Relationships: Telling vs. Being

(*Update: This post had been unpub­lished while I worked to gain some per­spec­tive. I have done so. I am in a dif­fer­ent place. I am repub­lish­ing for pur­pos­es of hon­est con­ti­nu­ity.) I’m inclined to be more def­i­nite on my update of 2017-03-18. I’m not the ‘right’ man.

UPDATE March 18, 2017 — Anoth­er facet of the below offers itself up to me. One thing we as men must also do is acknowl­edge the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it is she, not our­selves, who has the right of things. We may indeed not be the ‘right’ man. If we are attract­ed to her as a per­son, it must be in part a deep respect for her judge­ment and intel­lect. All the more rea­son it seems there­fore to not be telling, but instead work towards being.

A man can­not con­vince a woman that he is the right man, he must instead sim­ply be the right man and give her the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­vince herself.”

A grow­ing con­vic­tion has been on my heart as of late at the close of what looked, to myself, like the fer­tile ground for a deep rela­tion­ship. I hope to car­ry that con­vic­tion for­ward into the future.

We men try very hard to be at our best and to show women the best truth of our­selves. There is noth­ing wrong with this as long as it’s hon­est; how­ev­er, if hon­est, need we to make such effort? It is dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate our anx­ious desire for her to love and val­ue us from our desire for her know us on the deep­est lev­el and judge for herself.

I think we essen­tial­ly argue with her cau­tions and fears and wis­dom to see a truth we believe, but which she does not yet believe she has suf­fi­cient cause to cred­it. Not aloud do we argue. We try to antic­i­pate objec­tions and fears and present our­selves as the expe­ri­en­tial coun­ter­ar­gu­ment. If con­scious­ly done and to bad pur­pose, this may be regard­ed as an attempt to manip­u­late. Noth­ing of val­ue or strength may be built atop a foun­da­tion of manipulation.

If any of what we do is dif­fer­ent than what we nor­mal­ly do in the course of our dai­ly lives, then it is like­ly unwise. We present to her the man we desire to be, not the true man on which she may depend. 

When, in the nor­mal course, it becomes evi­dent that she has come to oppo­site con­clu­sion, we may, in des­per­a­tion or fear, try to move the argu­ment into speech, at which point any poten­tial for the future is like­ly quashed.

One may con­vince anoth­er through argu­ment or even delib­er­ate demon­stra­tion, but that con­vic­tion will not stand when, inevitably, we fail to to entire­ly be the best of our­selves. This breeds only feel­ings of betray­al, anger, and dis­gust towards the one who pushed the oth­er to come ’round to their own way of thinking.

Instead a woman must see things her way and in her own tim­ing, with­out feel­ing pres­sured or manip­u­lat­ed. Any con­clu­sions she draws must be her own based on her own obser­va­tion and expe­ri­ence. That con­vic­tion then may stand when small chal­lenges present themselves.

She must see us at the times we are not pre­pared for her to see us. She must see us when we are strug­gling with­out hav­ing aware­ness that she is watch­ing, to over­come our sin­ful selves in a sin­ful world. This means act­ing nat­ur­al both when she is and when she is not around.

There­fore, we as men need to just be the right man, not just for her, but for God, for our­selves and for always. She may reach her own con­clu­sions that she likes and appre­ci­ates what she sees, and so might desire deep­er rela­tion­ship with us; com­mit­ment shared between the two of us. She may not. If she does not, noth­ing else we may do may bring her to these strong con­vic­tions no mat­ter how con­vict­ed we our­selves are.

From that seed is the true poten­tial that only seemed present in the fer­tile ground. 

This arti­cle needs a com­plete rewrite.
“Why, bless me, if I haven’t gone and left out the whole point,” said the Chief Voice. “That you have, that you have,” roared the Oth­er Voic­es with great enthu­si­asm. “No one couldn’t have left it out clean­er and bet­ter. Keep it up, Chief, keep it up.”
Some­one I trust to read eval­u­ate and cri­tique my writ­ing told me that they thought my mes­sage was, “Be your­self so she knows what she’s get­ting into.” and then after I tried to clar­i­fy, “It makes sense… A real, informed choice is bet­ter, long run. Like Jesus said about count­ing the cost.”

In reread­ing I can see that I real­ly did seem to be mak­ing that idea the focus.

I am remind­ed of the Chief of the Duf­fers and his sup­port­ive cho­rus of under­lings in The Voy­age of the Dawn Treader.

My attempts to explain that the focal point of the arti­cle was sup­posed to be the Telling vs. Being, not the what you are or are not telling or being were not enough to over­ride that orig­i­nal impression.

I tried to use an anal­o­gy, but even that was unsuc­cess­ful, so it seems a rewrite is in order. That anal­o­gy follows.

I’m a fan of Sub­aru and Toy­ota cars, so I used one as the focus. I said some­thing along these lines:

Imag­ine that you’ve gone to a car deal­er­ship hav­ing researched vehi­cles, reviews, rat­ings, cost of ownership/maintenance fig­ures, and awards. You have a very clear idea that you want a Sub­aru Forester 2008 Gen 2.5 X L.L. Bean edi­tion, and you know which two of the nine avail­able paint/interior options would thrill you.

