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Monthly Archives: December 2011

False Value: How we play games to increase our value and make it look like we have something we don’t


Value. This is what all of us are ultimately trying to add to our lives through relationships of one sort or another. Admit it, even if you are the innocent girl waiting for God to write your fairy tale love story, ultimately you want this love story because it will make you feel happy and secure and loved. You want to add real value to your life. Similarly for the most pragmatic, logical guy looking for the perfectly compatible mate: what you really want is someone who has enough value to you to add value to your life.

So what about when we meet someone we deem as more valuable than are? What if we really want this person? How can we offer them something of value when they seem totally content with what they have?

Girls what about that hot guy you just met that you’ve been hanging out with that seems to have it all. He is popular, he’s funny, and you love spending time with him. And yet there just really doesn’t seem to be anything you can offer him that he doesn’t have to make him want you.

Or guys, what about that girl that is independent and driven. She doesn’t need a man to feel secure. She has a plan and isn’t just waiting around for you to sweep her off her feet. This makes her all the more attractive to you. And yet. What do you have to offer her that she doesn’t already have? What would make her want you in her life?

And this is where we begin to play the game of creating false value.

One way a lot of girls do this is with sex. While I do not have as much experience in the secular world, it would seem that post college sex games are less common: people finally realize that sex is mutually beneficial and stop using it as a tool. But as the economist Steven Levitt once said: guys have always wanted more sex than there are women willing to give it to them for free. So many woman will capitalize on this alluring the guy through sexual attraction and then constantly teasing him either by occasionally giving in or by promising sex once a certain level of commitment has been reached.

I might receive a lot of flak for saying this and am willing to admit I am wrong, but it seems that a large percentage of Christian marriages happen because of this subtle understanding that the guy doesn’t get sex unless he marries the girl. While I would argue there are good psychological and moral reasons to wait for marriage, withholding sex as a tool to make yourself appear more valuable and to get what you want in other areas of a relationship is counter productive.

A second way of creating false value is to make the other person think they are missing something. You create discontentment in their hearts and cause them to think that they cannot live without something they previously were not even aware of. This can often manifest itself as false dependence. A perfectly happy content girl becomes dependent on a guy because he created a false dependency. She may have been fine driving four hours home to visit her family until he traveled with her and suddenly she couldn’t make the trip without his charming company. I call this false dependence because she wasn’t looking for a need to be met; he created a need by offering her something than causing her to imagine it being taken away.

This is fundamentally what marketing is. Making you miss something you didn’t have before by offering it to you and then taking it away. Being aware of the way these feelings are created can help protect you from falling from someone that you wouldn’t otherwise want.

A third way that we play games to create value is by creating false scarcity and demand. Everyone knows that person who always waits a few hours to respond to a text or phone call just to make it seem like they are busier. Many people don’t even think about this but do it out of procrastination. Others however, use this as a mind game. Guys will often disappear for a few days after a romantic night. Girls might say they are busy then be sure that they are seen with other guys in public.

This is basic economics. Because we as humans naturally want what we can’t have, high demand and/or low supply are two things that attract people. If a girl believes a guy to be “out of her league” she might try to appear as if lots of other guys want her so he will wonder what the big deal is. Alternatively, she can make herself seem quite busy every time he wants to see her thus giving the allusion of being scarce.

Most of these games are played sub-consciously. And I’m not necessarily saying they are good or bad. However two words of caution: if you are the one playing the game remember that other may realize what you are doing and your value could diminish greatly in their eyes. If you are the one being played learn to recognize the person’s true value and not be fooled by games. Playing the game is part of how dating works, but some people take it too far by creating false expectations of who they really are without adding any REAL value to your life at all.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in James

 

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¡Feliz Navidad!


As I enjoy the warm weather this particular Christmas has brought us with a cup of tea and a host of family, I can’t help but recall I particularly comical song I heard at Liberty University’s annual Christmas talent show. The song writer talked about how he was excited to be single this Christmas. In fact, he broke up with his girlfriend on Christmas Eve because . . . well quite frankly he didn’t want to have to buy her any gifts. He went on to say that he would get back with her after the holidays were over.

