Monday, August 22, 2005


If you're not a (straight) guy, pretend that you are for a moment or make whatever mental adjustments necessary to play along.

OK- you're a guy and you're a musician with a lot of gig experience. It's late at night and you just played a show and now you're getting ready to leave with your teenaged son and girlfriend. Your girlfriend's ex-husband (let's call him Willie), played drums on this gig as well, and she needs to briefly discuss something with him about their son before she leaves. Let's note that they've been separated/divorced for 12 years but are still friends. You know that they will never get back together, no question about that.

As you and your son stand a few feet away and wait, she steps into the doorway of the small dressing room behind the stage. There are only a couple of people around and they are roadies who are busy clearing the stage and moving equipment, not really paying attention to anything to anything but what they're doing. As they talk, Willie (who has just finished playing) takes off his sweaty shirt to put on a dry one. He's developed a nice little pot belly over the years, unlike you, who are the epitome of fitness and well-developed musculature. After they talk, they hug goodbye and Willie kisses your girl on the neck. As you leave, your girlfriend mentions this and laughs about it, because she (and everyone else) knows that Willie is a flirt and this is just how he is. (Maybe a kiss on the cheek would have been the norm?) Your girl has recounted on many occasions that Willie frequently hits on her in a less-than-serious way, as he knows it's futile but gets some kind of kick out of seeing her get mildly aggravated by it. (Maybe in the back of his mind he thinks that one day she'll surprise him and say OK, but she's already told him it ain't happening and for the most part, he accepts it. In any case, you know how she feels.) Anyway, she's laughing it off this time, as the three of you proceed to the car.

Now, tell me what is happening in your mind, playing the role of the guy. How do you feel? What are you thinking? I don't care if you want to be silly in this role playing game, as long as you follow it with, seriously... Once you respond, (please humor me, all of you!), I'll explain. Thanks bunches!


Blogger Richard said...

WWRD - I would probably just ignore it, as that is the guy #1 tactic for just about everything, BUT if me and my girlfriend had recently been having troubles, I would be concerned, and annoyed at "willie", though my annoyence might come out as some sort of seemingly purturbed remark re-directed to my girlfriend. Once the really knock down dragged out fight ensued over what I "really" meant about the comment, I might finally admit (but only if skillfully manuevered) that the recent trouble has me worried that my girlfriend might leave me, and any indication, even from a source that I know isn't legit would scare me.

12:05 PM  
Blogger pi22seven said...

WWPD-Hmmmm... if this scenario happened with my wife and I, I'd prolly be pretty pissy.

IMO "Willie" is out of line. If things are done then they are done, no playful flirting, no kisses on the neck. Done is done.

But he's just doing what he can get away with... my girlfriend controls how far things can go.

I know that if things were reversed, I would be in trouble if my ex kissed me on the neck and I laughed it off as "that's the way she is".

But that's just my opinion. Every relationship has it's own boundries and set of rules.

12:26 PM  
Blogger muse said...

I'm with pi, Willie is way out of line. Flirting with your ex in front of her current guy is childish (nya-nya-nya, I'm marking my territory!), insensitive to the current beau, and bound to spark trouble.

I'd feel jealous (if I were current guy) because I am intrinsically insecure as far as my relationships go (with some reason... lol but that's personal bagage). I probably have a "discussion" with Willie (ie. back the fuck up!) and ask my gal to avoid hugging, if it came to that, ie if Willie is too much of a douchebag to respect simple marks of affection and can't take it for what it is without making a pass at my gal.

But as I said, that's me, with my own relationship bagage (I know I'm a jealous girlfriend/wife as far as exes are concerned... but I've had my husband go out and _make_ me jealous on purpose, which totally sucks), so it doesn't quite fit this situation

9:48 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Great feedback! Next I will put it all in context, but the semester starts this afternoon for me and I've been busy with prep work for my class. I'll be back in the evening, once the day is over and kids are to bed. Thanks for your patience!

4:10 AM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

I always go by my lovers' actions and history. I don't much care what other guys do to try and...well, whatever. Hook up, steal her, etc. Doesn't bother me. So long as I know her and trust her, I'd think little of it. Same thing if she ever did prove untrustworthy. I would not get ticked the guy. He's not the one I care(d) about.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

Late addition, because the second part of pi's post made me think of it. I would refuse to be in trouble if the situation is reversed (refuse in the kind of way that would prompt someone to conclude that I am "the most stubborn, insufferable S.O.B. they have ever met", and - unrelated here - I also am guessing...ahem...that you often think some varation of that phrase at someone you know, eh, Lisa?)...anyways, if I think it is innocent and harmless, I expect any current love to accept that. If not, then that says what they think about me despite the fact that I don't betray them. It all comes back to one thing: other people don't come into the equation for any kind of judgement. Just her. Just me. That's really all that matters, in my opinion.

10:37 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Well, everyone has given me much to think about. I'm not invalidating anyone else’s point of view when I say this, but Lasciate, you and I are of one mind on this one.

