Confessions of a Cerebral Dater: Unspoken Expectations of Partners

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I’m learning to deal with my issues inside and outside of relationships. Most of my issues come from my cerebral nature and approach to dating that to some make very little sense, and others are almost the absolute gospel. I should remind you guys that outside of SBM, and blogging in general, the way I approach my relationships is probably a lot different than what you would expect. That’s okay. I put up a status on Gchat not too long ago that said, “Sometimes I get relationship questions and I respond with ‘Here’s what you should do, you’re not going to do it though. How do I know? Because it’s not what I would do, but it’s what you should do.” The moral of the story is that even the “experts,” if that term should ever apply to a blogger, have problems in relationships that they not yet be ready to deal with.

In a conversation with the best friend about life, love and all that other crap that people believe in, we resolved that I’m a system dater. There’s two types of daters: systematic and motivational. Motivational daters inspire their partners by leading by example; they can pretty much date anyone because their power to influence their actions is immense. Systematic (or system) daters need a certain list of qualities and have a certain way of doing things to enjoy success in a relationship. System daters can’t just date anyone. They have to find the perfect match or someone who has the potential to be a perfect match.

Now the conflicting point for me is that my approach to being a system dater is inherently motivational. This might fly over some of the women’s heads, but allow me to explain this by using a sports analogy: If you’re a system coach, you’re likely to pick players that fit your system and micromanage them into learning the system. You’ll continuously point out errors and encourage the small victories until the system is implemented into perfection. In contrast, a motivational coach will go with the players on the court and work to inspire them to greatness, no matter who they are. When they’re going through tough spots, they are patient and have faith that the end goal is intact as long as the team is moving forward. The way that plays out for me in my dating life is that there’s all these things that have to be in place for my system to work, but I’m likely to respond to any issues or setbacks with, “I think she’ll figure it out. No need to worry, I just have to lead by example.”

That simply doesn’t work all that great.

In almost every situation that I’ve ever been in explaining the things that went wrong were at times complete surprises to the woman. “You never told me this” is a common quote in debriefing conversations of my relationships. It always makes me reflect on whether I handled the situation the right way or not. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that it might not be a bad thing to not be that way. By not communicating every detail of what it takes to succeed in my system, I’m actually indicating that a person who already understands these basic concepts is what I desire in a partner.

To expand on that point, because I don’t want to unleash a nation of men who think it’s okay to operate under a “you should just know” mantra, let me explain how that works a little further. There are undoubtedly some very basic and fundamental qualities that all should have and understand. You can’t have a list of requirements in your head that are silly and nonsensical. Trust me, there is no way for your girl to know that you like a #10 from McDonald’s. And I guess the best way to explain to you why I think there are certain things that everyone should just know, it’s best that —  at a high level explain — the unspoken rules of my system to you.

I personally don’t think that anyone should have to tell their partner these things:

  1. The key to the system is communication and a lot of it. I don’t need to be the first person you call whenever you do anything, but you should be overcompensating in the area of communication at all times. The notion that, “you’re not my father” has to stop and go away if a relationship is going to work.
  2. The focal point of any relationship is the other person, not you. I shouldn’t have to tell you that when you think about our relationship, thinking of yourself and what the relationship is doing for you is completely wrong. The key to success is that you have to be continuously thinking about how to make your partner happy and care for them in the best way possible.
  3. Every day you have to be dedicated to being better. There is no summit of a relationship, there is no endpoint and there is no opportunity to stop and rest. (That sounds like hell, but whatever.) People ask me why I’m always in these lengthy relationships all the time and I tell them, because every time I wake up in the morning I ask myself , “how can I be better?” I never stop doing that, and I simply cannot understand why everyone else doesn’t think that.

Of course there are tons of other things, but those aren’t that hard to communicate. You know like, this system and team is sponsored by Nike which means, Just Do It. If something doesn’t really bother you to your core, then just because you don’t want to do it isn’t a valid reason to not do it. However, the way those three concepts can be huge factors for me in any relationship is for one reason and one reason alone: It’s because I live by them too. They aren’t just requirements that I have for my partner; they’re requirements that I practice myself.