At the lot you are met by a sales­man who half-lis­tens to what you say you’re look­ing for and then asks to show you a new­er and more expen­sive Hon­da CRV.

You explain that you like the CRV, but you’ve done your research and thought about it and you want the Forester.

Instead of chang­ing his tack, he instead tells you what is wrong with your choice and why the CRV, even though a good­ly bit more than you had bud­get­ed is a bet­ter choice. He too cites awards and reviews and rat­ings, and lit­tle facts about both vehi­cles that make you vague­ly sus­pi­cious and untrust­ing, won­der­ing if he’s being straight with you. You’ve been lied to in the past, cheat­ed and are deter­mined not to be led astray again or drop your well con­struct­ed and need­ed guards.

He’s per­sis­tent and first leaves you con­fused and then think­ing that maybe your research failed to make you aware of the prob­lems inher­ent with a Forester and indeed all Sub­aru vehi­cles. Maybe you had­n’t real­ly giv­en Hon­da a fair view­ing. Even­tu­al­ly, against your bet­ter judge­ment and in spite of your safe­guards, you let him talk you into the Hon­da and you pur­chase it.

You start from the lot with some con­fi­dence, but soon your deci­sion does not sit right with you, espe­cial­ly because you end­ed up hav­ing to make loan pay­ments much greater than you had bud­get­ed for.

Imme­di­ate­ly you start notic­ing lit­tle annoy­ances… lit­tle things that are dif­fer­ent than what you had fall­en in love with in the Forester. Things that are miss­ing or that don’t work the same. The ride isn’t what you were antic­i­pat­ing expe­ri­enc­ing in the advanced AWD vehi­cle. You quick­ly grow dis­en­chant­ed. You begin to have a mild dread at look­ing at the vehi­cle, get­ting in, start­ing it up. Some of the things you want­ed the Forester for are just not pos­si­ble in the CRV.

Finances are tight, and always look­ing up at you from your bud­get is that larg­er than planned for loan pay­ment which is mak­ing the bud­get tight.

Inevitably some­thing breaks down, or there is a recall. You think to your­self, “The Sub­aru is much more reli­able, and their repair shop is so much bet­ter to deal with after the sale than the Hon­da shop has shown itself to be. Even if a break-down is a rea­son­able expec­ta­tion, you hold it against Hon­da as evi­dence that their entire brand is rub­bish. Not like a Subaru.

You get to the point that you can’t wait until you’ve paid down the loan and can sell it and get your deposit and some of the pay­ments back and buy a vehi­cle you do like. Look­ing at your bud­get, you real­ize that you’re going to have to keep irri­tat­ing dri­ving this vehi­cle for a long long while yet. In research­ing mar­ket val­ues you see that your CRV has held none of its val­ue so you’re upside down and won’t get enough from sell­ing it to even make the large down-pay­ment you like to make when pur­chas­ing a vehicle.

You try to remind your­self that it was your deci­sion and so you make the best of it, but you resent hav­ing to do so. You’ll “nev­er be going back to that deal­er­ship again, and that’s for cer­tain!” You’re a good stew­ard and believe that you have to accept the con­se­quences for your bad choic­es and can’t just dump the car and get anoth­er. You can’t help but bad­mouth Hon­da even though you know deep down that they’re actu­al­ly pret­ty good cars.

Now imag­ine the oppo­site. Your sales­per­son lis­tens and does­n’t have that vehi­cle but makes some calls and finds one they can get in soon. He affirms your choice and com­mends your research and good think­ing. It takes a few days longer, but you end up dri­ving off the lot with no mis­giv­ings about the planned-for very lit­tle bit you had to finance.

Imme­di­ate­ly you keep falling more deeply in love with the fea­tures, design, ameni­ties and per­for­mance that have met or exceed­ed your most hope­ful expec­ta­tions. When things inevitably need repair, you take it in course and view the cost and the ser­vice you receive with a lot more accept­ing and for­giv­ing atti­tude. You tell oth­ers about your ‘baby’ and how great Sub­aru vehi­cles are and that they should con­sid­er becom­ing a Suba-nut like yourself.

You enjoy dri­ving the thing. All the needs you expect­ed to have have are met and the ones you want­ed but weren’t pos­si­ble with the Forester, well, you knew that going in and you had made the deci­sion that it was still the vehi­cle for you.

When you even­tu­al­ly dri­ve it into the ground, long past when it was still as com­fort­able and still met your needs. You love that car. You almost want to bury it in the back 40 and keep the hood orna­ment emblem on your key­chain instead of sell­ing it for scrap. 

The above anal­o­gy breaks down some­what. Mar­riages aren’t to be sold and trad­ed like cars. We don’t get to trade-in when things are dif­fi­cult or less than we had hoped for down the line. We as men need to quit try­ing to be car salesmen.

I don’t know that it clar­i­fies the thing. The idea here is that even if the sales­per­son was hon­est and did­n’t mis­rep­re­sent things, the choice to buy the CRV is one you were talked into, not one you’d real­ly have come to on your own in the absence of high-pres­sure out­side influ­ence. You feel that if the CRV was just ‘being’ all those things, you might have cho­sen it your­self instead of being pres­sured by some­one who was ‘telling’ you to trust his con­clu­sions and to make a deci­sion you were not hap­py with.

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