What We Permit, We Promote.
Whilst flicking through the TV channels earlier this week, I stumbled across an episode of ‘Dr Phil’. Of course, I couldn’t help but watch. Although Dr Phil can be described as slightly ‘Marmite-ish’, I do quite enjoy watching him and he provided me with some great inspiration for today’s post. So thank you Dr Phil – this one is for you! He kept using one particular phrase that had me sitting up and paying attention, which is, ‘What we permit, we promote’. Preach. In it’s simplicity, it really is quite beautiful.
It got me thinking about those situations that we go along with, pretending to be happy with the ambiguity, when in actual fact, we may want something… well, more defined. Eventually, this leads to frustration, resentment and feeling used. Often, I hear tales that typically run along the following lines; Person X begins to hook up with Person Y, seemingly content being a booty call yet secretly harbouring hopes that a full on relationship will blossom. Person X and/or Y then grow increasingly frustrated and confused as time goes on, because the only thing that is escalating is the resentment that they are just a booty call, who is giving away all the benefits of a relationship, but without being in an actual relationship. The question asked often revolves around how Peron X or Person Y can flip the script to get the relationship that they truly want, even though they have ostensibly signaled that they were fine with being a booty call. Hmmmm. Have you too found yourself drowning in the murky world of the situation-ship? Can one manage to flip that script?
Good question. However, before diving into that, it is worth naming the oh so subtle hint of nihilism behind this predicament. Often, it it presented like a fatalistic resignation that we are helplessly pulled, against our will, into the swirling and magnetic mists of fate and inevitability. We have absolutely no control over the magnetic pull of the person that led us into the situation-ship and we have no idea how this keeps happening. And stop. Let us pull back from those swirling mists, feel the ground beneath our feet and remind ourselves that this comes down to one simple, irrefutable truth; what we permit, we promote.
Rightly or wrongly, I’m of the opinion that no one becomes a booty call by accident or ends up in a similar situation without their permission; whether that permission is explicit or implied. As adults, we make conscious decisions and are both accountable and responsible for them. Therefore, the fact that this keeps on happening is not down to the sheer magnetism of the other person (because in reality, they are probably not THAT magnetic or that great – but I digress), but is down to our choices too. If you do not want to be somebody’s midnight booty call, then don’t be. If the other person doesn’t make effort or stops putting in effort to see you aside from a midnight ‘WYD” text, you stop responding to the midnight ‘WYD’ texts. If he (yes, I’m going with the masculine pronoun here, but the same applies to both genders) wants to act like a f@*k boy, then he should get treated just like a f@*k boy.
Bottom line, if we don’t like certain behaviours or the response that comes back from asking for more and/or standing our ground, then we can walk away. Call that bluff. Dating is a series of bluffs, where one party says what they require and the other, hopefully, will meet it. If the other doesn’t want to meet it, then it is on YOU to decide whether to stand in the light of your own truth and walk away or agree to diminished terms of engagement.
If we choose the latter, then we need to be realistic about our hopes here. Have we agreed and placated in the hopes that it will become something more? All too often I hear stories of people agreeing to the shrunken terms and then going onto dress up the situation using parlance such as, ‘Netflix and Chill’. Let’s keep it real here, ‘He/she is using me for sex’ or, ‘We are using each other for sex’. This, in and of itself is not an issue; ff everyone is honest about this and you are both singing from the same hymn sheet. Then, by all means, crack on. If this isn’t, in fact, what you want, then pretending that the diminution of your own boundaries is something that you are down with is only going to end one way – not well. All it will do is lead you to feel as though you ‘should’ like what is going on when you don’t, because instead of Netflix-and-chilling, you want to be the girlfriend/boyfriend/partner and be out on dates. And that is okay – not many of us do like to be reduced to forever be Netflix and chilling; being hidden away from the world.
Of course, even if we started out hooking up with someone casually, over time the boundaries may have begun to creep and we may have ended up wanting and feeling more than we had intended at the outset. Why? Human beings are, at their essence, relational beings. We are hardwired to seek out relationship and to bond, biologically speaking. And this is fine, provided we are honest and speak our truth about our wants and needs, instead of going along with it but feeling used and degraded when the other person cannot guess as to what we want and need. The strange thing is, that we may take a different view about our other kinds of needs and not be at all scared to call them out. So, why does it feel so perilous in dating? If you want a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/significant other then by all means have one. It might just mean acknowledging and accepting that the current situation isn’t it. Maybe we fear that the other might leave if we ask for what we want? If they do, then that is not your one and they would have probably left at some point anyway.
When we start setting our standards and our boundaries, then we can’t expect others to uphold them for us and blame mysterious magnetic forces for drawing us to those with whom we have set no boundaries. And a final word on boundaries – they need to be set BEFORE we get entangled into something or similar situations arise. After all, forewarned is forearmed because in the moment, boundaries are near on impossible to set. Think about it, when battles took place (in the olden days), the fortresses where not build whilst the battle was taking place! Oh no, they were built way ahead of time as well as getting everything prepared and ready to go into battle. I am not likening a booty call/situation-ship to a battle…well maybe I am a little. When all is said and done, if we have made a commitment to know what our own boundaries are, then a little planning prior to being in a moment where all sensibility may go out of the window is probably a good thing. In this way, we stand a far better chance of being fully aware that what we are going to permit, we are also going to promote. And what of those pesky magnetic swirling mists of nihilism? You may well find that they disappear altogether.