This really made me think: in relationships have we turned holiday’s and special celebrations (Valentine’s Day, Birthdays) into mandatory gift giving artificial special moments that have lost any semblance of true joy?

Think about how many guys in particular stress over what to get their girlfriends to make them happy. Most girls expect some kind of jewelry or some other expensive gift if the guy has been with them for a while. And if he decides to show his love another way? There is certainly hell to be raised. Or what about Valentine’s Day? How many guys meet their girl with flowers and take her out on a nice date just to avoid a fight?

Should holidays really be about this? If you truly love someone should you really care whether or not they get you any gifts at all?

Gary Chapman in his book the five love languages states that one way that people feel loved is by receiving gifts. I could never pretend to have more knowledge than he on relationships, but I’ve often wondered if grouping people into five love languages is accurate. And is gift giving really a love language? Or is it the outcropping of a materialist society that equates possessions or objects with feelings?

Look back to the first Christmas. The wise men from the Middle East came to Jesus bearing gifts to show their loyalty. And yet they came out of free will, under no obligation, without any expectation of harm was they not to bring the gifts. They came with joy. A new king. They wanted to honor him.

Think about how you have treated your significant other this year. Have you caused him to be fearful of losing your affection if he doesn’t buy you the right gifts? Or have you allowed him to be free to give because he wants to know that your love for him would not change were he only to give himself.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t give gifts obviously. But if Christmas becomes so stressful and busy that we can’t enjoy the holiday, it might be better not to celebrate at all.

Work to relieve stress for the ones you love today. If your significant other doesn’t get you what you really want, love them for their heart. The gift isn’t that important. It’s the person you love. Right?

In the last verse of that song, the artist hesitated on the line about getting back with his girlfriend. He started to say he’d get back with her in January but then was like maybe not. Some of us are blessed with loving relationships this holiday. And some of us are blessed to be single. Either way let’s be content with what we have and be thankful for the friends and family we do have.

Merry Christmas!

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in James

 

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Am I settling?


Some people have it easy. Somewhere along the way they meet this person that they connect amazingly well with. The romantic sparks fly and a healthy, passionate relationship ensues. Before long this couple is talking about spending life together. “I just know he’s the right one” she says. “She’s perfect for me, I don’t deserve her” he joins in.

A year goes by and they begin married life together. Their passionate relationship has just begun. For some this initial high continues on indefinitely. Five years later they look like they just fell in love. Other crash and burn. These are the couples that divorce or at least strongly dislike each other after only a year or so of marriage.

While we tend to look at these passionate relationships with jealousy (at least initially), the reality is that most of us don’t experience relationships the same way. Most of us either just choose someone because we’re tired of waiting, or fall somewhere in-between. The romance takes a little work. We’re not always 100% sure. But in the long run perhaps this makes for a healthier relationship. According to Sherry Argov people will work harder for and appreciate more something that they are not 100% sure about.

So here’s the question for the day: when do I “settle” for what I know I can get or already have and when do I keep looking for something better?

As we’ve pointed out before there is always something better. And as I just mentioned just now, most of us will not initially know for certain but will grow in love as we develop the relationship. So settling is not being used as a bad term here. It simply means winning with that good hand you have now and cashing out rather than taking the risk of waiting for a better hand that could yield more.

Let’s look back at values. What do you value in life? What are some things that you could not live without? You don’t necessarily need someone who wants those things too. But if dancing is your life and your potential husband hates dancing, would never even try dancing, would never even want to watch you dance, than you’re looking at a value conflict much more significant than whether of not he likes broccoli.

Take some time right now and write down your values. I recommend doing something like this: start with some core values that are general such as 1) adding value to all those I come in contact with 2) evolution: constant growth in every aspect of life. These are two of mine. Next write down maybe ten (or any reasonable amount) of deal breakers for a relationship. These should focus more on the other person’s values. For example, 1) willing to travel, 2) motivated and hardworking, 3) independent, etc.

