Posts Tagged ‘dating’

RHOC: The key to winning over someone’s kids

July 16, 2012

There’s an art to stepping into a family — and by that, I mean that dating someone’s parent is dicey. It’s awkward enough when you’re first meeting someone’s family — their parents, their siblings, their relatives — but meeting someone’s kids is a whole different ballgame. And one preconceived notion that I despise, as the child of divorced parents, is that all kids will automatically dislike their parents’ significant others.

I do think it’s easier for people who meet the kids when they’re young — the older that the kids are, the more attached they probably are to the idea of their parents as a solid couple. You don’t want to be seen as the wrench in the relationship, but, on the other hand, young adults can probably perceive problems in their parents’ relationship and wouldn’t necessary jump to blaming the newbie.

Anyway, this is all spawned from watching The Real Housewives of Orange County and seeing Vicki try to urge a relationship between Brooks, her boyfriend, and her children Brianna and Michael. The way that Brianna describes Brooks — pompous, intrusive, condescending, evasive — are all the exact qualities you don’t want to portray. If ever there was a harsh critic, it’s someone’s kids — you don’t get brownie points for impressing them with your worldliness.

Because really, kids are just looking for their parents to date people who are friendly, funny, and genuine. I think this is who everyone wants to see their friends and family date, but adults often don’t realize that kids 1.) don’t seek an authority figure and will immediately reject someone who tries to adopt that role, and 2.) aren’t impressed by arrogance. It’s not a job interview where you need to brag about yourself to win the employer over — it’s more about sitting back, listening, observing, and feeling out when the time is right to add your two cents.

That kind of sounded harsh but… it’s true. In my experience, I’ll respond far better to someone who is just friendly and not abrasive — people who want to belittle me, tell me what to do, or make obvious attempts to assert their dominance in the food chain? Yeah… not interested. This is what Brianna was saying — families already have these set traditions and routines, so the best way to get on the kids’ good sides? Act like any guest — don’t try to take control; don’t try to rewrite the traditions.

There’s definitely some finesse to finding those spots — when to speak up, when to ask questions, when to take a backseat. But Brooks being more concerned with flaunting his wealth and ownership of Vicki than really getting to know Brianna and trying to organically find a place in their family? That’s not going to rub any of her kids the right way. Be sincere and genuinely nice; understand that it’s not your job to replace anyone; and don’t act sketchy. Brooks? He won’t tell anyone his job. You only get one first impression, and trying to avoid talking about how you make money is an instant red flag… even outside the OC.

So should kids be blamed for not being welcoming enough to newbies? Is it the children who are being stubborn because they don’t want their moms/dads replaced? I don’t think so. I think this is the misconception, but that reality shows these newbies have trouble establishing a space in an already existing family unit. And I get that it’s a tough thing to navigate. But I can assure you that treating kids with disrespect, attitude, and self-centeredness isn’t the proper path. Maybe they’re just trying to make a splash, but try wading into the waters instead of attempting the cannonball… and then bellyflopping.

Breaking news: Young, unmarried women are easier than ever

March 3, 2011

I always love being reminded that, if women had their way, we’d marry the first guy we met to ensure we didn’t become lonely spinsters. Not men, though — as this article from Slate points out, guys are getting their way, and their way is sex — lots of it, and without having to even charm ladies or promise them any kind of commitment. Let’s take a look at this article’s assertions about heterosexual relationships, dating, and sex, and point out where the article is terribly misinformed, shall we?

1. If women ruled relationships, marriages would be on the rise

It’s a good thing the author advises the reader to “call it sexist, call it whatever you want,” because his entire article is founded on the idea that men want sex, women want marriage, and any data derived about sex and relationships must be interpreted through this stereotypical and played out lens. Here’s the foundation:

But what many young men wish for—access to sex without too many complications or commitments—carries the day. If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we’d be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on.

