February 14th, Valentine’s Day – one of the three most important days for those that are currently in a relationship as well as for those hoping to be in one soon, and not unlike last year, there are a number of thoughts on the subject that I feel like sharing with you.
There is an old proverb that claims that if someone were to tell you who your friends are, you could, in turn, tell them who they are and I think nothing is more true when it comes to relationships.
It is said that opposites attract but most of the time, successful relationships consist of people that complete each other and while that does not necessarily mean that either partner cannot be the opposite of the other, in general, occurrences of fundamental opposites falling for each other are very rarely seen.
Let me preface this train of thought by saying that I believe many males to be incapable of living a truly blissful life without a companion, for the simple reason that we, the males, in general, depend on female council.
Do not take my word for it though, just grab a couple of books and you will see that a large percentage of authors dedicate their works to their wives or other females, not because it would be the right thing to do (it is), but because, and I semi-quote “she kept my back free and put me in a position to do this”.
And it is not just authors who greatly benefit from their partners, in fact, just about every male in a healthy relationship does (naturally, females do also benefit from relationships, but their benefits are oftentimes very different ones).
The females in our lives, be it friends, girlfriend, spouse, sister or mother, are the ones you can depend on the most, the ones that will stick by you and help you get up again when you have been knocked down and sometimes, it just looks as if we (the males) keep forgetting the support we receive, albeit unconditional in many cases, is not something that should be taken for granted.
Males are often considered the stronger sex, simply because of the way our respective bodies are built, but what holds true on a physical level does not necessarily hold true on an emotional level, for it is the females that do much of the hard work: shielding us, caring for us, healing us and most importantly: loving us. I am not saying that males are incapable of doing the same things, because that would simply be untrue, but in general, females are a lot better at doing the above mentioned things a lot better than we can.
Humans, like all animals, can easily accustom themselves to a certain routine, no matter what kind and while at times routines can be beneficial, certain routines can be a killer for relationships. There is nothing wrong with growing accustomed to your partner per se, after all, that is simply how things go, and in the process you will most probably learn a whole range of things about the other, but that does not give you the right to take them for granted, even though it is easy to accept someone’s unconditional love if they keep giving it to you on a daily basis.
Many a man are likely to just discard this show of affection as it being the way it is (or is supposed to be), routines, however, can lead to fading interest, in both parties and this, in turn leads to people being more susceptible to an unwillingness to give more than it takes to keep the relationship going.
While I am not generally a fan of the concept of a single day specifically designed to overload the important people in your life with gifts that are mostly of commercial value, I believe that many males would be well advised to at least show that they care on this very day.
For those smart males that are looking to do a little bit extra and keep the females in their lives extra happy, I would suggest that you do not stick to a single day of showing your feelings to the other, but rather spread it evenly throughout the year.
Now, I do realize that sometimes things just do not work out as expected and when things start to heat up and there is little time for niceties, the most basic, yet often: more important things, are easily forgotten, so just grab your PDA, Blackberry or whatever you own and jot down a few appointments throughout the year.
Hint: I would go for at least four days a year (although I would recommend making “her” feel special at least once every week). These days are special dates, spread out throughout the year, intended to show that you still value her, still appreciate all the things she is doing for you and still think that, excuse my choice of words here, she is the hottest piece of ass you could ever get and more importantly: wanted to get.
Showing emotions is not something that should be considered wrong or discarded as being anything less than masculine, for it takes a real man to open up your heart and show your feelings.
Take the time to show the other that you care and that you are worth keeping. Do something out of the ordinary for your partner and utilize the way our brains are wired in as that they only notice that which is different easily.
Our brains are hardwired to act as filters in order to protect us from too much information and if you apply this to a relationship, you will see that having the guts to be different, having the guts to break through some of the simple routines and do something totally unexpected and keeping her guessing about what crazy, albeit lovely idea, you will come up next can shed some very nice rewards; most of all: the feeling that you made someone else feel great about herself (or himself, just depends).
A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me if I ever regretted moving from Austria to the Netherlands and basically leaving everything behind – the short answer? No. You will want to read on if you are interested in the long answer.
First, let me preface this entry by explaining a few things: I moved to the Netherlands in the summer of 2002 – it was more or less a spontaneous decision after having been there only once (and enjoying it) a couple of months earlier.
Normally, with big decisions, I tend to consider all the advantages and disadvantages, I weigh my various options and try to look at the big picture and disregard all small details that are not important for the overall decision.
