Perfect Dave

Let’s clear the air right from the get-go. I’m not perfect. I don’t think I’m perfect. I would never consider myself as such.

Others, however… sometimes, I feel like that’s a different story.

Where’d this all come from?

Some background

Some friends of an ex-girlfriend of mine actually created an initialism. WWDD -or- What would Dave do? Whenever they needed help making a decision, they’d ask themselves, “What would Dave do?”… as if I made all the right decisions, and picked the greatest, nicest, most awesome way to handle every situation.

While I have my moments of greatness; I am a pretty nice guy; and I think I have a good bit of awesome in me… by no means should you always do what I do.

More recently, I’ve had a couple friends (2 women) label me as Perfect Dave. “You’re the perfect guy to date, on paper. You’re good at everything. You’re super-nice. You wouldn’t hurt a soul. You get along with everyone…”

What a great compliment, right? Well, in many respects, yes, that’s a compliment. But it’s one I could definitely go without. See if you can follow this logic:

2017 Update: The following paragraph makes absolutely no sense. 4 years later, I have no idea what I was trying to say.

I’m starting to think perfection doesn’t exist. And if I’m perfect, than I can’t exist. I must not be real. And if there’s only one quality I could use to describe myself to someone, it would be real/genuine/authentic. So clearly, “Perfect Dave” causes a dilemma.

Eliminating perfect from our vocabulary

In college, I remember attending a speaker who was discussing terrorism, it’s impact on society, and how it’s perceived by different groups. I remember few details about the talk, but the one thing I took away was a challenge he presented us with:

Eliminate the word “hate” from our vocabulary.

I took him up on it, and have stopped using that word, in both written & verbal communication (with a few slip-ups, of course).

Now I’m considering giving up on the word “perfect.” Or at least in the context of human beings. It seems appropriate, as none of us are, or ever will be, perfect, so long as we’re human. And even those who choose to use the word as a descriptor, it’s so incredibly subjective that it describes something different for each person who hears it.

I can’t build a perfect website. Picasso can’t paint a perfect picture. Beethoven can’t arrange a perfect symphony.

I wrote a poem in high school English class called “Flawless.” It was about a fictional girl, whom existed only in my young, ignorant mind. It also happened to be one of the most embarrassing pieces of work I’ve ever performed in front of a group (A flawed version of “Flawless”?).

But everyone has flaws. Every painting, every symphony, every work of art, website, poem, design, presentation. All of these things, just like people, can be good. And some of them, great. But none are perfect.

Dating Perfect Dave

Is it possible? Is it… well… perfect?

I’ve had a few people tell me I can be intimidating. I didn’t spend too much time analyzing why, but I assumed it was mostly due to my confidence (which I didn’t always have, by the way. Got picked on and bullied in elementary & middle school.)

Very recently, I’m concerned that someone else is intimidated by me. At least that’s what she told me. She also told me she feels really comfortable around me, and has proven that through her actions, and how she has opened up to me. So if someone’s really comfortable with you, can she be really intimidated by you, too?

When you feel intimidated around someone, you often don’t act like yourself. You’re afraid to be who you are, say what you feel, and do what you really want to do. You second guess yourself. You hide. You take the easier way out.

And that’s EXACTLY the OPPOSITE way I want to see anyone live their life. Every interaction I have with someone, I hope that they can be themselves, and I encourage them to do so. I want them to feel comfortable around me, not intimidated by me. But how can you be comfortable when you’re talking to perfection?

Let’s talk about my mistakes. Let’s talk about the things that I’m NOT good at. Believe me, there are plenty. For starters, I’m an awful singer, and I just posted a karaoke video to prove it. And I found a karaoke track because another thing I can’t do (and I tried) is play an instrument. Any instrument.

Anyone can be decent at anything. There are things that some of us will never be an EXPERT at. But we can all learn new things. And with the right level of interest, practice & focus, you can become good at it.

