All she wants for Christmas is you..to pay attention!

This week, staff writer Stephany Salinas discusses how to get it right for Christmas.

 

Holidays are right around the corner, and I’ve already been approached by male friends asking what they should get for that special someone.

Should I get her jewelry? Clothes? A Louis Vuitton purse? Coach?

Well, for some women, all of the above would be ideal, and I honestly couldn’t tell you if those are the right or the wrong gifts. If my boyfriend bought me a Coach purse, I wouldn’t be super excited about it, but I would definitely not be mad about it, either.

However, for a lot of girls, it’s more about the creativity of the gift. I know, I know, “Oh no, you mean I actually have to think about it?”

To put it simple, yes. If we see effort, and not just money, put into the gift, we are that much more appreciative of it.

Let me give you an example. I’ve gotten many gifts over the years. Necklaces, jewelry, stuffed animals, gift cards, etc. You name the typical boyfriend gift, and I got it. After all the years, the stuffed animals got put/thrown away. The necklaces got tucked in a jewelry drawer, the purses thrown away, the rings were given back, and everything was gone.

NOW. One Christmas, a few years back, my boyfriend at the time went all out. And not all out as in dropping money or making it rain, but got me gifts that I actually needed/want.

I was in college, and my printer was terrible. BOOM, brand new printer with Bluetooth capability, so I can print from anywhere in my apartment. At the time, I was taking 21 credit hours. BOOM. Here’s a huge George Foreman grill so you can make dinner quicker and easier. Not only store-bought things, but he also made a picture booklet of pictures of us throughout the time we had known each other. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen in my life. On top of that, he made…MADE..a snow globe with a picture of us in it. I couldn’t take these items anywhere, and I couldn’t show them off when I went out, but every night before I went to bed, I shook that snow globe and smiled.

Last but not least, my major was Music Business. He bought me an adorable eighth notes music necklace that I still wear to this very day. Not because there are still feelings there, and not because it’s such an extravagant piece of jewelry that I MUST show it off, but because it represents a part of who I am. I love music, grew up on it, studied it, and majored in it. Music has and always will be a part of my life, and for him to incorporate that into a gift meant the world to me.

So gentlemen, instead of asking other people what you should get your girlfriend, do yourself a favor and pay attention to her. As her boyfriend, you should know her better than most people. There are so many things you can get, that finding something that will mean something to her shouldn’t be a problem, especially if it’s something that comes from the, you guessed it, heart.

Good luck! ❤

Great Expectations: Television’s Effect on Your Relationship

This week, staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald gives a comparison and contrast between real-life relationships and those portrayed on television. What do YOU think?

I consume a lot of culture—television shows, music, books, movies, websites—and one thing I’ve noticed is that television shows, in particular, create great expectations for our relationships.  In most TV shows, the characters that are in a relationship experience some sort of conflict in their relationship, the conflict comes to a head, and by the end of the episode, the characters resolve the conflict and are shown peacefully cuddling on the couch.  This pattern follows a traditional narrative arc—conflict, climax, and resolution—and it is an effective way to tell a fictional story.

In real life, however, relationships aren’t so simple.  Conflicts are rarely, if ever, totally resolved, and lingering feelings from one conflict often provide the spark that ignites the next conflict.  While characters in TV shows are cuddling on the couch happy and content with the resolution, people in real relationships are cuddling on the couch as well, but they aren’t quite so happy or content.  They are rehashing the conflict, plotting their next move, and rehearsing what they might do differently next time to obtain a more favorable result.  There are no complete resolutions to conflicts in real-life relationships: only tenuous peace treaties.

I think that, too often, we expect our relationships to be like the ones we see on TV.  We expect simple conflicts to be followed by simple resolutions; and when our relationships don’t follow this pattern, we experience a sort of dissonance: the expectations that we have for our relationships do not match up with the reality of those relationships.  Because of this, we think that there is something wrong with our relationships, but this is simply not true.

TV shows portray relationships and the conflicts that result from them simplistically because they have to cram the entire conflict into a half-hour or sixty minute program.  Real relationships are drawn out affairs.  They exist over days, weeks, months, years, and sometimes even decades, and often-times individual conflicts are re-visited numerous times throughout the lifetime of a given relationship.  This does not mean that there is something wrong with that relationship; it simply means that it’s a real relationship.

