A Word for the Ladies

I’ve kind of gotten in the habit if writing something for Valentine’s Day but this year, with the one-post-a-week thing going and the way The Antisocial Network fell out, I wasn’t able to get the post in before the day itself. So what to write about? Especially with a post that will be going up the week after the day itself?

Well, I’ve never written about the traditional stuff so I decided to do something a little more “traditional” this year. So, this year a message for the ladies, with a few suggestions for relationships. This may seem a bit curious coming from a fellow who has never dated and probably never will, but I’ve seen a lot of relationships that failed and a few that worked and I have the advantage of a man’s point of view. Which, let’s face it, women don’t have (even though sometimes they think they do). Now this is not advice for finding a guy nor is it advice for telling if he’s a good match for you or not. This is advice for people who have gotten past these basic steps and are trying to keep a relationship working.

You see, most relationships I’ve seen don’t die out because he was Mister Wrong or because the partners weren’t well matched. They fail… well, for a lot of reasons. While each case has its individual quirks and bad decisions in it there are some broad themes I’ve seen in failed relationships and this year I thought I would share some of them with the womenfolk. Particularly because, while I’ve seen the failings of men addressed in ways I find accurate many places before, I’ve rarely if ever seen the failings of women addressed in ways that jive with what I’ve seen.

Most relationships I’ve seen fail long before they actually fall apart, not because women (or men) were doing something wrong but because they weren’t doing needful things. So what do I think you need to do to keep your relationship healthy?

  1. Learn how your partner communicates. A lot of people who are a lot smarter than me have written about the differences in the ways people communicate, especially the way people communicate affection. The biggest perk of reading about communication styles is your mind is opened to the possibilities. The problem is no one conforms very well to the models I’ve seen put forward. The better way to understanding them is to get to know your gentleman’s family. Friends can do as a substitute in a pinch but family has known him longer and (hopefully) better. Comparing notes with them is probably the fastest way to get to know your beau’s ways of communicating, whether in terms of affection or otherwise.
  2. Expect communication to change over time. One thing that I hear a lot of complaints about is that men stop pursuing women after the relationship has gone on for a while. Sometimes that’s true. But frequently what’s happened is that more general displays of affection have become more personal. Instead of bringing a rose, he cleans out your car. Instead of taking you to dinner he does your taxes. Men try and know the best ways to address specific needs. Sure, all women like roses and dinners but eventually he wants to do something for you specifically so the generic “romantic” ways men show their affection for women tend to get squeezed out over time. If you’re tuning in to the ways your partner communicates affection then hopefully you’ll catch on to these changes quickly. Of course, he needs to be in tune with your communication frequencies as well, so if you’re not feeling the affection it’s okay to talk to him about it. But there needs to be a balance between his style of affection and yours. Furthermore, if the ways you communicate with your partner aren’t changing over time then your relationship is probably in more trouble than otherwise.
  3. Pursue him. This may sound like a silly thing but you’d be amazed how many women I see not doing this. In today’s society it feels like the entire responsibility of showing desire is on men. Men show up with gifts, write notes and take women to dinner and the simple presence and good favor of women is all that they can expect in return. That’s unhealthy. Be invested in your partner. Dig into his goals and ambitions. Show up in his life at unexpected times. Show that you desire him, because that is almost always the thing men question most in a relationship. Again, how you do that is specific to who you’re together with. But if you get points 1 and 2 down this one should follow naturally.
  4. Work together. Don’t settle for just spending time together. Movies and dinners are all fine and good. But working in the yard, in volunteer positions, even in personal businesses is a great way to get to know your partner and build solid bonds. Many relationships can’t manage this kind of thing and may fall apart in the attempt. The intimacy you build is different from what you get from anything else and you don’t always like what you see when you work together with someone. But without that kind of insight your relationship is going to be very shallow and is much more likely to fall apart.

Doing these things is not a magic formula for keeping your relationship together. But they make you active and invested in your relationships and they’re the things I see women in successful relationships doing. They require a lot of effort, a lot of personal investment and it leaves you open to a lot of pain. But if you want the relationship to work then its what needs to happen. At least, that’s my advice for ladies this February. Enjoy!

Writing – A Love Letter

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you all will enjoy celebrating this august holiday with your paramour. If you live in the Fort Wayne area I highly recommend your celebrating by taking your significant other to see The Princess and The Goblin tonight. I will be performing in it, and thus not celebrating romance with the rest of you, for the Arts are a harsh mistress.

Yes, that’s definitely the reason.

Well. Partially.

But mostly, it’s the Arts. The Arts are what define a society. They call us on to greatness, they take our ideas and paint them in bold colors across a canvas that stretches across the hearts and minds of an entire society. The Arts, my friend, embody a romance that goes beyond sentiment and passes on into the very fabric of our thoughts and lives. They are not merely professions of beauty or adoration. No, they are, in a way, the foundations of that admiration.

Writing, it would seem, is the least of the Arts. It is so old, so ancient. Surely it is surpassed, in this day and age, by others. The Arts, after all, embody so much more than just words on a page. A picture is worth a thousand words. They say that Music hath charms to sooth the savage beast, and with radio and the Internet to help spread it Music has a reach and impact like never before. Theater, the Art that claims me tonight, can draw on Music and combine it with the nuance and power that comes with the dynamics of audience and performer to drive story and draw people in. Film looses the power of that bond but offers the opportunity to craft the perfect performance on the cutting room floor and duplicate it time and time again.

And yet I am drawn back to Writing. It captivates me, demanding my time and my energies as jealously as any romance.

The empty page is the greatest promise of all, full of untapped potential, crisp and fresh and pure. In time it will be marked and marred and scrubbed over, mistakes made and imperfectly erased, or simply crossed out. There is nothing  in the world like flipping back through the pages, running your fingers over the words and reading, over and over again, the thoughts that shape your life. The written word cannot suffer for being spoken poorly, cannot be forgotten by the mind of an actor.

And for all its simplicity, you will find that Writing is the Art that underpins all the others. There can be no Music without a score, no Theater without a script, no Film without a screenplay. Writing is at the center of all the other Arts. Its simplicity is its strength.

Writing endures. We have films dating back to the creation of the medium, music from a few hundred years ago, plays from the time of the Greeks. But the oldest written words may be twice as old as the oldest play, if not older, and have survived because they embody ideas that are essential to understanding the human condition. (Also because they’ve been written down.) Writing has gone from tablets of stone to the hides of animals, the pulp of trees to pixels on a screen and it will undoubtedly continue to transform itself as long as there are people with ideas they love.

So today, this is my Valentine. May Writing long endure.