…so is dating, life and all the other things we do in waking hours. But self-love…that’s going to kill me. Not really… it won’t actually “kill” me…but it is causing me to realize that I never truly practiced it before. Choosing yourself over someone else may be easy for a narcissist …but for an empath its one of the hardest things to learn – and I don’t know if it ever becomes easy.
Its been almost 2 years since I took back control of my life after a very unhealthy marriage. During that time I have healed from so many things and learned more about myself than I ever knew in my 4 1/2 decades of life to this point. I found a real appreciation for the relationships I hold dear – with my kids, family and friends. But the best relationship I forged was with myself. I started viewing myself as I would my best friend. I began asking myself “What advice would you give your BFF if she were telling you this story about her?” I started wondering why I was so willing to accept being treated badly or not taking care of myself when I wouldn’t want that for someone else that I loved. How could I fight so fiercely for another person that I cared about when they were being mistreated… but justify chance after chance after chance to someone who was hurting me on a regular basis? As it turns out, in the past – I didn’t really love or respect myself much, especially when you consider my history with people who also didn’t love or respect me.
I thought that simply standing up for myself was self-love…but defending myself in the absence of action was nothing more than an unmonitored alarm… it makes a lot of noise but no one takes it seriously after no consequences show up. I always said NO MORE – but stood right in the same place…and more always came.
So the past 18 months has been spent putting myself to the test when it comes to actual self-love. Establishing defined boundaries for what I will and will not accept from myself and others and then following through when life tests me. Folks…its not easy. And its an excruciating task for an empath… someone who hurts when others hurt.
A few months ago I started getting serious about meeting new people with the intention of possibly finding a relationship companion. Although I have certainly dated in the past and been in long term relationships – I have never (until now) embarked on the venture with the knowledge I have today about who I really am, honest self-love, defined boundaries, personality dynamics and most importantly, what I truly want out of a relationship. In the past I was just out there going crazy with anyone I was attracted to that also wanted to go crazy. And in the end what I ended up with – was a lot of crazy. This time its very different… and if I’m honest – somedays I secretly wish for the blissful oblivion that I used to operate under. Sometimes I meet people who are right on so many levels – and I wish so badly I didn’t notice the red flags.
Red Flags & Boundaries
For me, red flags aren’t necessarily a deficiency in another person. In most cases, a red flag is simply a behavior or trait that pushes against a personal boundary that I have for myself, like an age difference outside of my range or someone who likes to go to the clubs a lot. Nothing wrong with them – it’s just not right for me. In other words…my boundaries are for me to honor – not someone else.
Whether its a simple difference in wants or needs, or its a glaring personality deficit … self-love requires that you pay attention and act on your own behalf with conviction, regardless of how much you “wish” things were different.
Trial & Error – Necessary but Sucks
I read a meme the other day that said;
“If you’re not serious about dating, get off of dating apps.”
Wow. But I get it. In fact, I have heard some version of that from several people that I have chatted with, met, had a 2nd or 3rd date with or even explored something more serious for a while. As soon as its clear that its not a fit… all of a sudden I get accused of not being fair or serious. Seriously? How about – I will decide what “serious” means to me.
Look, I’ve been there… and not that long ago actually. About a year ago, I met someone I really felt a connection with. He was probably the funniest person I had ever met, quick witted and playful. He was handsome and easy to be around. His kisses left me light headed and I always looked forward to seeing him again the next time. In my mind, we were headed for a relationship and he had expressed that was what he wanted too. And then, it was over, with no explanation. I was disappointed, but I tried not to take it personally. I wished he had told me why, although in the end it didn’t really matter – I was completely myself with him… so if it was something I did or didn’t do, there was nothing to change. But I never thought he wasn’t serious during our time together – immature about the way he ended it -yes…but I know he was serious, until something happened that told him it wasn’t a fit. I still found respect for his decision – unspoken as it was.
Everyone is looking for something – some have longer lists than others but no one is just out there saying yes to everyone- every time. Some people are figuring it out as they go – like I have done in the past. And some know very clearly what they are looking for and are not willing to settle for less. The hard part is that at least for a little while, you have to get “serious” – submit to the process of getting to know someone – risk possible feelings for someone – before you or they really know if its right. That’s tough, for everyone when it doesn’t work out.
So the next time you meet someone that you really like or feel a connection with – and they don’t feel the same… pause before you take it personally or accuse them of not being serious. Sometimes you just don’t know what people are going through and what kind of promises they have made about happiness, self-love and being true to themselves.