I’m still figuring this entire thing out. Childish Gambino has a lyric that I love to quote when I talk about relationships: “This isn’t a story about how girls are evil or how love is bad. This is a story about how I learned something and I’m not saying this thing is true or not, I’m just saying it’s what I learned.” While sometimes the logic may seem flawed, while sometimes the system doesn’t work, and maybe the system needs to be completely tossed out the window into oncoming traffic, it’s the system to which I’m dedicated. Whether you’re systematic or motivational as a lover and a dater, whether you subscribe to the belief that there are certain fundamental elements that must be present for any relationship to work, or whether you think the whole thing is for the birds, I hope we understand one thing. We can learn a lot from the self-examination of ourselves; and sometimes what we learn in self-examination is that the very things we think are flaws are best described as characteristics we need in a partner.

- Dr. J

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From Our Partners

  • Paul B.

    I can relate wholeheartedly with this.

    • Tray

      Ditto! I think what is most interesting is that sometimes people can be a hybrid of both a systematic and motivational dater or start off as one and change over time. I can say that I have always been, even though im young (early 20's) a motivational dater and that's ok because transtional life stages require motivation – it/s almost a necessity. However, the older we get and the more certain we are of who or what we want and need, it can cause us to see that sometimes motivational dating is too exhausting if your partner is not always self motivated. This method can be successful if both people are motivating each other. So i think at this point im more of a hybrid. I enjoy being motivated and motivating by I also need someone who satsifies certain qualities on the proverbial "list."

      As for #'s 1-3? *emphatically claps hands* yes! The first and third are things that i think many people faulter with. Communication is literally the key. Close mouths dont get fed and no one is a mind reader. Especially number three is something i have experienced and seen in other people's relationship. Complacency in relationships is alive and well and it is unfortunate. I, like Dr. J, am always asking myself how can i do/be better for myself and this person? If the other person is too lax to do better this can sometimes say alot about how the person is. Nobody likes complacency inside or outside or a relationship. Complacency = no growth. No growth = no change or improvement.

  • Peter Parker

    Interesting viewpoints J.

  • sensesocommon

    Absolutely loved this! I actually learned a thing or two about myself. How ironic…

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

    "What's understood ain't gotta be explained" – Weezy.

    So much to say, I might need to do my own post. I agree unspoken expectations are the killer, even when they are spoken, they're so painstakingly obvious its almost patronizing. Tell someone they're not listening, or being self centered, they instinctively deny without putting any real thought behind it. In turn, they never change.

    My last relationship got to that point, there was no longer dialogue merely lectures. She felt she was doing more than enough, I felt she wasn't even trying anymore. She was ready to build the house, I'm still pointing out flaws in the blueprint. She was tired of hearing me, I was tired of talking.
    My recent post Today’s Word is… MUSIC

    • oh ok…

      That last paragraph…beautifully written.

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

        lol thanks, i didn't even realize how unintentionally poetic i got
        My recent post Today’s Word is… MUSIC

        • cynicaloptmst81

          yeah…I gotta cosign the last para too…read very well!

    • https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyBrianLogan Anthony Brian Logan

      being with somebody that you want to change into a different person by ways of changing their core elements of self is wrong to begin with. if you have to tell somebody that they self-centered … they probably been self-centered the whole time … and that self-centered nature is probably what spurred the other qualities that you are attracted to from them … like their beauty. been there done that brother.

  • nershey

    Great post. I admit, you had me for a second there when you said you realized it WASN'T a bad thing but I am glad you took some time to break it down and deconstruct what you meant. I think there are truly "unspeakables" that are deal-breakers in a relationship, and to some extent, they should be obvious. I remember being frustrated in a previous relationship because the guy just expected me to "know" certain things, but the more I think about it, I also expected him to "know" why I was upset about certain things, and in the end he just didn't get it – which just proved we weren't the right people for each other, because certain things are just basic and if you are with the right person, they would most likely already understand…

    • https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyBrianLogan Anthony Brian Logan

      i agree … two people got to be on the same page and honest with themselves and each other from the beginning in order to gain an understanding. even with understanding there still has to be communication though. the most kindred of spirits still may not have the ability of telepathy.

