Social Media: Helpful or Hurtful in Relationships?

Recently, I read an article about the use of social media and how we can use it in a positive way.  Being a complete Facebook addict and nosy by nature, I’m always curious to see how people use this particular outlet to engage with one another.

The article I read dealt with friendships and how to make social media work for us.  Sadly, what I see are a lot of people using social media as a communication tool in relationships and it’s working against us.  The rants and on-goings I’ve seen on Facebook are astounding.

I’m not innocent.  I’ve vented.  I’ve thrown my frustration out on to Facebook.  My feeling is most of us do this because we are seeking support.  We hope that someone will take our side, commiserate, and back us up on whatever it is upsetting us.  We need someone to stand up and go “Hey!  I know how you feel and you are right!”  It’s only natural for us to want to turn to friends in time of need.  Unfortunately, there is a flip-side – the people who use social media as a way to get back at someone who has hurt them.  I’ve seen it many times.  Being honest, I must admit I’ve done this, as well.  These kind of posts are passive-aggressive and unhealthy, to say the least.  When we replace verbal communication with a Tweet or FB status, we hurt ourselves and ultimately further hurt the ones we love.

So what is the solution?  I’ve given it some thought.  I came up with talking.

So simple it’s mind-blowing, huh?

To share a personal experience:  my boyfriend and I encountered problems from venting on Facebook.  Big problems.  We found ourselves in this very weird place where we would be sitting in the same room, venting on Facebook, commenting to one another on Facebook yet not speaking one single word to one another.  WE WERE IN THE SAME ROOM.  It quickly became cause for concern.  What did we do?  We put down our cell phones and started talking.  It was not easy.  We had gotten so used to throwing it all out in a public forum that speaking personally to one another seemed a bit foreign.  You’ve heard how sometimes it’s easier to write how we feel instead of speaking about our feelings?  It’s true.  He and I are both this way.  We are writers and written words are what we relate to.

It was slow at first.  Attempting to talk seemed to lead to more frustration, interrupted sentences, fighting, sleeping in separate rooms, and still even more silence but this time without using Facebook because we made the agreement we’d not do that ever again.  So, no Facebook venting, no talking…let me tell you that things will bubble to the surface quickly and explode.  This is exactly what you do NOT want to happen.  Avoid it.  Take time to make rules for communication.  Rules are perfectly acceptable, even desired in any relationship worth working on.  Make that promise to NEVER use social media as a way to communicate with the one you love.  Promise to listen.  Promise to speak to one another only after you’ve both had time to calm down.  Understand that no relationship is perfect and there will be miscommunication at times.  That’s okay.  Work through it TOGETHER.

There is a very real and palpable emotional detachment when we use social media as a way to communicate.  Often our words are misleading and come across as colder than we intended.  If we are determined to keep relationships alive and healthy we need the emotion.  We need to feel the love, the compassion, the acceptance and we need to know we’re actually being heard.  Those things are basic human requirements and by removing them we’re setting ourselves up for pain and loneliness.

Take the time today and every day to TALK to the one you love.  You’ll be amazed at how much it is appreciated and simply blown away by how much better you both feel afterwards.  Trust me.

P.S.  I’m happy to report that boyfriend and I are good now.  It has taken us about a year to truly learn how to communicate with one another and it’s not perfect but we are definitely in a better place.  The hard work was totally worth it.

Comfort Zones…

You are reading a blog by the world’s worst Leaver of the Comfort Zone.  I am Queen of the Comfort Zone and I rule all that is comfortable and safe…for me.  Anything outside of my Comfort Zone is simply evil and must never be allowed in. 

What is a Comfort Zone?  Well to clarify, it’s simply a mental boundary we each set for ourselves.  It’s a place where we feel safe and secure.  It’s habit, it’s rut.  It’s sticking with relationships or circumstances that, while they may have lost purpose or real meaning (or so we’re told they have), we find comfort in them.  It’s that place where if we don’t leave it, people tell us we’ll never realize our full potential or make great things happen.  This may be true.  I don’t know.  I’ve not ventured out of mine long enough to find out.  Hell, just starting this blog and throwing myself out there for the world to see is enough stepping out to last me quite a while.  I mean, what you read is what you get when you know me.  I don’t hold back here and allowing my personal self to connect with the world is a giant leap out of my Comfort Zone, to be sure. 