The sea of online dating websites these days is big enough to drown a whale. We all know the 3 or 4 that spend massive amounts in advertising but did you know there are also THESE gems to fish around in as well?
CougarLife.com (I can almost sign up for this one)
BlackPeopleMeet.com (There was also a WhitePeopleMeet.com – but it was deemed racist)
FarmersOnly.com (don’t tell the goat!)
GlutenFreeSingles.com (I’m assuming there is also vegansingles.com, tidepods.com & ieatanything.com)
Trump.dating (I DID NOT make that up!)
AmishDating.com (I’d do it for the furniture)
Ohhhh yes people… if you are ALIVE – there is an online dating website painfully specific to YOU!! Clowns? Yep! –Want to be peed on? Yep! — Into Mullets? Yep!
If you have ever been on an online dating website, you know that the first thing you’re tasked with (ok the 2nd – they make you pay first) – is choosing a username or handle. Kill me now. I just use my initials – because, well honestly thats as much about me as I am willing to put out there but at least its actually “me.” I don’t date much, and I am pretty sure these sites are why…I just can’t get with the program I guess. Hopefully though, I can share some funny stories and we can all get at least some value out of the subscription cost.
There is one site in particular that will “randomly” choose a name FOR you if your creative juices just aren’t flowing on the spot and you need to get on in there and find your Cupid. There are only so many variations of the handful of words the name generator uses so it becomes painfully obvious very quickly that this was not a unique or inspired username. For instance;
Surprisingly Loyal: at some point he realized that he was loyal AFTER ALL!
Very Brave: but not completely...see below
Completely Brave: how can he be sure? (He hasn’t met me yet)
Monstrously Sweet: I am picturing Sulley
Royally Huggable: like the opposite of Queen Elizabeth…oh I get it!
Surprisingly Funny: again with the surprises… did he not already KNOW he was funny?
Brilliant Ride: I’d say that “I’ll be the judge of that”…but I won’t – say it or be it.
Certainly Clever: says who?
Merrily Outdoorsy: aka gay lumberjack
Really Clever: as in lying, cheating and such? he’s probably not nearly as clever as he thinks…
Passionately Smart: I got nothing here – except disappointment and skepticism
The list of the generated names goes on endlessly… and I just see those names and think – wow – this person couldn’t even be bothered to come up with a name that will be their first impression on their profile. NEXT.
These are the ones people actually make up for themselves…I honestly don’t know which is worse – the random or the intentional.
All Man & Amazing: There is something to be said about confidence…but I won’t say it.
It Is What It Is: This fills me with so much optimism about this person.
Happy Gilmore: I wonder if they have actually ever seen this movie? Not a great image to project.
Pain Killer: Tip: dating profile names with the word “KILLER” anywhere in the mix…bad idea.
Slacker: Honesty at its finest.
Camping,Fishing: Keep it simple stupid.
RULKN4SUMTRBLE2GETN2: It took me 24 minutes to figure out what that said.
The Naked Gardner: I was excited at first…and then I noticed his age… 67
55goingOn40: aka IamIMMATUREforMYage
I’llBEyourSCORE: you’ll be my forfeit
A Breed Apart: from what???
Limitless Blessings: Seems a little blasphemous…
The ONE: LIES… all lies
Nice Guy: If I had a dime…
Waiting 4U: make yourself comfortable
Anonymous & Hiding
When people want to “sniff around in the dark” (so to speak)…you see a lot of this;
If you can’t read between the lines ^^^ those should say “iAMmarried” – and those folks should be looking into Ashley Madison for their kicks.
Why do we do it? I ask myself that question all the time. For me, I think its entertainment mostly plus a great resource for good blog topics, I could probably write off the expense of the subscriptions now that I think about it. I have met some really nice people, and a couple of jerks but mostly just busy people like me who don’t have much opportunity for adult interaction beyond the workplace. (And I use the term “adult” loosely – regarding most work places I know of.) When you are grown, have kids, a job, responsibilities and are just plain tired…what else are you going to do to meet people? So we sign up, log in and stare at the “sea of faces” in hopes that someone might say something funny or ridiculous so we can at least get a little chuckle as we scroll. What kind of funny stuff have you seen online? Tell me!