Clearly, I am the girl. All this really happened. And Richard actually described what happened pretty well, except that I got no perturbed remark, just the icy-cold shoulder, which always prompts questions about what I did to deserve it. And there was never any admission of fear by Renard.

Here's how Renard reacted: First, he had a MAJOR issue with the fact that Willie took his wet, sweaty shirt off in front of me. (?????!!) Never mind that countless other guys (other musician friends/clients) have done it countless times, including Dr. John, who also took his pants off in front of me and changed them with Renard standing right there. (Renard used to play in his band.) This is the world of live music. It just goes with the territory. I don't even notice it anymore. And it's not like I've never seen a guy with his shirt off, particularly the one to whom I was once married. Was Willie supposed to think twice before he pulled his wet shirt off??? PLEASE!!!

Renard thought it was (deep breath, trying not to *wretch*) disrespectful, though I'm not sure to whom. Then, I committed the grave infraction of speaking the words, "Willie kissed me on the neck," with some amusement in my voice, in front of his son. I embarrassed him in front of his son because I laughed and reported this. And everyone who knows me, including Renard, knows that Hitler's rotting corpse has a better chance of becoming Prime Minister of Israel than Willie has of getting back together with me. This doesn't stop him from hitting on me in a pathetic sort of way. (He did it hard-core on Monday night when he played with Kirk Joseph, then called me on Tuesday and apologized for it.) I just don't get this. And it's not like I knew he would be embarrassed by it and did it anyway.

The other thing I don't understand is why Renard directed so much of his anger about this toward me. Why should I be in trouble? I didn't commit the egregious acts. I just reported one of them, and I think it's pretty emotionally healthy of me to be able to laugh such things off. And if the shoe were on the other foot, I'd do the same. (After all, I was once married to the flirter and honed my laughing-off skills back then, even though it turns out he didn't stop at flirting.) All that's necessary for me to be okay is to understand the situation. When I understand things, I'm really fine. But I'm telling you, folks, I was really knocked for a loop when Renard's anger came flying in my face. I didn't see it coming. And this incident has been brought up again and again when he's angry.

Well, maybe I'm supposed to understand how Renard feels *cough* disrespected, but I'd have to see Willie as a serious threat in order to do that. I'm sorry, but it just seems ridiculous to me. And if you haven't noticed, this whole *respect* thing just makes me sick. It doesn't conjure an idea of equality to me. It's like a "superiority tax" that you *owe* someone, and that, to me, spells ego, ego, ego. Blechhh! Sickening! I'm really working hard to sublimate the desires of the ego. It's just a troublemaker and I think it's love’s worst enemy. No, I prefer idea of *consideration* to respect. It's a more compassionate and empathetic way to deliver the same result. I like the purity of my willingness to give it, rather than someone's insistance that I *owe* them something. Maybe it's just semantics, but words do have power.

In another example of Renard's interpretation of respect, he once got mad because one of my male friends was visiting from New York and this friend reclined in the grass at an outdoor concert attended by the three of us, which meant that I had to lean back and turn slightly in order to talk with him. He thought it was too intimate and made it look like I was with my friend and not him, and was *disrespectful.* I still don't get this. Anyway, I'm far less concerned with the reality of a situation than with the stories others make up about it (particularly when I don't even know them) unless it involves a deep insecurity on my part. Renard comes off as very confident and I don't think I've given him any reason to doubt that he's the one I'm leaving with at the end of the day. But the insecurity is another issue altogether, and I'll have to save that for later.

WDLD? (What Did Lisa Do?)

I acknowledged that, of the two of us, I'm the only one who thinks it's amusing when Willie hits on me and in consideration of Renard's feelings I said I'd tell Willie to back off -and I did tell him. He does behave most of the time.

But beyond that, Lasciate nailed it for me in his last comment. I don't think I did anything wrong and I refuse to be in trouble for things like this. And I have been called several variations of "the most stubborn, insufferable S.O.B." Renard has ever met.” Sorry, but I just can't say I'm sorry when I don't think I have anything to be sorry for having done.

If you think I'm crazy for this, please feel free to tell me so. (Renard says that I'm crazy to think that he or that most people wouldn't react as he did. That his was the *normal* reaction and my way is the exception. Granted, am *NOT* like most people, and few would disagree, I suppose. But I have no problem with that.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

Just my thoughts on a different tactic you could try. Just run through my logic here with me for a sec:

In my experience, people who: a) are ego-driven, b) show confidence, and c) display the kind of insecurity you are describing tend to be internally fearful but trying to evolve beyond it. Because of that, they can display both bona fide bravery but also really childish behavior.

Anyways, one byproduct of that is the tendency to give advice and/or encouragement to others...trying to instill confidence in them (a sort of "those who can't, teach" variation - no offense to your profession, Lisa). Given that he has probably given some good advice he does not consider during a heated argument, it might aid you to return it to him.