  • http://glippost.wordpress.com Darrk Gable

    The logic of this article can’t be overstated. The last point that was made about self-examination is on point, but probably too much for most to accept. Honest self-assesment would reveal things about ourselves we might not be ready to deal with.

    • Bree

      Cosign to the nth power Darrk. Self assesment can be a bit**.

  • Larry

    ^
    l
    l
    l_______ Uses #KobeSystem

    • MaggK

      lolllllllll I can't with you!!!

  • http://twitter.com/ferrum26 @ferrum26

    I like the approach, even though I can't agree with your conclusion. Systematic and motivational are good ways to break down the way you are in a relationship – assuming you're looking at yourself as a coach to your partner (not a bad thing). With that said, I think any coach does their team (and themselves) a disservice if they don't have an up front conversation on the fundamentals of their system. No matter how basic it is, no good coach is gonna start the season without saying "I expect you guys to hustle", even though that should be part of the selection criteria from the get go.

  • Larry

    Good post J. I feel it for sure.

    " This might fly over some of the women’s heads, but allow me to explain this by using a sports analogy:"

    Lol….I thought this was kinda funny because of the irony of the general advice given to public speakers to not use sports analogies/metaphors because women people in the audience may not be able to follow. It works in this forum, imo, though. (not suggesting it doesn't/cant in others!)

  • http://www.singleblackmale.org/author/wisdomismisery/ WisdomIsMisery

    Good post, J. I’m a systematic dater.

    I have a few flaws in dating, some others are aware of, but many only I am aware of. One of those flaws is I don’t like to argue, like at all. In the interest of not arguing, I will – as you alluded to in your post – keep a lot of little things that bother me to myself if they don’t rise to the level of what I would deem might lead to confrontation. So, as you said, my silence often comes across as “Im ok with this activity/action” when that is not the case. My silence simply means “this activity/action does not or has my risen to a level of annoyance that warrants correction or conversation (and it may never will)”. However, by the time I do bring up an issue I’m likely really bothered by it, hence the “you never told me this” speech. Yeah, well, I’m telling you now.

    The main reason I’m this way is because I don’t expect people to change. If I’m going to be with a woman, I usually except her as she is and to the degree possible, as long as I’m still happy, I learn to mold myself to her; instead of expecting her to change for me. Interestingly enough, in my observations, women have the exact opposite theory. That being that a man should change (for the better or differently) to make her happy; hence the quote: men get married hoping women never change and women get married hoping he will change.

    Some folks believe you should light “brush fires” in your relationship – small fights – to avoid the raging wild fires that may otherwise burn if you wait until you have a large fight. I hear that, and Ima let you finish, but that hasn’t usually worked out for me in real life. Namely because if there’s an issue that needs to be resolved by me, I just need to “man up” and handle it; whereas, if I note an issue – even if minor – it somehow becomes this overblown personal attack on *her character lol and the conversation (often times) devolves into an emotional, long-winded dialogue about “our feelings” and I just can’t deal. I’m not saying I’m right or that I’ve even learned over time to handle this in the best way, but unless a problem is big, I likely won’t bother bringing it up. But, the far and few system-changing problems I do bring to the forefront should probably be addressed or we gonna have a problem…like the Lakers

    LOL

    • Larry

      Yeah, that was me that gave you the thumbs down there "pleigh boy" ….and you know EXACTLY why, lolol.

      • http://www.singleblackmale.org/author/wisdomismisery/ WisdomIsMisery

        While a part of me is offended, a larger part of me respects you for owning up to the thumbs down LOL

    • amaris79

      Hmm..I'm kinda similar, but I know where it stems from. Let's just say "all my life I had to fight", so I really have this thing about having an angry man in my house. But then I got older & I really stopped having time for all that. For everyone it's different, but every woman gets to an age when she realizes fairy tales are for books and you have to ask for what you want and discuss when you're not getting it. No one is going to magically know what you want and no one is going to change (IMPROVE? yes. NOT change) their core for you.