I think people don’t give themselves enough credit. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence. A lack of positive reinforcement from their peers. Or maybe a more strict stance on humility (or fear of being labeled arrogant or pretentious).

Please Stop

I’m hypothesizing here, but I had a friend (one of those 2 women who coined me “Perfect Dave”) tell me what she thinks is going on. She explained it really well because she felt the same way about someone else who wanted to date her. And her explanation resonated with me.

People (and in my situation right now… women) think that because I’m a really nice guy, good at a lot of things, etc., that I have such high expectations that they won’t be able to meet. And heaven forbid something should ever happen where it doesn’t work out between us, they’ll feel guilty because “Perfect Dave” would never hurt a soul, so it must be something they did.

I really hope that’s not it because it couldn’t be farther from the truth. And I have no idea whether any woman I’ve tried to date has thought that, or whether it has anything to do with my current situation.

But regardless…

  • Please stop calling me “Perfect Dave.”
  • Please stop assuming I’m some exceptional human being that lives according to an unattainable set of standards.
  • Please stop thinking that I hold others to unachievable expectations.

I never want to be perfect.

With all that being said, I shouldn’t even need to point this out, but it seems like a good way to wrap up. I never want to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist in the real world that we live in. Maybe in movies, videos games & virtual reality, but not in this life.

And if I’ve gotten a small glimpse of what it’s like to be perfect, trust me, no one wants to be that. It’s lonely. The conversation is superfluous. The interactions are a façade. Everything happens on the surface. And you’ll never experience anything real.

The 2 Most Important Things in a Relationship

I just felt this one needed to be spoken, and not just written. You can chose to watch the video, or read the written version below. They’re very similar, but some things just need a voice.

A little over a year ago, I took on the difficult task of explaining the entire world with 2 words. Today, after an amazing 3-hour conversation with a good friend, I present to you the 2 most important things in a relationship.

They presented themselves to me this morning, over a cup of coffee, and just to clarify, the context was around romantic relationships, or you could say marriage (if that’s your thing). I also happened to have recently experienced these two things with someone, and that’s still pretty fresh on my mind.

When you’re finished reading, please share your thoughts in the comments. What are your 2 most important things in a relationship, or marriage?

Comfort & Communication

The alliteration is just a bonus, but it’s nice when those things work out 🙂

Having the afternoon to think a little more about this, I think 2 things is just the right amount. One is too limiting. It doesn’t give the respect that a lifelong relationship truly deserves. Finding your lifelong partner is kind of a big deal, and therefore, deserves more than just one really important thing.

But 3 things is too many. Three is kind of like a gateway number. If you stop at two, it makes perfect sense, and it gives you enough flexibility that you don’t have to commit to only one. But three quickly turns into 4, 5 & 6, and it just gets more complicated from there.

[tangent] Three is a number we commonly use for many things in our culture, I suspect because some scientist proved that our hippocampus can only remember 3 things at a time. That’s great and all, but if love was just about science, there’d be a whole lot more happily married nerds out there, myself included. There’s a bit more to it than that. [/end tangent]

Comfort

Seems pretty obvious on the surface, right? Sure. And I’m not going to redefine it. It still means what you’ve always known it to mean. But let’s frame it around the context of a relationship.

Straight ladies & gay gentlemen, just substitute he/him for she/her.

You’re comfortable around her. And you’re comfortable when she’s not around (but of course, you miss her). You’re comfortable with her at parties, work functions, around dogs, at home on the couch, out to a nice dinner, or sitting beside her saying nothing.

You’re comfortable watching her do something amazing… and watching her fail miserably. When she’s at her best… and at her worst.

You’re comfortable when she comes up to you and says, “We need to talk.” You’re comfortable during the talk… after the talk… and the next morning when you wake up beside her.

You’re comfortable when she goes out of town… alone. You’re comfortable when she invites you out of town with her… to a cabin in the woods… just the two of you… for a weekend of romance. OK, maybe now we’re getting a little too comfortable 😉

You’re comfortable around her friends, and when they start grilling you to see if you’re a standup guy. You’re comfortable around her parents… and her crazy Aunt Rita… and wild Uncle Willy… and not-all-there Grandma Betty. And you’re comfortable around her when she starts taking after Grandma Betty… and she’s not all there anymore either.