This is sexist against both men and women — assuming that men just want sex and women just want marriage. Under this very scientific premise, a drop in marriage rates obviously must mean that men are winning the battle against women, who are always on the attack and trying to cage them and force them into settling down and not having all that random sex.

Perhaps the author failed to realize other causes for the decline in marriage, such as high divorce rates (cautionary tales for young people), people going to college and focusing on a career rather than getting married right out of high school (it’s true, women are choosing to delay marriage), women being financially independent (choosing not to be financially dependent on a man), cohabitation, and a decline in religion. So while this author chooses to say that a decline in marriage rates is an obvious sign that men are, to quote Charlie Sheen, “winning,” it’s more likely that rates are declining because society is changing.

2. Outdated studies from the ’70s and ’80s speak for today’s youth

It’s baffling that this guy uses studies from the 1980s and applies those findings to the present — 30 years later. Thirty years ago, my mom was my age — the other day, she used the term “necking,” and when I told her that young people today would call that “making out,” she told me that “making out” was something much different and closer to sex. So maybe using outdated data to back up your thesis is not a great idea?

Here’s one example:

In one frequently cited study, attractive young researchers separately approached opposite-sex strangers on Florida State University’s campus and proposed casual sex. Three-quarters of the men were game, but not one woman said yes. I know: Women love sex too. But research like this consistently demonstrates that men have a greater and far less discriminating appetite for it.

This study was published in 1989, using data gathered in 1978 and 1982. All this demonstrates is that 30 years ago, men were more likely to sleep with complete strangers than women — why is sleeping with strangers the measuring stick for sexual appetite?

3. Women are battling pornography for sexual power

According to the author, women — though having a weak appetite for sex — should theoretically have power in the sexual relationship because the guy is always ready to go, but he has to wait for the woman to agree. But this power is threatened by porn:

And yet despite the fact that women are holding the sexual purse strings, they aren’t asking for much in return these days—the market “price” of sex is currently very low. There are several likely reasons for this. One is the spread of pornography: Since high-speed digital porn gives men additional sexual options—more supply for his elevated demand—it takes some measure of price control away from women.

Since when is pornography and masturbating an additional sexual option? Men could masturbate before the digital age, so pornography — though offering a helpful stimulus — is simply a masturbation aide. If a guy wants to have actual sex, with an actual vagina, he’s likely not going to be as satisfied by doing it alone. I doubt women fear masturbation as a form of retaliation for not putting out enough — in case you didn’t know, women can masturbate, too.

4. The amount of sex you have should be directly correlated to how successful you are in life

The author keeps trying to put forth the idea that sex is a game, and men have the upper hand because, despite being generally less successful than women, they are still having lots of sex:

The terms of contemporary sexual relationships favor men and what they want in relationships, not just despite the fact that what they have to offer has diminished, but in part because of it.

I guess that with fewer men in the workforce, in college, and with their salaries on the decline, the standards are generally going to drop, and women are going to be forced to choose from a dating pool that isn’t as successful as it used to be — this means women are going to have to lower their standards when on the prowl.

Or, could it just mean that women aren’t necessarily always prowling for a guy who is rich? Maybe because women are more successful and independent, they know they won’t be financially dependent on a man so don’t highly prioritize income? Isn’t it funny how a man could date a woman who isn’t super successful and wouldn’t be labeled as “settling,” but a woman dates someone less successful than she is and suddenly she’s given something up?

5. If you give out the milk for free, he’ll never buy the cow!

The author would also like to remind you that women, you’ll never find love and marriage if you keep putting out so easily:

Yes, sex is clearly cheap for men. Women’s “erotic capital,” as Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics has dubbed it, can still be traded for attention, a job, perhaps a boyfriend, and certainly all the sex she wants, but it can’t assure her love and lifelong commitment. Not in this market. It’s no surprise that the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who are married has shrunk by an average of 1 percent each year this past decade.

