I’ve spent this weekend reading the brilliant work of Hadley Freeman, in her book ‘Be Awesome.’ I actually lifted it from my friend, because I am the sort of person that will come over for a cup of tea, spend all my time making eye contact with your pets and raid your bookshelf like a story-starved locust.
Hadley makes many brilliant points, one of which being that marriage is not the only happy ending available for women. This reminder is particularly timely for me; I am currently single, in the sense that I have myriad minor attractions with different people, with no real commitment or sense of purpose. Moment to moment, this is not an issue, and is liberating. Taking a longer term view however, I struggle with the ‘lack of purpose’. This conflict usually leads to the pattern of behaviour of starting something casual, and then trying to find deeper meaning where there isn’t any – leading to both parties feeling frustrated, as our narrative becomes more and more prone to mis-communication until we are paralysed by the awkwardness. It’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time, leading in part to my friends’ belief that I have excellent ideas ‘let’s seize the day! Dream big!’ but make epic bad decisions ‘let’s cripple ourselves with overanalysis!’.
So this has led me to ponder ‘what do I want?’, which is another point that Hadley emphatically makes. In fact she has a brilliant version of the Bechdel test, which she concisely calls the Hadley test. It’s for regaining clarity in relationships, and is easy to apply
- Do you actually like this guy as a person or just as the concept of a generic boyfriend?
- Does he make you fell happy in yourself or are you slightly hysterical with insecurity? (and if it’s the latter, do you know that is a bad thing and life does not have to be this way?)
- Do you like him so much that it doesn’t matter that you need your friends to translate his messages for you?
- When you are asked ‘what do you want?’, is your first instinct to think ‘what does he want?
- No. What do YOU want?
Retrospectively applying this to my last few liaisons, I can see that 2,3,4, are all big fat warning lights. Oops.
It’s pretty weird how uncomfortable I feel thinking about whether I want a person or not; shows the strength of social conditioning that my knee jerk reaction is to just be overwhelmed with gratefulness that someone likes me. The good news is that remembering to frame any relationships in life against what I want has led to some pretty entertaining nope! moments as the penny has dropped earlier that maybe this person isn’t what I want.
What I want: someone who shows respect when talking about my career and ambition
What he said: Oh, you’re applying for a doctorate? Dr sounds pretty sexy 😉
What I want: someone who is kind
What he said: check out this video! it made me LOL! If you like it, just search for ‘fat kids tripping’ on Youtube, there’s loads.
What I want: an emotional connection
What he said: I really like your mind and your body, but I think we should just spend time and sleep together without any emotions being involved.
Previously, I would have thought A was laughably cheeky, B had an on-the-wire sense of humour, and C just desperately wanted to be loved, but was scared of being hurt. All of that may still be true, or it may not have been. The point is I am not sticking around to invest my time trying to solve their riddle. If they want to portray themselves as something that I don’t want, then that is their choice. We’re all adults and it’s about time we stopped playing games with each other.