Category Archives: Relationships

Nice Guy Syndrome

When I start hearing the same message coming at me from multiple independent sources, that usually gets my attention. This year I've had several sources giving me the message that women want men with backbone who they can “push up against”. They get tired and ultimately resentful of Nice Guys who always yield powerlessly to them, and everyone else.

I listened to an interview by David DeAngelo (of Double Your Dating fame) talking with Robert Glover described what is wrong with Nice Guys most succinctly by quoting a comment from his ex-wife, who said “How would I know that you could ever stand up for me, if you can't even stand up to me?”. Robert calls it Nice Guy Syndrome, and has even written a book titled No More Mr. Nice Guy! He points out that while Nice Guys think that what they are doing will please other people, … Continue reading…

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And When Did You Last See Your Father? by Blake Morrison

I first encountered Blake Morrison when I heard him speak at the Sydney Writer's Festival last year on the rarely-deeply-discussed topic of the relationship between fathers and sons. I knew immediately that I was going to relate to his book And When Did You Last See Your Father.

The book is an autobiographical series of vignettes spanning Blake's life, each of which add a piece to the puzzle depicting his larger-than-life father as seen through the son's eyes. Interspersed between these snapshots is the background scene of Blake's aging father's gradual death due to cancer. But rather than just talk about the book itself, I also want to tell you what it reminded me of in my relationship with my own father.

Blake Morrison's father and mine share only superficial similarities: They are both in their early seventies. Both have a pacemaker; although my own father acquired his only mid … Continue reading…

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Wife Swap

I love the TV show Wife Swap. If you haven't seen it, the premise is that they get two families from middle America who volunteer to have their wives swap places for two weeks. During the first week, both families run by the usual rules so the "new wife" can learn how they normally operate; but in the second week, the new wife gets to make whatever rule changes they want. Each family volunteers on the basis that they agree to abide by whatever rules the new wife chooses to set.

Invariably the producers choose two families at the opposite ends of some spectrum, be it religious, political, economic, traditional/progressive, or whatever. Today's episode featured a real estate executive who was always on the phone and had no time for her kids, swapping places with a suffocating obsessive-compulsive stay-at-home Mom who home-schooled and controlled her whole family.

I always … Continue reading…

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Dr Phil

Dr Phil is on TV again, using big words like "maturity" and "responsibility", and talking about relationships. I like Dr Phil; he's charismatic, compassionate and assertive with the people who come on his show. He doesn't take crap from them, and calls them on their blind spots when they try to spin some story on him. But I can't help wondering about the people who agree to go on the program. There is something voyeuristic about watching another person's personal problems being aired before a mass audience, and surely something exhibitionist about wanting to go on the program.

Some of the people are clearly at their wit's end and don't know what else to do; perhaps they think that going on Dr Phil and exposing the lies and the secrecy that keeps them bound will release them from whatever is keeping them trapped. And maybe it does; but not everyone … Continue reading…

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Not Everyone is Going To Like You

Ever since I was a kid, I've felt a burning desire to have other people like me; to be accepted. It's not unusual to want to fit in with other people, and perhaps you can relate. Often when I didn't feel accepted by other people, I thought the problem lay with me. But a recent interaction with a rather extreme neighbour was an opportunity in disguise to learn otherwise.

A few years back I moved into a block of flats in a neighbourhood not far from where I'd previously been living for several years. I knew the area well, but the immediate neighbours were all new. It wasn't long before I met a neighbour who I'll call Edward, who lived upstairs in the same building quite close to me. At first he was friendly and appeared very charming. A little too charming perhaps, to the point of being a bit … Continue reading…

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