Now you have the basic tools to ensure that you don’t settle for something less than what you really want. This still doesn’t really answer the question. After all a hamburger and steak both satisfy the values of beef and protein but if given the option I’d probably choose a steak right now.

First, make sure you’re not chasing pipe dreams. If you know that the guy on the baseball team dates tall blonde trophies exclusively and you’re an attractive smart small brunette, you should probably consider that not only is this not going to work but you’d be better off with someone more like you. And none of us is going to date a Hollywood star or some dreamy eyed boy from a movie. The romance in Hollywood is rarely if ever accurate in real life.

Second, when good people get into a relationship we tend to act very similar. For example, an incredibly independent driven girl who falls in love will eventually demonstrate some of the characteristics of a clingy girl – that’s just what relationships do. So when you see that girl who seems so much more fun than the girl you are with stop and remember she probably isn’t that different from your current girl once you actually get her.

Third, if you like what you have and you know you can get it enjoy what you’ve got. Doesn’t mean you have to get married. Just enjoy the moment and stop ruining by thinking about constantly thinking about that other girl texting you.

Finally, don’t worry about ruining your chances with someone else because you are seen with one person. This is one myth i can’t stand but admit I’ve believed it from time to time. If a girl really likes you she’s not going to write you off just because she sees you with another girl. And if she does than she is too insecure for a relationship. Same with guys. If you mention your guy friend helping you fix your car, the guy who’s interested in you is not going to feel threatened unless he’s a needy guy.

If you have something really good, take it and run with it. A good investment increases value with time!

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in James

 

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And they lived happily ever after . . .


You know what’s striking in fairytales? Besides the happy ending I mean…It’s striking that the good characters have a happy ending and the bad ones don’t.

Here’s what I’m getting at: I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think that’s the point.

Fairytales can happen if you’re willing to work: work hard at yourself and your relationships. 

My point: it’s not a coincidence that the good characters in fairytales are exceedingly good. Good things tend to happen to good people and vicerversa bad things to bad people.

Princess: good, kind, hard working, compassionate, educated, stylish, subtle, courages… how are you doing on the list?

Prince Charming: brave, independent, strong, financially secure, wise, good-hearted, compassionate, kind, charming

We all want to live in a fairytale. The question is: are we willing to pay the price? It’s like wanting a Ferrari for a car. It can happen, but there’s a lot of work and saving that you have to put into it.

Good things can happen, and you can enjoy them, but not devoid of hard work and knowing how things go in this world. And if you think that you really are a good deal and have worked hard on yourself but the fairytale isn’t happening, maybe you need to revisit how you relate to others. Being charming or seductive isn’t natural to most people, but you can develop that skill like any other.

I wish you the best and I hope that you will live in a fairytale as much as one can on this earth. I also hope that this has been an encouraging and enlightening post for those who don’t know how to get there. Some of the other post touch on these matters as well.

More important than living happily ever after is to live right. Happily ever after will follow.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Jack

 

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Why are all of my friends getting married and I’m not?


Ring by spring! MRS. Degree. Finding Mr. Right. These are all the subject of many conversations in Christian circles. Marriage is a good thing. Designed by God for our enjoyment and a real reflection of His beauty. Christians also preach abstinence before marriage, simultaneously sweetening the concept. Children are often of higher values. Many Christian girls are even brought up with the notion that they are incomplete until they are connected with the man of their dreams.

So if marriage is so highly sought after and so wonderful, why are all my friends getting their rings and I’m still unhappily waiting?

To start let me ask you a simple question: what are you doing right now to become the best possible girlfriend and wife you can be?

Are you enjoying your favorite TV shows? Working so you can have extra money to spend on cute outfits? Gossiping with your girlfriends and talking about who’s hot and who’s not? Involved in fun activities to fill every moment of your day? Regretting what you don’t have rather than rejoicing in what you do have?

