A few nights ago I was hanging out with this guy I know and at one point he turns to me and tells me that I'm not like most other girls. "How so?" I ask. And he says that unlike many other women who have crossed his path, I seem to remain rational and unflappable in the face of drama. He goes on to say that many women, in his experience, when faced with a misunderstanding, fail to let it simply be a misunderstanding that can be solved with some simple communication, and instead allow it to escalate into a freak-out, argument, or other form of drama (public or private) that he feels is ultimately unnecessary, potentially destructive, and -- perhaps most significantly -- unattractive.
I started thinking then about how much money women pour into various industries every year in the pursuit of being attractive. Plastic surgery, gym memberships, apparel, cosmetics, skincare, spa treatments, hair salons, diets, laser hair removal, personal trainers, manicures, pedicures, cellulite zapping, fake tans -- the list could be infinite. And if you know my writing and philosophy at all, you know that I am a huge advocate of using external means to craft one's appearance into whatever icon or personal brand one wants to embody, for one's own pleasure and because we may as well spend our time on earth looking the way we want to look. But how ironic is it that the same woman who will gladly get a $10,000 boob job often won't take the time to sit down, chill out, and make a solid analysis of whether her actions and emotions, in a guy's perspective, are making her new bust size completely irrelevant?
Case in point: Don't be crazy.
Crazy, for the purposes of this blog entry, I'm defining as the following: overreactive, unnecessarily emotional, counterproductively angry, high-strung, easily pissed off, annoyingly dramatic, overly sensitive, and even slightly lesser crimes such as easily offended, passive aggressive, unapproachable, and bitchy -- i.e., frequently exhibiting behaviors that are typically found by guys to be turn-offs and even dealbreakers.
You'd be surprised how far NOT being crazy can take you, especially in cases where physical attractiveness serves merely as an initial qualifier. Think about it: high-valued men, the kind we typically set out to pursue, are surrounded by attractive women who desire them all the time. Being physically attractive will get you in the running, but by itself it won't score you the prize. Guys who can have just about any girl aren't going to put up with crazy for very long. It's just not worth the emotional distress. We sometimes think that if we're hot enough or good enough in bed, we can get a guy to put up with almost anything, but would you really want to be with a guy who's that beta? Furthermore, would you want a guy to be with you only because of your looks or sexual skills? That Buckcherry song ("You, you're a crazy bitch, but you fuck so good I'm on top of it") is a great song and I love dancing to it, but I would be mortified if any guy ever actually said that about me.
It's funny how easy it seems at this point in my life not to exhibit those kinds of destructive behaviors, things like embarrassingly public fights, incessant phone calls, taking everything personally, not allowing any room for error -- it certainly seems easier to NOT engage in any of that than it seems to, oh, say, go to the gym for two hours three times each week! But it's difficult when you're in an emotional hot zone to remember to cool it down. Just know that I speak from experience. I used to exhibit many, many typical crazy girl behaviors, especially circa four or five years ago. I got into a lot of very public fights with my then-boyfriend because I was unable to control my emotional state well enough to save addressing the issue for a more appropriate time. An ex used to say that one of my greatest weaknesses was my utter and absolute need to say whatever I felt I needed to say at the time with complete disregard to whether it was the time or place for it. When a rage hit me, I couldn't keep it down. So believe me, I know how difficult refraining from craziness can be.
But somewhere along the line, something clicked for me and I realized that displaying these behaviors was actually keeping me from getting what I wanted out of any given situation. It probably started to sink in when I got my neuro-linguistic programming certification, since so much of the education was focused on developing, testing, and executing effective strategies to achieve your goals. What an epiphany it was to suddenly realize that yelling at my boyfriend within earshot of all our friends wasn't actually going to help whatever cause I was championing.
It is a very human thing to allow our emotional states to dictate our behavior. I lamented to my business partner recently that I was ashamed of a situation in which I had let my emotions guide my actions instead of sitting down to clear my head and come up with a strategy that would actually give me a chance of achieving my goals, that I felt that I'd failed. He responded, "That doesn't make you a failure, Arden. That makes you human. People out there are letting their emotions rule them 90% of the time. Be grateful that you're the opposite, that you fall prey to that about 10% of the time instead."
