My recent experience with a date made me think how we all create circumstances for ourselves to justify our worldviews, however skewed they might be. What is the reason behind it? This justification is our way of making sense of the world–it may be easier to accept these general “truths” rather than look at our responsibility in creating the situation. Let me explain.
I met up with someone, sort of a date, who spent the evening complaining about how most women are into wealth and status, and that many divorced women get their wealth from the ex-husband who worked really hard for that money.
What was interesting was that this man was generally looking to go on dates with women 15-20 years his junior and had been offering to pay for their travels, and taking them out on dinners and paying for everything. He made sure that his judgemental views are proved to be true by creating the perfect circumstances by looking to meet superficial young women who were interested in status and wealth only. (On a side note, the fact that these young women are after material things could be the result of their upbringing, cultural expectations, etc. Seeking material things is not uncommon with women from Eastern Europe and I can say that, as I grew up in that region.)
The way I saw it, this man craved to be liked just for who he was, but he was too afraid to show up just as himself, in fear of rejection. At that point, I just saw him as a scared and angry young boy, who is incredibly smart and aware otherwise, but very immature when it comes to his emotions.
Part of being emotionally mature is that we accept our role in the situation we get ourselves into. I am obviously not talking about a victim of a crime here. But we all have a tendency to keep repeating certain patterns that will end up in the same, unfavourable results, especially when it comes to relationships. Why is it so difficult to see the limitations we set for ourselves and change our behaviour? Most of us were never modelled healthy relationships to emotions or to each other. We don’t know how to communicate our feelings or be vulnerable without the fear of being rejected. I am still learning how to do that at the ripe age of 43. So how can we start developing emotional maturity?
Here is my formula:
- The first step is to look at a situation that didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to and have a look at your own part in it. Ask yourself: How did my behaviour contribute to this outcome?
- Then the next step is to take responsibility for that without hating yourself. You may say, “But I don’t hate myself!” Fine, but what about your self-talk? What is your inner voice like? Judgemental and criticising, or gentle and caring like you would be with a child? My inner voice has been more like a lieutenant for many years.
- The third step is accepting and communicating your feelings about the situation. This is the most difficult part for me. Before you become vulnerable and tell another person how you feel, you can practise by saying it to yourself out loud.
In regards to the date: another part of emotional maturity is that we don’t psychoanalyse other people without being asked. I never told this man what I thought. We are still in touch, so I may one day, if the situation calls for it. But in any case, I have a lot of compassion for that scared little boy and all I want to tell him is that he is very lovable and there is nothing he needs to do to earn love.