Not in a throw-back-at-you, triumphant kind of way. And not the things he's said when he's upset. But if I am right, your Google-search-engine memory can pluck a few things that he's said with some kind of wisdom during good times that apply to the conversation. If you returned to him the advice he gave or philosophy he promoted (that which you thought was good) it would probably resound with his ego in a positive manner.

Hmm...I have to go, but it is something to consider (if it applies).

6:01 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I still say I hit the Renard nail exactly, even if the senerio didn't play word for word it is essentially the same. He is not confident of the relationship, things are rocky right now and he has a right to be insecure.

With that said he is being an insufferable MAN about the whole thing, and is wrong for putting blame on you for this situation. But for the average guy (while he will insist to his dying day that it is about the particulars) it is the insecurity that is driving his argument not logic.

I think you should do what my (WWED, what would Erin do?)wife usually does (much to my annoyence at the time) address the underlying issue, the insecurity about the relationship, which is very legitimate. As long as you approach it with the compassion and understanding of the underlying insecurity the issue of who is "right" and who is "wrong" doesn't matter. Because clearly in the overlying matter he is wrong and you are right, but in the REAL issue he is afraid that the relationship isn't going to work and he is "seeing" the world through that lens.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

Your wife sounds aggravatingly wise, Richard :P

5:10 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

That is the reason I married her, well that and she's a redhead.

5:55 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

I have tried the WWED method. Admissions of insecurity on his part are limited at best and tend to provoke the kind of ire that makes me want to run away. But we do talk about trust and let me tell you how this works:

First of all, I love this man and am very expressive of this fact. (Though my affection may be spurned by this extremely moody man at times. I can never predict it and no one gave me a rule book.) Despite having spent way too much time walking on eggshells (what does that say about me??), I have fought for this relationship and Renard has expressed admiration of me for that. I don't think Renard has any reason to think I don't love him or that I would rather be with someone else.

I do everything I can to address the insecurity. I tell him everything I do that involves another guy, (phone calls, chance meetings, etc., so there is no mystery) and I give him the option of inclusion whenever I am invited to do things with my male friends and his presence isn't inappropriate. He usually declines, then later brings up the times when I didn't invite him to come along because they wouldn't habe been appropriate). These fall into one of three categories:
1)Old friends who I haven't seen in a long time who happen to be in town on business and call at the last minute to see if we can have dinner together before they leave. In every case, they didn't even know I had a boyfriend until we got caught up, so they shouldn't have been expected to include Renard in the first place.
2) Business associates, academic and otherwise. He really wants to count these as pleasure outings, but they always have a purpose.
3) Rachel's dad. This is the real issue and too complicated to expound upon here, in this comments section of epic proportions. But I will address this later.

I'm not into the "right" and "wrong" thing when it comes to feelings. Feelings are not rational. But I do have a problem when I am accused of having feelings that I don't have and when I try to correct the misperception by offering the truth of what I feel, I get an argument that what he thinks is true is the real truth and I'm just lying about it to save face. It doesn't matter that there is no objective basis for his beliefs. His gut says my words don't ring true. I can give him all kinds of evidence in my words and behavior to support what I say, but it ends up being a nasty argument and I end up throwing up my hands and telling him that if he can't trust me to be honest with him about my feelings, well, then there's no point in going any further.

I know he's seeing this through his own filters, (his baggage), but it appears that he's very attached to seeing it this way and will not consider that maybe I'm actually telling the truth. If he thinks that doubting my honesty and sincerity is the right move, (self-protection), he'll end up alienating me and pushing me right out of the door in a classic example of the "self-fulfilling prophesy." ALl of this makes me think that him being right is more important in this relationship than is the love of a good woman.

I'm frustrated and tired of fighting. The only reason we are trying to work things out after our friendly separation is because someone asked me out during a period of our separation when he was feeling more warmth toward me. He said he preferred not knowing if this happened, but I wasn't sure of our status at the time and thought it only fair that it be clarified for the sake of all involved. But we couldn't just decide to try to be together again. We had to revisit all the problems of the relationship.

The state of the union has been much better the last few days, though. My approach has always been to focus on all the wonderful and beautiful things about Renard and the relationship, whereas he's chosen to focus on grievances, which most insiders attribute to insecurity, male ego and limited rfelationship experience. It appears that may have shifted for now. Time will tell if this change has staying power.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

A friend of mine made a comment a long time ago, which is admittedly a generalization about the sexes (and therefore cannot logically apply as a fact). But it is one of the few generalizations I have found to be enduringly wise and true in most cases. He said:

"The difference between men and women is this: Women forgive but never forget. Men forget, but never forgive."

Just sounds like it might be relevant here.

5:27 AM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

I can see the truth in that, no question. In fact, it's quite fitting here. However, for me, to forgive is to forget. However, someone hell-bent on it can do things to evoke memories, but in truth, I don't think holding on to and nurturing grievances is healthy in any situation.

11:22 PM  

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