HUGE HARD REALIZATIONS Installment #1 (On Love-Scraps and Hot-Stove Men)
I started to write a post about some of the hugest, hardest realizations I've had over the years in the LOOOVE DEPARTMENT (currently employed as in-house Truth-Sayer, Shake-Awake-er, and "Happily-Ever-After"-Squasher, womp womp) and suddenly it was like 14 pages long.
Because I’ve had so many huge, hard realizations.
For a very long time, I was a confused, misguided, deeply romantic Lover of Love, and it created a shit-ton of pain and confusion in my life.
Which actually ended up being super cool cause I started making YouTube videos about it and *insert long winding tale of awesome mystery* HERE WE ARE LIFE WORKS OUT SOMETIMES. #phew
Anyways, 14 pages is way too long for a blog post. So I'm going to share these HUGE, HARD REALIZATIONS in installments, like a weird sporadic dose of, "Here please quick read this before you swipe right on anyone ever again."
If you sometimes fear that you are just wired wrong, or that you missed a very important romance-related memo, or that you can't seem to get this whole relationship thing down right to save your life, HELLO GORGEOUS! Welcome to the awesome party. Here’s your first drink:
Huge Hard Realization #1: Scraps Are Not Enough, and Hot Stoves Do Not Make Good Boyfriends.
My mind was blown open like the grand fuckin’ canyon when I read the following words from my favorite advice columnist, Heather Havrilesky:
“You are attracted to tepid.”
She has written these words to various females over the years, but my favorite example (that I send to many clients and friends) was in response to a woman who couldn’t stop obsessing over a subpar fling with a coworker.
He wasn’t that into her, the sex wasn’t even that great, but she just couldn’t let him go. So the #AskPolly writer hit every nail on every stupid head with this simple diagnosis:
YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO TEPID.
She, and we, are often extremely attracted to tepid.
Meaning you are consistently into the dudes who treat you only halfway decently.
You are kinda turned on by the obsessive experience of not knowing where you stand with a guy (on some uncomfortable, unconscious level) .
When you are attracted to tepid, you cling to people who don’t 100% choose you. And you do this simply because that’s your type.
Up until reading those simple words I had been functioning under the delusion that I must be doing something wrong if some guy didn’t like me.
They were only 50% into me, and I just needed to figure out the other 50%…so I would boggle my brain wondering what was I missing? Where had I gone wrong? What could I do to make them like me 100%?
When I finally recognized my attraction to tepid, I realized OH MY GOD, WAIT, I’M ACTUALLY ONLY INTO THESE GUYS BECAUSE THEY DON’T LIKE ME.
Being attracted to tepid means your #1 qualifying turn-on is someone not being consistently super turned on by you.
(Another one of my favorite love-teacher-guru-people, Ken Page, refers to this as an "Attraction of Deprivation" -- WORTH THE READ.)
What an earth-shattering buzzkill, right?
The whole attraction mechanism within me (and maybe you, cutie!) hinged on someone being only 50% (or even less) invested. If he’s at 100%? Let’s be real, I probably was not that into him.
These broke-ass flings or semi-relationships weren't just happening to me, I was pining after them and choosing them and making them happen. I was on awful, tepid-attraction, auto-pilot.
Can you sense what a paradigm shift that is to recognize?
The former “what’s wrong with me” perspective had me under a spell where I felt like the sad, loser-y victim who’s never the apple of some guy’s eye...
This HUGE, HARD REALIZATION transformed me into the empowered (but misguided), consistent chooser of men who didn’t choose her back.
ARE YOU A CONSISTENT CHOOSER OF MEN WHO DON’T CHOOSE YOU BACK?
It’s like you’re standing in front of a stove, and one of the four the burners is lit.
It’s red, glowing, very hot. You could boil soup on that bitch. The rules of the game are that you have to put your hand down on one of them; pick a burner, any burner.
Those of us are who attracted to tepid, who enjoy a challenge, or are (unconsciously) turned on by those who only feed us attention-crumbs and love-scraps, will place our hand on the hot burner every, single, time.
Simply because that’s what we do. It’s our habit. Our innate instinct. That’s how we choose. We see a glowing burner and we go, “Mmm, yes, that one.”
(Pro Tip: You know a guy is a glowing, hot-stove of a man if he is generally unresponsive, can't make up his mind about you, isn't making efforts to spend time or invest in you, makes you feel crazy, is seeing other people and isn't shy about it, amplifies all your insecurities, doesn't snuggle you/make you breakfast, doesn't commit to you, tells you you're great but doesn't want to be with you, would prefer if you didn't have needs/feelings, just to name a few qualifiers...)
So then when we get burned and we think something must be wrong with us, or our stupid, imperfect hands. Our skin is faulty. Our nervous system is whacked. The scalding burner is fine, he’s so sweet and perfect actually, we just need to be better equipped to handle the heat, or somehow magically get the burner to cool down.
But this is faulty logic. That
guy burner sucks, he's it's not equipped for a real relationship human touch, and the only thing that needs to change is your habit of choosing the hot burner more often than not.
It’s the desire to win someone over instead of having them readily choose you from day one that's causing your pain and problems. This habit, this attraction to tepid, is what breaks hearts and make us feel crazy.
Now, years later, when I’m working on this topic with a client and we begin to unpack her attraction to tepid, her burning desire for a hot-stove man, her next question is always, “But why am I like that? Why do I choose them? Why do I put my hand on the hottest stoves in town? AM I FUCKING CRAZY?!”
And my answer is usually a loving but honest, “WHO CARES?” followed by, “The ‘why’ is kinda irrelevant, the question is WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NEXT.”
But if you find yourself thinking “Whyyy?!” right now, I encourage you to sure, get curious about it. But don’t think that you need to know the root of this issue in order to change it. (Life-hack: We almost never need to know the direct root of any issue to change it.)
Having the realization is enough. Identifying this hot-stove-habit and recognizing the pattern can and will set you free. Because once you realize that you have an attraction to tepid, hot stove-style men, you start spotting them sooner and catching on quicker.
You start recognizing that if you are very into someone, it’s probably because he’s not super into you, and sooner or later you are going to get burned.
You start learning how to stand in front of a very hot stove and not put your hand down. How to say “no” to scraps, and slowly begin acclimating yourself to healthier, kinder, more-cool-to-the-touch romantic opportunities.
What’s really hard about this is that none of us can control that moment of realization.
You don’t get to decide when you’re going to finally have had enough of scraps, or when the hot stove will stop being so appealing to you. I’ve had conversations with women who have spent decades of their lives chasing hot stoves, begging for scraps, not realizing there was even another option.
But there is. Notice your tendencies. Catch onto your habits. Interrupt your attraction, and don’t instinctively follow wherever it wants to take you.
Choose people who choose you back. Acclimate yourself to more accessible, easy-feeling romantic opportunities. Get turned on by someone being turned on by you. Decide that you’ve had enough of men who aren’t that into you for one lifetime, and declare you’re ready for something different.
There will be a future HUGE HARD REALIZATION post on recognizing those “something different” men, and the challenges of acclimating yourself towards their obvious, clear attention and affection. Cause at first it might feel icky. We'll go into that another time.
But if you’re in the middle of a tepid-attraction-tango, and you can’t seem to get your hand off the damn hot stove, please trust that at some point you will decide that enough is enough, and the glowing burner will stop looking so darn good.
Because we cannot undo awareness, we can only ignore it.
So don’t ignore what you know. Remember this truth: Scraps are not enough, and hot stoves do not make good boyfriends. Huge, hard realization #1. Boom.