Unhooked Generation – The Book

Originally published in my MySpace Blog, 2/10/2008.

Unhooked Generation by Jillian Straus

The woman that wrote the book was not a clinical psychologist; she was only a woman in her 30’s wondering why it seemed so much more difficult for people in our generation to find lasting love.  She traveled to different locations around the U.S. to interview random people that responded to her ads posted in free newspapers and Craigslist.  Some points really hit home for me.

1.  Do you make a list?  I know a man who has listed 42 qualities his future partner must have.  I even have a list myself, though it doesn’t go up to 42:  must pay his own bills and not try to steal my money; must bathe at least daily; must brush teeth 1+ times a day; must be nice to me.  Some standards are reasonable, I think, and some absolutely no one can live up to.  I don’t even think I can list 42 qualities about myself, so how do I know if I fit that manifest my friend created?  Oh, and once you have your grocery list made, then you can go shopping on eHarmony or Match or Plenty of Fish to make your selection.  Like a piece of meat.  What ends up happening is that we reject everything, which leads to….

2.  Why suffer?  If I don’t like something, or if it isn’t working for me, why not just cut it off and be done with it instead of beating myself up trying to make it work?  Relationships ARE work.  Or at least they require effort.  Expecting for things to just fall into place is unrealistic, and bailing is the easy way out.  I have absolutely been quick to jump ship but can honestly say that I’ve never regretted doing so.  I just don’t put up with any juvenile bullshit anymore.  Of course, the “why suffer” mentality is one of the main reasons that couples get divorced; think about it:  how many marriages do you know about that have lasted for less than a year?  I can think of 7 of my friends right at this moment.  Is it that they’re picking the wrong partners, or just giving up too easily?

3.   Fear of making the wrong choice:  let’s talk about the guy with the 42 requirements again.  He repeatedly says that he never wants to commit, because what if the next person that comes along is a better match for him?  He’ll never, ever be happy, I guarantee you that.

4.  Never allowing yourself to connect because you are afraid to fail at marriage.  Wow, this is a big one – I have always said that if I’m crazy enough to get married, it will be only once.  Half of the interviewees said they were afraid of failing by not living up to the seemingly seamless relationship their parents have, or failing by turning out just like their divorced parents.  I’m afraid of the second one myself.  No one goes into a relationship thinking that it’s going to fail, but it’s another thing to think that you’re not even going to allow someone to get close so there is no opportunity to fail.

5.  Losing our gender identities.  Yes, women’s lib was a blessing, I will bang the drum about that one all day long.  It’s what allows me to be a single woman in my 30’s [now 40’s] with a career and the ability to stand on my own.  But……..I could really use a mate who knows how to work on cars.  And by the way, can he also like going to art museums, and cry at mushy movies too?  But I don’t want him to open the freaking door for me, I have two arms and two legs and can manage on my own.  But can he still pay for dinner, because he’s the man?  I can say that I want a really strong, stoic man who can build a house but still tear up over “Love, Actually”, but how realistic is that?  It’s a bunch of mixed messages that lead to misunderstanding because one person gets pissed off that the other one didn’t pick up the check.  It is every man for himself, I tell ya – because there are no boundaries on the gender roles anymore.  Better brush up on your communication skills.

6.  Technology.  How easy is it to erase someone from your cell phone, and therefore your life?  How easy is it to send e-mails and instant messages, but never talk on the phone or see each other face to face?  We’re definitely disconnected and our spelling skills are becoming atrocious – because we are lazy.  And scared.

This is one of the few relationship/self-help books that I’ve read from cover to cover – usually I get bored pretty easily or can’t relate to what the message is.  This one is fascinating because I have so many single friends, just like me, wondering what in the hell is going on.  If you recognize any of these factors within yourself, this may be an interesting read for you too.
[Disclaimer: Since it’s now 10 years old, some references are going to be outdated, but the ideas are still relevant.]

 

Advertisements

Chelsea Handler Is My Soul Mate

I just finished watching season 1, episode 1 of the series “Chelsea Does” titled “Chelsea Does Marriage.”

Okay, there are a few ways in which we are not so similar. First, she’s a well-known star. Me, I’m lucky if my sister’s dogs remember me. Second, she can drink like a fish. I can’t because I have all of these crazy diseases (but just for the record, Chelsea, in my 20s and early 30s, I could have kept up swimmingly). Third, she’s not a fan of “fatties.” Since I’m stuck in bed, I’m the opposite of skinny, and I am severely limited on physical activity.

But here is how we are so similar: First, we share the same first name (and it’s spelled correctly). Second, we are very close in age; I’m actually 9 months older than her. Third, we both are very outspoken. Fourth, our father figures have told us and the men we have dated – if we like the men enough to bring them around, which rarely happens – that we are very strong women, and require a strong man.

Getting into the particulars, Chelsea and I feel the same way about the wedding dress, the wedding ceremony, and what comes before and after the big day – we just don’t get it. I never imagined a wedding day or what I would wear as a dress or even what it would be like to want to be hitched to someone for the rest of my life. I was lucky enough to be asked to be a part of the wedding party when two good friends got married, but it was very non-traditional. She wore a black dress, we went shopping for her black knee-high boots, and her wedding march music included “Flash’s Theme” by Queen. He wore a nice button-down shirt and even got a haircut for the big day. I think how my friends treated their special day was about the same level as I would want mine.

Chelsea and I have done a lot of dating and have had a lot of sex. In fact, I felt a little sorry for her because by my calculations of when the show was being taped, I was actually getting more ass than she was. That just goes to show that men have no standards – I mean, c’mon, I’m a bald woman who is confined to bed for about 22 of every 24 hours, and guys still wanna slip me the mickey.

But we’re kind of getting to the point in our lives (and Jesus H., don’t say it’s because we’ve hit 40) that we want to see how different our lives would be if we actually had someone in our corner. And we also want to be the type of people to say, “Yes, I love ______ deeply and he is my best friend.” We need strong men who aren’t going to act all butt hurt about everything that makes us us. We don’t want to be life coaches. We want men to be comfortable in their own skin and to look around and say, “Oh, I’m going to take care of this” instead of us having to beg, plead and bully someone to put on his big boy pants and do it, and do it right the first time.

Chelsea, I totally get it on Eric Bana. He is very masculine and he loves his wife deeply, and he doesn’t let anyone cross the line or share that space he saves for his wife. I think that when spouses are that loving, we see a certain relaxation in their faces. I’m not saying that I imagine their lives are perfect or they have no struggles. I’m saying that they know that if shit goes down, they have this life partner who is going to go through the shit with them instead of making a run for the life boats. Ultimately, we want someone to have that same look with us, and we want to see it on our own faces for a change.

By contrast, we are turned off by men who are overeager. We smell insincerity as if it’s a noxious blend of Avon perfume and cigarettes. We know when men are rubbernecking to make sure there isn’t somebody better than us lurking around that they might rather hook up with, and we simply don’t have time for that. We also don’t deserve to be abandoned.

The love we give to the men who truly deserve it is hard-earned. Chelsea and I have sharp tongues and a very thin filter. Fellow humans give us our best material, so men, if you fail us, your fall will be very painful. If you live up to the task, it will be like seeing the sun for the first time.

I don’t know about Chelsea, but I’m still taking applications.

Lastly, <sigh>, here is an article where the reporter tried to put Chelsea in a box. “Is this reality television or a documentary?” I would choose neither. Just let it be.

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/chelsea-does-netflix-review/426951/