This is just … what? Am I reading this wrong, or is he also implying that women are trading sex to get jobs, too? And that giving out the milk for free isn’t going to find her love and a husband? And that men only marry women to have sex? I thought they could just watch porn and masturbate for that?

______

The overarching theme is that sex is a commodity that women “sell” to gain long-term commitment from men, but the pickings are so slim these days that women are willing to “sell” their bodies without even asking for things like flowers and jewelry and marriage in return, which is a “win” for men but a “loss” for women — yeah, that’s sexist and misguided on a bunch of levels. It also takes agency away from women by implying that they wouldn’t choose any non-Disney-princess-fairy-tale life, so they must be miserable, desperate, etc.

How about this: Young people are more open to casual sex than 30 years ago, when that “frequently cited” study was conducted. Young people aren’t marrying as early because they go to college and settle into careers first. Young people cohabitate. Women aren’t always on the prowl for a rich husband, because they can make their own money.

Or maybe I’m the one who is misinformed, and porn really is to blame for all of this.

Teen Mom: Don’t expect your ex to wait around for you

January 27, 2011

An interesting tidbit from Teen Mom 2 this week was Leah’s friend’s reaction to Leah and Corey getting back together. Even though Corey broke up with Leah because she cheated on him, the friend claimed it was sketchy that he had gotten with other girls since the breakup. “If he did care, he wouldn’t have been with other girls,” her friend told her. Uh … what??

First of all, here’s some background: Leah dated Robby for two years, they broke up, she hooked up with Corey as a rebound, and a month later, Leah was pregnant with Corey’s babies (twins). After the twins were born, she hung out with Robby again and cheated on Corey. Corey broke up with her. Leah wants Corey back now, but Corey doesn’t trust her.

Now, to address the friend’s comment: That comment would make perfect sense if Corey really did just break up with her to date other people. Or if he had just wanted a break for some other reason, and he was taking advantage of not officially having a girlfriend and hooking up with other girls. But Leah cheated on him, and Corey rightfully ended things.

Maybe it’s the movies that make us think that if someone truly loves us, they’ll put up with as much bullshit as we throw their way, stay alone and miserable, and just wait for us to return. Though even in The Notebook, Noah eventually starts hooking up with someone else when it’s apparent that Allie isn’t going to return his letters. Either way, the argument her friend introduces is ridiculous — you can’t treat someone like garbage and expect them to sit and take it forever. That’s not exactly what I would call “romantic.”

Teen Mom: Is it wrong to date while still living with an ex?

January 21, 2011

Living with an ex isn’t easy, as Kailyn discovered this week on Teen Mom 2. She lives with her ex Jo and his family, shares a car with her ex, and relies so much on his family that she is constantly walking on eggshells when in comes to her personal life. When Jo found out she had a new boyfriend, he was furious, and his family followed suit — and from the looks of the previews for next week, they are kicking Kailyn out. But is this fair?

You can read Kailyn and Jo’s back story here. Obviously they are in a predicament, because Kailyn has nowhere else to live, Jo is the father of their baby, and Jo’s family has established that they think of Kailyn as family. His parents seem to be mad because they considered the break-up something temporary — Jo seems to be mad for other reasons, particularly that he thinks Kailyn is disrespecting him by dating someone else while living under his (parents’) roof.

But Jo broke up with Kailyn, which makes a big difference when it comes to the question of whether it is disrespectful or inappropriate for her to be dating while living with him in his parents’ house. Kailyn shouldn’t feel so reliant on his family that she remains in an unhealthy relationship for fear of retribution, but it would be presumptuous for her to break things off with Jo and then expect his family to babysit every night of the week while she hangs with her new beau.

Because Jo ended things, his parents really shouldn’t have so much animosity toward Kailyn — they are mad at her for moving on, but shouldn’t they focus more of that disappointment toward Jo? Also, when you end a relationship, you can’t be mad when your ex starts dating other people. Should Kailyn be forced to stay in relationship limbo, with Jo basically controlling every aspect of her love life because (1) he doesn’t want to date her but (2) doesn’t want her dating other people? Definitely not. Jo’s parents are the ones who truly have the last say because they own the house, but their son broke up with Kailyn — why punish her for it?

