Tag Archives: run

The Runner’s High

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 My mom called me up one day to tell me she bought a book for me from the thrift store. She knows that I read tons of book about singleness and relationships and psychology. Sometimes I read them simply because I think I may write about them on here. Other times I read them because they truly fascinate me. She thought this one might pique my interest.

I glanced over the front cover: The Commitment Cure: What to Do When You Fall for an Ambivalent Man. What does ambivalent mean? I flipped the book over and was relieved to discover that I must not be the only person unfamiliar with that term. On the back, in dictionary format, I read the definition of “ambivalence” followed by the definition of “ambivalent man”.

How does the author, Rhonda Findling, define ambivalence? Ambivalence is “the existence of mixed feelings toward someone or something. Difficulty in reaching a decision.” As for the “ambivalent man”, he is the “one who exhibits or feels ambivalence toward women; one who plays games. He wants a relationship; he wants to break up. He’s confused, mixed up, inconsistent, and unpredictable. Yet he’s irresistable and easy to fall in love with . . . and almost sure to cause a broken heart.”

Good to know. I opened the book. To give some background, I already mentioned that I did not pick this book up by myself. It was given to me. With that in mind, I quickly realized that I am not the typical reader that this book would be directed toward. Findling’s target audience would be women who are unhappy in relationships that seem to lack commitment or a stable future. She calls to women who want the men they love to quit messing with them and marry them! As a cat lady, I don’t exactly fall into that target audience. I don’t want anyone I’m dating to take our relationship more seriously. That would be difficult, since I’m not dating anyone… I don’t yearn for a man to commit to me in marriage. I’m pretty happy while single. I’m really just reading this book for the sake of curiosity. Nothing more, nothing less.

Findling describes a handful of categories that ambivalent men fall into. Just like a criminal is more specifically labeled by his crime, she labels these ambivalent men more particularly by their behaviors. In Chapter 1, she describes the first kind of ambivalent man; The Runner.

As I sail through the first few pages, I’m dumbfounded by Findling’s description of “The Runner”. I feel slightly uncomfortable. Is it just my imagination, or does this Runner sound a lot like myself?

Although it is packed with information, and loaded with psychological observations (Findling is a psychotherapist), I found this book to be a quick read. As she describes and labels these men who avoid commitment, run from relationship, use women, manipulate others’ feelings, and criticize marriage, I picture several men I know and place them in the most appropriate categories. I’m amazed by how many I know who may be described as ambivalent. In fact, most of the men that I’ve found myself infatuated with could be described as ambivalent. Why is that?

Towards the end of the book, the author begins to address the reasons women are drawn toward ambivalent men. As she rattles off ideas, I find myself wondering why she doesn’t mention the ambivalent woman. After so closely identifying with the runner, I quickly realized that I find a noncommittal attitude attractive in men because I am also noncommittal. I am comfortable with his lack of stability because long-term relationships still terrify me. And yet, chapter after chapter, Findling neglects to mention the ambivalent woman. There are 18 chapters altogether. Finally, in Chapter 16, she directs her attention to girls like me.

There is a 10 question test in this chapter to help a woman determine whether or not she may be ambivalent. The author says that any woman who answers “yes” to at least three questions is very likely ambivalent. My score? Yes to 8. Kind of to 1. I could only give a straight-forward “no” to one question out of the ten. At least I’m self-aware and pegged myself in the first chapter…

I am quite comfortable running. It’s easy. It’s natural. Habitual, even. I run before I even get the chance to worry. Selfish, perhaps. And hurtful to others. The book made that clear. But comfortable. Unfortunately, I came to the decision earlier this year that I no longer want to run from relationship due to fear. Remember? Singleness is okay, as long as I remain single for healthy reasons… Fear, however, is not a healthy reason…

The problem is that running is ingrained. I’m not sure if I know how to stop. I sabotage the relationship before I even begin the relationship. I’ve tried to get past my tendency to sabotage a few times now, in the past few months. Ultimately, it never worked and I walked away feeling tremendously relieved. How do I quit running when running feels SO good? I find myself approaching another potential relationship right now – and I already want to run. I am trying to be positive. I am trying not to be cynical. And yet, I can’t say that I have high hopes. I don’t really feel like putting forth the effort necessary to date this guy. I’ve already contemplated the kindest way to let him down easy. I’m not sure if I know how to not run. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m capable. Perhaps I am addicted to the Runner’s High?

