Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Dating Advice

I was watching a stream when one of the people in chat asked the streamer what to do in a romantic situation. The asker liked a girl but had done something to put her off. I didn't see the details because I don't real chat.

The streamer started answering that the best approach was to find ways to spend more time with her. Like walking home alone the same path she does. It doesn't matter if you actually live in that direction if she doesn't know where you live, the streamer explained. If she doesn't want to walk with you that's fine because it's not illegal to walk down the street. If she started running, you can run alongside her, because it's not illegal to run.

The streamer was joking. I was glad they clarified that because there wasn't really a way to be sure.

I can't rule out the possibility that the asker wasn't asking because they had a real problem but because they thought it would be funny, so maybe everyone got what they wanted. But it wasn't the first time that I've seen people in a chat for a Twitch stream treat the streamer like a kind of father figure who can provide advice about life. It feels odd to me. I don't think I have any reason to believe someone who streams videogames is going to also do well in a Dear Prudence type role.

But whatever the reason it got me thinking about what advice I have for the young people who see me as a source of wisdom. To be clear, there are none of those, but because of that, I want to offer the following.

If you are a
boy and you like a girl
and she doesn't notice you or doesn't seem to like you or just doesn't like you the way you like her, use that as an opportunity to learn that you are capable of tolerating your emotions.

First, realize that the feelings that are tormenting you are your feelings and they aren't something she is doing to you. There is nothing she can do to help you feel your feelings. Even if it turns out she's crazy about you, you are still going to have feelings. Sure, you'll recontextualize them as wonderful instead of agonizing, but you still need to deal with them.

Second, remember that feelings tend to get more intense when you try to deny them or avoid them but get less intense when you accept them. That doesn't mean you should profess your undying love so as not to "deny" you feelings. Professing your feelings to someone else is asking that person for help in dealing with your feelings, not dealing with them yourself. I'll borrow from Jalaluddin Rumi's "The Guest House" and say that we ought to treat emotions as welcome guests in our mind and invite them in to entertain them. That's not an easy thing to do, which is precisely why it's a good idea to get some practice in with your highschool crush.

Third, I said that telling someone else about your feelings was asking for help. I didn't mean not to do it. In fact, you should ask for help, but ask an appropriate person for help. It is pretty obvious that going up to someone you are infatuated with and saying, "I don't know how to handle my powerful emotions about you, perhaps you'd help me even though you don't really know me?" is not a strategy for a successful relationship. But going to a friend and talking about the anguish you are experiencing might help. If you don't have friends who you think you could talk to, that's actually a bigger problem than the infatuation situation, and you should probably seek some emotional support in the form of counselling. If you are a teenager or in university/college you undoubtedly have free resources available to help you.

Do not grow up to be a man who thinks that every time he is tormented by a powerful feeling there must be
someone else
to blame. That's way more important than getting someone to reciprocate your infatuation.

Also, if you want to get laid, start a band.

1 comment:

  1. I sometimes get questions for 'fatherly' advice and my gut reaction has always been that the asker is trying to prank me in some way. Why would anyone ask me for advice, especially romantic advice, when I clearly have no handle on how to be an adult?

    In retrospect I don't think any of them were pranking me. But I don't understand it regardless.

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