Macho – ness

So one of the higher-ups at work decided to host a hiking trip this weekend.  It was starting early Sunday and up a mountain, with the total length being roughly 13.5 miles.  This guy is also a marathon runner and noted mountaineer, so it was sure to be an aggressive pace.  There weren’t too many takers, understandably.  Now, I have no particular desire to walk that far, and I certainly don’t want to wake up that early, but something compelled me to sign up for it.  Sure it will be a nice change of pace, but ugh.

I suspect the main reason is one of my subordinates volunteered to go.  Strangely that seemed to flip my hesitation 180 and set my mind to go, at least to prove myself.  It’s weird how that could suddenly change my mind that quickly.

It’s striking how guys can so easily fall prey to trying to be macho.  It could be anything from buying a status symbol that isn’t really needed, to doing some activity you really don’t want to do, all in the name of appearing manly.  In fact, if you can convince a guy his manhood is threatened, you probably can get him to do anything.

Dating Profile Time

Starting back up with some online dating after a break for a few months.  I still have my profile from last time, so I need to decide what do I want to change if anything.  It’s always a fun game to try to figure out what type of profile will work the best.  I’ve been online dating for about a decade now, so I have some experience.

My last profile was pretty detailed.  I was operating on the strategy that I’m in a very populated area, and I’m otherwise not overly remarkable (not ridiculously good looking, rich, or tall), so it was best to have a lot of details to stand out.  Granted, more details does give you an opportunity to share something someone doesn’t like, however why bother dating if something is a deal breaker in the first place?  I also had a fair number of pictures in a bunch of different situations.

A possible alternative strategy is to go with a more minimalistic profile.  Too much detail can look desperate, and make you seem more serious and less fun.  Withholding information can also add a sense of mystery.  So I’ve been thinking of cutting back information.  Maybe just share a few juicy tidbits and allow the joy of discovery during the dating process.

What do you think?   If someone has a long dating profile, would that give you a different impression of them either way?  For me personally, I like some details and appreciate when a profile is well written, but a wall of text is a bit of a turnoff for some reason.  How about more pictures or less pictures?  Generally feel like as long as look attractive in all your pictures, it would be good to add some more to show different sides of you.  A ton of selfies though doesn’t help.

 

~Dmitri

IQ and Romance

If you are intelligent, do you need an intelligent partner to be happy?  There is certainly a lot of research out there that shows intelligence isn’t positively correlated with romantic success, so intelligence isn’t necessarily attractive in of itself.  However, if you are an intelligent person already, are you more attracted to intelligent people?  And on the flip side, does that make it harder to find partners attractive to you?

The answer from my own experience is yes.  While I have certainly dated people from all walks of life, if I can’t connect with someone on an intellectual level (or they regularly exhibit sub-par intelligence) then it’s just a huge turn-off.  This might be because we have less interests in common, or maybe it’s just because smart people want to have smart babies and the chances of that go down with a dumb partner.  Regardless, this preference seems to narrow down the pool of potential romantic partners I’m compatible with.

So what to do about this?  Getting over it is hard, it’s pretty difficult to force yourself to be attracted to someone.  Who wants to feel like they’re settling?  Better targeting dating seems to be the way to go, although it’s hard to judge intelligence just based on a profile.  You can always filter by education, but that seems overly specific.  I really don’t care if you went to a good school, just that we can have a good conversation.  Something I never really tried is to go to physical locations that would attract smarter people.  Museums need to have a singles night.

 

~Dmitri

 

 

And for the record, I don’t mean to sound pretentious in this post – I certainly do my fair share of stupid things, but by most objective (education, career) and subjective (intellectual interests) measures I’m on the “smarter” side of the population spectrum.

 

Casual Sex

A weird thing has happened as I’ve gotten older.  I’ve stopped caring about sex as much, or at least casual sex.  Certainly when I was younger that was always the goal when you went out with the guys, to hook up.  But at some point I’ve just gotten tired of it.  It’s not really a loss of sex desire really, there is still very much enjoyment from sex in my relationships.  And I don’t know that I would turn it down if offered, but I just don’t get excited about trying to go out and get laid.