You’re comfortable when she says, “Hey… I just have to do this.” When she comes home and says, “I quit.” When she loses it and says, “I just can’t take this anymore.”

You’re comfortable when she asks you really difficult questions… even when you don’t have any answers.

You’re comfortable when she’s happy, sad, excited, exhausted, silly, serious & sexy. You’re comfortable with her being all of these things… or none of them.

You’re comfortable with every discussion that no one likes to have. With every situation that no one likes to be in. Every. Uncomfortable. Moment. … still, somehow, feels comfortable.

Can Comfort Be Created?

Sometimes you meet someone for the first time, and everything clicks. You instantly feel comfortable around them. By date 2 or 3, you open up to them, telling them very personal details about your life.

In a case like that, you might think comfort doesn’t need to be created. It’s already there. Well, not so fast. If you read the last section of this piece, you’ll realize there are plenty more scenarios that have yet to be tested.

But how can you create comfort if it’s not there? I’m glad you asked. Now let me share #2…

Communication

You can’t be comfortable with someone if you don’t tell ’em stuff. And you sure aren’t going to be comfortable with them if you don’t let them tell you stuff. I believe this is called talking listening. Which, by the way, happen to be a phenomenal way to—you guessed it—COMMUNICATE!

I’d like to use a common analogy, but of course, I’m going to expand upon it.

Put all your cards out on the table…

Cliché, I know, but hey, even clichés have their place in communication.

So, put ’em out there. All of ’em. Not all at once, but don’t wait too long either. As soon as you’re comfortable (see what I’m doing here?), play the card. (leave your poker face at the door)

This isn’t War. You’re not starting with half the deck.

Maybe you’re playing Texas Hold’em, and you start with 2 cards. Your two favorite ice cream flavors (when she’s having a bad day, or pregnant cravings, you really might need that card).

Jump on over to 5 cards. Tell her the five most important people in your life, and why.

Then swim your way over to a romantic game of Go Fish. Each player gets 7 cards, which you both opt to trade in for 7 minutes in heaven. Hey, those cards are just as important. But maybe spend that last minute telling her why you just wanted to spend seven minutes in a closet with her 🙂

Remember the Uncomfortable?

Now that you’ve laid out all your cards…

You should be comfortable picking up her “empty” box of cards, turning it upside down, and shaking it, just to make sure there are no cards left in that box. And before she reaches to grab your box, you rip it wide open, exposing every last inch of your life.

As with most card games, there are many cards in the deck that have little value. You won’t miss them if they aren’t dealt to you. You discard them without a second thought.

But that one card can be a game-changer. And you better make sure you don’t let her find that card left in your box. Because that might be the one thing that she’ll never again be comfortable with.

Immediate Communication

In my experience, the sooner you communicate something—just about anything, really—the better it is for everyone involved. She appreciates it. You feel better about it. And it actually makes the relationship stronger because it builds trust.

And you know what? When you’re really comfortable with someone, you’ll know exactly when to play your cards.

 

So, what are the 2 most important things in your relationship?

The entire world explained in 2 words

I’m Not A Philosophy Major, But…

I’m going to get philosophical for a moment. Not to the level of Socrates, Plato or Aristotle — all my homeboys, by the way (I like to think of it as an ancient bromance). But I am going to sum up the world in 2 words. Not an easy task, I know, but give this a shot.

How This Came About

Earlier today, I had one of the most open, honest, lay-it-all-out-there conversations I can ever remember having. It was a unique conversation. One that many shy away from, or even purposely avoid.

It was so transparent, on a scale from 1 to 10, if 1 was Facebook’s old privacy policy and 10 was Newt Gingrich’s feelings on the opening question to the South Carolina Presidential debate… this conversation was somewhere in the hundreds.