      • http://www.singleblackmale.org/author/wisdomismisery/ WisdomIsMisery

        I feel yeah. As I said, I’m not saying I’m right. In fact, I admit I’m probably wrong, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I have a choice between having an emotional-based conversation and having no conversation at all, I’m going to choose no conversation at all 9 times out of 10 and just put the onus on myself to “get over it,” which for the record I usually do. Stated another way, I find women are (generally) more comfortable and open to discussing what bothers them both 1) more often and 2) closer to the time it actually bothere them (granted women’s time of being *bothered by something is surprisingly fluid; hence the “old” topics coming back up in new arguments). So my preference not to argue coupled with my adversity to emotions of any kind leads me to the inevitable conclusion to just STFU. Which is why Im sure a number of women I’ve dated thought they were “perfect” since i never had anything bad to say – and although that may be true – it is more likely that nothing, in my mind, was big enough to bring up. However, if it sprinkles long enough, it will still flood eventually.

      • Bree

        Truth.com Amaris.

    • MaggK

      I feel you 100%!

    • https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyBrianLogan Anthony Brian Logan

      nothing against you wisdomismisery but what you described … the whole being annoyed and then keeping it to yourself thing … sounds like toleration rather than acceptance. you'll put up with a lot of BS and rationalize it by saying that it wasn't big enough to speak on and start an argument over. the fact that you could spark an argument with something that you say is small means that its not small and that its a systemic problem in the relationship itself. you constantly fighting these small battles with self in order to prevent fighting the larger battle with the other person … will eventually blow up into a large battle with the other person to relieve the internal pressure you been building with self.

      • http://www.singleblackmale.org/author/wisdomismisery/ WisdomIsMisery

        I too respect your opinion, but I think after 30 years, Im a fairly decent judge of what I can and cannot handle versus what needs and needs not be addressed. Personally, I choose to pick my battles rather than fight in every war.

        • bree

          Thats actually not a bad thing Wis….working smarter, instead of harder.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyBrianLogan Anthony Brian Logan

    A closed mouth don't get fed.

  • Bryce

    "If youre a system coach, youre likely to pick players that fit your system and micromanage them into learning the system. Youll continuously point out errors and encourage the small victories until the system is implemented into perfection."

  • Bryce

    "If you’re a system coach, you’re likely to pick players that fit your system and micromanage them into learning the system. You’ll continuously point out errors and encourage the small victories until the system is implemented into perfection."

    This right here…explains me to a TEE, and also held a mirror up to my face, so thank you for that. I am a terrible micromanaging perfectionist. I am also an expert (which is probably unfortunate) at CONTINUOUSLY pointing out errors..except I may not always be so good at rewarding the small victories. Wow, talk about introspection (and self-sabotage) A sistah girl has some things to think about. GREAT POST!

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

      i need to get better at small victories as well…im too focused on the big picture

  • cynicaloptmst81

    This was really good, Dr. J. I can DEF relate.

    You're 3 rules are SPOT ON…SPOT ON!

    "However, the way those three concepts can be huge factors for me in any relationship is for one reason and one reason alone: It’s because I live by them too. They aren’t just requirements that I have for my partner; they’re requirements that I practice myself." <—— THIS!!!!!!!

    YES, YES!!!

  • Southerngyrl_

    This was a very good post. I also believe your three points are accurate, especially #2. I honestly think that we've all fallen victim to the "what can I get out of this" line of thinking when it comes to relationships, and I think we have all been on the receiving end of that line of thinking as well. I don't think it is always intentional or even malicious. I think sometimes we just think of what we can get out of it and little of anything else.

    You did a great job of breaking it down..

  • bellatrice1

    It sounds like I'm a motivational dater. I can pretty much date anyone who has my core requirements and try to inspire them to become great. This is probably not a good thing…lol
    My recent post Memo to HR: You Still Don't Know Me

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

      i just need a woman to teach me fine wines, how to tie a bowtie and to cook collard greens….have me?

      • oh ok…

        Hmmmmm theres always youtube! j/k!

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

          my policy is the same as with twerkers…sufficient, but i want a live woman to do it
          My recent post Today’s Word is… MUSIC

      • OtherRoooToo

        First I think you have to know if you want to start with French (Burgundy, Bordeaux?), Spanish (Rioja, Ribera del Duero?), or Italian (Montepulciano, Barolo?) … and how you think you like your greens seasoned.

        Then I think you have to consider what you want to and willing to teach her — and here comes the tricky part — that is of equal value to *her* as what you want to learn is to you.

