On Griping

Staff writer Rachel Brownjohn‘s post for this week focuses on the effect that griping can have on how we and those we gripe to view others.

They say the fastest way to make a friend is to have a common enemy (Right? Don’t they say that?). A mutual distaste for onions can be a head start on the road to easy conversation. But can griping go too far? Can we be transitioning into negativity all too often to see the good things right in front of us?

 

Particularly in relationships, why are we always so quick to talk about the negative? We get together and gripe. And it’s kind of…gross. Let’s stop that.

 

When I was 19 I dated a pretty crummy guy – but he wasn’t truly awful all the time. I used to talk to my Mom everyday on the phone and gripe about all the silly, ‘dumb boy stuff’, he would do – in fact, it became the only thing I talked to her about. And when I learned that she wasn’t crazy about him, I was shocked, “What do you mean you don’t LOVE this guy whose negative traits I’ve been discussing exclusively for the past 8 months!” I marveled. Obviously she wouldn’t like him, he sounded like a real jerk. That thinking was so backward! I want my friends and family to love the people I love! So why wouldn’t I focus on the wonderful? And if there was legitimately nothing wonderful to focus on, why didn’t I break up with him sooner?

 

Is it society? I know it can get a bit cringe worthy to talk about too much lovey –dovey stuff. It can feel like you’re showing off, bragging. But shouldn’t we be our significant other’s fans? Shouldn’t we be on their side? When all we do is gripe, it starts to feel like they’re the opposition. Shouldn’t we be playing for the same team? I’ve read at least three articles in Cosmo about how saying good things about your partner improves your relationship (And I’m sorry I couldn’t find them on Google, trust me, they exist). The more I think about it, the more it must be true! The things we talk about are the things we dwell on – and if we focus our energy on the positive we’re more likely to be thinking about positive things!  And then we’ll all just be so happy and wonderful! (Do you want to gag yet, I know…but really!) There are like a frillion books written on the power of positive thinking, naturally, this thinking should be a part of our relationships too– when we are willing to think good things about our partners, we are bound to feel good things about them, and in turn have good relationships.

 

And when it comes to our friendships – shouldn’t we be rejoicing in each other’s happiness? Like with my mom, when I only hear negative things about friends’ relationships, I put my protective pants on and start to wonder if that significant other really is good enough for them. How could we not be wondering if that’s all we hear?  And if that’s really the case, all that grumbling is really just something to talk about. And not even a good thing! Something to talk about that makes the person we’re talking with experience negative emotions about the person we love.

 

Why do we keep doing this? And if we really have so many complaints, why are we involved with such a gripe-inducing person? Let’s make a deal and start focusing on the good. And not cringe when relationships are oh so good. Of course, venting is necessary sometimes. Or sometimes we need to lean on each other to understand a situation. But those other times, those times when we are griping just to gripe…yuck! Let’s not do that anymore. Deal?  Deal.  Come on, get happy!

Wasted Papercuts

Staff writer Rachel Brownjohn‘s post for this week discusses her personal experience with social experimentation.

 

In middle school I remember poring over Seventeen Magazine for the perfect flirtation techniques. Memorizing just how I should point my knees to convey interest, or how long to hold my crush’s gaze to let him know I ‘like liked’ him. Little did I know all I had to do was keep talking to him. That might be a bit of an exaggeration. Let me tell you a story.

I’m privy to a bit of a social experiment happening right now (the details for which I will provide you with in due time, don’t you worry!) and it’s blowing my mind… A lot. It started as a peek into the world of Internet dating for the opposite sex (in this case – a guy seeing the world from a girl’s perspective) and has turned into one of the most revealing endeavors I’ve ever witnessed. And it’s really got me questioning everything I know about flirtation.

When I’ve dabbled in Internet dating, I tend to respond very selectively, only engaging with people who seem genuinely interested in something about me other than my picture. I tend to ignore the messages that seem to have been copy and pasted from girl to girl, and I rarely even open the messages with lazy one liners like, “hey you”. Maybe I’m an Internet snob, but I prefer to think of myself as choosy. The point is, until now I never knew what was on the other side of those messages. This dark side of the web was a mystery to me.

Do you guys remember that experiment that they did at Stanford with the prison simulation? Some students acted as guards, others as inmates, and all kinds of sadistic scariness manifested? Remember that? It was an experiment that shed a really unflattering light onto the kinds of things of which people are capable. Not even crazy people, not murderers or sociopaths, just people. This is turning out to be one of those.

