Bad Behavior

Recently a friend shared with me how her boyfriend of nearly 8 months ditched her for a period time on their last date without saying anything to her.  It seems they were out with a crowd of people and he simply disappeared for a while with another one of the guys from the group.  My friend was not really left alone.  She was with other people she knew, but she was in a different city about 30 minutes away from her place  and dependent upon her boyfriend for a ride home.  He was not even in the same location with her for over an hour of the time they were out on their date.  When they met back up again, my friend, smart cookie that she is, ended the date and insisted that her boyfriend take her home.  He was surprised that she had had enough for the evening and was calling it a night a good two hours before the time they originally planned the date would end.

Surprised?   He was surprised that she was not going to put up with his bad behavior as if what he’d done was perfectly acceptable.

Another friend, recently met a man and went out with him for a first date.  He showed up dressed in an old tee shirt and a baseball cap. While on the date,  this man did not offer to buy her drinks but allowed her to buy his and did not say thank-you.  She never went out with him again.

Surprised?  Are you surprised that she was not going to put up with his bad behavior?

A third friend went out with a man who was attractive, intelligent, and paid without flinching for the drinks on their first meeting.  He went overboard to express his interest in her and to ask for a second date.  He told her he’d call her in two days.  He kept his word.  When he called he suggested they do something the next Saturday, she agreed.  He told her he’d call later that week to firm something up.  He called at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.  She saw the call ring in on her phone, recognized the number and let it go to voicemail.  She continued on with the plans she’d made for herself that evening after not having heard from him by midweek. What were those plans?  A home pedicure and a quiet evening in…alone.  When I spoke to her later about her thinking she said this, “I have better things to do that to waste time on someone who demonstrates such bad behavior.”   I asked her what she’d do if he called again?  She said, “He won’t, but if he does, it won’t matter.  He had his chance and he already blew it.” 

Surprised?  Was my friend playing games in the way she dealt with the man’s bad behavior?  Was she too harsh?

Bad behavior.  It happens.  Men behave badly toward women and women behave badly toward men.  It is not my intent here to point out or villify one sex over the other, but for the puposes of this article, I am speaking mostly of men and their bad behavior with women.  I do recognize however, that the relational road is a two way street and both sides get mistreated. 

We  put up with the bad behavior because we are so afraid of losing the relationship. This is something I have been guilty of more often than not in the past.  A guy says he’ll call, then doesn’t.  A guy calls at the last minute for a date that evening.  Worse, he pulls the typical 11:00 p.m. bootie call. (Now, that I’ve never put up with not even in my college days when it was normal for a date to start at 11:00!) A guy takes a woman out to a party then ignores her the entire evening.  A guy spends his time looking over every female that walks by while out on a date with you, his girlfriend, of a year.  A guy says he loves you and wants to get married, two years later a date is still not set and he is waffling.  The guy says he wants to move in.  The scheduled date for moving in comes and goes and he and all his things are still not in the same residence with you and yours.  Bad behavior.  We put up with it because the alternative in most cases is kicking the guy to the curb.  We don’t kick the guy to the curb because that means so many unpleasant things.

It could mean loss of the relationship.  If it does, then there go the dreams, the hopes the imaginary future you’d built in your head about all the possibilities you two could have had/done together.  It means you now do not get to check the “in a relationship” box on MySpace or Facebook.  If the relationship tubes, it means pain and loss and grief and anger.  It may mean some lonely nights in front of the t.v. with a box of Kleenex.  It could mean some self recrimination as you wonder, “Why on earth did I waste so much time hoping he cared about me the way I cared about him when it was so evident he did not?”  It could mean a complete change in living accommodations and lifestyle and standard of living.  It could mean so many things that are seemingly worse than just tolerating the bad behavior. 

But tolerating the bad behavior is damaging to us.  By tolerating bad behavior from anyone, we devalue ourselves and risk losing or crippling our confidence and our self-esteem.  No one needs to tolerate bad behavior on the part of a significant other.  We also don’t need to respond to the bad behavior with similarly bad behavior. 

Bad behavior happens.  So, what to do when it does? 

Well, to answer this question, one must first be very clear about what they want from relationship and what they will not tolerate.  Once one is clear about these things, the rest is fairly easy.  Simply do not tolerate the unacceptable behavior.  No need to get mad.  No need to get upset. No need to waste any time wondering if he’ll change or call or apologize.  Just don’t tolerate it. No explanation is needed. 

I hate to sound so callous, but seriously?  If he’s treating you that badly before you’re in a “committed relationship”, what will he treat you like after?  It generally doesn’t improve. Further, why waste any more time in relationship that is mediocre, unsatisfactory, disappointing or just not working?  Life is too short and there are plenty of decent men out there ready, willing and able to treat a woman they care about with dignity, respect and integrity.

So, how would I have done each of those scenarios if I were taking my “No Tolerance” approach? 