In a way I count myself lucky that I went through a crazy period, because if crazy ever does rear its ugly head in me these days, I generally know how to recognize it and handle it. So here are some tips on how to make yourself more attractive by not being crazy, and which won't cost nearly as much time, effort, and money as all the workouts, hairdressing, and makeup you do every day:
First, realize that crazy, in our brains, sometimes falsely manifests itself as "right." We don't feel that our actions are unreasonable because we believe we are "right" about the situation. This is often a terrible trap, however, because everyone else believes they're "right" too. The trouble is that not a single human being on the face of the earth is able to see an objective reality; we all view everything through our own unique filters and ultimately the bulk of our experience and memories is only a step up from an opinion. So you and your man both have an equal chance of being right, and since there's no judge around to declare one of you the winner, you might as well give up on the whole notion. Realize that when you're yelling at someone because you think you're right, you don't actually look right, you usually just look crazy.
Second, always give your man the benefit of the doubt, especially early on. If all else seems well and then something goes wrong, chances are strong that he wasn't actually intending to piss you off. Often a simple, calm explanation of why something rubbed you the wrong way will resolve the problem. Most guys don't actually want you to be angry, so if you present them with a reasonable request to do something differently, often they'll comply and you'll have the whole issue over with in under five minutes.
Next, if something happens that makes you incredibly and suddenly angry, wait it out just a bit before you act on it. Because I went through times when I experienced irrational rage that I later regretted, I now instinctively distrust my anger at first. Generally if I'm feeling angry, I sit on it for about 24 hours and then decide if it was real or only fleeting. Half the time, after a day's time most situations can either be dismissed as silly, not worth the fight, or resolved with a simple, "Hey just FYI what happened yesterday kinda pissed me off, but I'm over it now." And even if it can't, at least I feel more certain that my anger is justified and can deal with the situation accordingly.
Furthermore, recognize when your emotions are out of control and learn how to deal with them. For me, this often means isolating myself when I know I'm too upset to be around people. I've had close friends call me and invite me out saying that it will cheer me up, and I'll have to explain to them that being around people when I'm in that state will only damage my personal relationships -- basically, if I feel I'm not capable of having a normal, cheerful conversation without exerting an enormous amount of effort, I stay in. Generally speaking, most of our acquaintances are not that empathetic in social situations, and your poor emotional state will translate as bitchiness, a dislike for them, or some other thing that they'll take personally. Better to stay in and cry all you need to alone than go out in a futile attempt to get cheered up that only results in everyone saying, "Geez, what's HER problem?"
Know also who you can trust enough to be around when you're in a state in which you can't control your emotions. I have two close friends who have seen me at my best and worst (just as I've seen them at their best and worst), and when shit hits the fan for me, I know that I can cry and panic and be dramatic and that they'll be there for me and help me through it, just as I've been there for them when they needed me. If you've put enough relationship equity into a friendship, you can do this without any serious damage, especially if you do it responsibly (i.e., in private and at a time when they're able to help you). Know the people in your life who you can be around when this happens. Maybe it's a family member, a close friend, or maybe it's even your man if you've been together a long time, but it's never going to be a new guy you're dating or someone you're seeing casually. And in my experience, even if you are dealing with a longterm relationship, your drama is always messier because of your involvement. If I have a fit of emotional turbulence these days, strangely enough, my ex deals with it far better as my friend than he ever did as my lover. Just play it safe and keep your guy out of it if you can.
And finally, simply resist the urge to make any fight immediate and/or public. Any couple is going to fight during the course of a relationship, and trying to avoid a fight entirely is useless. I am definitely not suggesting that you suck up any and all of some guy's jerky behavior in the name of being chill (and trust me, I've been there too, and it doesn't work out so hot). Just know when it's appropriate to address the issue. For me, I've found that putting off the fight generally makes the outcome far more favorable to me. Forcing a guy to confront an unpleasant issue in the immediate is only going to make him shrink away from it and tune you out, because human beings are inherently contrary. If, on the other hand, your guy asks you what's wrong and you reply, "We'll talk about it later," you're going to have his undivided attention. The most apologetic, conciliatory state I ever got out of a guy came when he texted me trying to work something out and I replied, "I'm sorry, I'm still too angry to discuss this yet." Also effective, when I lived with a boyfriend, was stating why I was angry, then leaving the house for the evening and refusing to answer my phone. None of these were exactly pleasant experiences, but they sure beat the times that I yelled at a guy, expecting an apology, only to find him yelling right back and eventually shutting me out... and then being called crazy.
So don't get called crazy. Most guys --at least those with self-respect -- will run away at the first signs of crazy, and will warn all their friends about it too. Trust me, as difficult as it may seem at first, being told one night "You're a pretty chill girl" makes it totally worth it to tell those irrational emotions to cool down and take a backseat to your end goals.