The research is going a little something like this:

1) Receive stock message

2) Reply incoherently

3) Receive MORE messages

4) Reply EVEN MORE incoherently

5) Continue receiving more messages!!!

Girls! We wasted too many hours and paper cuts thumbing through Seventeen. It turns out that for some people on the interwebs you can TRULY say ANYTHING and they will be on board. I am not exaggerating. You can tell these gents that you spent the night locked in the refrigerator, tube feeding your cat, while performing a religious ceremony and THEY WILL STILL ASK YOU OUT (Are you just itching for more details on this project? You are aren’t you? I promise I’ll tell you everything soon). I’m so serious.

And while I realize these probably aren’t Prince Charmings replying to these nonsense messages, it still has me wondering about things. Is anyone really listening to each other? Are we even paying attention? Or have some of us become so keen to find companionship that we are willing to see beyond absolute gibberish in the hopes of finding that special someone. That witty repartee is completely superfluous. Simply responding is enough. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe these exchanges are about one thing and one thing only; maybe these people aren’t interested in anything beyond one evening. But what if they aren’t? What if it’s just an exaggerated look into how much we are willing to overlook for the possibility of love? WHAT IF. What do you guys think? And what’s the craziest thing you’ve disregarded in the interest of continued flirtation? Tell me everything.

Our Happily Ever After

 

 

This week’s post by staff writer Rachel Brownjohn is about an analysis of the concept of “happily ever after”. 

 

 

 

I watched a movie this weekend (Which I SHANT spoil for you with the title) about the disillusion of a relationship. The main characters were a committed couple on the (not so fast) track down the aisle, but their story was not destined for success.  As I watched the couple’s struggles unfold I knew that there would be no wedding bells, no happy ending. I prepared myself for that tragic moment when everything would fall apart. I could feel tears building in anticipation, there would be no escaping this theatre without Maybelline Great Lash stains all down my cheeks.

 

 

 

In Shakespeare’s comedies you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a wedding. They serve as the solidifying event that even after the most twisted of plots, everything works out. “I Do,” equates with Happily Ever After.  In romantic comedies the couple makes it, things work out, they realize they are meant for each other after all. These are the happy endings to which I’ve grown accustomed, “You may kiss the bride,” – cue resolution.

 

 

 

 

But this movie was different. When the unhappy couple finally faced the fact that their relationship had run its course, that it was time to say goodbye; I felt… relieved, hopeful, happy. In the end, these two people had loved each other enough to realize that Ever After wasn’t in the cards for them. In that moment, breaking up was the most loving thing these two could have done for each other. Instead of remaining in an unhappy union, they let each other go. And it was a decision made distinctly with love. Breaking up WAS the happy ending.

 

 

 

I’ve always thought that the end of a relationship was a sort of anti-love story. That if the promises you made each other didn’t pan out, it wasn’t the love that you’d once thought. But maybe I’ve had it all wrong. Maybe, if ending things is best, that is the love story.

Online Dating Is Silly

The world of online dating is fraught with humor, annoyance, pain, and a huge need of being able to read between the lines. Most of us at one time or another have either signed up on an online dating site or at least considered it (until we’ve heard about the casualties). Staff writer Rachel Brownjohn’s latest weekly post goes more into detail about online dating with a little bit of her own experience. Let us know! Are you an online dating skeptic, casualty, or success story?

 
So you know how I’ve alluded to my online dating before? Let’s get serious and talk about this. I have a problem with online dating. Not like a problem problem, one that would require anonymous support, I just don’t love it. But after reading a very well explained post by  fellow staff writer, Frank Friedlander, I did some pondering, maybe online dating is not the deepest darkest thing to do. I’ll come clean.

 

I have an OkCupid, y’all. Ugh. I hate myself for telling you this/ having one. But it’s so hard to meet people in the real world after college! Don’t you think? I spend a lot of time hanging out with my pre-established friend group and it’s tough to expand my grown up social circle. So I’ve cracked. And moved this party online.  I’m officially on my 5th round of OkCupid. I have a tendency to go on like three dates, start dating the third person more consistently, and delete my profile with the reasoning that, “Even if this doesn’t work out, I’ll meet someone else the good old-fashioned way!”. Lies. These are lies I tell myself. Unfortunately, if you completely delete your account, you have to start over from scratch. And I always delete, it’s those lies I keep telling, they get me every time.