Barefoot and Single

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Men are like shoes

 

I don’t mean this to sound shallow. I’m not trying to degrade men. I’m not talking about having a lot of them. I’m not talking about walking all over them. The comparison just seems to fit. Let me explain.

I have never enjoyed wearing shoes. I prefer bare feet. People constantly ask if my feet hurt or if they are cold. I tire of explaining that if I get too uncomfortable, I will put some shoes on.

A girl walks up to me in a gorgeous pair of stilettos. At first glance, I’m kind of jealous. They look so perfect. They’re cute and stylish; they accent her outfit marvelously. She gathers more confidence with each step she takes, from each compliment she hears. I want those shoes. I want that man. He’s a feast for the eyes. He has charm to match. He makes any girl look good. But as I look closer, her feet are slightly red and swollen. When we sit down for dinner she slides those shoes off under the table. I’m suddenly turned off by those shoes. I’m suddenly turned off by that man. All the attention is on him. She lingers in the shadows. He’s completely unaware of her pain, her discomfort. She doesn’t feel like she fits in with these people around her. But he does, and she’s with him.  Therefore, she needs to get over it and stay. The confidence this man or those stilettos bring her is fake. I wiggle my toes freely. I am comfortable with myself. I can leave if I want to. My bare feet may not attract the same kind of attention as those stilettos, but maybe I don’t need it. I’m content.

As I leave dinner I get outside and notice a different girl. She’s never been very popular. Not many boys pursue her. But she wants a boyfriend so badly. She has snatched up the first pair of shoes she could find, settled for the first guy that asked her out.

“Hi, Sarah!” Her smile is radiant. “Look at my shoes! Aren’t they unbelievable?”

I smile hesitantly, trying not to inhale. Her shoes aren’t necessarily bad looking, but they obviously haven’t been taken care of.

“Mhmm… unbelievable.”

Quite simply, these shoes stink! Any recent feelings of loneliness vanish at the thought of dating a man with horrible hygiene. I want a guy who cares about himself enough to stay healthy and clean. If he won’t take care of himself, how can I ever expect him to take care of me? In the hot summer sun, we wave our goodbyes and I go on my way, grateful that my feet are free to wiggle through the cool mud or even just to sweat, and then be hosed down clean afterwards. I could never put up with the stench of those shoes.

Next I meet a girl wearing some really nice shoes. They look clean, comfortable, and stylish. But she’s walking kind of funny. After a moment I realize that her shoes are too small. I watch her over my shoulder as she hobbles along.

“Oomph!”  Another girl runs into me.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I tripped,” she says, then looks up at me nervously. “My shoes are a size too big. Are you okay?”

I assure her that I will be fine then walk away, curious over what I have just witnessed. Both pairs of shoes represent some really great guys. Unfortunately, these guys don’t complement the girls they are accompanied by. The first girl wants room to grow, adventure, and experiment. She doesn’t have that freedom with her man. He limits her in many ways. She can’t be herself with him. The second girl wants to run, jump, and dance. Her floppy, oversized shoes trip her up and hinder her performance. He is a great guy, and he might even be the right guy. If he is, however, the timing is off. In a few years he may fit her better. By dating him now, before the time is right, she wears him out and loses more interest in him each time he causes her to stumble. Song of Solomon warns us more than once, “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the does and the gazelles of the field. Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5). This girl may be ruining her own beautiful love story by acting out of impatience.

I stroll into my house, happy that I’m still barefoot. For now I enjoy the freedom to run and dance, grow and adventure. Life isn’t perfect barefoot and single. Some days are lonely. I may walk across hot pavement or sharp rocks. Maybe someday I will find the right pair of shoes to protect my precious toes. But until then, I choose to focus on the feel of green grass and soft sand and to be satisfied exactly as I am.