Monday, August 16

Presacrificing

WARNING: Another awesomely gratuitous post about myself. Reading back even I think I'm being a bit of a self-absorbed tit, so if you do too don't be too surprised/cruel.

While having a group conversation about - yes, you've guessed it - marriage, someone made a simple point, quite possibly in passing, but which has kinda stuck with me since, opening up a whole new level of thinking (in my typical over-thinking and over-analytical fashion).

She said that the love a person needs is completely individual to them, and that effort will need be be made in order to figure that out.

Okay so it's hardly the insightful philosophical statement I billed it to be. But nevertheless the thing which struck me was how important the order and timing of things were rather than the effort or focus made; that part of loving someone is precisely to figure out how to love them. And yes, the logician in me is screaming at the recursion in that statement; presumably it starts with a spark or something.

Common sense? Well maybe. On to me.

I've written before about how the lack of any women in my life growing up may have had an effect on how I perceive, and so, treat them. A part of this reaction was to actually take notice of the typical things women used to complain about and try to figure out how to best avoid the issues that they had. This need to please, along with my incessant desire to marry and the fact that I'm a total planner in almost everything I do resulted in my taking some pre-emptive and long term measures in the way I lived my life.

So for example after a woman complained that her husband spent too much time at work, I specifically began to write off demanding careers that would get make me work odd hours or weekends or spend days or weeks away (the fear of a pager interrupting dinner with my family was the deciding factor in me declining to study medicine). The way women complained about not having enough to make basic ends meet spurred me to work hard in school and beyond in order to get a well paid job. The mere existence of the term "football widows" put me off following the sport, and so I chose other more partner-friendly things like movies instead (including chick flicks and Bollywood). The declaration that "chivalry was dead" spurred me to make opening doors, walking on the roadside and carrying bags for the ladies a habit.

And it goes on. Complaints about men not being around and choosing to hang with their mates instead of their families made me either keep friends at a disposable distance or become close to those who would welcome my wife alongside me. The lamenting about newlyweds having to leave home made me aim to look for a wife in my locality. Resistance toward having to live with in-laws meant I would start saving for a house to move into (complete with space for both our sets of parents if the need ever arose) instead of blowing my money on a fancy Merc. All that moaning about how Asian guys got to be promiscuous and insist on pure wives convinced me to keep it straight.

Fat husband getting you down with his smoking? Well then I'll keep slim and stay away from the ciggies. Does your bloke not have an interest in how you look? Heck I even formed opinions on ladies fashion (here and here). Does your man not talk to you about how he feels? Well, you get the idea.

Now before you all swoon at how much of a dreamboat I am (I can see you toppling over as I type), this isn't me listing all the qualities that would make me a good husband and how under-appreciated myself and other nice guys are. In fact I'd be lying if I said many of these things weren't due to other factors like my religion or decent upbringing and some are more incidental and post-justified than others. And of course there's plenty of things that I can work on too, so I'm not playing the martyr or falling on my sword here.

But I have suddenly noticed that the above all goes exactly against the very simple point my friend spelled out for me above. Instead of figuring out what a person needs, I've gone ahead and decided for them.

The problem is that I've totally disregarded any individuality members of the fairer sex might have. For each commitment and sacrifice I made, no matter how well intentioned, I created a further template that my future partner would have have to conform to. And just like with checklists, the more criteria we have, the less likely it is to find someone who fits them all. Yes, of course some women would like a fully available husband, and yes, many others would like him to have manners. But it doesn't mean that all will want all these things at the same time. So perhaps I could make the right girl really happy; it's just that now most girls aren't right.

So this essentially boils down to a lack of flexibility and dynamism on my part, totally missing that people (not just women) have quite naturally changed and developed and may want something else now. They no longer complain about the things they used to, either because they don't care or have found some kind of parity or justice in the situations they found themselves in before; so it's now normal for either gender to provide financial security, have their own space and partake in non-casual yet not-marital relationships. Whether these are good or bad things is not the point of this post (but I've spoken about it elsewhere), the point is that they're all out of whack with what I've conditioned myself to be able to offer.

But even if I was able to adapt further to a particular girl's needs, there's still a few issues here. I already am now who I already am, and for someone not to acknowledge and regard these things would at best be unappreciative of me and my development and at worst quite undermining of all those efforts I've already made - I'd pretty much be redundant. This goes both ways of course; due to the reasons stated above since I already believe I've done these things for her, I find it difficult to understand why she would want anything else. And hey: even if I found someone who did want these things, how could she ever appreciate them? I didn't do them for her, I did them for a potential she just happens to coincidently fill (otherwise known as Spammy's Eighth). Finally, I guess I have a little expectation that she would have prepared for me as much as I have for her. I fully recognise how unfair and unreasonable that is though.