 

So I’m back online again, sigh. But I have a confession, filling out an online profile is one of my all time favorite activities. Specifically, a silly profile (because no one is super-duper serious on a free online dating site, you know? ) I tried to fill out a Match.com profile once and it was nowhere near as exciting, trust me. I didn’t feel like I was grown up enough yet to explain myself the way they wanted me to. Maybe one day. But on OkCupid I get to go crazy. Body type?  Jacked. That’s right online daters, I know you can see from my pictures I’m regular looking but under these sundresses I’m like John Cena. Activities? Spinning in office chairs. This is actually true, but isn’t it silly to get to put that online?! Because if I’m being honest, I just really think all of dating is a bit silly. It’s one of the most important things to me (finding love! Woo hoo!), but silly.  I think we all have to have a pretty serious sense of humor to show up for dates with strangers, or get to know each other, or go on any adventures.
I wonder sometimes if maybe I should grow up online, stop being so silly, and really commit.  But what’s love good for if it can’t make us feel like little kids again? Carefree and full of life. That’s all I really want, so for now, silly I shall remain.

 

 

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The Insta-Boyfriend

Sometimes boyfriends are made through a series of dates and others are made through an instant connection after one date. Staff writer Rachel Brownjohn discusses the latter known as the “insta-boyfriend”. Ladies, have you ever had an “inst-boyfriend”? Or guys, have you ever been the “insta-boyfriend”?

Are you a fan of Instant Oatmeal? Does that immediate gratification that a piping hot cup of Keurig
coffee make you salivate? Does the idea of Amazon’s new same day delivery make you want to die of
happiness? Then an Insta-Boyfriend may be for you.

Let me explain. My roommates and I have adopted a bit of a lingo together – we collectively date a
BUNCH and so have created a vocabulary to jargonize the events of an evening and make that post date
run down snappy. Fanboy, vaguely homeless, bro-ey, gay-straight, these are just a few. But my personal
favorite (today) is the Insta-Boyfriend.

This is the boy who immediately follows up after a great first date, with whom no real time passes
before a second date is planned, and within days you two are sharing inside jokes and accompanying
one another on darling mini-adventures. Insta-boyfriends are basically the best.

With an Insta-Boyfriend the usual worrying and analyzing that go hand in hand with standard grown
up style courtships are thrown by the wayside, and the two of you skip happily into coupledom. No
concerns about whether the two of you are at the point where you can send him the ridiculous picture
you just took of your boss flying a toy helicopter covertly(ish) around the office. You know he’s gonna
love it because he has instantly enjoyed the heck out of your company. He hasn’t left you guessing
about it. He likes you, you like him, cue merrily skipping into the sunset.

Note: If you (continue to) date an Insta-Boyfriend you get to be an Insta-Girlfriend too. If you (like me)
really enjoy doing girlfriendy stuff like running errands together and making up pet names and sending
each other well crafted witty emails with pictures you’ve expertly captured from Google images, then
by golly you’ve hit the jackpot. I’ve had three Insta-Boyfriends in my time, and I dated two of them for
over a year. As I see it, if you hit the ground running things move fast, those two stayed serious. But one
fizzled out after a month or so – and it was crushing.

I feel I’ve been through some pretty solid heart breaks, break ups where real plans had been made and
were now cancelled. The pain that I felt in those was beyond crippling, I genuinely felt as if I would never
breathe again. But the pain of that last Insta-Boyfriend was different. I went about my life as usual, after
all we’d barely been seeing each other. But the mini-heart break of a promised love being ripped away
before it could really develop was like a splinter in my heart.

I’ve often thought that maybe the miniature heart breaks are the ones that hurt in the most specific
way. A broken leg is heavily medicated – the pain validated, understood, cared for. But a paper cut hurts
in a much more pointed way. For the most part you don’t feel it until something runs across that place,
and that tiny slice of pain, for a moment, consumes you. If you start at a sprint and fall on your face in
the first 100 yards, the skid hurts so differently than the ache of muscles at the end of a marathon. It’s a
pointed pain, sharp and hard.

But is that pain worth avoiding the Insta-Boyfriend? I guess that’s really up to you. For me, that feeling
of being instantly connected is worth it. And if it doesn’t work out, I can write always write some really
angsty hate poetry.

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