Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions Everyone with a Vagina Should Make

Ah, the obligatory resolutions post. Generally, I don't do public declarations of behaviors I will abandon the third time the Devil tempts me. However, I DO support making New Year's resolutions as a practice--it's one of those rare annual traditions which seems logical to adopt, particularly as a unified society. (Also, it's seasonal and these blog posts are chronological, so the subject was an easy out. I've got writer's block. Sue me.)

But expanding in a blog post on my own New Year's need to eat more leafy greens and stop dropping the word "motherfucker" during business meetings seemed ridiculous. So instead I interviewed a group of 20 men and 15 women, gay and straight, single or dating, ranging in age from 22 to 56, about what resolutions would make 2010 a better year for all of us. While there were a lot of overlapping answers, as well as some additional highlights which I'll post in the future, five in particular stood out as changes which could immediately improve the daily functionings of my fellow womenfolk and the men we love (or used to love) if we all made them simultaneously. In no particular order:


1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. No, seriously: know what you want. Sit down and think about it. Grab a beverage, it might take a while.

Do you want to make babies? Climb the career ladder? Date by the book with intent to marry? Blow blindly like seeds until rooting wherever the soil looks nice? 

Do your fantasies include a stable partner with a square jaw, a brooding artist who'll keep you infuriatingly titillated or a German Shepherd trained to keep all humans 100 yards away from your bunker? Would you rather settle down or whore around Babylon? (NOTE: I'm not knocking whoring in Babylon. In fact, if you haven't already, might I recommend taking your next conquest to the hanging gardens? They're exquisite.) There is no wrong answer.

The reason I ask is because the most emotionally raw people I interviewed all mentioned they'd been hurt by A) pursuing lives which didn't make them happy, or B) being misled by someone who said they wanted one thing but really wanted the complete opposite. Take it away, Cool Hand Luke: "WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE."

No more fooling ourselves, and no more testing out lifestyles on other people. Harm is done to innocent bystanders as much as the person in the mirror when we're misrepresenting ourselves, and most of us aren't pathological liars--we're just self-ignorant. So it stands to reason even a single dose of KNOW THYSELF could make a difference in 2010.

Yes, desire is a fickle and many of us don't know what we want. But you can't revise a plan that hasn't been drafted.

2. GROW (A LIFE) ORGANICALLY. This could be read as a partial contradiction to #1, but it's meant more as an addendum.

Knowing what we want is a double-edged sword. "Knowing" can lead to desiring; desiring can lead to impatience; impatience can lead to going bat-shit-estrogen-insane and demanding a new lover immediately label the relationship at 3AM in the morning, post-coitus, because we really need to know "what this is" RIGHT NOW. See? Scary.

Point is, knowing what we want and cultivating what we want are two totally different things, and the latter frequently relies on a nightmare variable: patience. The number of relationships I've seen die early deaths because one of the parties involved was trying to hydroponically rapid-grow a union like Silver Haze buds before a Phish reunion concert (and not letting nature wisely run its course) is unsettling.  

Remember: Engaging in control freakiness doesn't mean you'll actually control freakiness (it just makes you a freak). Let's all take a deep breath and try, just this once, seeing what happens when we're not trying to drag a happy ending into the picture by its hair. And don't worry. If this tactic fails, we'll go back to clubbing potential mates and pulling them back to the lair, caveman-style, in 2011.

3. REJECT ANYONE WHO WILL NOT GIVE AS MUCH AS YOU DO. This applies to friends, roommates, colleagues, anyone...but particularly those welcomed into hearts and beds.

Chronic non-reciprocators are an epidemic. I know it's a cliche, but women are wired for nurturing and empathy (and justifying others' bad behavior so we can nurture and empathize with their poor, tortured souls), so we do end up sucking the fuzzy end of the non-reciprocating lollicock more (and for longer stretches) than, say, most men.

With that point made, I have to admit watching plenty of otherwise admirable femmes taking and taking and taking lately...girls, this is unacceptable. It doesn't matter how pretty (or witty) you are. "Gimme gimme" behavior is the sort of shit that propagates the myth of women as merciless succubi.  Please knock it the fuck off, you're screwing up all the good mates and making life difficult for the rest of us.

And for those of us giving 100% while the people in our lives give just enough to keep us from killing them in their sleep? Time to cut the deadweights loose.  

Yes, it's hard parting ways without winning the validation a non-reciprocator's disinterest makes us crave (and stick around trying to get), but having a circle filled entirely with people who match our enthusiasm is worth the awkward housecleaning.

4. DISCONTINUE "DEATH BY SILENCE." We've all been Death by Silenced at least once; if you haven't been, you're probably a Silencer. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about at all, please send me a postcard from Narnia, I've heard it's lovely there around Christmas.)

For those Narnians unfamiliar with the scenario: You've been dating, or psuedo-dating, or intimately trekking through relationship purgatory, or enthusiastically sending flirty text messages. Maybe you've even crossed over into love-making and discussing the familial benefits of birthing two children instead of three. Regardless of the exact situation, it's blush-inducing bliss. Then, momentously...nothing. Tumbleweeds on a deserted plain. The phone goes silent. The text messages and Facebook "like" thumbs disappear. Your shared late night conversations evaporate into awkward, anxiety-ridden monologues...delivered by you to your lover's voicemail.

The person you've been entwined with literally up and fades away, as if you've hallucinated the whole thing, and you're left with so little closure you can't help but wonder if you did hallucinate the whole thing.