On the other hand, those who didn't structure their lives around a future that didn't exist, those who lived for the day rather than tomorrow, those who followed their own desires and individuality, are more able to adapt to the unknown quantity presented in a new partner: I bet the farm on a lot of things and have ended up out of touch. This doesn't mean I have any regrets though since a lot of the things I did (or didn't do) were and are good for other reasons and have made me a better person regardless of how single I still happen to be. I do often wonder how different I'd be if I never had these considerations, but I like to think I'd very much be the same.

So what now? Well there's two main strategies I guess. I could either write off the investment and start afresh, this time basing my efforts to change around a particular individual who I actually, you know, like for who they are. Alternatively I could keep at it and search for that particular person who will appreciate all that I've worked to give her. Of course there's no guarantees such a girl exists, but then on the other hand without this framework I've no basis on which to actually determine whether or not I like someone; heck, I may even have to use those "feelings" things people keep telling me about to figure that out... Or perhaps I should just stick with looks.

31 comments:

  1. Anonymous22:57

    "I may even have to use those "feelings" things people keep telling me about..."

    You're turning into a girl :D

    No, seriously, this post makes you sound quite the ideal man.

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  2. >You're turning into a girl

    This is nothing new. For example, I've had www.askginka.com in my bookmarks since 2002.

    But yeh, I've edited the ending of the post slightly to compensate.

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  3. Anonymous23:46

    You've changed. I remember you from the olden days, when you were ever so lofty and highly annoying.:D

    'Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay'
    Frost,I think.

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  4. Oh, I'm still those things:

    Spare me the poetry please.

    See?

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  5. Anonymous23:52

    Lol,welcome back.

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  6. Anonymous00:14

    You know as much as you are right that roles and expectations of women and men have changed-you really would suit 99% of the single girls out there...and you may even tempt the married ones!

    But it is fair to say that not everyone has built their present on a fictitious future...well not to the extent that you have lol!

    I got as far as...become a teacher the holidays will match with the kids...I now lecture at university, have a very flexible timetable that works around my needs, have as many holidays as I want...but no kids! I guess I'd need to be married for that tho ;)

    I have to ask- and only because this came up in a conversation- are educated women intimidating? Maybe your next blog could be about that?!

    :)

    A

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  7. Anonymous00:18

    Oh God, no! His head is going to inflate and that'll ruin all the progress which seems to have been made so far, lol.

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  8. Anonymous00:22

    To be fair, I agree with this, A:

    'you really would suit 99% of the single girls out there'

    Though...

    /if all the world and love were young/and truth in every shepherd's tongue/these pretty pleasures might me move/to live with thee and be thy love/

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  9. Anonymous01:19

    You know it did make me wonder why you don't have a long line if women waiting impatiently to serve you tea so a proposal can be finalised-( I may be wrong!)

    But I think I understand now-I think from that 99% that initially were tempted-in my opinion a minority would only want to pursue due to the fact that its all too 'perfect'

    As women-a mans imperfections gives us the chance not only (while he's slaving at work) to complain about his imperfections to anything in a skirt BUT it also means we are comfortable with who WE are.

    A perfect man with the perfect ideals and perfect morals and perfect ways does not fit into our imperfect world...

    I would much rather be with an average joe where i wouldn't feel under pressure to be fault-free and could go a week without waxing-than with a man who ticks all the boxes and KNOWS he does (its taken away the element of surprise)

    In an ideal world I'd be perfect wife material-but in the real world my imperfections make me who I am.

    A

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  10. Anonymous03:06

    Hmmm

    As you can see its been nearly 2hrs since my last post and yes I have been reading through your blog an am intrigued...
    I have a few questions and thought it make sense to list them all as one comment:

    (1) how long have you been looking to get married?

    (2) what type of girl would be a potential 'yes'? (you've seen rishte but I guess they rejected or u did)

    (3) how tall are you (nothing to do with your blogs I'm just curious-in which case how old are you too!)

    (4) am I right in thinking you want a quiet life at home with the 'wife n kids'?

    (5) I don't really have a fifth question but odds always look better than evens-and I wanted my question list to look good!

    I think I should get to sleep now-I'll be interested to read you responses when you get the chance!

    A

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  11. Anonymous12:45

    Ooooh,, I think you have an admirer in A!