In the case of  the first friend whose boyfriend took off for an hour without saying anything to her, I wouldn’t have waited out the hour to find out that he was gone for over an hour.  I’d have either asked a friend to take me home or called a cab the minute I found out he was nowhere around.  I would not go out with him again.  If he called and offered some lame-ass excuse for his behavior (which is the only kind he could offer in such a circumstance) I would politely listen.  I would not offer an explanation for my behavior other than possibly to say, “There’s just not much about that entire episode that interested me that much.”  No need to discuss.  End of call.  I would screen any further calls.  No tears, no drama, no need.  I’m worth being treated better than that.  At minimum, I’m worth an explanation and the opportunity to say I want to go home if the plans have changed.  Further, I would not have done that to him. 

In the case of  my friend who’s date showed up for the first date dressed carelessly and who behaved carelessly, I would have ended the date within an hour.  Fortunately for her, they arrived in separate vehicles and she was free to leave when she wanted without having to depend upon him for a ride.  (I’m a big advocate of doing this if the date is a first date with someone you don’t know very well or if it is someone you are meeting from online.)  I would not go out with this person again and I would screen all calls as well. If it doesn’t matter to you how a man dresses or presents himself publicly and if you don’t mind being his bankroll then this behavior might not bother you.  It goes back to being very clear about what you want and what you don’t want.  The direction I am steering my life, has no room for someone who cannot move fluidly from a nice formal occasion to a tee-shirt and jeans and back again as needed depending upon the occasion.  Knowing this about myself, helps me eliminate the would be contenders for my affection that aren’t a good fit, no matter how nice they seem to be.  And, no, there’s not much about being someone else’s bankroll that interests me all that much. That’s what I do for my children, not for my lover.  I’m not opposed to bringing what I can to the financial table, but he needs to be willing to contribute too.

In the case of the third friend whose date didn’t call until the night of the date, I’d have done exactly what she did and I have on several occasions.   I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:  when a man is crazy about a woman, he doesn’t let her phone grow cold.  He doesn’t wait until the last minute to call.  He doesn’t give her his number and hope she’ll call him.  Again, I know what I want and what I will not tolerate.  I want a guy who is crazy about me and a guy who doesn’t call simply is not.  He’s not shy, he’s not busy, he’s not unable to call, he’s simply not interested.  That doesn’t work for me. 

It’s just bad behavior and I have already used up all my bad behavior moments in this life.  They’ve all been spent on past relationships, enduring very bad behavior when I should have been moving on and enjoying my life.  Instead, I allowed myself to experience a great deal of misery and pain which I could have avoided by recognizing the bad behavior from the start instead of overlooking, ignoring or excusing it. I only have time and energy left in my life to spend on giving the best of me (which is my time and energy) to those who are really truly going to appreciate it.

Faith, The Heart, and Futility

I’ve had recent comments on my post titled, “What Good Is a God?”
in which the idea of “faith” was brought up in the same discussion but as an opposite to atheism.  It reminded me of a very good post I read last August at Steph’s Blog, titled, “Atheism is a Faith Based Belief System“.  The author’s logic is flawless and her premise sound.  It’s an excellent read.  I encourage you to go there and read the post in it’s entirety.  Don’t stop there, read the comments as well as her very clear and logical rebuttals.  Atheism and faith based religions actually do have something in common, much to many an atheist’s chagrin. 

But that is not all I wanted to say about this post on Steph’s blog.  In her post she also quotes Pascal saying, “The heart has its reasons which reason does not know”.  It is this statement that has stuck with me in the months following my first reading of her blog back in August.

In the end, after all the arguing and haranguing about religions, gods, and the validity, intelligence and proof of the same is done, who has moved one step further from their position toward a different view?  I mean, maybe it happens, but I doubt it happens often enough to be considerable and certainly not often enough to make the discussions themselves worth the energy, effort and fury that often accompany them.  In the end, we all make our choices, for our own reasons.  Some of our reasons make sense to us and some of our reasons most definitely do not.  In these instances, “The heart has its reasons which reason does not know” and we can neither deny it or change it, if that is our conviction.  The arguments, while helpful in clarifying our perspectives, are mostly useless in changing them it seems.  

In the end, as much as my religious perspectives make sense to me…and as much as I believe I have valid reasons for believing what I do…the most honest statement I can make about why I believe what I believe is that ““The heart has its reasons which reason does not know”.  I cannot irrefutably prove any of it…and it would be futile to attempt such a foolish feat.  And, I’d be shot down in intellectual circles for even attempting it. I know this, and I am okay with it.  It doesn’t change what I believe about the existence or absence of a God.  I’ve worked through why I believe what I believe ad nauseum in my younger years. I revisit things periodically and so far, nothing’s changed for me in spite of the many arguments and perspectives I’ve heard and considered over the years.

And, what exactly is it that I believe, you may wonder.

Keep wondering…at least for a time. That is the topic of a future post.

Overgrown Playground Bullies

I was talking to a friend tonight.  The conversation was rambling along quite uneventfully and without warning the conversation took a very wrong turn.  In one simple, surprising, uncalled for, random statement, my friend made a comment that was both sexist and racist.  In one breath he insulted both men and women. My friend was arrogant and insensitive in the extreme. 