        That's to start.

  • bellatrice1

    Lmao!! I can help w/ 2 out of 3, but we could always learn to tie a bowtie togetha! lol I'm way too accomodating…
    My recent post Memo to HR: You Still Don't Know Me

  • oh ok…

    Im prolly a motivational dater, but also maybe a lil bit systematic as well. This is because I have not yet learned who to motivate and who to just "let be", and this also extends into my friendships as well. However, my s/o is entirely systematic which can be awesome in times of confusion, but not so good in times of change (eh, no one's perfect). *shrugs*
    Good read…

    • http://twitter.com/B_rockPetty @B_rockPetty

      Yeah, we systematics don't do so well with change, I will atttest to that. :o/

  • Bree

    I can relate to this. I think I'm a motivational systematic dater, as well as a realist.
    I agree with your comments. Especially the 3 things everybody should know. The only problem is that unfortunately, not everybody thinks like this. You may meet and vibe well with someone who wasn't raised in a family where they learned how to effectively communicate in a relationship. That may be the only thing wrong, but it's a pretty big thing. Sometimes leading by example works, sometimes it doesn't. It all depends on the individual.

  • Bree

    I think this is where patience, and understanding have to come in. In relationships when dealing with other people we have to realize that other people are not us, don't think like we do, weren't raised like us, and their comprehension and perception is not like ours. If you feel the person is worth it, and you like/love them enough, you deal with them accordingly.

  • ThatDaDivA

    This is beyond ridiculous. You don’t pick proper women you can actually date as equals, you pick projects that you can analyze, mold and recreate. WHO has time to do all this crap? WHAT kind of man needs this much emoting to decide if he likes a woman or not? And WHEN did all the fun go out if dating?

    The only thing the author has figured out is how to turn the joy of dating into another boring, over analyzed head game played by men who can’t the fundamentals of “boy meets girl” down to a science.

    Sorry, but this type of foolery is why so many black relationships start at A, break at B, collapse at C and are done at D. Stalling, over thinking, over analyzing, nitpicking, just foolery. Do yourself a favor and just stay single.

    • Dr. J

      I disagree. However, I think what you're saying is valid. I do think that this approach leads to A to B quickly, but that's not always a bad thing. A lot of people stay in situations much longer than they should. The "joy of dating" sometimes has people in relationships for years until they realize they aren't really in love with a person but in love with the thought of being love with a person.

      You're also not the first and won't be the last person to tell me to stay single. In my defense, that's been the minority of time in my life. As I pointed out in my post, I usually am in long and healthy relationships. I've been in the playoffs every year, one of these years, i'm going to win the championship.

      • Bree

        Doc J I don't see nothing wrong with choosing women you feel your most compatible with and will have the most longevity work. I call that working smarter, so you don't have to work harder.

    • oh ok…

      +1
      ONLY cause thats a great argument!

  • Cookie

    Great post! It is always interesting to me to hear/read another person's perception of how to make relationships better, to improve it for the benefit of both parties, and to avoid issues that may inevitably cause the demise of the relationship. I like the angle/approach you are talking about; the systemic and motivational concept of dating. I agree with your points and yet it is unfortunate that most people don't subscribe to the idea that communication is key, the focal point of the relationship is the other person (and not you/me), and that everyday one must strive to be a better person for that relationship to thrive and grow. I can't honestly say that I have been successful at finding someone who adheres to those points, regardless of how useful they may be, or how basic the precepts are. Sounds too much like right, like common sense – yet on the flip side, once the guard is up, there is no way to get the point across that these things are actually conducive to our overall happiness – in other words, this isn't just about me…

    It is hard to talk to someone who takes what you're saying about your needs, wants, dislikes, or likes within the context of your relationship if they are perceiving what you say as negative, as opposed to ( truly listening to hear if his/her points are valid. Instead, and unfortunately, what is heard is that you are being condescending or mocking their thought processes or them as a person ('I'm a grown man"/woman/"I'm not a boy/little girl/, "I'm not stupid", "you're not my father/mother"); all these things are barriers to a successful and happy relationship…If you can't have this talk with your mate, then who should you talk to?

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