I currently have 3 male friends who are in 3 different and very distinct gridlocked relationships right now. Two are in failing marriages and one is in a committed monogamous relationship with a zipper that's stuck.
Each of these guys considers himself a bohemian artist type - a creative with a heart of gold who lives an alternative lifestyle and dedicates much of his time to his artistic craft, which includes a large dose of narcissism, a small serving of selfishness and important dreams of “making it big" one day and dutifully sharing his bounty with his partner who he treats mostly like a business partner.
Each of these guys also feels stuck, isolated, and feels like no other man has walked in his shoes before. More importantly, each of them is blaming his wife or girlfriend for the gridlock (and his own lack of happiness).
“She’s broken and depressed,” my friend Keenan told me on the phone the other night. Then, as if enlightened, he went on to tell me what he would do to “fix” himself if he was her. "It's really quite simple," he said as if recounting a simple string theory hypothesis. (Keenan, let me know how that easy “fix her up” plan works out for you when you rejoin OKCupid in a few months).
I feel for Keenan. I’ve been in that exact same place before. I know what it’s like to have it all figured out in my head one moment and the next moment stare at an imprint of a steering wheel on my forehead because I fell asleep in the car in the driveway again because I wanted to avoid the ongoing, week-long argument that only seemed to burry the mess of my relationship deeper.
So guys, before three more relationships bite the dust, here’s the deal. I wrote this for you. Since you represent the majority of my dude friendship base, I know there must be a ton of other clueless dudes out there who are currently going down with the ship. The bottom line is that you’ve got relationship baggage and it has nothing to do with your partner. It’s time to stop thinking with your head, start thinking with your heart and take a look at the guy who stares back at you every morning when you shave (if you shave).
What’s Your Deal?
You probably think your Bohemian Baggage (Boho B as I like to call it) is different. You think just because you’re both vegan superstars and don’t watch television and own pet ducks (instead dogs) that live in your bath tub instead of a dog house, and have matching stainless steel microdermal implants with one another’s initials, that the traditional laws governing relationship baggage don’t apply to you, right?
The bottom line is that your Boho B isn’t so different. Depending on what kind of contents you collected in the past, you may be just as hung up as everyone in the mainstream: you think you aren’t worthy of being loved; you aren’t attractive enough; you have nothing to offer; you’re full of self-judgment; you’ll never fully satisfy someone; you have the self-esteem of a garden hose; you’ll just get dumped again. Now that it's affecting your relationship, the problem can't be ignored.
While your women are out getting therapy, reading self-help books, getting Reiki and working on themselves, you’ve locked yourself in the utility room where you can meditate undisturbed for three hours while you contemplate your next tattoo, your next surfing trip and how your life would only be better if you were a famous rockstar.
Sorry to break it to you guys, but you’re responsible. Why? Because you’re a guy. And being a guy means that your baggage - aka: your custody arrangements with your loquacious ex, your STD, your Wednesday night twelve step meeting, your OCD disguised as a combination of a food allergy and an obsession with cleanliness, your ongoing feud with your own family, your mentally deranged cat that belonged to another ex, that habit you have of smelling your fingers after scratching things - is as much a guy thing as any guy thing you have - including the guy thing in your guy pants.
Here are the 5 reasons you and your Bohemian relationship baggage are failing you:
1) Your Family Ties are Holding you Back
Guys, this is the baggage that someone in your family gave you… it’s not even officially your baggage – it belongs to someone else! To top it off, it was repaired once already - hand sewn with dental floss and slapped with a lump of duct tape. Your father took it to Arizona fifty years ago on one of his motorcycle trips when he wanted to do some plein air paintings and ended up having a homosexual encounter while on peyote.
You somehow ended up with the baggage and then (considering it might be cool to have baggage that had that comfortable broken-in look) you decided to keep it.
When you travel though, it always comes off the baggage carousel busted open with all your perverted possessions taking a ride for everyone to see, including your dependence on cabana-boy-bikini man briefs.
What it comes down to is this: You probably feel so emotionally scarred, vulnerable, and hurt that you’re scared to open up to anyone, even when your new partner offers you a supportive “I’ll show you my clit ring, if you show me your Prince Albert,” attitude. With this behavior, you shut off all possibilities of a healthy relationship because of pre-conceived, and probably untrue, notions.