I found myself becoming angry.  I was irate.  Had we been in person instead communicating digitally I might have really been tempted to let fly some of my postal perspective upon his puny personage.  As it was, I was fairly direct when I told him what he just said was “arrogant and insensitive”.  Of course, then he thinks I’m taking his comment personally.  He then went further to say that he felt he spoke accurately and that it was his “football and he’s taking it in”.  My thought:  You’ll be taking it in alone for a very long time because who wants to be on that team? 

I quickly ended the conversation but I was still very agitated.  I’m not one to just lose it generally, but certain things, statements, attitudes can entice me to get up on the ole soapbox and tonight, I was baited and I climbed right up on that ole soapbox.  Well, not to him because I ended the conversation with him….but in my wild untamed mind….I was up there hammering away. 

Then I mentally stopped myself and asked, “Why am I giving this so much energy?” 

“Great question,” I responded to myself, and I pondered a bit further.  The fire in the fire pit in my backyard and the soothing waters of my spa definitely helped me take it down a notch. 

I pondered.  Was it that I did take it personally?  No, nothing he said, applied specifically to me nor did it touch on any of my own insecurities.  So what sent me right around the twist with this one?  It eluded me for a wee bit and then it hit me.  It was simply unkind.  It was mean and hurtful.  It was a broad brush statement made that classified all fat women as unattractive and all Mexican men as desperate.  It equated fat with ugly and it implied that fat and ugly women and Mexican men had no other alternatives in the romance department except to be linked to each other.  “After all,” he implied, “They can’t do any better.”  I believe his actual words may have been “that’s the best they’ll ever be able to do”.   Now, I am female, but I’m not fat,  I hope I’m not ugly, and I’m definitely not Mexican, so I know he wasn’t in any way directing this comment at me personally.  Even so, this one riled me. 

It angered me, because it is unkind and it is unfair.  It, as do all disrespectful statements like it, lumps people unfairly in the category of loser, inadequate, desperate, not human.  Not human.  That’s the worst part.  It dehumanized all the folks he was pointing the finger at. And, when we dehumanize others we can insult them, strip them of their right to life, happiness, freedom, choice, whatever, and treat them mercilessly and cruelly.  If we dehumanize them, we can even, if left to our own intolerant and insensitive devices, kill them and make it look like we were justified to do so.  “After all, they’ll never be able to have a better life” or “After all, they deserve it.”  It is the kind of statement that reflects an attitude or perspective that, quite frankly, leads to things like wars and holocausts.  Everything in my being reacts with horror to this kind of attitude. 

I ended my own little pondering feeling a bit better that I had worked through all that quite on my own, all the online therapists being otherwise occupied with other pre-postal candidates.  I realized, once again, that I hate bullies.   When given the option I will side with the underdog every time, just as I did tonight.  I also realized that, at best, my friend is insensitive and unkind.  At worst, he’s a big playground bully in an adult body. That becomes a dangerous thing when a bully like that obtains a position of power and influence.  People then become afraid to say no to the bully and instead they go along with the bully so that they don’t get targeted personally themselves.  So it is in world politics (or it can be) so it is on the playground.  So it is with this person I was talking to tonight.  I can no longer call him a friend. This is just not the kind of character, attitude and energy I want to be around.  I cannot consider anyone who thinks or behaves like this friendly.  There is just nothing friendly or fun about being around an overgrown playground bully.

Deplorable Behavior of “Theists”

Paul Sunstone over at his blog titled, “Cafe Philos”, has tacked a “Scarlett A” on his sight and declared that he is “pissed at the way atheists are treated in America”.  (See his full article titled, “Standing Up For Nontheists Like Nicole” here.) I agree with him in that the behavior he describes is deplorable.

I am what Paul would prbably describe as a theist.  Worse, yet, I could probably fall quite squarely in the middle of what most people refer to as “the religious right”, though I am neither religious nor right in my behavior or political perspectives.  I have done more than my full day pondering the metaphysics that Paul refers to in his article, and having grown up in an atheist/agnostic home, I have decided for myself that a theist approach is one I prefer. It was not mere rebellion to my parents way of doing things.  It was carefully researched and considered over a number of years and I do revisit the question regularly.  I have also done my share of really skanky things and poor choices.  However,  I am ashamed at the behavior of those “theists” Paul describes.   For those folks, who are out there, who profess a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and who are behaving toward anyone, not just theists, but anyone who doesn’t “profess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”, hateful behavior like this is deplorable and antithetical to the very purposes of Christ. 

I am once again ashamed and saddened by the reality that those who, at least theoretically, ought to have a clear grasp on the good qualities of love, forgiveness, tolerance, kindness, patience, peace, self-control and a whole host of other fine attributes espoused by most theists regardless of their religious leanings, simply do not.  We, and I claim guilt by association not by agreement, ought never to behave this way! 

If Jesus walked the earth today, He would never, ever have treated Nicole or anyone else with such vile hatred or contempt.  Of that, I am absolutely certain.