Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cohabitation: The 2010 Edition

The decision to share space with another person is always a big one. People are inherently selfish and don’t necessarily see how their actions impact the people around them. A preexisting relationship with someone can lead to not feeling as comfortable to raise issues that bother you because you do not want to hurt their feelings or damage the standing relationship. Lots of couples are cautious about moving in together because it will undoubtedly lead to arguments, which although healthy are still arguments, and it eliminates free space. The ability to go home and get a good night’s rest without the stress of your significant other hogging all of the covers is a godsend. I don’t disagree this is a civil liberty that anyone in a romantic relationship should have, but I don’t think it’s as realistic as it previously was. This is a classic example of an outdated principle that’s been taken out of proportion.

It’s really easy to blur tradition and the times. And you see that it happens throughout society in many ways. It comes across as a sever identity crisis to everyone. Women do not want men to treat them as helpless needy individuals, however, they still want the door opened for them and they’d like a man to pay for the meal. On the other hand, men do not want their wives to be at home and prefer they work, but they also would like for them to raise the children and do the household duties as well. Moreover, there was a time when a man at the age of 18 was a man and could go out into the world, take a wife, and provide for his family. I’ll be honest with you, chances are you may have moved out, but you will still rely on financial support from your parents until you are well over 21, building wealth is just not as easy and doesn’t come as early as before. Not ten years ago, if you would have been told that you would be making $50,000 upon graduating from college that was really good money and you would be “balling out the gym.” However, if I woke up and someone told me I was only making $50,000, I’d probably slip me an Ambien and Diprivan and hope for the worst.

I watch a little VH1 every now and then and remember a quote from an episode of, I Love New York, where a gentleman in hopes of becoming New York’s beau exclaims, “Let me tell you about my financial situation, I’m Broke.” The interesting thing about being broke is that it is a totally independent determinant on your love life. You will not suddenly realize that you are broke, and now you have no desire to date or continue in a relationship.

Relationships are changing these days too. To demonstrate the change, I want you to think to yourself about how courting took place before the mass production and use of the cell phone. Ironic isn’t it? How would you talk to someone for hours like you do now? How would you let someone know you were stuck in traffic and running late for a date? How would you communicate with your significant other throughout the day without having to pick up the phone in the middle of your board meeting? We previously thought that with the addition of text messaging and instant messaging, we would lose touch with the world. In fact, we’ve only created more channels for communication. And by more, I mean, hundreds more. Now your relationships are so much more intense at a faster rate and you are able to learn about one another so much quicker than before. To be honest, when you’re in a relationship you probably leave one open channel of communication all day and if you can count on one hand the times when you weren’t talking during that day. And when you aren’t using that open channel of communication, couples these days are spending every other waking moment with one another. As work hours continue to increase, free time is at a premium and you do everything in your best interest to spend that time with your mate. And pretty soon you will reach that point where you are either spending the evenings and nights at your mate’s residence, or vice versa. And I’d recommend that at the point where she has her own drawer, space in the closet, and bathroom space that you have a serious conversation about where things are going.

To be honest with you guys it really makes little to no sense to not live together, if you’re going to “live together.” Let me explain, again use the retrospective goggles to look at relationships in the past. People went on dates, they talked infrequently. There were no chat or text messages, there were handwritten or typed letters. Phone conversations came at a premium, most women lived at home until married. A man at age 18, got a job, and got his own place to live. And a few years later a wife would come along. Listen, real talk, our relationships now are way beyond those of what people would call “dating” in the past. People meet parents too early, they have sex, they sleep in the same bed, they plan vacations together, they make life decisions together, and they even sometimes seek counseling together. These are pseudo marriages. However, the tradition is until you get a ring, you can’t move in… To me it’s quite ridiculous.

Consider things fiscally as well. The cost of living these days is sky high, it’s almost absurd. A studio in DC can run you as much as $1050, a 1BR in DC, is a steal at anything less than $1200. (If you are at all concerned about the neighborhood you lay your head in.) A couple living in two separate locations are spending $2250 on rent alone. But they are always spending their time together. You eat out a lot because that’s a way to hang out and share a meal, you also have dates, and vacations to have time alone to yourselves for a few days. Relationships are expensive, very expensive. So let me see if I have all this down, you practically spend all of your time together, you eat as many meals as you can together, you even sleep in the same place each night together, but you don’t live together. With this cost structure, I find it hard to imagine how you will ever afford an engagement ring, wedding, or home in the future. And even so, couldn’t you both stand to benefit from moving in together in a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment? I think so, you’d save a lot of money, and you’d have very few changes to your relationship.