Things get messy when you are living with an ex, but when you are the dumper, you need to have some sympathy for the dumpee and even make some sacrifices (e.g. give up the bed and sleep on the couch for a while …) — as long as the dumpee wasn’t cheating or abusive, in which case, go ahead and have no sympathy. You also need to communicate and create ground rules — e.g. no bringing significant others back to the house — that allow for civility and respect, and you can’t assume one of those rules is going to be “no dating other people.” If you both agree on that rule, then great, but you can’t expect to break up with someone and then also prevent them from dating other people.

And, even though Jo’s parents think them being together is best for the child, they can’t force the relationship to work (definitely not by kicking Kailyn out for dating other people, at least). I’m sure they think they know best, but a child having two parents together is great in theory — not so great in practice when those parents do nothing but fight and yell at each other all the time, teaching the child that that is how a healthy relationship functions.

Teen Mom: A hodgepodge of highlights from the finale special

October 20, 2010

The second season of Teen Mom wrapped this week with the “Check-in with Dr. Drew” finale episode, when Dr. Drew makes the teen moms feel uncomfortable and typically tries to get them to admit they regret having their children — though last night, Dr. Drew did a lot more counseling and offered a lot more sound advice than usual. Of course, he still made all the teen moms cry.

Most of the topics that the finale show covered are topics that I’ve discussed before, so I think instead I’ll highlight in snippets the good advice that Dr. Drew had and the telling statements that the teen moms made.

Idealizing a relationship

People often romanticize relationships that are or were not exactly great — the memories are skewed or selective, and this romanticizing keeps people connected to or in unhealthy relationships — but Farrah’s relationship with her ex, Derrick, is a lot more complicated than the typical scenario because Derrick passed away. Those memories are all she has left of Derrick, and it seems both her and her mom have different memories of their relationship.

Dr. Drew point blank asked if she was romanticizing the relationship, and she denied that, saying, “I’m not painting a picture that’s rosy, I know what the realistic picture was.” Obviously losing him, especially with his being the father of Sophia, has left her devastated and she only wants to remember him in a positive light — but perhaps being more open and willing to deal with all the aspects of their relationship might help her grieving process.

The art of mind reading

Dr. Drew asked Maci and Kyle to talk about why they liked each other, and he said they could either tell him directly or they could tell each other. Both agreed to tell Dr. Drew instead of each other, which prompted the obvious question of why they couldn’t just look at each other and say those things. “We like show each other how we feel, but we don’t talk about it,” Maci told Dr. Drew.

Having mushy discussions all the time about why you like each other is understandably something many couples avoid — but you can’t avoid it all the time. A lot of people in relationships expect that their partner will know they appreciate, care about, enjoy the company of the other person — but actually verbalizing those things can make a world of difference. Showing rather than telling is important, but if you assume the other person always knows how you feel, it can transcend to topics beyond just lovey-dovey things — you start to assume the other person knew you wanted them to clean the bathroom; you assume the other person knew you didn’t want to go to that restaurant, etc. Being able to verbalize feelings to the other person is essential in any relationship.

Abuse doesn’t have to be physical

Something Dr. Drew highlighted that I really liked was when Catelynn’s mom, April, was reacting to Catelynn saying she would treat Carly different than her mom treats her. Upon hearing Catelynn say this stuff, April started clapping for her and mimed a halo being over Catelynn’s head. “When you call somebody a bitch and it’s your daughter, or you demean them with the halo stuff, that’s called abuse — it’s emotional abuse,” Dr Drew told April.

I’m glad he pointed this out, because abuse so often is only taken seriously if it’s physical or extremely offensive verbally. People pay attention when April is calling her own daughter a bitch — they might not even flinch at April putting a halo over Catelynn’s head, though it’s still April trying to break down her daughter. This kind of bullying, the little comments and jabs that are often overlooked because they aren’t overt and obvious, might seem harmless, but enough of it can really take a toll on someone.