Couple thoughts on that.  A large amount of self validation for men comes from being able to get laid, so after you’ve had enough sex, and/or are generally comfortable with yourself, you aren’t seeking that validation anymore.  Also, you can have some close calls (I’ve had a few broken condom incidents) that make you realize sex can have consequences, and honestly if you aren’t willing to have sex with someone without a condom, you probably shouldn’t be having sex with them period.

Then it seems standards go up.  Once you’ve been with a partner at a certain level of attractiveness, it’s hard to get excited for something less.  Not drinking certainly removes a huge source of temptation; beer goggles will definitely change your standards.

Basically I’d rather just masturbate than go through the trouble of trying to go to a bar to hook up.  So happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I think I’ll sit this one out.

~Dmitri

Sleep

This is a self-improvement post.  See all here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/self-improvement/

There’s been a running fight between myself and getting a good night’s sleep.  I tend to be prone to overthinking everything, and often just lie in bed mind racing.  It has affected my career in some ways, in particular not being able to do certain military assignments because I was briefly diagnosed with a sleeping disorder.  At that time I was pretty unhealthy and not very excited about the path I was on, both of which contributed.

During that time the military introduced me to Ambien as a way to get myself on the right cycle.  Ambien is definitely effective, it is also a hallucinogen.  You get some crazy dreams, and are also pretty out of it if you wake up before it wears off.  It’s downright dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs.  The Ambien worked, but I wasn’t allowed to be on Ambien while doing that type of work.  When I couldn’t keep to a sleep schedule, the military reassigned me.

That worked out for the best, but I had been introduced to self-medicating to get to sleep.  That creeped up a few years later when I started to use alcohol to compensate.  Of course alcohol doesn’t let you get quality sleep, but it will knock you out.  Well, that turned out predictably: me eventually being diagnosed an alcoholic.  Quitting alcohol eventually did help with the sleeping.  It just led me to be more consistent.

Eventually I’ve quit caffeine too.  That cycle of getting energized by drinks then crashing just stopped being productive for me.  Quitting caffeine seems to have gotten me into a pretty good rhythm.  In addition to generally living a healthy lifestyle, my sleep issues are pretty good, barring the occasional night when I happen to get my mind excited about something.

So that’s the secret I guess, live healthy, no alcohol, no caffeine, and hopefully you won’t need prescription sleeping pills.

 

~dmitri

 

 

Security

Is it good to be secure?

Security is usually considered a good thing.  If you are financially secure, secure in your relationships, and in your life, then it would seem to be a pretty low stress existence, right?  What do you have to worry about?

The thing is, my life experience has been the exact opposite.  I’ve actually been the most productive and happy when I am under a decent amount of stress and in some ways insecure.  Being insecure drives you.  You’re willing to take more risks, work harder, and reach for more ambitious goals.  Insecurity breeds purpose.  Security breeds sloth.  An individual with nothing to lose is who ends up making a difference with their lives.

This can also apply to relationships.  Relationships you’re secure in you tend to not appreciate and don’t make the effort because you don’t need to.  The romance is always hotter when things are uncertain.

A lot of people try to deliberately trick themselves into being insecure.  They agonize over the news or their jobs, spend way more money than they need to, and sabotage their relationships.  Why?  Because that makes life interesting.

I’m actually very concerned about what I might do with myself if I manage to retire from the military.  I’ll get a good pension, at a young age, and literally not have to work.  A pretty good bet is that I’ll end up an alcoholic, which of course happens to lots of veterans.  I am wondering if I should not retire, get out sooner, and start spending more of my money, to force myself to work for the rest of my life.

~dmitri

Trust

Trust is key to a relationship, any relationship.  When you can’t rely on the truth of what someone is saying, then you really can’t be invested or dependent on them.

Broken commitments can be just as damaging as deliberate mistruths.  If someone blows off a commitment too you, then how can you trust them to keep further commitments to you?  How can you put yourself in a position where you need to rely on them?

Sometimes it is unavoidable, you make a commitment you didn’t really think through, or you have competing commitments.  It takes bravery to address that, but if you want to preserve the relationship, then you need to need to own up to the situation as soon as you realize it and address it directly with the individual you are breaking the commitment with, probably best in person.

Commitments are critical though.  Consistently meeting commitments, and allowing yourself to be dependent on someone else’s commitments is how you build trust.

