Good for you. I have also just learned to let things be over the years. Worrying over the future or things I have little to no control over only brings a heightened sense of stress to all around me.

I can always embrace my inner Cover Girl a bit more, too.


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