I’m writing this particular blog because after yesterday’s rant over FJ and The Speech I began to think, really think about why I stay in this relationship.  I do love him.  That isn’t in question.  But lots of other things are and it hit me…I stay because I’m comfortable with him.  There is something in my brain that tells me I’m just too old to start over in a new relationship.  I’m not THAT old.  No reason to start digging a grave yet.  But I’m oldER and the idea of starting over with a new man, a new life seems quite taxing.  When I was younger that idea used to excite me and I had no qualms about throwing Dating Lisa out there and just going for it.  Now?  Eh.  I don’t want to have to “relearn” another man’s habits or quirks or speeches.  I don’t want to have to reteach mine either.  I can be difficult and bitchy and I’ve got some odd habits, a hard pill to swallow if you will, and the fact that I’ve a man in my life who didn’t run screaming is a big plus for me.   FJ and I fight something fierce sometimes but in the end we always work it out.  Always.  We’re good with compromise.  Once things settle we’re good at talking things out.  We’re honest with each other.  I value the hell out of honesty as I spent 11 years married to a man who could not tell the truth if his life depended on it.  Seriously…he could NOT do it.  His head may have wanted to but once his mouth opened, out spewed the most colorful and inventive stories I’ve ever heard.  So, I’ll give him credit for that…he wasn’t Uncle Remus but he could spin an intriguing tale like nobody’s business.  ANYWAY, as I was saying…FJ and I are comfortable with each other.  With that comfort comes happiness and safety, which I’ve not had in many years so why would I want to screw that up? 

My job…I love my job.  Both of them actually, but I do not strive to be a director or CIO or any of those high-powered titled people.  Why?  Because I’m comfortable with what I’m doing.  I’m comfortable with how my jobs fit into the life I have now.  I like the flexibility.  There could always be more money (I’m not going to stick in my current Poor Comfort  Zone if I don’t have to –  I’m not stupid or if I am stupid I’d rather be stupid on a nice vacation) but overall, I feel safe and secure with my work.  Why would I want to screw this up by stepping outside of my Zone? 

I keep asking “why would I want to screw this up?” because I’m not so sure that stepping out of our Zones is absolutely necessary to achieving happiness or realizing our full potential (I can say that because I’m happy and tucked away in my Zone right now).  But, those big giant leaps out of our Zones to bring on the major anxiety and discomfort?  Not necessary.  Life hands us opportunities to have to step outside our Zone almost every single day.  Does it not?  We get up each morning, we begin our routine, things go smoothly then BAM!  There is some unexpected Universe Out to Get Us Snafu that we have to cope with – outside our Zone.  So we deal with them and then continue on in our Zone.  Is it not more about our attitude and how we handle these snafus than it is about taking steps to disrupt or change what we’re already comfortable with? 

The truth is, and this may sound arrogant on my part although I don’t mean for it to be that way, I know my full potential and I know what I am capable of.  I can be or do anything I want (although a job as a contortionist circus freak is out – my body can’t bend that way anymore).  I know this about myself.  I’m confident enough to know if I set my mind to something I can do it.  Just because I don’t choose to go out and conquer the world doesn’t make me less of a person.  I’m happy where I am…I’m a Mom, a writer, a consultant for a major university, a part of management at Ghost Walk, a friend, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister…I’m all of these things and more, and I’m perfectly okay with it.  None of this has lost meaning or purpose and none of this is in danger of doing so.  If we’re truly happy, why bring on upheaval and discomfort…ON PURPOSE?  I just see no reason for it.

Now lately, I’ve been going through this THING where I’ve felt the need to get out more and ” party.”  I seldom go out just for fun anymore, just to do things for me.  So it’s been bugging me a lot lately.  Last night, I marinated on that, as well and it hit me that I’d convinced myself I needed to “fit in” with others who seem to be constantly out and busy.  But the truth here I don’t really want that whole party thing and I’m busy enough.  What I do want and need is to just start doing things for myself that have value and will add value to my already Comfy Zone.  I need to be spending more quality time with my daughter, seeing my Daddy more, reading more (bookaholic here), writing more, taking myself out to breakfast every now and then before work for some alone time, drawing (I SUCK at it but nonetheless I find it relaxing).  It’s these kinds of things I’m missing and need to be doing, not the whole partying and hanging out with a bunch of people.  Uh…that was SO 20 years ago!  So, let’s face it…I’m going against the grain here, bucking every psychiatrist theory that stepping out of the Zone is necessary and I’ll just add to my already existing Happy Place.  God, I’m such a rebel!

Personal Opinion:  It’s okay to stay within your Comfort Zone.  It really is.  Expect those Universal Snafus I mentioned earlier and remain calm when they happen.  Use those as a way to better yourself and let them be learning experiences for yourself.  Don’t feel you must leave your Zone to change things just because someone else tells you to.  If you’re happy then just BE HAPPY.  Isn’t this world tough enough already without making it harder on ourselves?  I think it is!  So to all of you who are happy in your Comfort Zone and see no reason to rock the boat…KUDOS!  This blog is dedicated to all of you who are comfortable being comfortable! 

The Aging Birds and Bees…

DISCLAIMER:  If talk of sex and relationships offend you, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.  I’m not saying this is going to get into porn territory but I am saying there’ll be an “adult” conversation.  Still going to read?  Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

And Mom, you especially will NOT want to read this.