Like mother, like daughter

A few times, Dr. Drew brought up that the way parents act directly influences how their children act. “[April’s] aggression is damaging, and if Catelynn had become a mom, she wouldn’t have really known any other way of dealing with those feelings,” Dr. Drew said. Catelynn might’ve taken out her frustration on Carly just like April makes a habit of using Catelynn as her own personal verbal punching bag.

He said the same thing to Amber, when he discussed how Leah will be affected by her domestic violence. He reminded both Gary and Amber that they came from violent homes and that Amber likely learned this behavior growing up, and then discussed how Amber had to take care of herself growing up (was “paternalized”) because of the fighting. “Her seeing you guys fighting, feeling the chaos — is that what you were exposed to as a kid?” Dr. Drew asked Amber. “It’s like the cycle repeating itself, right?”

He reminded them that kids are perceptive, and they know what is going on. Leah even tries to separate Gary and Amber if she sees them hugging, because she has learned that as parents, they are not meant to be affectionate — they are meant to fight with each other. If the violence continues, she could easily be conditioned to think that Moms just hit Dads — that it’s normal and it’s perfectly acceptable to do.

Calling the cops on a companion

Dr. Drew brought up a very good point — why didn’t Gary ever call the police after Amber would hit him? “I don’t call the police because I don’t want to — I don’t want to get [Amber] in trouble,” Gary replied. Dr. Drew made one of the best points of the night when he explained that, even though you don’t want to get them in trouble, you need to change the behavior somehow — the person won’t change unless there are serious consequences to certain behaviors.

He likened it to drug addiction and when family and friends enable behavior by giving the addict a place to stay, giving the addict money, etc., and never going through with threats, e.g. to cut the person off financially if they don’t get clean. In much the same way, Amber will not be motivated to change her behavior unless there are serious consequences otherwise — Gary tries to use taking the baby or calling social services as a threat, but if Amber knows he won’t ever do those things, she is less likely to actually change her abusive behavior. Some might argue that you don’t do those things to someone you love, but doing those things will ideally help that person improve their quality of life — how is letting that person spiral out of control a better way to show your love?

Struggling with self-worth

Amber brought up an interesting point when it comes to her love life — which is that dating other people makes her feel less guilty about the way she treats Gary as long as those other people match her own view of herself — she thinks she is a bad person, therefore she dates not-so-great people. This self-image is something a lot of people struggle with, and it leaves people in unhealthy relationships because they convince themselves they don’t deserve any better. Perhaps this is why Amber is so degrading to Gary — she doesn’t want him to feel like he deserves any better, either.

“You’re a good guy so she feels bad, they are bad guys so she feels better,” Dr. Drew told Gary. But this mentality also keeps Amber from making any real efforts at changing — if she surrounds herself with people who aren’t great people, who is there to inspire or motivate or support her growth from an abusive and angry person into a nonabusive and calmer person? Who you surround yourself with really does have an effect on the choices you make.

Thank you for being a friend — NOT

There’s a time and a place for parents and their kids to be friends, and during their high school years is not the time for that. Catelynn and Tyler somehow got to be extremely mature growing up with April and Butch (Tyler’s dad and April’s husband) — likely forced to by the circumstances of their upbringing (Catelynn’s mom is an alcoholic, Tyler’s dad is a cocaine addict who has been in jail most of Tyler’s life). Last night Catelynn and Tyler both expressed concern over how April didn’t have many friends and how sad it made them.

“They’re kids, they need a mom — they can’t be your friends,” Dr. Drew told April. Going along with the previous entry about how you are motivated by the people you surround yourself with, Dr. Drew suggested she go to treatment or a 12-step program where she could meet friends who understand the struggles April is facing in fighting alcoholism and who will support her, not enable her. Kids can’t offer adults that kind of support, especially when they are equally in need of support and guidance from their parents.