Not this time though, when my parents first approached me in the fall of 2001 about moving internationally, I was reluctant, I knew little about the country or its customs, I did not speak one word of the language and, childish as it may seem, the one thing I could think of first – broadband Internet was not going to be available for at least a year at the very address I would be living at.
All in all, quite a hand full of reasons to tip the decision in favor of simply staying in Austria, but as always, there were also a few reason that would be able to, at least, balance the whole thing out:
First of all, Austria still has a conscript army where you are supposed to spend (waste?) ten to twelve months at, while getting paid little and seeing all your (female) friends move on to their sophomore year because they are not required to join the service.
Now, I will not say that I am a pacifist, but I do not see the point of me shooting vintage rifles, throwing hand grenades and crawling through mud all day long. Yes, it’s free physical education, paid for by the man and certainly a great way to condition yourself both physically and mentally, but at which cost? Being harassed days on end because you did not complete an obstacle course in the required time? No, thank you. I will just go to a gym and pay for it myself.
That and of course the fact that many drill instructors have enjoyed a lower education than me and still behave like they fought in both Wars and helped tip them in “our” favor. I do not have a problem with authority, I realize that there is a definite need for leaders and followers, but some things simply do not work for me.
I am not much of a patriot, I realize that, but then again I never claimed that I was one. I see citizenship as a, I guess the right word would be, attribute, that can benefit someone (or not) and I would like to think that by paying taxes and behaving like every good citizen should, that I have done a lot for my country.
There are others that are more willing to join a service and sacrifice themselves for their country, but I am not one of them. I do, however, have an insane amount of respect for every soldier that actually fought in a war and had to take another person’s life to protect the very country I am in.
Apart from the army issue, there was also the longing for change. I always wanted to spend a year abroad, just pick up a new language on the go and experience another country by immersing myself into their culture and therefore making it, at least partially, my own.
The Netherlands provided me with all that – a good education, a new country and a new language and best of all: no army I would be required to join after high school.
Obvious advantages aside, the Netherlands also were host to a number of other things that would be important for me later on, after high school – such as a good higher education that focused on new media. Yes, there are colleges and universities like that in Austria, but they do not have the same national status as the college I am studying in right now and prestige, somehow, still matters to me.
Back to the future, it has been five and a half years since I have moved here. As always, there have been the good times, the bad times and then there have been the great times: in the past two years I have personally met some of the people I admire, such as Kevin Kelly and Dick Hardt, I have talked to people that made millions on the web and lost them in the blink of a second. I have talked to some of the most influential people of the Dutch media scene and I had (and have) the pleasure of working with some of them.
I have given speeches in front of huge audiences on topics I care about and even though both cases were rather ad-hoc, I like to think that I did perform quite well.
The Netherlands, for me, were and are a catalyst of sorts: after moving here I acquired new clients, nay friends that taught me a great deal about going about business. I have met generous people that helped me by sharing experiences and interesting information with me and I have worked with people that showed me the works and I am thankful for that, because I believe that I would not be who I am today were it not for their intervention.
Business things aside, there is one issue that keeps coming up, an item that many people cannot and will not disregard as lightly as I did: friends.
When moving internationally, you are basically sacrificing friendships; sure – there are trains and planes and cars and you could visit them (or they could visit you) every now and again, but one way or another, the friendship is going to change.
Well, let me say this: real friendship transcends borders. There are a few people in Austria I still have contact with and those are people I consider true friends. Not only because we shared many things in common back “then”, but also because we still have regular contact and try to keep the other in the loop, which is good enough for me.
I have not been to Austria in more than five years now and every time people ask me when I will be going back, I have to give them the same answer: I do not know if that will happen any time soon, maybe not ever at all.
In closing, let me state that if someone were to ask me what the best decision was that I made in the last decade, I can say, with absolute certainty, it would be moving to the Netherlands and I do not regret it at all.
It is said that one should treat his friends well, for they are worth much more than any wealth or property in the world.
There is a lot of truth to be found in the proverbs of the Bourgeoisie, because these figures of speech are tried and time-tested and thus still hold true in this very day and age.
If I were the dramatic kind of person, I would say that today marks the first day of a different life for me. The reason for that is that I stood up a friend and person I respect a lot, a person I look up to and a person I have had the privilege of sharing a great amount of things with together.
