Good evening, beautiful.
I used to say those words when I was in love. They used to slip off my tongue like silk. But the truth is when infatuation stops, self-love, hard work, and compatibility start.
Not that I don’t enjoy infatuation.
In fact, lusting after a woman’s beautiful natural skin, curves, mysterious round eyes, and holding her pinky finger as you walk towards the pink-violet horizon brings a certain peace inside your soul.
It tells every cell of your being:
I am loved.
And not that infatuation can’t make the cornerstone of true love.
In fact, it should.
It just hasn’t happened for me yet, or maybe it has, but I wasn’t aware of my own shortcomings, patterns, and internal baggage. I didn’t know to love someone else you must still love yourself in the process. I wasn’t aware of the amount of wood chopping it took.
And that’s okay, I guess.
Many of the people I fell in love (became infatuated) with didn’t turn into a lasting partnership and the women I genuinely love as friends eternally don’t have infatuation, attraction, or lust.
It’s the Catch-22 of love and partnership.
The ball is the attraction needed for the spark.
The catch is in the openness and symmetry of friendship that is demanded of a lasting partnership; in the true hug and understanding of pain; in the countless hours of laughter — the deep belly kinds when milk geysers out of your nose while your burps smell of putrid goat cheese.
Or in less intense ways, the catch is in the hours of idle silence where you still trust togetherness.
Okay, I fantasize.
But don’t we all fantasize about having both?
To wake up to your lover and best friend is the ultimate sign of self-love because it means you found what you need to grow. Most people don’t wait for this; their self-love is only found in being loved or attended by others. In attention-seeking behaviors, there is no sustainability. I pick up the phone because I want her body, or because I hope she desires me.
Or is the phone call to connect and remember why you are together in the first place — to celebrate your emotional and intellectual symmetry?
To create physical desire, we must show up for the women we love in this way first.
Instead of waiting for the person that will push you to grow and spread your wings, you settle, you act out, you party, you forgo the workouts you know you need, you are lax on the self-mastery you need to learn, and the self-educating classes, hobbies, and healthy practices you always wanted to take up.
You do this because you lack self-love. You can’t monitor yourself yet.
It’s okay, I’m not there either.
The lovers you need are the ones that do and say the things that change your perspective, help your self-awareness grow and change how you act towards yourself, which in turn, changes how you act towards them.
Heidi Priebe says eloquently (on what I already feel): “Because self-love means self-parenting. It means self-monitoring. And it means self-development, no matter how laborious a process that development turns out to be… The simplest way to discern whether someone else loves you is to consider: Do they show the hell up for you when it matters?”
You want off the bench? Then show the hell up, dudes.
When it matters is a matter of context isn’t it?
I’ve known women that don’t need me at all, right up until the moment I’m with them.
Think about that, is that you?
It has been me, and that’s okay.
Self-awareness can manifest what you need when you need it.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
A coach that cared would never let me disappear on the court when it really matters. A mother, a lover, a partner, and a friend would expect me to show up and put effort into my First Team All-League fatherhood, friendship, or partnership goals.
Sorry, I’m not sorry I break shit into sports terms because it helps me relate to real-world relationship problems.
Over 50% of the world can’t seem to get this relationship shit right, so maybe it’s time we have a sports guy talk about love for once, so all the inner athletes inside us can start to see their flaws, and fix what’s broken.
Do you need a kick in the ass?
You fucking suck, dude.
Just like I did, just like I still do.
So there is one thing to do:
Get better at loving yourself, first.
(Before you go all Rambo on me), the next time you run into a woman or a man that deserves your affection, watch your current state of energy and love for yourself.
I bet it makes a difference. This authenticity of someone feeling a feeling can’t be faked.
One of my favorite Mary Angelou quotes is: I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
They will remember that feeling, and you can’t game that feeling out of someone no matter how hard you try.
This is a timeless principle of happiness, of working shit out, of being better at self-love and self-mastery.
Yet, is it most people get divorced because they aren’t striving to be First Team All-League, or aren’t they truly compatible, or are they are just living in an iconoclastic square that should actually be more like a circle?
If you get shit done, you take care of yourself, which leaves room to love others better.