Teen Mom: Scams, family tension, and the foundation of trust

August 18, 2010

Last night’s episode of Teen Mom kept the drama coming — Farrah got scammed out of $3,000 (still not sure exactly why she was wiring that money); Tyler told Catelynn she “disgusts” him; Maci introduced Bentley to Kyle; and Amber and Gary were … Amber and Gary.

1a. Learning Life Skills: When it comes to money, always double-check and be skeptical

Farrah is living on her own now, and she is learning the hard way that sometimes the only way to learn is from your mistakes. Farrah sold her car online, and the buyer sent her a check for $8,000. For some reason, she wired $3,000 back to him (the episode is unclear why, they just say it’s for shipping the car, which makes no sense) and later learned that the original check was bad, she was scammed, and the “buyer” got away with her $3,000.

Farrah is 18, and she is bound to make mistakes like this. What’s worse is that she lives on her own without any parents or support system wise enough to tell her it’s a scam — though considering Farrah’s attitude, I’m sure she would’ve sent the check anyway, just to defy her mom’s accusation of it being a scam. But the lesson here is that when it comes to money, you have to be careful.

Farrah should’ve made sure the original check cleared before wiring the person any money — really, you shouldn’t wire strangers money at all, but at least making sure the check cleared is a good start. If the person on the other end is insisting you not wait or that s/he needs the money immediately, be skeptical. It’s easy to be young and ignore your instincts because you aren’t sure how things work in the real world, but if it feels sketchy, it probably is.

Plus, I’m sure the guy offered way more than the car was worth, so Farrah was definitely down to sell him the car because it seemed too good to be true — if you’re thinking that, then you need to take a step back and wonder if it is. You’re a lot more susceptible to scams when money is tight, so don’t let the dollar signs overwhelm your instincts and better judgment.

1b. Learning Life Skills: Prioritizing needs vs. wants

Farrah’s car was fine — she just wanted a new car that had a sunroof and automatic locks. Typically, when you’re as cash-strapped as Farrah says she is, you sell your car out of financial necessity — you need to sell the car and use the money to pay for bills, or buy a cheaper, crappier car and use the profit to pay your bills. Nope, Farrah just wanted a sunroof.

Making the transition from high school to the real world means understanding how to prioritize — just last week, Farrah was calculating that she needed more than $1,000 to pay her bills. This week, she is intently focused on getting a new car — not because she needs a new car, but because she wants a new car. Even her friend Kristina finds this puzzling, questioning her selling the car before she even had a new one to replace it.

“I’m spontaneous like this all the time, but I need to quit because I have a child and I’m on my own now,” Farrah told her. Wise words, but not words she is actually following. Farrah is not just being “spontaneous,” which has a positive, fun connotation — she is being impulsive and reckless with her money and her main form of transportation. It’s not bad that she wants a sunroof — it’s bad that she convinces herself that she needs a sunroof and automatic locks, despite the pile of bills that should be taking priority.

1c. Learning Life Skills: “Where do I sign my check?”

For the second time in the history of Teen Mom, Farrah has asked where she needs to sign the check. Certain life skills really are only learned through experience — it seems like a dumb question for Farrah to ask, but there are lots of questions regarding money, bills, rent, landlords, etc. that you don’t think to ask about until you’re dealing with them directly. They don’t teach you about things like landlords scamming you in high school — that one you learn on your own.

Farrah getting scammed falls into this category, too — lessons you learn only from making mistakes. We’ve all had these experiences, and you feel really dumb at the time for not knowing how to do something, but you can’t beat yourself up about it — when were you taught how to write a check, deal with a landlord, or handle problems with your insurance company? Though Farrah, you’ve asked twice now, so I’m pretty sure someone has told you where to sign the check.

