Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Relationship Answers with Shinobi Jim Ph.D.

The Ph.D. stands for physically devastating, but that's just cuz I'm a ninja, I'm really supportive emotionally :)

Picture, if you will, a relationship between a guy and a girl. Pretty easy right? So, imagine that the girl dumps the guy but still wants to hang out with him because they are still "really good friends". She starts to get confused because he has begun to act like a jerk all the time. She asks him what is wrong and he gives some answer regarding some trivial aspect of the relationship that was, or is currently happening. (hint: this is not really the reason he is acting like a jerk, he doesn't actually want to address the real reason.) The REAL reason is that the girl dumped him and he's experiencing a lot of hurt and confusion as she is continuing to play an active role in his life, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. Girls may not understand why boys act this way but turn it around, if he dumped her how would she feel? Even if it were for the same noble reasons, she would feel hurt and want to withdraw. What is confusing about that?

Let's take a look at it from a different perspective, in the form of a parable.

There was a certain man who loved cookies. Cookies were wonderful things to him and chocolate chip was his favorite variety. One day he was walking through his kitchen when the cookie jar said, "Come, try this cookie, it is probably the best one I have made yet!" You see, it was a magic cookie jar that made cookies all the time, and it was good at its job. 

The man reached out and smelled the cookie, it was a perfect chocolate chip cookie. He took a bite and the cookie jar suddenly snatched it back! "Hey! What was that about?! I was enjoying that cookie, and I wasn't done!"

The cookie jar looked back at the man and said, "Well, I figured just looking at it would be as much fun as eating it. See, isn't this great? You get to stand there in the same room as the cookie and look at it, and think about how yummy it is."

The man was very frustrated and really didn't feel like being near the cookie so he said that he didn't actually want to have that cookie anyway since it had too many chocolate chips (not the real reason), and stormed off.

The cookie jar thought to itself, "you know, I bet if I took out all the chocolate chips he would love to be near this cookie." So, the cookie jar ripped out all the chocolate chips and went to find the man.

When the cookie jar found the man it showed him the newly refurbished cookie in its hands and said, "look! I took out all those annoying chocolate chips so now it's just the way you wanted it to be! Now do you want to hang out with it?"

The man had a hard time expressing his feelings about the situation and wasn't about to tell the cookie jar why just looking at a cookie that he had recently been enjoying on an entirely different and more intimate level wasn't really very satisfactory.

The cookie jar was worried by the silence and thought it knew why the man didn't like the cookie, so from then on it only made chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips. The cookie jar hoped that by changing how it made cookies no one would be dissatisfied with them ever again.

The cookie jar in this story ended up changing a fundamental part of its cookies even though the cookies weren't the problem and everyone else who ever wanted a cookie would have to deal with the lack of chocolate chips. The man may have just needed time to adjust to this new way of experiencing chocolate chip cookies or maybe things would never be the same. Regardless, changing how it made cookies didn't solve anything for that situation and wouldn't help anything in the future, in fact, assuming that no one else will enjoy chocolate chips in their chocolate chip cookies is more likely to hurt any future relationships with cookie lovers.

The chocolate chips represent something like communicating openly or in a way that builds a relationship. This "chip" isn't really a problem but removing it will be. The "chip" could be any number of things that are useful in fleshing out or adding depth to a relationship. When we look back at ended relationships we sometimes blame one of these "chips" and vow never to use that again, when in fact that chip may be exactly the right thing for a relationship this time. It can be hard to allow ourselves to give a new relationship the chance to form itself, to grow in the best possible way, because we try so hard to force it to work by using the "right recipe". Some things just take time, some need a little more of this or that, but adaptation is really important.

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