2018…seeing that number in print is still so surreal. Referencing years that begin with “20__” is the stuff that futuristic movies were made of when I was a kid. Although I am glad that I am still alive and well in what I thought would be “the space ages” …I have to admit, I am sorely disappointed that cars don’t fly yet & we still can’t have a summer home on the Moon. But 2018 will go down in my history as one to remember for sure. 2018 Also brought the birth of Miss Perfect Mess (aka Me)
After a lengthy separation from my husband that began in May 2016 & a handful of what I thought were attempts to reconcile – February 2018 brought the “incident” that would finally end the insanity. The very next day… I woke up, picked up my pieces and headed into the rest of my life with eyes wide open, no regrets and a little girl who would prove to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
In 2009 when my daughter came into the world, I never imagined that in a few short years – I would become a single Mom again. I thought my family & marriage were strong and my intentions were to glide off into the future making perfect memories without a worry in my mind. [REAL LIFE – enter stage left]
In February 2018, at 8 years old – my daughter had to learn a tough life lesson. As hard and long as I tried to save her from it – sometimes families get rearranged. She didn’t know then & neither did I…but we would soon become each other’s most important allies.
We would console, support and get to know each other on a whole new level. I am still certainly her Mother, her parent and she…the child, but there are times now when we are real friends. We encourage and lean on each other in ways that have strengthened both of us as people.
Last week, we both were sick. I couldn’t go to work and she couldn’t go to school. We stayed home and snuggled for the first couple of days and then my daughter started getting better. I got worse. While I rested and napped during the day – this little amazing person that I am so lucky to have in my life – became one incredible nurse. All on her own she checked on me, brought me hot tea, reminded me to check my temperature and kept me company. I watched her shuffling around being a perfect caregiver and I wondered how is it possible that I get to be her Mama. I am convinced that she is a gift from God – loaned to me…to learn from, protect, teach and love.
One afternoon last week, feeling horrible and exhausted – I headed back to my bedroom to lay down. I rounded the corner and saw something better than solid gold on my bedroom door. The love I feel from this baby girl is unlike any love I have ever experienced… pure and real.
As heartbreaking as it was to accept that my marriage was over…I had no idea of the opportunity that it would bring me. In February I glanced into the coming months in my mind and saw a lot of sadness & grief. But what I found as the weeks and months coasted by…was a lot of clarity, happiness and love that I had been missing for a really long time. Those things brought a desire to be better… starting with being a better Mother – to all my kids. I plugged back into my life in ways that I hadn’t been in over a decade. I was no longer “going through the motions” – I was actually free to BE in the moment and I am taking advantage of it in big ways. I “feel” things again – I “see in color” again and its all beautiful and wonderful! Its scary and unbelievable how far removed one can become during struggles. We get so hyper-focused on one problem that all the people and things we are neglecting fade into the gray. I consider myself very fortunate to have been given a second chance to be a good Mother, friend, sister, Nani and “good person in general.” I don’t intend to waste it.
If I had a nickel for every time I have heard, read or even thought – “don’t judge!!!” I could literally sail off to another world and not GAF about what anyone thought of me or what I thought of anyone else. Literally.
Unfortunately, we don’t get paid for keeping ourselves in check. What we do get are frustrations and confusion – about this seemingly uncontrollable & sometimes even involuntary urge to judge others… then, the guilt associated with the realization that we did it…and then we sort of turn on ourselves and start “self-judging” for “JUDGING” in the first place. Insane? Turns out… not so much.
First, lets get some definitions out of the way;
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “judging” (as a verb) as follows: to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises
Second, Why Do We Do It?
We’ve ALL heard this one…
When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.
Although I don’t entirely disagree with this sentiment… I don’t think it applies in all cases & I don’t think its that simple all the time. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet…I see everything in shades of gray… I don’t believe that much of anything is black and white.)
OK or NOT OK to Judge? Example 1
I do agree that “judging” other people – generally speaking, is not a good thing…mostly because its done A LOT in reference to things that are NONE OF OUR BUSINESS in the first place. I try to keep myself in check about it, and in the times I can’t avoid it – I try to keep it to myself when possible (inside voice-inside voice-inside voice) But… (just for sh&%s & giggles) – using these examples – do you think its “OK” to judge someone?;
You are interviewing women for a nanny position for your 4 month old infant. A woman appears at your door for her appointment – 15 minutes late. Multiple facial piercings. Curses several times throughout the interview. At the same time, she seems nice and shows an interest in your baby. What do you do?
A) Try to shove down your instinctual urge to judge her and convince yourself that she deserves a chance regardless of her appearance and tardiness?