I wouldn’t condemn any of these things (except maybe gossip) but let’s change the perspective. Which would you want the man you eventually marry to spend his college and early adulthood days doing:

  1. Playing video games eventually mastering World of War Craft. Drinking beers with his buddies. Flirting with other hot girls he knows he’ll never date just for fun. Watching football.

Or

  1. Reading books on how to be a better man. Learning to understand women by interacting with ones similar to one he might marry. Cultivating healthy lifestyle habits. Pursuing a career that could support a family.

My guess is that most of you would pick number two. So putting the ball back in your court: what are you doing to make yourself that charming, appealing, helpful, hardworking, respectable woman that a guy might want? Are you pining away with jealousy every time another one of your friends says “yes!” or are you praising God that you have that much more time to become an even more irresistible woman?

Think about how much you prepared for college. It all started when your parents taught you the basics of life like not touching hot stoves and doing your laundry. You learned to read. Math. Social interaction. Writing. Driving. Interpersonal skills. For the first 18 years of your life you were being prepared to leave the home and go to college in the “real” world. Wouldn’t it seem right to put that much effort into something that should last a lifetime?

Once you’ve started down the right track of preparing for marriage you can start the often painful step of realizing why perhaps you aren’t getting snatched up. Perhaps you have a tendency to nag? Any guy who understands women and can emotionally connect with them can spot a nagging type woman often on the first date. If he is secure and willing to wait for the right girl, he will turn this one down without thinking.

Or maybe you are given to a negative attitude. You may be a beautiful girl with the most perfect smile and gorgeous curves. You may be more intelligent than the guy’s law school buddies. But if he senses a negative approach toward life he may look down the years of the future and realize a lifetime of negativity is not worth your company.

Here’s another thing to consider which may make some quite angry but I have to bring it up because rightly or wrongly it’s so important in today’s world: do you take care of yourself physically? Do you dress attractively? Do you eat right? Do you work out regularly? No guy in his right mind is looking for a Victoria Secret model. In fact, many guys prefer much more curvy women. But few guys want someone who is unhealthy or seriously overweight.

I saw an episode of “Lie to Me” where the lie detectors determine that a woman was motivated to pursue a guy because of his money. She loved him from her heart but had initially gone for him because he was wealthy. But before allowing him to ditch her in anger, the team of psychologists aptly pointed out “didn’t you desire her for her beauty?” He truly loved her, but that initial attraction was sparked by her outward beauty.

So before you judge a guy for initially being attracted primarily by your looks think to yourself: what was the reason I was initially attracted?

One final thought. Perhaps the reason your friends are getting married is because they are trying but not appearing to try. What do I mean?

To get a guy you need to go where they are. Meet them. Spend time with them. Become what the guy of your dreams would dream about. But when you meet him you can’t appear desperate. You have to be relaxed and happy with or without him. Be your best, but do so even when he’s not around so you don’t act differently in front of him.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in James

 

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Focus on HER. feelings


You can create feelings: through who you are, through what you do and how you engage her. It doesn’t have to be just chance and good luck. You can make it happen…

One mistake that most good guys I know make is to let their feelings get in the way. Either they’re not confident enough or get overran by feelings… they are just lost. And they don’t chase.

When you chase a girl- from first look, to first date, to first kiss – you HAVE to focus on her. It’s about her and her feelings. If you can’t get that off the ground, she won’t care about your feelings. Not to say that your feelings are not important, but be the first  to give and then reap the benefits.

That element of “connection” is a combination of a few things: 1. emotional relating 2. body language 3.feelings of attraction 4.mystery and 5.continuity.

1. Emotional Relating

There are not that many emotionally mature guys out there. What i mean by that is guys who know how to relate in a healthy manner with their feelings. It’s not about being effeminate but being in touch with your feminine side. Guys who are emotionally mature are aware of what people around them around them are going through emotionally. They know when to get involved and when to stay at bay. They can pick up small cues and create feelings in others. Just like you work out your muscles, you can work out your emotional connectivity. Oh, and don’t forget to have some mental boundaries.