    As for whether or not you should stick to feelings or looks- FEELINGS have it every time. But, then surely, an emotionally-aware person like you should know that. Having said that though, I'm surprised there hasn't evr been that person in your life that makes your heart leap, stumble over your words, cause you sleepless nights, etc.

    Or, has there...

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  12. *shakes head and walks away*

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  13. Kylie14:16

    I can't believe that self-indulgent post actually attracted an admirer!

    Good luck Shak! ;)

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  14. Anonymous14:18

    Hm, or perhaps A has someone in mind.

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  15. Anonymouses,

    Lots of interesting comments and questions - thanks :). Alas as a rule I tend not to engage with anonymous commenters in great depth. Sorry :(. Feel free to sign up with a pseudonym or something if you want further discussion. Thanks for understanding :)

    Kylie,

    Tell me about it, and that even despite my warnings. I swear, if I was a player I'd have at least six notches on my bedpost by now.

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  16. as one of the anonymous' said maybe you're too perfect.

    personally I think you should stick to your gameplan. you are who you are and that should be enough.

    maybe you just overthink things and need to let some girl choose you.

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  17. Based on personal experience, I find that you can prepare for married life and have all the "ideal" qualities, but even then you would find that in reality it is quite different. Marriage is more organic. Having these impressive traits would help your wife and you in having a stable marriage. But, it doesn't necessarily guarantee that you would 'mesh' together. I don't think marriage is built on how early the husband gets home, or whether he opens the door or not. It requires something more than that.

    I say hold onto your ideal qualities they would make you a good husband. But, when you do get married *inshAllah* start fresh. Learn what makes her happy. She is an individual with her own personality and requirements.

    You and your wife should learn to love and respect each other together. It's more beautiful that way. Instead of everything being already there. This way you would appreciate each other more. It's a beautiful journey which the both of you should take together.

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  18. Mash,

    But I'm not perfect, and I don't mean that in a humble way. I'm not going to list all my faults, but there's plenty of easily fixable things about me that I know irritates the hell out of people.

    Zany,

    Yeh yeh I get all that, but then we're back to the same question - why do you like the person you like? For whatever I tend not to like many people (in the romantic sense), so for me having a template seems to be the next best thing.

    Perhaps I should outsource it, or follow some prescription (Islam, say), or just stick to obvious basics like them being nice. But then... isn't that all just the same thing anyway?

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  19. >For whatever I tend not to like many people (in the romantic sense)

    Just to qualify this, it doesn't feel that I like anyone *enough*. If I lower that tolerance then I'd have to simply marry everyone I know.

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  20. I didn't mean literally perfect. I mean perfect on paper

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  21. Okay but even then there's much to be improved upon.

    Anyway, this wasn't really about ranking me. I guess we're all agreed that the order is important.

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  22. Anonymous22:42

    The rejection of potential perfection...Hmm, I officially do not understand humans.

    A, Shak is not perfect at all. He is just as, if not more, annoying than most males, suspicious, cynical, obstinate and what's worse, I suspect, a romantic- this is just the online him mind. :)

    He is however, also uncommonly and increasingly reflective (he calls it 'self-absorption'). This last feature redeems him to a large degree.

    (As your rule will not, Shak, allow you to engage with Anons, I've decided to talk about you, rather than to you).

    /And ever changing, like a joyless eye
    /That finds no object worth its constancy/

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  23. Anonymous05:56

    Well there's a surprise-or maybe not!
    Firstly in no way, shape or form were my posts an indication of 'admiration' for Shak.
    Myself and a friend were talking about marriage and potential spouses and she sent me a link to the blog! Those who thought my comments meant I thought something of Shak really do prove that speculation leads to nothingness and is a dangerous if not slightly shallow view to take!

    On the 'anonymous' front- well in all honesty did you 'really' think I'd go out of my way to sign up just for answers to my ramblings? Probably not-but all the same it does highlight something about the real Shak-not the persona created for this blog. I can respect the fact that 'anons' may scare you hence not discussing any details with them but that also closes your circle of acquaintances to simply the people you know- the idea of me being a pseudonym is not different to being an 'anon'!