The other night, during one of Ghost Walk’s radio shows, we were all in chat and somehow to topic of food came up. 

Yes, food.  Bear with me…I’ll get there. 

We all threw into the chatroom our favorite foods and it occurred to me I’d not really eaten that day because I had no Prilosec. 

Yes, Prilosec – the stuff for acid reflux. 

OMG you impatient people…the sex stuff is coming up!  Just wait, bunch of perverts!  Jeez!

And that let me to mull over how, as we get older (and yes I am “older”) our basic needs and wants change so dramatically…like our favorite foods, what we can and can not eat after a certain time of day because we get so damn old our bodies begin to dictate our mealtimes, what we consider entertainment, the things we get excited about – like a damn nap during the day.  Then all of that led me to thinking about sex and relationships.

There!  Are you happy now?!  Here we go!

When I was younger, considerably younger, a “relationship” in my head constituted a period of time, dating the same guy or possibly more than one, with little conversation yet spending every minute with him and having a lot of sex.  A LOT of sex.  All day and night marathon sex, in the car, outside, in public – wherever.  It didn’t matter.  Less talk, more sex.  THAT was my idea of a relationship.  Aaaah, good times!  I could eat Chef Boyardee or pizza any freakin’ time of day or night I wanted to.  No heartburn!  Sleep was not an issue because 20+ years ago I didn’t need it.  I could go for days on no sleep and it didn’t matter. 

Jump ahead 20+ years and well, things aren’t quite the same.  Sadly.

Since my younger days, I’ve been married 3 times.  Yes, three times.  All of them to men who insisted on staying stuck up my ass 24 hours a day.  I hate that.  I hate that feeling of being smothered.  It is my belief that all people – married, not married, in relationships or not in relationships – need time to themselves.  No matter how much I love and care about a man, as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized I do not need to spend every waking second with him.  Really  men – go away for a little while.  Give us a chance to miss you.  We’ll appreciate you more.  Same goes for women…don’t be clingy.  Men hate that and it makes you look really damn desperate.  Who needs that crap?  Get a hobby people!  Anyway, I’ve gotten off track a bit. 

As we get older, those days of hanging from the ceiling or doing it upside down kinda fade away.  It’s a gradual thing, at least it was for me.  I still love sex, I still like lots of it, but how many of us now find ourselves doing exercises to limber up first or throwing some Bengay (the odorless kind – that “original” smell can ruin a mood) on our knees so we can get all bendy without excruciating pain?  Admit it…we get older and sometimes there’s a bit of prep time involved before we can commence to lovemaking.   Women, we can still seductively go away to slip into something more comfortable, but while you’re locked away in the bathroom, shoving the ladies back UP where they belong in that sexy lingerie, you’re stretching and medicating and hoping  like Hell in the middle of a hot night of sex you don’t get a Charlie Horse in your leg.  And well, you’re not 20 anymore so it’s not even a hot night, it’s more like a hot hour or two.  You can do this…you can get through a couple of hours without screaming “OMG!  LEG CRAMP!  GET OFF ME!” 

There is seldom anymore of the after sex “I’m hungry, wanna go grab a burger?”  and then after eating, quickly undressing and going at it again…probably in the parking lot of whatever fast food place you ate said burger.

It’s more like “Damn, I need a nap now.  Hey, you have any Tums?”  and after 8 hours of sleep, a cup of coffee, peeing, brushing our teeth, feeding the cat, and  probably peeing again because the coffee has gotten to you…THEN you can do it again, slowly of course because you’re still exhausted from the night before.   Or it might come down to not doing it and just saying “Oh babe,  I’m too tired.  Can we just snuggle?”  Then drifting right off to sleep.   Which is okay.  Snuggling is good.  I enjoy it tremendously.  But in the end, my man is going to sleep with a smile on his face.  Guaranteed.

Things change folks.  We get older and we have to make adjustments in our sex life.  It’s just how it is.  And while I’m on the subject, when in the hell did men get so lazy?  What happened guys?  I realize a woman on top is hot – we like it too, but honestly can you not do some of the work?  Just some?!  Younger men might be learning but Lord knows their trying and they REALLY try, but older men?  LAZY.  It’s a real shame. 

No matter how old we get though, sex is still great.  Honestly, even though there are more issues to consider as we age, I think it’s better as we get older.  It means more.  Most of us save our intimate moments for a person we truly care about, or I do anyway, and that makes a difference.  I’m a one man woman now and I couldn’t be happier.  No more of those slutty ways for me, no sir!  I need a man in my life who appreciates me for who I am, what I am, and can overlook all of those crazy things that happen to a woman as she ages.  

So to men out there who are older and insist on trying to hook up with a woman half their age, might I suggest finding a woman your own age?  We might be older and we might take a bit longer to get ready for sex, but in the end, we’re worth it.  We put in the time it takes to please you.  That makes us worth it.  Very worth it.