2) Your Tic Disorder is Out of Control
Guys, owning baggage with a retractable handle is great for ease of handling when making your way from your last bad relationship to your really new, really bad one. The problem is, you happen to have a tic disorder that involves opening and closing - opening and closing - opening and closing the retractable handle on your bag. As a way to determine where you and your baggage stand, especially in terms of a relationship, you test it. You probably push on your bruises all the time too just to see if they still hurt. You definitely aren’t enlightened enough to even consider this a baggage problem.
What it comes down to is this: Maybe you threaten to sabotage your relationship by aggressively testing your partner, especially if they’re good to you - you’ll push them away faster than you can blink an eye by doing things like cleaning the house (which was mostly your mess to begin with) and then waiting to see if she'll notice. When she ponders that “something looks different in the house” and then guesses that it’s your haircut, you feel hurt, silently think about your exodus and how you need to have someone in your life that appreciates you more. Bad. Bad. Tic Disorder.
3) You’re Just Plain Slow
Guys, the wheels on your baggage squeak, yet you like to tell everyone they are "top of the line."
Do you really expect us to believe that you’ve got Pirelli Diablo Stradas on your luggage when you won’t even splurge on the expensive brand of tahini at Trader Joe’s?
Yes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Meanwhile your baggage is literally bulging at the seams. For God’s sake, if the noise isn’t exactly an affirmation that you're loaded down, then what is?
When you take your baggage in to get it looked at, you and the baggage repair person may have a conversation that sounds something like this:
You: Hi, I think I’d like to upgrade from the Pirelli Diablo Stradas to the Scorpion Zero Asimmetrico’s.
Repair Man: Sir, just looking at your baggage, I can see there’s been very little wear on you Pirelli Diablo Stradas. Perhaps the problem is being generated from a more internal source?
Me: Do ya think?
What it comes down to is this: You may tell your partner how much you admire them or love them, and then you do everything in your power to disprove that with mean, condescending or other hurtful behavior. You might do this as a sort of defense mechanism – you hurt them before you get hurt.
4) Your Eyes are Bigger than your Appetite
Guys, you’re always eyeing the baggage with the bells and whistles, thinking you need to get baggage that’s better looking and easier to carry around. If your relationship was a game of “Go Fish” you’d be trading the molestation for the inaccessible father, the gang bang for the lesbian mother and the last upgrade thingamabob for other new and possibly more exciting gizmo.
Everyone but you knows that the names of all your past lovers are synonymously similar - Samantha, Serendipity, Serena and that even their drinking problem was the same, (though the tattoos and piercing are in a different place). This is why subconsciously, you think that since all your baggage has eventually conked out on you, your new baggage will too.
What it comes down to is this: If your wife (who has been supporting your wanna-be rockstar butt for the past four years) wants you to get a real job so she can have insurance and start making babies, and you think that she just wants to control your Bohemian buttons, maybe you need to look in the mirror for once.
5) You’re a Blame Junkie
Never trust the man with the mustache… or in my case, the girl who threw up in my mouth the night I lost my virginity in the front seat of my Mom’s GMC Pacer (Read that blog post >click here).
You can’t keep blaming the salesman who sold you your baggage. You can't blame your parents or your previous partners either for the demise of your current relationship and for everything bad thing that's currently happening.
When you refuse to take any of the responsibility or blame, you're only cultivating your victim karma, which will never allow those three Asian men who came back as chimpanzees in the forest for your sins to ascend to their rightful position in the food chain.
What it comes down to is this: There’s a good chance that out of the millions of times you’ve been hurt in the world, it was mostly your fault too. The hurtful words spoken were listened too, the physical unavailability was felt, the betrayal needed a betrayee. Just thank your stars you aren’t with those Asian men in the tree.
For a more developed social media picture of Slash Coleman, the author of this blog, check out all of Slash's adventures on Twitter: twitter/Slashcoleman - Facebook: facebook/slashtiphercoleman - Pinterest: pinterest/slashcoleman