In many ways, Death by Silence is the single most callous and disgusting thing one person can do to another because of how efficiently it invalidates anything you shared as a pair. I understand from both sides that this isn't always intentional. On paper, exiting without a word can seem less cruel than saying, "You lay there like a piece of raw veal cutlet during sex and I just can't take it anymore." But it's not.  It's heinous. It's cowardly. It puts the person you've been dallying with in a state of stress and worry and self-loathing and loss so awful that all other end-of-relationship alternatives seem like a vacation by comparison.

A favorite of the aforementioned Non-Reciprocators, Death by Silence is its own epidemic. It's gotten to the point where all of us, at one point or another, have been spiraled into a neurotic panic if one of our flirty texts to a new partner goes unanswered for more than 12 hours. "He/she always texts me back. Did I say something wrong? OH GOD, I'M NEVER GOING TO HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN!" This is hardly healthy behavior. So, for the sake of our idealism, sanity and the future of unjaded human interaction, I'm proposing we all remove this one from our list of behavioral options and STOP DOING IT.

I venture that the effort invested in ending a relationship should match--and, in some cases, exceed--the effort invested in starting it. Karmically, this is just good practice...and you'll likely agree with me if you're ever silenced against your will.

We'll all be (marginally) less neurotic if Death by Silence dies.

5. STOP READING WOMENS' MAGAZINES. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. So ask yourself this: whatthefuck does reading a book with an airbrushed photo of Leighton Meester on the friggin' cover say about you??

Want to feel like you're too fat, too short, too blemished, inept with make-up, don't own enough stuff, are painfully unstylish, don't have enough hot shoes, live in an embarrassingly ugly home or need to max out your life savings for a beautiful but shallow wedding? Would you like to absorb dangerous blanket statements delivered by an "expert" who may have gotten their degree via the internet, or read incomplete summarizations of actual medical studies? Pick up a chick mag! They're glossy.

A wise man recently told me he dies inside when watching beautiful young women reading Cosmo or Elle, because he knows they're being fed plates of sterilized bullshit. I think he's right. Womens' mags are the Soilent Green of the publishing industry, processed from the grey, decaying bodies of other insecure women. Want to learn about real women? Talk to them. Want dress better? Talk to a gay. Want to learn about yourself? See #1...or hire a shrink. You'll also save a ton of money.

Thus ends the vagina-oriented installment of this seasonally appropriate blog post.

And don't think the men-folk got off easy. They're next.

[** NOTE: Before closing, let me squeak out a "thanks" to the witty, compassionate people who showed support following my sulking Sartre-dry-hump post. Your words were downright comforting, like a sweet, vanilla-scented grandmother smearing Vick's Vapor Rub under my clogged nose.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but after those  heartfelt emails and encouraging messages (cue saccharine Capra-esque music swell), I've resolved to keep writing here. I'm still finding my footing (and figuring how much real life can currently be documented on this newfangled interweb without people getting hurt), so cut me a hot slice of slack if the next few posts, uh, blow. But I am soldiering on, and thank you]

Happy New Year.


Wynn said...

To this post, all I have to say is:

Word. And also, tru dat.

Natalie said...

Don't read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly.

Paul DeBenedetto said...


Well, that depends. If I've only been seeing a girl for like a month I don't feel bad in not answering texts or calls. It happens to me, too. I just think saying "WE SHOULDN'T SEE EACH OTHER ANYMORE" is too dramatic. We weren't friends before, we don't have to be friends now, there's no use chatting about it.

As far as freaking out over not getting a text back-- I think that has less to do with "Death by Silence" and more to do with people's own insecurities. I mean I acted like that in High School, and I think those were pre-text and thus pre-DBS days. I think once you start freaking out over if you get texted back fast enough you've gone past the edge of rational, adult relationships and should reevaluate your own feelings (I do this all the time, so I definitely include myself in this criticism.)

But I think that overall people are too sappy in New York. Maybe it's because of all the out-of-towners. Like, maybe in Portland once you go on your first date you're already steadies (already).

Hannah Miet said...

Amen, amen, amen.

I fucking love your vagina.

I mean...

bradlanders said...

Yes--I am a dude and am responding to the vaginal blog post. BUT I felt it necesary to comment. I agree with nearly every point, Polly, except maybe the one about how the end of a relationship should have as much effort as the beginning. Will there not be, inevitably, more effort at the end of a relationship? I mean, theoretically, yes--it's a nice though. But, realistically, at the end of a relationship we learn that human nature ceases dealing in logic and rainbows but rather, rears it's ugly, cowardly head and begins to deal in "Im tired/busy". Because he or she is "over" it--telling the other person seems far more of an effort than the sexting at the relationship's incarnation. While I agree that people should balance the scales at the end of a relationship--how realistic is it?

Abi Grace said...

Love it. So much it's getting a link on my facebook page.

Hipstercrite said...

You list is inspiring and almost makes me want to rid of everything in my life. When I first read "grow organically", i thought you meant food. So I'm going to rid of everything in my life, move out to the country, and grow organic food.

kat said...

This post is a big chunk of brilliance.

Came over via Hannah (hello up there) and just lost an hour of supposed-to-be-writing time in your archives. Amazing blog. I am going to get nothing done today.

JerseySjov said...

i love when i hear about other people putting vicks under their nose instead of rubbing it all over their chest like the directions say.

in other news, great blog! i think these are rules that most everyone can get behind :)

Martin said...

Holy hell, this was amazing. I actually fist pumped twice while reading this (seriously). If women will do these 5 things, life will be better for all on earth.

Taylor said...

I like this. a lot. actually. After reading this i feel as a girl i have a high self worth.