I pride myself in being the loyal kind of friend, the person that you can rely on when things start hitting the fan at light speed. I normally am the person that will stand by you, even if others abandoned you long ago and yet, here I am, looking back at three weeks of utter stupidity, immature behavior and very un-me-ish actions.
In today’s world, it is hard to find the rare ones, the ones that are willing to teach you, tutor you and show you the stuff that you would normally have to pay for, fight for and beg for.
I have managed to find one of these rare ones and I treasured it for a long time now, in fact, I still do but at the end of the day, not everything is mutual.
It is said that one should treat his friends well, for they are worth much more than any wealth or property in the world.
It is also said that, given time and space, friendships can overcome hardships and problems and issues can be solved, made to disappear and cease to exist and to be honest, there is nothing in this world that I would like to do more.
I have grown attached to you, to you as a person, to you as a friend, to you as a tutor and to to you as a contact. You made me cheer when I felt bad and you provided perspective when I needed it. You, my friend, made me do a great amount of things I would not have done, or even considered, without your gentle prod.
In return, you received zilch, nothing, nada. Just an unthankful, short-sighted and incredibly stupid person.
This is not how friendships work and I realize that. I also realize that saying “I learned my lesson” does not cut it here, in fact, it does not cut it all - it does not even scratch it.
My actions were crazy, disrespectful and plain shitty, period. I hope that, at some point, we can reestablish our friendship and that you will be able to trust me again. I would like that, I would like that very much.
For those that were expecting juicy bits in this letter, I apologize. I feel that there is no need to involve my contacts, simply because this is not about their name(s), but about honesty and remorse.
February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a day that is traditionally used to express your love and affection towards those with whom you share a familiar love with, but also towards those you share romantic love with (and if you’re lucky enough to be able to have a 2-for-1 deal going, even better!)
Today is about showing your partner(s) how much you care about them, your chance to thank them for all the things they do. Things you might have started to take for granted, but believe me, they are not. So get out there (if you haven’t already done so) and surprise your loved one(s). They deserve it.
While you’re at it, you might want to consider extending Valentine’s Day beyond it’s original scope of only showing your gratitude towards loved ones, you might want to think about including those people you admire too, like I’m about to do:
We’ve met a few years ago, yet it sometimes feels like only yesterday. We’ve been through good times and the obligatory bad times, we’ve even been through no-times, that is, the dark period without regular contact. We’ve shared secrets with each other that other’s still aren’t privy too and probably never will be.
Yes, we’ve had our fair share of disagreements but we managed to pull through, most of the time. Our friendship, if you want to call it that, has been faced with events that would have destroyed any other friendship, yet, ours miraculously survived, even if it was put on life-support by me soon thereafter. In hindsight, it seems hardly thankful, after all the things you’ve done for me and believe me, there isn’t a day I don’t feel guilty about it. That same guilt is what kept me from telling you this a lot sooner, that same guilt, is what keept me from hangin’ out with you in the past.
In times of trouble, no matter which kind, you have stood by me, you have protected me and you stood up for me, even though you didn’t have to. You were there for me when I needed someone to talk to and you allowed me to help you when you needed someone to talk to.
You managed to captivate my mind and heart the day we first met and you continue to amaze me until this very day. You possess a gift, an inner strength that is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. You somehow overcome events that cripple others for a lifetime and even though I know that deep inside you, a little part of you succumbs to the pressure, you never show, you are always the same, blissful person.
I respect that and I admire you for it, a lot. So, here’s to you! You know who you are.
Some time ago, I invited a few people to start a new blog. To ensure that their first experience would be one of bliss and not of technical terms that scare them away, I offered to host their blog, acquire a domain and even set up the whole magic.
Now, some four months later, it’s time for a short recap:
I started out with the following statistics:
- 66% male
- 66% Dutch
- 66% of the content will be written in English
Of the three people I talked to, only one really took me up on my idea and started a blog. Since the beginning of September, Ben has written ten posts. It’s less than I expected, but I’m still glad he takes the time to write. After all, both his and my life has been so hectic that we rarely got the time to talk to each other and his blog provided me with the opportunity to follow his life every now and then.
The other two people decided not to go through with the blog because they believe their (possible) content to be boring and uninteresting. Which is, at least if you ask me, the one thing that keeps more people from blogging. It’s a pity, because one way or another, all our lives have those certain events that are interesting, both to one self as well as the world.
So, do I consider the “get more people to blog” - project, a failed project? No. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to turn out but all in all, more people, some due to my influence, are blogging now and that’s all that counts.