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.”

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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.

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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.
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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