Applied Table Theory – Chemistry, Part II – Mixed Signals

“Vichet! Vicheeeeet!”

What up wit’ it?

“Jane keeps giving me mixed signals! She’s hot and cold! She loves me one second, and can’t stand me the next! It’s so confusing because when things are good, they’re great, but when things are bad, they’re terrible!”

“I’m happy AND angry!”

Right. Wanna elaborate on what you mean?

“Well, for example – the other week we were out on a date. Everything was great, we had a really nice dinner, and then we went dancing. She was smoochin’ up on me all night at the club. Then we get back to my place for a nightcap, and somehow we get to talking about politics cause it was on the news. She loves talking about pretty much anything, and that’s cool, but when it comes to politics, I just stay quiet because I don’t need to be having arguments with people on a night off. So I just smile and nod, but she realizes that I’m holding back – she calls me out on it. When I try to explain that I just don’t like talking politics conversationally, she starts going on this tirade about how I don’t respect her enough to be honest with her about my opinions. She finishes her wine and goes right to bed, with no sexy time to speak of. We wake up the next morning and she acts like nothing happened, giving me wake-up kisses and cooking me breakfast. I don’t get it.”

Oof. That sounds rough. So, whatchu need from me?

“Well, I was wondering… what can I do to fix this?”

Hmm. Well, let’s be sure there’s something that needs to be fixed.

You guessed it – we’re bringing out Table Theory!

Got a questionnaire for ya:

  1. Proximity: Do you guys spend the right amount of time together? That balance between seeing each other so much you no longer have outside lives, and not seeing each other enough to bond?
  2. Mutual Independence: Are you both capable of being on your own? Are you happy, with your own job, activities, and friends?
  3. Non-conflicting life goals: Do you work for the CIA while she works for the KGB? Or, more realistically, do you both have any life goals that directly conflict with the other’s, such as one of you wanting to have grand adventures around the world while the other prefers to settle down and raise kids?
  4. Chemistry: Well, there’s the obvious problem of “fighting for no reason,” and I’ve already formed my opinion of your relationship, but would you say both of you otherwise get along intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically?

“Well, for questions 1-3, yeah. That’s all good. I mean, I have other obligations and hobbies outside of seeing her, and I’m a pretty happy guy. But that makes it all the worse. At the end of the week I just want to spend some nice time with her, but lately I can’t be sure if I’m in for a great time, or a weekend-long nightmare.

Well, like I implied above, the problem here really is chemistry.

You said it. Do you think she’s crazy?”

Well, I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t know her. As a rule of thumb, very few people are born crazy.

However, I know you. You’re a nice guy. You get along well with others. You always want to give people a helping hand or the benefit of the doubt. I like you. I’ve been you. And I know that you’re hanging onto something.

“What’s that?”

Well, you’re hanging onto this idea of her. You said it up there that when times are good, they’re great. Would you say that’s why you’re staying with her? For the good times?

“I dunno… I guess?”

Well, then you tell me. Why are you staying with her?

“Oh well, easy! I’ve got a list!”

  • She’s easily an 8.5 out of 10 looks-wise
  • Really fun (when she’s not yelling at me about something)
  • GREAT sex (when she’s not yelling at me about something)
  • Very affectionate (when she’s not yelling at me about something)
  • Has her own life, job, money, apartment, dog, etc.
    • She’s a genuinely interesting person
    • … who also yells at me sometimes.

Yeah, see that? For almost all of those great things, there’s that little asterisk hiding in the back. And that little asterisk seems to have put a little chip on your shoulder there, bud.

How long have you been going out with this girl?

“Six months.”

Oh. Wow. Yeah. That’s the problem right there.

“What do you mean?”

Well, she might not be crazy, but she’s driving YOU crazy.

You’ve been going out with this girl for six months?

“Yessir.”

Has she started yelling at you more or less over the months?

“Uh… well, I never really thought about it.”

