Men & Women: In the Spotlight

When I’m alone, I enjoy serene silence, but as soon as one person enters the room (and it only takes one), the idea of keeping my mouth shut becomes a distant thought. I’m not sure what drives my urge to engage with people, but unless I’m sick or upset, I absolutely love conversing. I want to tell my story, I want to hear their story, I want to compare the two, analyze how and why they differ, debate about opinions, determine how their view of the world came into perspective and what shaped it.

One of the topics that’s hard to steer away from is relationship dynamics. Every one is slightly different, but there’s definitely some intrinsic patterns that occur.

Considering that my previous post – Turning 30: 30 ACTUAL Things Every Women Should Have and Should Know – upset a small number of people because they thought I was being close-minded by targeting an audience of straight females, I want to provide an opening statement in this one.

Let me come out and say it straight (ahh ha): I am a straight female; therefore, this post, which outlines some of my thoughts in the past few days, is going to lend towards observations from the perspective of a straight female. This doesn’t make me close-minded. It makes me self-aware. Stage Two would be contemplating things from the outside perspective. I’ll do that soon enough. If you find this offensive, stop reading it. If you can’t stop reading it, either seek therapy for your compulsive habits of masochism or consider I’m not such a bad beast after all.

Going back to my jabbering urge (which I think is fairly proven by the fact that I have a blog), I am also – wait for it – a fairly stereotypical Type A Personality and Gemini.

Type A Personality Quick Read
“Competitive, ambitious, impatient, aggressive, fast talking.”

Gemini Quick Read
“They are widely known for their dual personalities and ability to change mood from moment to moment. Although they hate to be tied down, they make lively, entertaining and romantic partners, even if they can be rather fickle if bored or unhappy.”

Go figure.

One trait that’s common in both forms is that, well, quite frankly, I’m a loud, in your face, attention whore. I’ve been once since the earliest days of dress up and musical theatre all the way through my professional days as a salesperson.

So, as one who loves the spotlight, what sorts of people am I attracted to? I ask this instead of – what sorts of people compliment my personality because in reality, your choices in counterparts aren’t always the complimentary choice.

I narrowed down everyone into three categories of people:

1. Those who watch as an awe-inspired audience member providing support
2. Those who integrate themselves into my act like Ricky & Lucy, Abbott & Costello…
3. Those who compete for the spotlight

I’ve had relationships with all three and like anything, there were good and bad aspects to all of them.

The people who watched from the sidelines always made me feel really good about myself, but simultaneously bored me. The people who integrated themselves into my act gave me an exhilarating high, but despite the balance onstage, we never worked offstage – the performing continued even when the audience left and we ultimately failed to connect on a deeper level. Finally, the people who competed for the same level of attention motivated me to learn how to adapt to someone else’s behavior and put my tongue on hold, but at the core of me, my competitive spirit wanted to squash them into oblivion.

Obviously #3 is likely the most extreme in both positive and negative ways. While those people taught me how to be more patient and more sharing, my core desire to crush the competition produced subconscious urges to sabotage our relationship. This causes, as one could imagine, quite a bit of drama.

Unfortunately, #2, while on the surface seems like the most fruitful option, didn’t turn out so great either. I can still remember dozens of incidences where everyone thought we were having the time of our lives, but when the audience disappeared – we sat in silence, miserable with ourselves and the other person. Straining to find conversation and ultimately realizing that we were merely performers acting as two people in love, not two real-life people in love.

I have no idea which one is considered to be the “best”, but I believe that I and my more quiet partners have grown the most in the positive direction from our relationships together. It’s hard to make a loud person quiet and what I love about the people who simply love me as I am and provide support for my outrageous need for attention is that they do exactly that – love me and support me. There’s no strings attached. The problem that I need to address is boredom. When I dissect why I’m bored with their lack of energy, I realize that I’m not actually bored with them. I’m simply not as accepting as they are for someone who isn’t like them. I see their quietness as a fault and in turn, deem them less than worthy.

This is wrong on so many levels – I know, I know. But the first step in changing any habit is recognition of it. So, having recognized it, on to Stage One, Phase Two: Being Open Minded. I figured this would give the lesbians who read my Turning 30 post and deemed me close minded something to cheer about. I’m listening, kiddos :)

I’m learning to view my entire world as a series of habits – everything from exercise to diet to relationships to work. I’m sure you’ve all heard that people are creatures of habit and I find this to be true. To learn more about what this means, I started reading a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s very interesting and if you have similar thoughts about how to understand yourself and improve your life, take a look.