    The chances are that you chose simply not to answer the questions-which I'd fair enough-your blog your rules :D

    My initial observance was 'perfection' is often 'sickly sweet' but I did also think that-having read through this rest of the blogs-you had simply been unlucky in love and simply hadn't connected with anyone to take things further.
    But something struck me: in one of your blog entries you make a comment about 'lowering your standards' will enable you to have anyone you want (or something there abouts)
    The problem is not so much 'what you can do now' to get a suitable partner-but it's more so 'come back down to earth'
    This blog seems to be about a guy who has tried to be the man of everyones dreams but hasn't succeeded-but deeply rooted within that is simply someone who 'thinks' they are more than sufficient for every girl out there but in actual fact it so 'self-involved' that he's failed to realise you can't train yourself to be the perfect person for anyone.
    My Mr Right will be Mr Oh-So-Wrong for someone else...you said in the 'toy story' blog that there weren't many girls who shared the view that the initial part of our lives was simply a prep for the challenges we will face as a spouse-but maybe you're missing the fact that life doesn't revolve around marriage-marriage is a way for companionship that friends and family can't give-it's about working together to add to our lives and to create a strong foundation and unit for raising children-it's about committing to work together irrespective of our differences and yes that's bloody hard work!
    I think the problem is that you have spent so long trying to be what you think people want you to be-that you have actually lost the person who you are-even you're engagement with this blog is simply a way to advertise who you think you 'should' be...

    One thing I will leave you with is this- find the real you and embrace it-and if you don't know who YOU are then your search for a spouse should start there...because it's only when you know who you are that you will know what you're looking for and I pray that you will inshAllah then find the girl who can be the companion that you wish for.

    A

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  24. Anonymous,

    Just so we're clear, I wasn't dangling a carrot in order to have you disclose who you are. Neither am I afraid to talk to strangers - have you not read this blog? If anything I love talking about myself :). You're right in that signing up doesn't really help with knowing anything about you.


    However it is handy (for me at least) because it's the only way to correlate comments and know what's been said to whom and under what context - for all I know there have been four "A"s in this thread alone. Plus I've done this long enough to see that people tend to act very differently if there's no attribution for the things they say, even if that cannot be traced to an identity in real life.

    It doesn't take long to sign up; it's certainly less effort than the response you wrote - you can even use an existing compatible account if you have one.

    It's a shame 'cos you do make some really good points which I may even have responses too (now that might actually be your carrot :D). But of course, it's always your choice.

    Either way, thanks for your comments :)

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  25. Anonymous 100:43

    Tis a shame that we spent more time discussing anonymousness than the actual content of the post.

    I do see what you mean however.

    There were actually only 3 Anonymouses:

    Anonymous 1, who insists on poetry and thinks you're turning into a girl.

    Anonymous the second, who signed off as 'A', but who probably feels thoroughly snubbed by your initial disengagement, so may have disappeared for good.

    Anonymous the third, who made childish 'oooh' comments :)

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  26. Anonymous 100:53

    Oh, I meant to ask why you don't consider someone resident in Pakistan?

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  27. "It doesn't take long to sign up; it's certainly less effort than the response you wrote - you can even use an existing compatible account if you have one."

    This part almost sounds like an ad for signing up!

    I usually make anonymous comments when I read through a blog for the first time-that's just the way it is.

    i am still intrigued to know how many of my questions you would answer so this time round I am using my login.

    And it hasn't got much on it as yet but www.tobeincognito.blogspot.com is me.

    A

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  28. Well, a deal's a deal.

    Educated women are not intimidating. Well not any more intimidating than an educated bloke. However I personally think that today an educated person is more likely to feel discontent or unfulfilled if they don't have anything to show the benefits of gaining that education. Quite naturally, a doctor, lawyer, accountant will naturally want to practice their skill. However In my opinion, this pursuit can be distracting (for both men and women) from what really might be important, sometimes even creating an internal conflict or guilt when one tries to have it all. As for writing a post on the subject, sorry I don't take requests :).

    As for your questions:

    1) I would have been happy to marry as soon as I graduated, so ten years? But I only made this search explicit (rishta, asking friends, websites) around four years ago.

    2) Um. Bit of a tough one to answer here.

    3) 5'10". And a half.

    4) Yes, although I don't think that has to be literally quiet - I do and am capable of getting up to some mischief and adventure. I just wouldn't want that to be the whole point - it should be a bonus, not something to chase.

    As for your comment stamped 05:56, I absolutely agree - in fact you've kinda reiterated what I've written in my original post. I don't think "finding myself" is necessarily the answer, 'cos I could just figure out what I already know. And also the idea that a "self-centric" lifestyle is the only way to marital happiness really doesn't sit that well with me. But yes, this is the exact question I end the post with above.

    Actually I did kind of try this: 2.5 years ago I quit my job, travelled a bit and generally dossed. And although I had fun, it really wasn't what I want to do.

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  29. Deepika16:44

    2) Um. Bit of a tough one to answer here.

    If you're not going to answer it here then where?

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