What, did you get used to it? More or less?

“Well… she never yelled at me when we first started dating… so, more?”

Alright. Alright. You know, I thought at first maybe we could talk through this. Maybe it was something you were doing, or whatever. But, brotha, it’s just not gonna work out.

“What? Why?”

Well, are you happy with the situation?

“Well, yeah, when things are good.”

I didn’t ask “are you happy when things are good.” I asked overall.

“Well, no… not completely.”

Right. Are you doing anything wrong?

“Well, I don’t think so. I mean, I’m considerate, I respect her space, I don’t judge…”

Right, right, right. Here’s where a lot of guys might tell you that you need to take control of the situation and tell this girl to change her ways if she wants to stay with you.

They call it “putting your foot down.

Here’s instead where I tell you that you need to take control of the situation and just leave.

“What?”

She’s not that into you, dawg. People become like that when they like parts of someone and not the rest. You didn’t do anything wrong, and I know for a fact that you’ve got your life handled and you aren’t clingy, so that only leaves the final option – it’s just not gonna work out. Don’t take it personally – the majority of your romantic relationships will not work out, nor are they meant to.

“Well, Vichet, I know that, but I really do think I can work things out here… I mean, we just need to talk about it some more.”

Meaning you’ve talked about it before. What’d she say?

“Well, it was basically a list of little things that she didn’t like about what I do, like how sometimes I don’t make my bed, or sometimes I dress a certain way she doesn’t like, or how she thinks I spend too much money on a couple of my hobbies…”

So did you make some of those changes?

“Yeah.”

Did she stop yelling?

“… no?”

Yep. If she’s still yelling, it doesn’t matter how much you change, dawg. The message is the same – she doesn’t like you enough as a whole person to stay with you.

She might be a nag. She might be demanding. She might have been having a bad day, every day for the last six months. She might have a bad relationship with her father.

Doesn’t matter. All I know is that you tried harder than most could ask you to, and she’s still not happy with you.

“But Vichet! We’ve been having great sex! What do you mean she doesn’t like me or isn’t happy with me?”

Yep, great sex is the duct tape of all failing relationships. And, ding-ding-ding, big surprise if you never knew this before, men and women alike will sleep with people they don’t particularly like all that much because, hey, sex.

Dude, you’ve made some of the changes. You’ve been patient. You’ve been giving. It’s time to move on. It’s not like you’re doing all that poorly in your own life. You’ll be fine.

Stop hanging onto this idealized image of the girl you’re dating, and see it for what it is.

That, and I will say that for an upstanding, accomplished, level-headed guy who is genuinely nice, there is no shortage of cool women around who will actually enjoy hanging out (and banging out) with you.

Just, you know, keep becoming more attractive in the meantime.

2 Responses to Applied Table Theory – Chemistry, Part II – Mixed Signals

  1. Cavan says:

    Well said. My most recent relationship had a lot of this. I put my foot down once and it got better for a time. Second time, it was time to break up. I’ve been so relaxed since then. I had no idea I was under pressure at the time.

    There are just some girls who will always find something to be dissatisfied about in you (there are probably guys like that too but having never dated one I don’t know for sure but it would make sense). That’s their problem. Some would only yell at you while giving someone else a free pass. Some just get dissatisfied with every guy. It’s impossible to know what the specific case is and it really doesn’t matter.

    I just got out from there and I can say that life is better on the other side. You know you can attract nice-looking girls and you’re just so much more happy/at peace with yourself knowing that you didn’t stick around to get yelled at for stuff that you couldn’t help. There will be another attractive girl. The only way to know if they’ll start yelling about stupid stuff is to try. Feel glad that next time it starts, you’ll recognize it for what it is and can peacefully move on.

    • itsmevichet says:

      That’s the truth. When someone cares about your development as a person, they can care without the yelling and nagging.

      I mean, we can all improve, but damn – no one should have to deal with that kind of attitude (no matter how good the sex is).

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