By Stephen Passman
1. They’re Manipulative
This is the biggest one. Both women and men do it. I see it all the time — someone getting a man to buy dinner or drinks with no interest of getting to know the person, or a man expecting sex for doing so. Manipulative behavior is often not seen at first because of the initial superficial interactions and the “puppy love” effect. Manipulation is when someone acts or uses something or someone with a maleficent or aggressive intention in order to induce a desired action. Manipulation is emotional abuse (Fjeltstad, 2014).
Other big ones to watch out for:
a) Guilt tripping someone into doing something they don’t want to do.
b) Intimidation, using fear, or verbal abuse for creating submission for some action.
c) Positive/ Negative Reinforcement (E.g. Only saying I love you only after someone does something “good” or pleasing to the partner).
d) Anyone who “presses your buttons” or uses your insecurities to get you to do what they want you to do.
e) Giving gifts with strings attached or crossing your boundaries often.
Someone who is manipulative must be in control. So If you find these circumstances to be the case, realize that no one deserves to be subjected to this kind of behavior.
1. It’s hard to explain, but for me it’s that the sense of being part of some story where you are the protagonist kind of fizzles out unceremoniously and leaves you drifting for the rest of forever.
As a kid, you’re on a path, there’s a plan laid out for you, and whether you intentionally break from the plan or follow it to the letter, there’s this linear progression of growth, and an ultimate goal to strive for. You have allies, you have enemies, you have trials that you pass or fail, you have moments of catharsis, etc. You feel like part of a beautiful narrative, like the heroes in movies and books and tv shows and stories. You feel like there’s a right and a wrong way to go, and some ultimate fate waiting for you at the end that will sum up what all of it meant.
When you get to be an adult, that illusion crumbles away as you realize that you don’t have a narrative, there is no path or plan, things aren’t always linear, and you’re nobody’s hero. There are no allies, because friends can be both good and bad for you simultaneously. There are no enemies, because frankly no one cares enough to wage a personal war for long. You don’t have a destiny. You make choices that are more a product of random chance than you want to admit, and sometimes the consequences make sense, sometimes they don’t. You may flounder around in a bunch of different directions for many years, ultimately not making any progress, and having nothing of import to show for it. You’re not a good person or an evil person – you’re just an ant wandering around looking for crumbs. No, worse than an ant, because an ant has a purpose in life, to serve its queen and colony. You can choose to align yourself with a purpose, but it may never fulfill you or reward you. And nobody will be waiting with a shiny gold medal for you if you stick to it.
Life as an adult seems less and less like an exciting adventure story and more and more like a delerious, confusing fog of random developments and passing phases that raise more questions than they answer.
Edit: I somehow put my first edit in the middle of the text, which made it weird. But it said thank you very much for the gold and comments. I appreciate all the insights and solidarity, and the disagreement too.
I haven’t always felt this way about adulthood, and I probably won’t always feel exactly this way. It’s not as if everything’s hopeless, or that I’ll never try to find a direction for my life. It’s just that the realization of how small your impact actually is, and that you are not destined for anything great, and how subject you are to forces bigger than yourself – that’s a tough pill to swallow
I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972 – m4w (Old State House)
I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself.
One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I’d flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I’ll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.
And so on the morning of that New Year’s Eve, I found myself in a barren studio apartment on Beacon and Hereford with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved.
I walked for hours. I looped around the Fenway before snaking back past Symphony Hall and up to Trinity Church. Then I roamed through the Common, scaled the hill with its golden dome, and meandered into that charming labyrinth divided by Hanover Street. By the time I reached the waterfront, a charcoal sky had opened and a drizzle became a shower. That shower soon gave way to a deluge. While the other pedestrians darted for awnings and lobbies, I trudged into the rain. I suppose I thought, or rather hoped, that it might wash away the patina of guilt that had coagulated around my heart. It didn’t, of course, so I started back to the apartment.
And then I saw you.
1. Took a lovely young lady Go-cart racing and followed it up with some laser tag. We ended up sitting on a hill drinking while the sunset, talking, making out for what seemed like hours.
2. To the airport, before the draconian days of the TSA and shoe-removal. I was a poor college student and had a date with a hot visual arts student with really short black hair and an ass you could bounce a quarter on. I had no money and was challenged to think of something different and creative. The airport was free. We people-watched, made up back stories for them, made up dialogues between people from far away, played spot-the-spy (every major airport must have at least one spy in it at all times. It’s a rule, I think). We walked up to those limo guys holding signs and pretended to be who they were looking for (“Hi we’re the Sniths. Oh, you’re looking for the Smiths. Never mind”) And when we were pretending to be spies, I told her our cover was blown and to follow my lead and kissed her. For a guy whose only exposure to anything smooth is a jar of Skippy, I’m still proud of that one. Then we went and watched planes take off and land, Wayne’s World style. We went on a few more dates, but nothing ever happened. Not even an under-the-shirt, over-the-bra squeeze. But that was still the best date I’ve ever been on.
#1. A kiss after a long day exploring.
"Everyday whether or not we have mail this mail man always stops to see my dog who is only 9 months old. He always gets over looked as a dangerous or unapproachable dog, Maybe cause he’s big i am not sure. He doesn’t bark at them or growl ( Maybe the odd couple times he barks at people but which dog doesn’t ) But this guy here always makes an effort to get off his bike to give him a hug and a pat! "