-Dmitri

Valentine’s day

Holidays usually bum me out.  In fact, they are probably the times when I’m most happy I don’t drink anymore, since I’m sure I’d end up black out drunk.  The reason I would assume is because holidays are generally about connection, with friends, family and loved ones.  And usually, my friends are with their family and loved ones, and I’m by myself.

Valentine’s day always feels particularly stinging when single and your friends all have partners.  Generally good to steer clear of facebook for a while, and avoid the wave of sappiness that you secretly wish you could share in.   Then there’s thoughts about texting exes that you beat back down, and try to maintain some self dignity.

In reality though, it’s a product of my own decisions and how my life has been prioritized.  And it’s generally better to be alone than with someone who isn’t right for you.    Keeping it in perspective makes it a little bit easier.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

~Dmitri

Moving

One of the interesting aspects of being in the military is you get to move around a lot.  Since moving away from my childhood home I’ve lived in 7 states across the country plus a couple overseas deployments and a few other extended trips for work or training.  It’s interesting to think how that could affect someone both positively and negatively.  Certainly I wouldn’t want to change my life, but it’s still a fun thought exercise.

So what are some of the positives of moving around a lot?  Well, it gives you a good perspective on things beyond just where you grew up.  You can appreciate points of view from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds that maybe you wouldn’t have been exposed to if you hadn’t moved.  You also get a sense that people can have striking similarities and common concerns despite seemingly vast differences.  A parent in Afghanistan still worries about their children’s futures like someone in middle America.

It also makes you more open to change, and perhaps a willingness to take risks as you’ve been forced to confront the unknown already in life.  You’re more comfortable with complete life upending changes such as a career shift or relocation.  You have an appreciation that just because something is new or unknown does not make it bad.

And in a practical sense, you’ve learned how to package your life.  You’re less likely to be tied emotionally to material goods since you’ve had to give up your house.  Lastly, you’ve also appreciated the benefits of just having less stuff.  And you can more quickly and easily move into new friendships, work groups, and social circles as you have a lot of practice.

So what are some of the drawbacks?  Well, you can start to avoid putting down roots anywhere, out of fear that it would make the inevitable move more painful.  This can cause relationships to be more shallow and less fulfilling that they otherwise could have been.  You may be admittedly more self-reliant, but also less willing to be vulnerable to other people.

People may avoid relationships with you, knowing that you will leave.  Intimacy can be elusive and perhaps too scary to pursue on both sides.  Once something goes south you can get in the pattern of moving again to avoid the situation, rather than living with what you got and trying to make something work.

My recommendation – it’s beneficial to experience a few life upending moves, ideally when you are younger.  The perspective and lessons will last.  As you get older though, it probably is best to settle somewhere and put down some roots.  Moving constantly get’s tiring, and lonely.

~Dmitri

 

Returning from War #2

This is a companion to my second post on deploying:     https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/going-to-war-2/

So my time in Afghanistan drew to an end.  While it was a good trip, it was definitely exciting to come home, and there would be a girl waiting for me this time.  It was the same long ordeal to fly home, although this time got to see my sister as I connected through the Baltimore airport, which was cool.  When I finally got back to my home city there was a crowd of friends and people from work to greet me at the airport, which was an awesome change.  And there was my girl!  She was there, and I made a bee line right for her and kissed her.  Everything was perfect.

Well, not quite.  My friends (who didn’t know my history, I’d been happy to talk about it at work but was too ashamed to tell my friends), had bought me a bottle of scotch as a welcome home gift, my favorite!  So my girl drove me home, we started drinking and I promptly blacked out.  When I woke up, she was gone, and it was never the same.

Other little things sucked as they always do when you try to unpack your life after being gone for six and a half months.  I remember picking up my car and shattering my car window as we hit something trying to push it out of the autoshop back lot on base.  It was just embrace the suck time.  Whatever, I shrugged.  I got a jump, drove home with no window only to have the car die on me again.  Had to get another jump.

We get time off to reacclimatize, two weeks.  I really didn’t know what to do with myself, so spent most of it drunk.  Occasionally I’d awkwardly reach out to the girl, but that never seemed to go anywhere, somewhere something had died.

I was just home, and didn’t have anything to look forward to.  Just alone with my thoughts.  Drinking took care of that.  Tattoos suddenly became interesting.

~dmitri