I’m not saying TV shows are bad.  I love TV, and I love TV relationships.  What I am saying is that it’s not good to use TV shows as models upon which to base our expectations for our real-life relationships.  This creates great expectations, which our relationships will almost certainly fail to live up to, and when this occurs, we risk abandoning those relationships in search of new ones that we believe will more accurately represent the fictional relationships that we see on TV.  Remember, it’s just a TV show.  Don’t make it anything more than it is.

How To Have A One-Night Stand

This week’s post by staff writer Rigby Rat discusses the rules of a one-night stand.

 

 

Used to be, a one-night stand was what it was: a one-time sexual encounter with no strings or emotions attached.  It still is.

 

One-night stands start with two people and their uncontrollable sexual tension/attraction to one another.  The sex act takes place, then each participant goes on his/her merry way, never to talk or meet again.  Think you can do that?

 

If you can’t go on your merry way, and the other person can and does, you’re setting yourself up for heartache.  Case in point:  a friend of mine dragged me to a club to hear music by some obscure rock group.  She was obsessed with the bass player.  During the band’s intermission, my friend and he spoke briefly.  Long story short, after the concert, at 3:30 am, I drove her down to the East Village and waited with her until Mr. Bass player showed up.  Before she got out of the car, I said, “Are you sure you want to do this?”  Then I watched the pair enter an apartment above a storefront, and went home.

 

Between you and me – I didn’t sense any sexual tension between these two.

 

The next day, my friend calls me.  She’s unglued.  Then, she bursts into tears.  She tells me she phoned the bass player several times, but he wouldn’t answer.  I said to her, “What did you expect?”  You know what she expected: the bass player to magically put his lifestyle on hold and have a relationship with her.  That wasn’t going to happen!

 

The next thing my friend did was track down the rehearsal studio his band rented.  She shows up, and the band members prevent her from entering the studio.  Can you imagine how she felt?   That night, I spent at least an hour using the imaginary bicycle pump to bring her deflated ego back to size.  I also impressed upon her that when you have a one-night stand, you gotta play by the rules, or you’re going to get hurt and make a fool of  yourself.

 

It’s exciting when you meet a stranger and the sexual tension between you causes the mice behind the Xerox machine to come out and bask in the heat.  However, oft-times the blaze and the fantasy are more rewarding than the afterglow.  Especially if you’re not emotionally ready/mature, and are not well-versed in the rules.

 

 

…And Change His Ways Tomorrow

This week’s post by staff writer Frank Friedlander discusses the topic of sometimes focusing too much on “mistakes” in our significant others.

 

Whenever I make the mistake of feigning interest in the dating exploits of my friends, I end up with an earful of nonsensical and irrelevant anecdotes as to why the encounter went south. “When he showed up, he was wearing this shirt or those jeans.” They usually proceed with assorted drivel such as “We went to this restaurant and he did this and did that and a bunch of other things that you don’t care about but I’m going to carry on about all the same.”

 

I simply can’t stress enough that when looking for a life mate, or at least a long-term relationship, such frivolities are of minor relevance and can easily be remedied if they must be at all.

 

When on a date, if you’re looking hard enough for flaws, you’re going to find some. Everyone has his or her share. This being said, a good deal of them can be fixed somewhere down the line, or else you learn to get used to them. Evaluating overall compatibility should be the first priority regardless of the venue. Even if he takes you to Chili’s or Denny’s, give it a chance. It doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a lifetime of casual dining at low-level chain restaurants. Even if you are, if there’s a genuine connection, perhaps it’s worth it. Besides, who doesn’t like buffalo wings and potato skins. Vegetarians, but they’re usually weird anyway.

 

The suitor that takes you to some fancy French restaurant is just as likely to turn out to be a cad as he or she who takes you to Applebee’s. Perhaps more so, as they be compensating for who knows what.

 

This principal is best explained in the song “Marry the Man Today,” from the classic Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls.” In a nutshell, when you have a potential mate on the hook, one with the overall traits you desire, accept him or her for why they are, warts and all. The flaws can then be fixed at a later date. As Adelaide explains to Sgt. Sarah Brown, “you can’t make alterations on a dress you haven’t bought.”

 

As is often the case, those flaws often end up being worth the overall package. Other times, you may learnt that they are not flaws at all, and are “quirks,” just part of what makes them who they are. You may decide that they’re part of why you fell for them to begin with.

 

All I’m saying is that you should always give them a second chance, so long as there’s mutual interest and the overall package outweighs the flaws. Unless of course you learn that he or she is an axe murderer, sex offender, or some other type of felon. In such cases, you’re probably better off nipping it in the bud.

