As an award winning therapist… I threw the ‘award winning’ part because I want to sound professional… and it’s nice to have something to brag about for a change. But as an award winning therapist with a problem with being humble and as a former youth pastor of eight years… no award there… a few emotional scars because that’s what happens when you work for a church, but no awards… unless you count my mom giving me the award for being her favourite youth pastor, which I don’t think is a real award… but two of the most common questions in some form or another I have been asked are: Why am I single? And how do I prevent becoming single? (aka why is my wife, husband, boyfriend, or girlfriend so angry, distant, cheating and/or leaving me?)
The answer to both of these questions can ultimately be reduced to a simple scale with three main categories:
Cold (-10)————Attractive (0)————Desperate (10)
I’ve added -10, 0 and 10 because everyone lands somewhere on this spectrum with some people being colder (-6 to -10) and others being more desperate (6 to 10). You could add a third offshoot that’s simply “unattractive” for people with bad hygiene and life habits, but if you’re in that zone there’s a whole other set of issues going on. If you are not within a couple points of the centre, you’re not going to have a healthy relationship if one at all. When people are single the typical advice is “If you stop looking you’ll find your special someone.” What this is meant to say is ‘don’t be desperate’ because desperation is a huge turn off. Attractive is being happy with yourself and enjoying life not “I can’t be happy unless I find my soul mate and/or have babies.” This statement of ‘stop looking’ is actually pretty terrible outside of that meaning. If you want to find someone you NEED to be searching or you’re in the cold section. You need to be checking out new groups, telling friends you’re looking in case they know someone, maybe going through old interests on Facebook to see if they’re single, and maybe online dating. You need to be doing stuff to meet new people. If you hide in your room shut off from the world you’re not going to meet anyone let alone your special someone. Of course, before looking for someone, make sure your life is worth being looked at by someone else. It’s like a resume for a job. You can’t get the job you want without having something to sell yourself as being the right candidate. When I was a teenager, I was terrible for being “desperate”. I’d make stupid attempts to get a girl to notice me when it’d only make me look dumb. I’d say and do these things that were soooo dumb because… well, I was a boy and boys do dumb things. After my five year relationship ended in my 20s, I used confidence (fake as it were at the time) and charm to meet my wife, which helped me look attractive. Charm is different than being “funny” because charm is sexy. Poo and sex jokes may get a laugh, but those typically land hard in that unattractive zone I mentioned earlier. It’s sexy like bad breath: (person you like) “We can be friends, but nothing I value will touch anything that you value.”
A couple who fights a lot or never speaks to each other is definitely not in the center, attractive, zone. If you are accused of not saying anything or sharing your emotions you’re in the cold zone. If you are accused of talking too much or yelling you’re in the desperate zone. In Dr. Gottman’s teaching, these two categories are essentially stonewalling and defensive behaviors. The attractive zone involves biting your tongue so you don’t retaliate or lash out making the fight worse. It’s keeping calm even if that means excusing yourself for a minute to unload some anger. On a few occasions I’ve had to leave and punch a bed in order to return calm because holding in anger is really bad for our health, and if we’re focused on not yelling back, we’re not focused on what the other person is trying to tell us. By unloading I can return ready to better handle the situation.
Being “attractive” can have slight variations depending on people’s preferences, but it’s safe to say an attractive person knows how to listen, share their ideas in a healthy way, encourage and let the other encourage him or her as well. It’s believing in yourself, laughing at appropriate times, and being okay with your weaknesses and emotions. It’s being open to trying things even if you look silly. Attractive is about enjoying life.
This week may you discover or rediscover what it means to be attractive in order to help find the right partner or to better develop your already established relationship.
Rev. Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people