We have to reevaluate our definition of what reality is every so often. Come to grips with a changing world. As much as your mother probably told you about “playing house” you might want to be honest with yourself and realize that playing house is pretty much par for the course for our generation. I remember the big jump in relationships I experienced from high school to college, but none was bigger than the one from college to young adult life. I’d like you to take a look at your situation and ask yourself, if your decision not to move in with your significant other is actually costing you more than you are gaining from it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

If You Want It to Work, It Will Work

When we were in grade school to hear that someone was “going” together was no big story, it was hot news for maybe a few days, and then it faded away. In addition, grade school relationships that lasted over 4-6 weeks were few and far between. And when they ended they usually ended in a sly manner in which someone “dumped” the other one and all the kids had a good laugh. As we got older, we matured, but we didn’t fully mature. Our minds changed like the weather, our desire to “get our freak on” outweighed our desire to be in a relationship. Our fuse was shorter because we felt like we had our whole lives ahead of us to make it right. Experience tells us that in life you will be in several more bad relationships than good. In life, you will look back at relationships that you didn’t give your all to and realize that it could have been something significant. But truly everyone reaches a certain level of maturity in life when they realize that if you want your relationship to work, it will work. (I’m going to write a book about this, so don’t steal this instrumental.)

I believe that after you get out of college and you look back on the 20-something years that it took to get you where you are today, you are able to critically think about your past relationships. In our young years on this earth we end up breaking up for the most foolish or selfish reasons. You can’t seem to stay out of an argument with your significant other and neither of you are willing to compromise. You want to be with someone else. You want to be single and test the waters. You are focused on your career or grad school. (I think this is bull, because you shouldn’t be with someone who cannot withstand your progression in life.) And of course, cheating plays a factor in there too, as well as a general lack of trust.

The thing that it takes time to realize is that relationships take patience and determination. We watch a movie of people falling in love at first sight or at tops two hours and think that real life is supposed to emulate that. The fact is, that’s false. You will have to make a decision that you want to be in that relationship, and then you will have to make a concerted effort to be in that relationship. You have to realize that you are in control of your half of the relationship and the other person is too. Very few people who handle 100% of their 50% ever get bad results. I’ll say that again, very few people who handle 100% of their 50% ever get bad results. You cannot expect to give half of yourself to a relationship until something is proven and expect the other person to give anything more than half of themselves, leaving you with 50% output from the both of you.

Let’s take cheating for example. I think cheating is a childish behavior that everyone engages in. Some people find all types of excuses for cheating, there is only one, it’s a selfish act by a selfish person. No one can force anyone to take any action that they do not want to take. Therefore, if someone cheated it was because that person wanted to cheat. This is a perfect example of something that you can control. Another example is arguments. We can be honest with ourselves to know that we know our partners, and we know our pressure points. Even if you do not like the pressure point, and you vehemently disagree with your partner’s stance on an issue, have you not learned anything in this life if you have not learned how to agree to disagree? You can save yourself a plethora of arguments that will jeopardize the house that your relationship is built in, by just knowing and avoiding arguments.

We understand that we can prevent the pitfalls that failed us the last time. Knowing what to say and when to say it, and knowing what to do and how to do it, increases the chances of a healthy and long relationship. I think that going into a relationship both people should have the same goals and mindset. I don’t think it’s wrong for a person to say when they are dating, they are not looking for anything casual, but something meaningful with a future. (Do not say, “I’m hoping that marriage comes out of my next relationship. However, something meaningful is acceptable.) When two people meet that are on the same page about life and love, the possibilities are limitless. The other side of this coin, is when you do not meet equally plane people, you run into BIG trouble. She wants something casual and he thinks he’s found the Misses. Those situations rarely last or end well. However, equally plane people are able to grow together because they have a solid foundation.

Relationships are all about foundation and infrastructure. You have to think about it like you’re building a home. It’s a long term project. If it’s a short term project, then you’re better off just staying in an apartment until you’re ready to buy. You will buy furniture, hire interior decorators, someone to take care of the landscaping, you will have to paint the walls (several times to keep it exciting), you will make additions, and you will sometimes welcome new people over to live (children). But the first step in building this home is that you both are dedicated to making it a home and not just a place to stay. If you become personally vested in the success of your relationship, instead of “seeing where things go” you will succeed. Please take a note that I said, personally vested in the success, not just the relationship, but the success.

Side note, I’m seriously worried about anybody who isn’t.

The Update

There are going to be changes to The Book of Jackson and my writing on several other sites. I basically have reached the point where I feel like the same old antagonistic blogging was getting boring. It had been boring to me for a while, but it always kept the readers entertained to see what I would say or my thoughts on issues. I will say this, those blogs that I previously wrote actually do share some of my thoughts, however, I admit that sometimes I am soliciting and reaction from the reader to get your thoughts too. I think that what I really want to do now through my blogging is offer more advisory material. Bring up articles that touch on all those things that we all experience, but don’t get a chance to talk about because we are wasting our time on the same relationship topics over and over again.

To be more specific, we can talk about how women can’t find men all day long until the cows come home, we can talk about age old arguments that go on in our community and across our genders until we are blue in the face, but what we should thrive to do is write good material. So that’s my goal with the new revamping, to write good material.

A few of you have asked me what’s going on in my life, and in a little while I hope to share that with you. I am going to post an article shortly after this one that I hope you each get a chance to read and enjoy. Thanks for your continued support at The Book of Jackson (TBJ) and don’t forget you can catch me on twitter @DrJayJack. I hope to resume the Morning Mail shortly, but I may take a page from seveneighteen and only do it once a week. Last but not least, you can always catch me at each and every Thursday.

Peace and love.