 

 

Window Shopping: Look But Don’t Touch

This week’s post by staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald discusses “window-shopping” when you’re in a relationship. What are your thoughts? How do you and your significant other handle window-shopping?

My wife and I are walking hand-in-hand at the mall when suddenly, a beautiful woman catches my eye.  I stare at her as she walks towards us; and as she walks past, my head swivels to catch one final glimpse of her beautiful behind.  It’s this final glimpse that gets me in trouble.

“Really?” my wife asks; but it’s not really a question, it’s a warning.  It’s like she’s actually saying, “I’ll give you a mulligan on that one; but next time, don’t make it so obvious.”

“What?” I reply; but again, it’s not really a question, it’s an apology. It’s like I’m actually saying, “I couldn’t help myself there, but next time I promise I won’t make it so obvious.”

Everyone in a relationship does the occasional window-shopping: men, women, polygamists, monogamists, straight, gay, cheaters, and even totally faithful partners—everyone.  It’s natural, almost like a reflex.  An attractive person enters your visual field, your focus turns to that person until they exit your visual field; and usually, the conscious mind enters the equation in order to ensure that the attractive individual stays in your visual field for as long as possible.

Not only is window-shopping natural, but I think good for any relationship; if not intrinsically, at least as a way to gauge how controlling or possessive your partner is.  A partner who gets angry at you anytime you look in the direction of a member of the opposite sex is most likely a control freak whose suffocating jealousy will eventually destroy your relationship and make you miserable in the process.  A partner who lets you look at anyone and everyone without ever making a comment or expressing any sort of jealousy at all is probably not that into you in the first place.

These are two extreme ends of the window-shopping policy spectrum, but most people fall somewhere between the two.  Different people deal with window-shopping differently.  My wife and I have a strict look-but-don’t-touch policy; but it’s implicitly understood that if she catches me looking, then I have to listen to her critique my taste in women.

“Her?  It looks like a bird shat in her hair, plus she shouldn’t be wearing a belt with that top.  You have no taste in women.”

“I married you, didn’t I?”  I reply.

She ends the exchange with a glance that seems to say, “You know that’s not what I meant.”

A couple’s window-shopping policy is something that develops along with their relationship.  Some have a look-but-don’t-get-caught policy; some have a don’t-look-at-all policy; some have a don’t-look-or-I’ll-make-a-big-dramatic-scene policy.  Whatever the policy in your relationship is, there are times when window-shopping is just plain rude.  Anytime you and your partner are on a formal date, whether it be dinner, a movie, bowling, or a walk on the beach, window-shopping is strictly prohibited.  Formal dates are times for you and your partner to be alone and enjoy each other’s company.  What’s the point in getting all dressed up and going out to a nice dinner if your partner is going to be drooling over the man or woman at the table next to you the whole time?

Anytime you and your partner are with family members, window-shopping is strongly discouraged.  I know my wife wouldn’t be too happy with me if her mom called her up and said, “You know, I noticed that your husband is always checking out other women when you two are together.  Is everything all right between you?”  You don’t want to put your partner in the position of defending you to his or her family members.  It’s uncomfortable for your partner, and no matter how much explaining he or she does, that family member will probably continue to suspect that something is wrong in your relationship.

Anytime you and your partner are out celebrating a special occasion such as an anniversary, a promotion, a graduation, or another milestone event, window-shopping is expressly forbidden.  An anniversary is a celebration of your relationship with each other, and because of this, each partner deserves the undivided attention of the other.  An event like a promotion or a graduation represents the culmination of a lot of hard work, so your partner deserves your total attention in recognition of his or her effort in achieving that goal.

If you’re not sure if window-shopping would be appropriate in a given context, then you should probably refrain from doing it, or at the very least, make sure you don’t get caught doing it.

I am interested in knowing what you think about window-shopping.  In what other situations might window-shopping be deemed totally inappropriate or offensive?  Do men do it more than women or are women just better at not getting caught?  What sort of policy do you usually follow in your relationships?

How Women F**k-Up Men

This week’s post by staff writer Rigby Rat focuses on why some men have problems with communication in relationships.

 

It starts when he’s a little boy.  The first person who wreaks havoc on his young impressionable brain and heart is – you guessed it – his mother.  One way she forever changes her son: with her stinging, manipulative words.

