I’ve finally gotten around to reading Superfreakonomics, the follow-up to the bestselling Freakonomics. Pitched as a “rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything”, authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner are deliciously clever and funny, exploring everything from why sumo wrestlers and teachers are the most likely to cheat, to the economics of prostitution and how they cash in on seasonal increases in demand such as July 4th, much like department store Santa’s rake in the cash in November and December.
Anyway… there is this brilliant paragraph where they explain how they deal with questions of being the exception to the rule that really gets to the heart of why I try to empower people about relationships:
“But while there are exceptions to every rule, it’s also good to know the rule. In a complex world where people can be atypical in an infinite number of ways, there is great value in discovering the baseline. And knowing what happens on average is a good place to start. By so doing, we insulate ourselves from the tendency to build our thinking – our daily decisions, our laws, our governance – on exceptions and anomalies rather than on reality.“
Here on Baggage Reclaim I’m always emphasising reality because so many people get lost in illusions and create reasons for themselves to be the exception, even though the basis for believing their situation to be the exception may be skewed. Particularly with Mr Unavailables (emotionally unavailable men) and assclowns, holding onto relationships with them is about wishing, willing, waiting, and hoping, that you are the exception.
I wrote a little about our desire to be the exception in my recent post on Forget Mr Good Enough, Mr Perfect, and the Fairy Tale – “It’s the desire for the ‘happy ending’ that lets so many of us try to extract relationships from assclowns and Mr Unavailables. We hope our tale will be different. We want to be the exception.”
One of the most common things that gets said to me by readers is that they cannot believe how similar people’s stories are and how dysfunctional behaviours can be broken down so clearly. Many people find Baggage Reclaim while looking for answers to a problem that they believe to be ‘unique’. Many readers felt alone until they started reading posts that got to the heart of the problem.
By talking about stuff like boundaries, passive aggression, The Status Quo, how we become the pursuer, blowing hot and cold, how to spot emotionally unavailable men, the powerbase, being the girl that cried wolf, the guy that cries crocodile tears, the terms and conditions of relationships, knowing when to fold in bad relationships, return on emotional investment and much more; these act as a baseline for understanding what is highly likely to result in relationships – the love ecomomics or ‘lovenomics’.
Many of us have got caught up in believing “exceptions and anomalies” in the form of stories we heard about that woman who stuck by the side of her Mr Unavailable/assclown and eventually, he saw the light. Eventually could be 5,10,15, or 35 years but this is normally ignored. I also hear about that one woman who slept with someone else’s husband and he left the wife to be with her.
I’ve received a lot of emails from women saying ‘but what if he changes?’ and after the Sex and the City movie came out, my inbox became cluttered with emails basically saying that Mr Big and Carrie getting married shows how Mr Unavailables can change. These are the other types of ‘stories’ – fairy tales based on romantic comedies, actual fairy tales, celebrities, and even royalty – Prince Charles marrying Camilla Parker Bowles must surely be one of the most famous Other Women being a so-called ‘exception’.
Baggage Reclaim is about my perceptions of relationships and the love habits and behaviours that many of us have that are in actual fact counterproductive to 1) personal happiness 2) reasonable levels of self-esteem, and 3) having a decent, healthy relationship.
The love economics or ‘lovenomics’ of engaging in behaviours such as:
- having negative beliefs about love, relationships, and yourself,
- having little or no boundaries,
- having little or no foundations as a basis for a relationship,
- contradicting words by having inconsistent actions,
- betting on potential,
- overthinking and overdiscussing to the point of not actually doing anything,
- loving people unconditionally even when they have little or no love, care, trust, and respect for you,
- projecting our vision of things and sticking with it even when we have real evidence contradicting our views,
- expecting thing from people that we either are not ourselves or should be providing for ourselves,
- accepting lies, ridiculous statements, and outrageous behaviour,
- placing everything on one person and making getting a relationship a vocation,
indicate that the very likely, almost definite result is a relationship that will deplete your self-esteem and cause little happiness with a lot of pain.
When you carry negative beliefs about love, relationships, and yourself, you inadvertently ending up choosing partners and relationships that reflect these things, not challenge them.
When you have little or no boundaries in relationships, you open yourself up to, at best, being taken advantage of and, at worst, being abused. It’s like wearing a sign saying ‘Kick me, disrespect me, do as you please. I’ll still be here’. We all need limits otherwise we have no opt-out point.
Having little or no foundations as a basis for a relationship means that you love and trust blindly and choose to stay in a relationship for illusionary reasons. You love, and choose to love and stay before you actually have evidence that suggests that you should.
By contradicting words by having inconsistent actions, it shows that neither has any real meaning. When we listen to words and ignore real actions, we dine off illusions.
Betting on potential means that you ignore someone’s consistent behaviour and decide you know better and don’t adjust your ‘vision’ and ‘expectations’ to something more realistic because it doesn’t suit your agenda.
Overthinking and over-discussing to the point of not actually doing anything means that you render yourself immobile by stalling on making a decision and taking action.
Loving people unconditionally even when they have little or no love, care, trust, and respect for you means that you love without any care for yourself in the hope it’ll be reciprocated.
Projecting our vision of things and sticking with it even when we have real evidence contradicting our views means that we have ‘fake’ relationships
Expecting things from people that we either are not ourselves or should be providing for ourselves, means we create unrealistic expectations and set ourselves up to fail at relationships.
Accepting lies, ridiculous statements, and outrageous behaviour means you invite illusions into your life, live in denial, and don’t value honesty.
Placing everything on one person and making getting a relationship a vocation totally distorts your perspective where you will opt for any relationship rather than not be in one. You’ll try to ‘make’ every relationship work.
We have to start examining our desire to be the exception because when we choose someone whose ‘rule’ is to behave in ways that detract from you and are counterproductive to forging a decent relationship, it’s quite a damaging gamble to place on yourself.
Back in part Two.
Your thoughts? How long are you prepared to wait to be the ‘exception’ to someone’s ‘rule’ of not treating you and the relationship with love, care, trust, and respect?