2. How trust is built

Tyler asked Catelynn to provide him with phone records to show that she was being honest with him and to rebuild trust. Last week, I talked about how that was a terrible way to build trust, and at the end of this week’s episode Tyler refuses the phone records. “I’ll just believe what you say, ” Tyler told her. “I think looking at those phone records is going backwards.” Aside from him then littering and tossing the phone records into the water, this was a great move on his behalf.

Except that the phone records did lead Catelynn to admitting to Tyler that she had tried to call her ex six times, talking to him two of those times. I’m not sure whether the phone records are recent or from three years ago, but the threat that Tyler would see the phone records seemed to push her to confess this information to him. So despite Tyler’s refusing to view them, the phone records policy got Catelynn to admit some information she had been keeping from him. I hope Tyler doesn’t use the threat-of-the-phone-records as a trust policy, considering it was successful here.

Tyler’s mom made a good point, however, of how your childhood and your past can affect your ability to trust in relationships. Tyler’s dad was in prison for a lot of his childhood, and he spent a lot of time lying to Tyler and/or making empty promises to him. “To me, lying is purposely hurting someone else,” Tyler told his mom. Because of his stance on lying — that it’s always malicious, because he felt his dad’s lying was always malicious — he originally saw Catelynn’s lies as nothing but direct attacks. We don’t always realize how much our past shapes or influences how we view relationships.

3. Do families need to get along to make relationships work?

Amber and Gary had another fight (surprise). But this time, it was about Gary’s brother (I think) not liking Amber’s parents. When Amber and Gary started discussing their wedding and saying that Gary’s family could stay with her family, the brother immediately opposed staying with her family before qualifying his answer by saying he just didn’t want to stay with Amber’s dad or mom. You can imagine how Amber reacted to this. She stormed out of Gary’s mom’s house, where they were having Easter dinner, and walked home.

There’s obvious tension between the family members, which adds stress to any relationship. Would it make or break a relationship? That depends on a few things: How close emotionally the person is to his/her family (which will determine how offended s/he is by comments — Amber was extremely offended); how close in proximity the families are (e.g. how often they see each other); how strong the tension is, e.g. is it a general level of annoyance that can be ignored or is it confrontational and open yelling and screaming every time they see each other?

The range of whether families need to get along is wide — there are minor differences that are easy to look past, such as different senses of humor, and there are major differences that are impossible to look past, such as different religions — which in some cases will get people disowned by their families. Families don’t have to get along, but it obviously makes the relationship easier — or in some cases only possible — if they do.  

4. What it means to date a parent

I really like that Maci took the time to spell out for Kyle not only what he needed to expect as someone dating a parent, but what she expected of him as someone dating a parent. She took her time before introducing Kyle to Bentley and that she made sure they got along before going further with their relationship. But, she also let him know that dating her wasn’t also signing up as Bentley’s new dad.

“I don’t want you to feel that if you are unhappy you can’t leave because of him,” Maci told Kyle. I find Maci to be extremely mature, and this statement is just one example. She lets him know upfront that yes, dating her means also getting along with Bentley and understanding that Bentley is her number one priority, but like any relationship, they shouldn’t only be together just for the sake of the baby. It’s that notion that almost led her down the aisle with Ryan, and it’s nice to see that she’s addressing it with Kyle right off the bat.

Facebook: More qualified to confirm relationships than you

July 29, 2010

While making the rounds of telling my close friends that I was officially in a new relationship, almost all of them questioned what I meant by “official” — they did this by asking, “Facebook official?” I didn’t exactly know what to make of the constant question — part of me totally understood what they meant, and part of me thought, “Wait, do you not believe me? Or will you not take the new relationship seriously until it’s on Facebook?”

The fact that being “Facebook official” is the signal that things are serious is a true testament to how central it is in young people’s lives — it used to be that telling your parents about a new relationship was the signal that it was serious, and now Facebook is like the third parent that needs to know about changing relationship statuses in order for them to be legit.