 

I was at a friend’s backyard swimming pool.  Her sister, Rita, was there.  Rita’s five-year-old son, Max, was standing on the diving board, crying.  He did not want to dive off and into the deep end.  Rita said this: “What are you afraid of?  Be a little man and dive off!”

 

Max looked to me for help.  Rita immediately saw the connection and ramped it up.  She said, “What’s the matter, you can’t be a little man like your father?  You’re pissing me off.  Just jump!”  On that manipulative note, the frightened Max – tears streaming down his red cheeks – dove into the pool.

 

That day, Rita got her way, and Max learned four things:

 

1.  That if he doesn’t allow a female to get her way, he’s going to get verbally and emotionally beat up.

2. That if he doesn’t allow a female to get her way, he won’t be looked upon as “manly”.

3.  So, not to anger a woman and keep the peace, he should always cave.

4. When you cave to a woman, you hand your balls over to her.

 

The sad thing about this scenario is, Max is growing up thinking all women operate like his mother.  Because he thinks this way, and because his mother isn’t teaching him how to express his feelings – or express them appropriately – Max has ceased expressing his feelings.

 

When a man doesn’t express his feelings, we are led to believe that men are from Mars and women are from Venus.

 

Men are not from Mars. They come from their mothers’ wombs.

 

Baby boys are born able to express their feelings.  Max was.  I saw his tears.  Sensed his fear.  How come his mama wasn’t being receptive to Max’s feelings, desires, and needs?

 

While Max stood crying on the diving board, Rita bullied her son.  Boys should never be bullied by their mothers, fathers, or coaches.  They should never be manipulated into burying their feelings, wants, or desires.  Instead, they should be encouraged to express their feelings – especially fear – without being judged weak.

 

Now you know where your guy’s deer-in-headlights look comes from when you’re having that big blow-up.  Blame his mother.  Now you know why his communication skills are lacking.  Blame his mother.  Now you know why he hasn’t any balls.  Blame his mother.  Now you know why the only way he expresses himself is with anger.  Blame his mother.

 

On the flip side, guys, once you’re finished blaming your mother, unlearn the behavior mama taught you: clamming up and caving.  It’s never too late to restore what you were born with: the ability to express your feelings.

 

 

 

Love and Fandom

This week, staff writer Frank Friedlander uses baseball for an example to discuss devotion.

 

As a lifelong Cubs fan, many people, my wife included often wonder why I continue to loyally follow them despite the fact that it leads to disappointment year after year. Why not take some time off and wait until they’re ready to get their act together? Better yet, chose another team. It’s not like I’d have far to go; there’s another big league team just ten miles south of the crumbling shrine known as Wrigley Field.  They even seem to win every now and then, and have taken home a championship in the lifetime of most of their fans.

 

My response is that true fandom isn’t something that can be turned on and off. Even if I did trade in my Cubbie Blue for black and white, I’d be just another fair weather fan, and come crawling back the moment the Cubs seemed ready to win again.

 

To a true, diehard fan, the game is more than just that. It’s more than a hobby, more than a pastime. It’s a way of life. Even beyond the six months, (or seven to the better teams,) in which the Cubs play, we obsess over the team’s next set of moves. Who will we trade? Who will we sign? No, I don’t work for the team, but that’s another thing. The “we” debate. There’s always someone who wants to know why fans refer to their team as “we.” Well, to us, the team is a part of who we are, a part of our identity. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. In contention and in an era in which the playoffs look to be at least a good three, or even five years away.

 

I’ll admit, there are often times when I wish that I could simply walk away, if even for just a little while. Just long enough for them to build a team worthy of the rabid fan base. After all, why devote such a big portion of your life to something that lets you down over and over, year after year? At what point do we simply move on. Like a lot of other Cubs fans, if I could, I would have a long time ago.

 

Call me weak, but I simply don’t possess the power to walk away from something that’s been so important to me for so many years, and perhaps I never will.

 

This past year, they have not even tried to sugarcoat the truth; they preach patience. Very ballsy to preach patience when you haven’t produced a championship for well over a century.

 

This being said, we’ll wait. We may not flock to the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field en-mass as we once did, but we’re still here. Watching from afar, just waiting for a sign that “next year” is on the horizon. We don’t give up hope, and we certainly don’t whore out our fandom to some other team that seems to be in a more enviable position, at least for the time being.

 

To some, this may sound rather crazy. However, I’m willing to be that it also sounds very familiar.