B) JUDGE THE HELL OUT OF HER until that voice talking to you in scenario A balls up in the fetal position and rocks herself to sleep?
For me, I choose B (and I actually did choose B when this exact scenario happened to me when I was searching for a nanny for Sadie). When it comes to your kids, I say judge all you need to. When the consequences of getting it wrong are the safety, health or even the life of another human being… I don’t think you owe anything to anyone except the person(s) you are responsible for. If this is wrong…I don’t need to be right.
To be clear, I interviewed everyone the same – even that woman. She toured my home, met my baby, sat & visited with me and answered all of my questions. I did not do or say anything (I hope) that would have potentially hurt her feelings or made her feel uncomfortable. But in the end, I had to make a judgement call – and that’s just how it is.
OK or NOT OK To Judge? Example 2
You meet a potential romantic interest for the first date. After you are seated, he is rude to the server. Talks over you as he mansplains everything. Makes several off color comments about your hair. At the same time; He speaks intelligently. Seems interested in you. Has a great career and picks up the check. What do you do?
A) Run like Hell?
B) Run like Hell faster?
C) Accept his invitation to head back to his place
Sorry this one is a no-brainer for me, its B all the way. Speaking for myself again, I have learned (the hard way) to tune into my inner voice…and SHE is a judgmental bitch from Hell. She keeps me safe. Her #1 priority is to help me avoid pain, bad situations and disasters. I don’t always act on her advice, but I always listen to it.
The guy in the scenario above is made up… but if I encountered him on a date I would make a judgement call because he is displaying too many traits that I have come to recognize as pitfalls or red flags. He VERY WELL could be a really nice person -maybe having an off day…but the consequences of being wrong about that could land me in a situation that I have experienced before and want to avoid ever being in again.
Call It What You Will
My point is that (in my opinion) there are times when it makes sense for purposes of safety or self preservation or just plain practicality to assess the situation, formulate an opinion based on the facts you have and make a decision about how to proceed. Especially given a situation where making the WRONG judgement could have dire consequences.
Perhaps “Judgement” in these types of circumstances could be referred to as “critical thinking.” (If semantics makes you feel better.)
The Truth is, We ALL Judge Other People
We meet people and immediately without even knowing it usually begin to size them up. We do this mostly to figure out if we can trust them – and if we think they are competent. (It’s true) We still think from a primitive perspective about survival – “Is this person going to hurt or help me?” and “Is this person SMART enough to hurt or help me?”
This is how we make friends, find partners, hire employees, choose doctors…etc… We judge (even if its only in our own minds) other people to figure out if they belong in our lives or not. It is also how we keep ourselves and our children safe in situations that are concerning or uncertain.
Research shows that we judge others based on 3 key areas;
Morality: when we judge someone’s morality, we judge them based on how well they treat other people. Specifically, though, this judgment is about whether they treat others in “correct” and “principled” ways. Honesty, trustworthiness, and sincerity, for example, are morality judgments.
Sociability: when we judge someone’s sociability, we judge them based on how much they treat other people in ways to promote affectionate relationships. Examples of this type of judgment would be how friendly, likable, and kind, the person seems.
Competence: when we judge someone’s competence, we judge them based on how capable we think the person is at accomplishing his or her goals. Whenever you judge someone’s intelligence, skillfulness, and confidence, you’re making a competence judgment. (Source & full article: http://socialpsychonline.com/2016/10/judging-people-psychology/ )
When Judging Turns Ridiculous
Okay, now that we have the facts & common sense aspect out of the way… lets talk RIDICULOUS. (Yes…that is me judging a little bit.)
I think where it gets out of hand is that we feel compelled to VOICE our judgements to other people – hoping that they will then somehow validate us in the judgement or validate that we ARE judging. (Probably because we weren’t comfortable with the judgement in the first place and we need some group comfort that we did the right thing – in doing the wrong thing.)
Hiding Behind Social Media
SOCIAL MEDIA has provided quite a cushy platform to feel better about judging other people – and I personally hate it because;
I have done it myself
Seemingly normal, kind and happy people berate others without the facts
Good people get hurt or ruined over assumptions & made up “facts”
Mob mentality sets off a feeding frenzy for endless judging online
There is no accountability or consequences from behind the safety of a computer screen
Don’t forget “mean girl” syndrome – you know, the one who has the posse of other “mean girls in training.” She does something mean or “judge’y” and then looks to her gang for approval…which she receives immediately (whether they agree or not) – so THEY aren’t the ones being judged. (Peer pressure never seems to go out of style.)
