Control.

As a friend perused through an online dating site, she found one gentleman who had some pretty specific expectations for possible suitors. This gentleman demanded that any lady lucky enough to be his girlfriend needed a credit score over eight hundred, a four bedroom home, a blood pressure of one-hundred twenty over eighty, no debt, and a love of cooking, cleaning and exercise. This might sound like he was pretty strict with his standards, but he did graciously say if this lucky lady met all the other categories, but didn’t like to work out, there was one caveat.  He would settle for someone who didn’t work out, as long as she looked as though she liked to workout.

What a catch.

This guy was in his late thirties if not in his forties, which is not a death sentence for love. But when you are that adamant about a person, checking off all of your preconceived boxes is a death sentence. Because once you get beyond the basics of similar religion, family expectations, desired location of home and move into blood pressure and body fat percentages, you are displaying the selfish tendencies that destroy relationships. But for some of us, when things start getting away from us, we can’t seem to help but reach out for more control.

While on ESPN’s B.S. Report, Malcolm Gladwell opined that the demise of the newspaper industry was correlated to the industry’s rigid adherence to a silo mentality.  In the newspaper world, sports writers don’t venture into politics; political writers don’t venture in business. And there is no thought of changing this, if anything they are going to double down on this commitment, because as Gladwell continued, when in decline institutions become more conservative and pull in the reigns even tighter.

Adversity tempts us to grasp for something regardless of how stable it might be. Like sometimes when we might be lacking meaningful friendships, instead of re-assessing our understanding of friendships and how we treat the friends we do have, many will amp up expectations for the relationships we do currently have, and in that process we will smother them. Instead of fixing the void, we just make the void more pronounced. That’s the problem of momentum. There’s actually no problem when you have it, because when things are going well, it’s like you are going downhill on a skateboard. One little push keeps the wheels rolling for a long time. When you have plenty of friendships, you attract more because you are happy and people want to be around happy people. When your dating life is going well, other potential singles (and sometimes not singles) see you and assume you must have things going on. When your newspaper is selling and your site is getting hits, you feel like you can branch out and do whatever passion projects you want. Having momentum makes just about everything better.

The real question is how do you reverse the momentum?

It’s a lot like kitesurfing.3433kite_surfing

A kitesurfing rig consists of a belt or seat, which is connected to a bar that’s connected to your kite. The bar is the only thing for you to hold onto, but its real function is to be your gas pedal. When you pull on it, you go faster. As a novice even though you have been told that the bar isn’t for keeping you upright, your hands will not believe your mind. Whenever you start to feel like you are going too fast, you intuitively pull back on the bar. Here in lies the problem. When you pull back on the bar, it causes the kite to catch more wind, thus making you go faster. So when you start to go too fast, you can’t do the natural reaction of pulling back, but you must do the counter-intuitive thing, follow the wisdom of Frozen and let it go.

If the heavily descriptive internet-dating gentleman would ever email me for some advice, this is what I’d tell him. Accept that you aren’t going to get what you want in a woman. You will never find the perfect blood pressured woman with a penchant for good cooking and good credit scores. That’s going to be a hard pill to swallow. But just go ahead and swallow it, pretend like it’s a Lisinopril. But once you do get that down, you might be available to actually meet the real people in front of you. And you might also be able to meet yourself for the first time, instead of the idealized version of yourself that makes you feel entitled to some idealized woman.

It’s the same counter-intuitive wisdom we all must embrace day in and day out. When you’ve made peace with not getting what you want, you are able to receive whatever life brings before you.

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