2. Body Language

You’ve hear it said before, but 93% of communication is non-verbal: 55% body language and 38% tone of voice. That being said, you’ve to pay close attention to those things. You’re saying a lot before you even open your mouth. They way you look at her, the way you walk over, your stride, your shoulder orientation – all these speak something about you (quick tip: try to lean backwards- it makes you look more confident and more settled). Look in the mirror, make a video of yourself and watch it. Then exercise better ways of doing it. This is learnable like anything else.

3. Feelings of Attraction

Here’s the scoop: feelings can be created, yes even feelings of attraction. Learn how she functions and what makes her tick: mostly by observing and active listening. Pick up when her tone is excited or what things make her smile. Then do those things and make the look random. Plan ahead, and make it look like it just happened. This leads me to my next point.

4. Mystery

Don’t give it all away. Don’t put all your cards on the table, not just yet. Make her think there’s more to you than meets the eye, if she just sticks around. Leave some open ended question. Spark her interest about something and then change the subject (e.g. “yeah, I write poetry… haven’t done it in a while though, didn’t have a good reason to, haha.  Oh, look Kohl’s on discount today- let’s go check it out. What’s your favorite thing to shop there?”). You’ve put the idea in her mind, but didnt’ make a big deal out of it. She’ll think about it later but wonder why you didn’t tell her more. She’ll be curious, thinking about you, asking questions. Mystery leads to:

5. Continuity

Good relationships feel like they will last forever and there is so much more to discover in each other. Sometimes that happens by chance: you just meet somebody who sparks your interest and you just connect to. Other times, you work hard and created that feeling. A feeling of continuity makes both parties want to invest in the relationship. It also makes girls feel safe, and that is an amazing feelings for them, a must in any serious relationship.

So focus on her feelings. Help her, direct her feelings to where you want them to go. Do it with integrity. Be charming and engaging. Make it an adventure that both of you enjoy. Focus on her feelings and you’ll be off to a good start. Create “the connection” and then keep it going.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Jack

 

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Are you ok?


Reader question:

I just recently started talking to this girl. We’ve been out about three times, but only once was a date. I really like her but not quite sure where she’s at. Last night we were at a get together at my buddy’s house and she seemed somewhat distant. I kept asking her is she was alright and she said she was fine. Should I call her today just to check?

First of all how confident are you? Let’s go back to my first posts and consider your inner game. Are you truly happy with who you are? Is your happiness independent of the beauty at your side? Are you a self-satisfying person who adds value to those around him rather than sapping it up like a sponge on spilled coffee (just happened to be cleaning up some coffee myself so it seemed a good analogy)?

If you have learned to separate yourself from the outcome (i.e. enjoy the get together with or without her approval) you are off to a good start.

So what about her seeming distant? This could be any number of things. You hardly know her (3 dates?) so you really don’t know what else is going on, what other dynamics she may be dealing with, the time of month (always important for a guy to be sensitive about this isn’t it ladies), family and friend issues, etc. If you genuinely sense something is wrong my personal policy is to ask. Once. And then leave it. And not assume it has anything to do with me.

But what if it does? Here’s my personal opinion. If you are acting within your moral guidelines, living according to the values you have set out for your life, than if she is upset at you about something the problem is not yours. At least not at this point in your “relationship”. She cannot yet have expectations of you right? I mean seriously after three dates? Now if you had been together for a while I wouldn’t let you off the hook so easy.

As a general rule of thumb though let me say this: Don’t interpret girl’s emotions negatively. Assume they are having a good time. Assume they enjoy your presence (why else would they want to hang out with you?). Have a good time yourself. Happy people are attractive. And absolutely don’t call the next morning asking if she is ok. Ever. (Ok yes if she was choking on her own vomit or in a head on collision with a moose maybe I’ll let you make an exception).

If you stop asking if she is ok she will realize that you are confident, that you are in control of your emotions, that you aren’t needy, and she will let you know if she is not ok.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in James

 

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