Judging Someone for NOT Judging Someone
Recently, I saw a local news article posted on social media about a mother who had smuggled alcohol into a movie theater by way of her son’s sippy cup. She brought her 2 young children with her that day and as the movie scrolled across the screen…she allegedly became intoxicated and then was unable to care for her kids- who at some point became distressed and other movie goers started complaining. The mom attempted to leave the theater in her car – with the kids. The authorities were called and the mother was taken to the hospital for care & treatment & then arrested. (The rest of the details aren’t relevant to my point but you can read about the incident here.)
What I found fascinating and disturbing was what happened after I commented on the social media post. All of a sudden – people who were judging this mom… were now judging ME because I wasn’t judging her! (See full post here) I felt like I was clear in my comment, that I wasn’t condoning her actions but rather stating the we don’t know the whole story – and since everyone is ok, let’s hope she is getting some help. Me arriving at that thought – came after a “pause” on my part… because if I am honest – my brain was really trying to judge her in the first few minutes after I read the article.
This was my comment on the post;
In the few minutes after the article about the movie theater mom…I ran through several ideas in my mind. My gut reaction was “omg… what was this mom thinking??” and then from there…I literally asked myself, “Wow, for real…what was she thinking? Or was she thinking? If she wasn’t thinking – why is that?” I “paused” for a few minutes and really thought about what would have to be happening in my life for me to behave so recklessly with my life and the lives of my kids. I concluded that something seriously bad must have been going on with her, and I sincerely hoped that she was able to get whatever help she needed. Because of the “pause” – I was able to get past my judgement of her and find some compassion which I truly believe she needed. What happened inside me after that felt good. It felt so good that even after reading the nasty comments directed at ME on the post… I still felt good & didn’t feel any desire to defend my position to the angry mob on the post. It was a great exercise in keeping my judgement in check & rerouting it into something positive.
How Many of You Remember This Mom?
A while back (2016) – a photo of a young mother in an airport went viral on social media. Remember? She was sitting in a row of seats in a terminal, cell phone in hand…and her baby was laying on a blanket in the floor in front of her. Some random stranger in the airport took “judgement” to the next level…and posted the photo to social media with the caption,”I fear the day that technology will take on our humanity … the world will be populated by a generation of idiots.” This random person did not know the mother being photographed nor her circumstances at the time. (He also credited Albert Einstein with the quote…he got that wrong too.) I find it wildly ironic that the person who snapped the photo cited a quote (incorrect as it may be) about technology, humanity and idiots… and yet failed to connect the dots to see how he himself was actually proving the sentiment to be true with his actions. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm.
The REST of the Story
It turns out that the mother in the photograph was Molly Lensing – and her baby daughter was 2 months old at the time the picture was snapped without Molly’s permission. She had spent over 20 hours with her baby in airports after an airline computer shut-down. Flights were being canceled and rerouted and Molly was caught up in the ordeal. The photo of her on the phone was real… she was trying to let her family members know where she was, that she was ok and updating them on the situation. The today.com article offered a statement from Molly about that day;
“Anastasia had been held or in her carrier for many hours. My arms were tired. She needed to stretch. And I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were.”
The position she was put in is unbelievable…but since the photo went viral on social media – I can understand how she would want to defend herself. All of it started from someone being judgmental about a situation that had nothing to do with them. I wonder how much better Molly would have felt if “that same person” had offered to HELP her – instead of judging her & grossly invading her privacy? Even if it was just to sit & keep her company for a few minutes…that is probably all it would have taken to learn enough to form an entirely different opinion.
What Have We Learned?
Hopefully we can practice the “Judge Less – Pause More” idea. Trust me, it works…but it does take practice. Ask yourself “Why am I feeling this way about this situation?” Look INSIDE for the answers first. It might be just enough distraction to move you away from bothering some poor unsuspecting person who likely doesn’t need you in their business. Save judgments for what really matters – health, safety, practicality – when it IS your business. Personally, I found the research on the subject very interesting – I recommend doing a little searching and reading on your own about “why we judge other people” and “the psychology of judging others” – its fascinating.
I am making a personal vow to work diligently on this every day. In my crusade to be a better me…I am pretty sure this will have the biggest impact on my life, my inner peace and it will help me grow as a person. JUDGE LESS – PAUSE MORE …join me! More coming soon on #pause.