Friday, 24 February 2012

Myth busters: women advise others to be unattractive to raise their own attractiveness rating

This one has been annoying me for some time….

I see wide acceptance in US blogs of the urban myth that women advise other women to dress / present themselves unattractively to raise their own comparative attractiveness to men. It goes something like this – a woman cunningly advises another woman her short hair cut etc is attractive and suitable for her, knowing the hair cut etc is not attractive to “men”. The first woman then appears comparatively more attractive.

There are sooo many holes in this belief you could drive a road train (freight truck with many trailers used in outback areas to transport all manner of goods) through it!!!!!

As usual, I write from the point of view of a mid life woman.

 Firstly, there is no acknowledgement of the reasons women compliment each other!  The main reasons are to start a positive conversation or reinforce the self-esteem of the other woman. There is no way a polite good-willed woman is going to tell another woman she is unattractive, too fat etc! We choose a positive aspect – say a nice blouse or hair colour we like and talk about that.

As I observe, women are largely community-minded, cooperative people who want to keep good relations with others and help other people be the best possible people they can. We don’t go around undermining other women.

Secondly, the context of the compliment is totally ignored. At work and in most social interactions we are seeking to be stylish, make the best of ourselves and above all be appropriately presented. It is not our goal to dress to attract men – especially in the work situation. Our compliments to other women reflect this context.

Note: most mid life women I know are married or not seeking a male partner. Why would dressing to attract men be top of our collective minds? We are not competing for men within our social group.

As an aside – older women dressing provocatively have been cited for sexual harassment by male colleagues. Also, as you age, certain provocative dress styles just ... look …well, even more inappropriate at work. We sometimes talk of what is appropriate or not. Our priority is to be professional and dress in a manner that is acceptable in the situation – looking sexually alluring is not a priority!!       

Thirdly, all these people who propagate the myth are assuming mostly heterosexual women know what heterosexual men find attractive. Apart from the obvious – e.g. low cut blouses and ample cleavage on young women – it’s all a bit of a mystery, especially when we suspect the males we really admire are past tarty public displays of legs and breasts when choosing that special someone for a life partner.    

I don’t think I have to say a PERSON cannot have any clear idea about what exactly a particular other PERSON will find sexually attractive! As Awesome said, some slobby  men want their partner to dress down to their level while other men want their partner to be elegant and classy.How can a third person know this?

Fourthly, by our 50s we have pretty well worked out there is no absolute standard for beauty and attractiveness and no longer feel driven to be fashion victims. We just want to keep our health and do the best we can with what we have got. We know we are so damn lucky compared to others and how the photos of models in magazines are highly airbrushed. Also, importantly, we know there is more to beauty than mere appearance! Do you really think we want to use our compliments to other women to reinforce some false standard and attack their self-esteem?

So, to sum up, women in my orbit are not interested in encouraging other women to be less attractive to men to ensure their own relative attractiveness is boosted. We have a vastly different agenda and speak and interact in a totally different context. If you want to find out what is attractive to men or a particular man, observe their reactions or ask them or him what you should wear or how to do your hair. It's very simple really. 

I am really blown away by pink sunsets and other natural atmospheric effects - but that is just me!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Unconditional love without conditions – a life limiting belief – LOSE IT

Note: In Clarissa and my opinion, addressing this belief is important to both maintaining the health of a functional relationship and also making the best of a dysfunctional relationship.  

In this post I speak from experience and try to create some advice for myself and other people. Please note I don’t have experience or qualifications in a relevant field, so you need to think things through yourself and decide on your own approach. If things blow up - you need to take responsibility! 
I suggest a new term “life limiting belief “. It’s similar to “self limiting belief”, but is a belief about life rather than oneself and one’s own capabilities.

The two co- related life limiting beliefs I address are:
1.      People naturally regulate their own behaviour.
2.      Marriage means unconditional love – you give everything and do everything for the spouse no matter what they do for you or for themselves.

I argue, if you really love someone you should help them become the best person they can possibly be and this may mean speaking out, working with them to achieve improvements or eventually withdrawing your support if your support is reinforcing their dysfunctional behaviour or seriously reducing their quality of your life. In some cases, when all other avenues are exhausted, you may need to threaten divorce.  However, I hope that a sensitive proactive approach will mean coercion is never needed.  

1.      People naturally regulate their own behaviour.

It may seem pretty obvious, but I took a long time to realize that many people don’t self-regulate – they need other people to motivate and even coerce them. Also, in general behaviour that is rewarded is reinforced. Hence, if your partner crosses a serious boundary or fails to make an equitable contribution, and you don’t call them on it and keep on rewarding them for the undesirable behaviour, they will continue to do it and even become worse.

Note: You need to be sensitive to the situation when addressing behaviour and demanding your standards are met. Some people are ill or for some reason cannot achieve a standard, e.g. a woman in menopause may not be able to keep up with both her job and housework or and may not be able to lose weight however much you threaten her. Also, someone who is clinically depressed cannot just ‘buck up’ and may need support to seek treatment.     