But I will say that the constant questions about Facebook kept lingering in my head, as if not putting it on Facebook was equivalent to not wanting to tell people or wanting to keep it a secret — it’s like merely having a Facebook account implies you want to share all your personal information with everyone, so when you omit something or don’t put it on there, people infer you are trying to hide it. So by not putting the relationship status on Facebook, it seemed like the “officialness” of the relationship lost some credability.

Once the relationship status was on Facebook (not because of peer pressure), the responses were even more enthusiastic. Perhaps in a world — especially in the world of young people — in which there are lots of different classifications and descriptions for relationships of sorts (e.g. hooking up; seeing each other; dating; hanging out), the Facebook status update is the clearest way to dig through the muck and the adjectives to just say, “Yes, we are in a relationship.”

And young people also date for various amounts of time, and friends tend to grow desensitized to hearing about so-and-so “seeing someone” or “dating someone,” not knowing whether to get very excited about two people “officially dating” because the relationship might fizzle in a week. If you go to the trouble of changing the relationship status on Facebook and therefore telling every single family member, friend, and acquaintance on Facebook — which is likely hundreds of people — then your friends know that it probably isn’t a fling.

Being “Facebook official” does make a statement, and people’s asking about it is likely just a symptom of the breadth of social networking. But, it’s still concerning how much a website can come to define how others perceive your life — sure they believed me (allegedly) when I said it was official, but I’m pretty sure they believed Facebook more when it said things were official.

Opening doors for people should be about manners, not gender

May 25, 2010

Dealing in heterosexual relationships can be tough for a feminist — one contention is the idea of chivalry.

On one hand, you don’t want some guy who “forgets his wallet,” expects you to pay for everything, has no manners, and/or assumes dinner is a path to … um, “dessert.” On the other hand, you don’t want a guy insisting on opening doors, paying for everything, and basically smothering you with “chivalry” in a way that leaves you with no agency and/or a sense that you can’t do anything for yourself.

The Sexist had a series of comments posted yesterday about chivalry, and one of them highlighted the often radical (and to me, misguided) theory that chivalry is always a means for men to control women and a man opening a door for a woman is always a bad thing.

At first, the commenter (EmilyBites) seems like someone I would totally agree with:

The biggest fail is doods who says ‘Brilliant, chivalry is dead! Now I’ll go and punch all of those uppity whores in the face because you can hit women now!’

Way to uncover that not-so-latent misogyny.

Totally on the same page with her — when women say they don’t like chivalry, they don’t like the idea that it belittles women and gives men the power in every situation — men must open doors, pay for things, take out your chair, etc. because it not only gives them control of a situation, but it illustrates that you can’t do those things on your own because you’re a woman.

Plus, if you’re happy chivalry is dead and you’re a man, then you really only did those things because society told you to, not because you wanted to be polite.

But then her comment takes a turn for the worse:

This is why a man going way out of his way to open doors for me is insulting and irritating, and we will most likely get into a crazy door standoff. Infantilising and othering me is not a sign of politeness; you are trying to control me. Men who get offended ‘on behalf’ of the woman insulted in their presence are erasing the woman as a person in her own right, as though she is merely a device for communication between real humans, aka men. Why can’t the chivalrous men see this?

The part about the chivalry argument that always gets to me is the idea that a man opening a door for you is always about control. For me, it’s about equality and fairness. I don’t care if a man opens the door for me because I see it as a polite thing to do, but I do care if the man refuses to let me open the door for him.

I can’t stand when a man balks at the idea that I would ever hold the door for him. I hold the door for parents with strollers, old people, anyone who is right behind me — if we start looking at door-opening and the like as an act of politeness rather than as a gendered act, there’s no need to feel like it’s “insulting and irritating.”

Because, if women start doing all the door-holding, then yes, there is a power shift, but it still leaves things unbalanced and unfair. The aim of feminism shouldn’t be to shift all the power and control from men to women, but rather to balance and equalize it.