THE “SHOULD” PILE: On being single… (I know) I should approach more attractive women that fall into the bucket of women I’d put into the “Most Amazing Friends of the Year Award,” in real every day life. I have a few of these types of friends that are female, but the ones I do have changed my life for the better. Mostly because they challenge me. Communicate with me. Care for me, regardless of what dimwit single man choices circled into my mind like a wave of rabid vultures that night.
I should find them, or have them find me.
But fuck, the cliche, “Love happens when you aren’t looking,” seems to be true in my case. In my past relationships, I found myself saying, “She should have told me more things, what she needed, what I was doing wrong…
“She should have communicated to me better.”
I say these things, and yet, it was me that didn’t ask often enough either. It was me that didn’t work to create that space for safe, trusted communication. My “shoulds” ran out.
I should have exchanged my emotional currency with her before we went bankrupt.
THE “SHOULD NOT” PILE: I should not daydream about lusting after these soulmate-types in my head, the ones that I haven’t or will never meet. It’s a distraction to live in your head, like a Bumble Twitter feed of what if’s — what if I meet someone like her?
I know my high school girlfriends, my college girlfriends, my early 20–30’s girlfriends always started in attraction or lust. A natural encounter happened, yet not meeting them creates some type of holding pattern inside me where I am not good enough to be precisely what I am — a flawed man.
I should not stop exploring myself. My dreams. My wants. My desires. But I should not value rejection or letting another attractive woman pass me by in the dog park without trying to say hello (or ask her out for coffee).
That is real life progress, seeing opportunity and having the courage and self-respect to go for it.
In respect to Shakespeare’s, “To thine own self be true,” am I sticking to these principles (like Polonius) of who I am creating in spite of wanting love and partnership?
I should not go towards comforts, nor travel towards safety, unless she is safety.
Am I the proverbial iconoclastic man without boundaries destroying my opportunities to learn from the most wonderful of souled women?
My past relationships started with “I should” attraction:
I wanted to see them.
I wanted to touch them.
Tell them how much I loved them.
But over time, this disintegrated, and we were left with what worked (or didn’t work).
Did I work at it?
Did she work at it?
We should work at love (both loving oneself and the other) if it means something real to you. The term “work” for me is probably defined as what both partners need to feel loved (a combination of a loose understanding of The Five Love Languages and John Gottman’s term for predicting healthy marriages which are called “positive bids”) yet still respect their own purpose and legacy or whatever the fuck they want to achieve while their limited number of breaths remain.
Sometimes, the resentment, fears, and distrust happen before the work can start in a relationship, so then what?
Many of the women I know that are moving on from their men seem to know when it’s over.
And the men are entirely lost when the breakup news gets dropped.
Like how did this happen?
These men ask: can we not make it work if I’m willing to work now?
The “shoulds” were piling up, my man.
If you are the guy that wants to go from the 12th man on the bench to First Team All-State in a day…
Let it go, bro.
I was that guy once.
The “shoulds” got me too.
I should have done more for her. Texted her more. Talked to her more. I know she loved when I came into bed at night and sat there talking with her. Those goddamn John Gottman bids are right!
I knew her love language subconsciously but didn’t show up when she needed me the most.
But I wasn’t loving myself enough to put in the work with her, to see the benefit of those actions as healthy for both of us.
I was lost, trying to make money.
I was injured, trying to save my career.
I was still hurt, trying to get attention for the pain-body from a kid that never understood his dad.
Self-love comes down to taking care of yourself first, following through with what you need to be happy, healthy, and then that energy spreads to who you love second.
And men typically have a harder time understanding their emotions and feelings more than women. Men are told to get up and brush off the pain since the day they hit recess. Discard their feelings. Sweep their anger and self-hatred and lack of love under their own rug and sit on it. When you grow up without self-love, when even one of your parents doesn’t treat you with respect, support, trust, or unconditional love, you try to find it in other ways.
This was me, I realize now — at 39.
Control the controllable: Be First Team All-You.
Striving to be First Team All-You, means you’ll show up (for yourself first) and do the work, especially when it matters most.
When you can count on yourself, others can count on you.
Read Gottman’s book on love and relationships.
Get to the gym and do the cardio.
Connect with your tribe.
Eat better (no, like actually cook healthy food for yourself).
Yet, why do women give up on men with good hearts?
Maybe women don’t trust themselves yet or maybe it comes down to something as simple as saying:
Good evening, beautiful.