On the other hand, strong self-regulators respond very badly to attempts to tell them what to do and even worse to coercion. Of course they need to respect your boundaries, and most likely will because they know how affronted they are when someone crosses their boundaries – Billy is a strong self regulator and has laid down his boundaries firmly!! In these cases, when absolutely necessary, you need to make them aware of your needs and situation and make suggestions as to their behaviour based on firm evidence while firmly setting and defending your own boundaries.   

2.      Marriage means unconditional love – you give everything and do everything for the spouse not matter what they do for you or for themselves.

The first thing I did when considering the feasibility and desirability of unconditional love is wonder what God wanted. I’m not an expert theologian – so I put two thoughts in front of you – Does God love unconditionally? Would he create a structure where by someone could exploit and abuse someone for life? Would God create a situation whereby someone could develop and be rewarded for very bad and sinful habits? I think not! Perhaps people with expertise in this area could comment.

Given the above discussion on self-regulation and rewards reinforcing undesirable and dysfunctional behaviour, you can see how unconditional love can create serious issues for both parties.

Let me provide my example - my ex had to quit work due to illness. I should have suggested and possibly pressed him to seek medical help and then to make and implement a plan to rehabilitate and enter the workforce – at a level appropriate to his capabilities of course. Instead I thought he would organize himself and I worked harder, made more money and did all the housework even though he was at home all day. I spent so little time on myself my appearance suffered, I put on weight and I did not have the clothes and shoes I required to keep up my professional appearance. He on the other hand became fat, depressed, sicker, lazy and addicted to video games. He still complains about lack of help and support - so you can see misplaced "best efforts" and self sacrafise can be totally unappreciated!

As the partner with the greater capability and the stronger internal locus of control, I would argue it was my role to make him aware that he was not making the best of his life and that he needed to work and contribute if we were to make something of our lives together and reach our goals. If he put in insufficient effort while I was Miss Nice Mouse, I should have moved to harsher measures to kick him out of his complacency and spur him to action.  

Note: Exhaustively gather information and carefully formulate a strategy, including consideration of and control of risks (i.e. risks to them and you and any vulnerable others arising from the strategy or their response), before you bring up sensitive issues or try to force a dysfunctional partner to change. For example, if they are suffering from an illness, you should seek medical advice.  

So the summary – we should encourage our partner to be the best possible person they can be and as well police our own boundaries and have high expectations for the behaviour of all our family members.  If we believe in “unconditional love” and thus accept and reward laziness, irresponsibility and downright bad behaviour, the dysfunctionality will continue and likely get worse.  This is not the right thing to do and also it is unlikely God would think it a good idea!
Have high expectations and reach for the impossible - this dramatic flower grows tall and reaches for the sun against a clear blue Brisbane sky!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Advice for those in unhappy marriages...coming soon!

BJ commented on a previous post -  
Society, at least the highly Puritan/religious fundamentalist influenced one in the United States will go with the assumption that if you continue to be married you're happy. They'll decry the divorce statistics of how approximately 50% of all marriages end in divorce. But they omit the fact that the 50% who remain marriage a good portion of those people will never have a happy coupling with their spouse. And through finances, generational or religious guilt will not even consider divorce.

The only answer you will get is to get counseling. But many if not most will not have a sexless couple back smoking up the sheets or bear to be around their spouse. No one really speaks to couples like this if you can truly call them couples anymore. You're like the crazy Aunt locked up in the basement or the homeless person on the street you ignore. Or the soft-spoken introvert at a party. They're invisible.

Well exactly BJ! Here too in Australia. Clarissa is an expert on this being terminally married to a very poor match. I was contracted far too long to a very poor match!  

ANYWAY …Clarissa and I have been mulling over advice that could be provided to people living in these permanent incompatible relationships, so be ready to see some posts if we can get past the menopause/post menopause haze to write and edit them!

This hardy iris shows how to shine in the rain ...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Lose the labels that are not helping you!

It seems to be a part of current culture to label and categorise things and people. Even pornography has a plethora of very specific genres!

Just as we are losing some of the class consciousness and racism in society, and equal employment opportunity seems to be catching on, we are inventing new labels to ‘explain’ why some people may be less successful at work and in relationships.  It goes something like this “I’m a <blah> and therefore never attract this <high class> type person”.   Or “I’m a <blah> and therefore I will never be successful”.

I’m not going to mention any of these labels because they annoy me at a very basic level. They represent limiting beliefs and acceptance of things that are not meant to be. They also represent dodgy thinking. One is where one is because of real reasons which can be addressed. Yes, there is a certain influence of random events, but we control what we think and how we react.

Don’t be persuaded to base your identity on a label that degrades or limits. Don’t make being a failure, loser or victim your point of difference. Don’t act and dress for failure. Take the journey – lose your negative and limiting labels and beliefs and be the best possible person you can be!
There’s no definition of a perfect body (or mind) – make the best of what you have got and call that wonderful and awesome!
Dramatic baby gumnuts, not faded flowers.