She opened up, and was completely honest to me (did I tell you how much I appreciate that, btw?). I was honest with her. This kind of complete honesty with one another also makes you be honest with yourself — which is partly why I write this blog.

The conversation was difficult because it uncovered something that no one ever wants to hear.

But as difficult as it was, and the fact that it has the possibility to end something special… part of me feels really good about it. Good, in the sense that, if 2 people can have a conversation like this one,

  • The world is not going crazy after all, and
  • There are still people out there who truly value honesty

The 2 Words

Enough with all this intro background garbage. I know. You want to know what the two words are.

World = Relationship + Honesty

Relationships

Friends. Lovers. Bros. Hoes. Co-workers. Partners. Pets. God. Self.

We have relationships with many things. Multiple relationships at the same time. Some last forever. Others come & go. Some bring clarity. Others breed confusion. Some relationships are refreshing. Some, challenging. Some, easy.

We have relationships with other living things: our fellow humans & our pets. But also with the dead. Those who have lived adjacent to us, and those who are simply a part of history.

Sometimes our strongest relationship is not with the living or the dead, but with a set of beliefs… or a book of scripture… or a place of worship.

Relationships have gotten us jobs & introduced us to our spouse. They have also gotten us fired & ruined our marriage.

Relationships, just like the world, are subjective. You’ll never have a relationship with your SAT score.

They’re ever-changing. You will wander in & out of them your entire life. Guaranteed.

You can’t predict them. Don’t worry. Neither could Columbus. He just got lucky.

They have no inherent value. You might think your wife is worth a million bucks… or an expensive diamond ring… but she’s worth so much more than that.

Honesty

I was thinking… if I had one gift to give to the world, what would it be? And no, I’m not practicing for a Miss America pageant. I really do think about this stuff, somewhat regularly (probably way more than I should).

Sure, I could give the world food, and then people wouldn’t be starving. Or I could give clean water, and people would be healthier, and live longer. I could give condoms to slow down AIDS in Africa. And I’d probably save millions of lives doing any one of these things… or a host of others just like them.

But so long as we’re not all honest with each other, and ourselves, we’re always going to have all the little crap that ends up leading to the big crap. And by crap, I mean problems. Debt. AIDS. Starvation. Homelessness. War. Infidelity. Murder. Cheating. Et cetera.

Honesty & relationships are intertwined. By giving the world honesty, it might help cure all the broken relationships. The ones between lovers. Between spouses. Between friends. Between nations and tribes and religious groups. Between humans and the environment. Between a mother and her daughter, or you and your next door neighbor.

 

I realize there are other things that make up our world. But at least today… for me… these are the two that seem to matter so much more than any of the others.

Better Half

Dear Better Half,

I love you and all, but I’m really not sure how you got your name.

Sure, we do things together. Live together. Make babies. Raise children. Buy stuff. Even have the same last name. But what part of that makes you better than me?

We also make mistakes. Fail. Help each other out. Cry. Laugh. We both have our ups… and our downs. And we are both there for each other when the other needs it.

Please don’t take offense. You’re awesome. I mean that. That’s why I’m spending the rest of my life with you.

Here’s how I see it. Part of why we go so well together is the fact that we’re both awesome. And neither one of us should take any of that away from ourselves by settling for the lesser half.

Sincerely,
Your lesser other half

I will change your life.

And you did. In only 4 dates.

And you did.

4 days. 33 hours. 2 states. 3 parks. 2 dogs. 1 headstand contest. 6 new Pandora stations. 1 hammock. 2, maybe 3, incredible iTunes playlists ;-). Phone chemistry. Glow bracelets. A late night truck stop. The insect attack of the century. A bottle of champagne that we never opened. My least favorite breakfast spot in the South.

And 1 really. difficult. conversation.

You said it more than once. “I will change your life.” It wasn’t a dead serious, groundbreaking kind of changing your life. More of an I’m-kind-of-joking-but-not-really, semi-serious, you-might-not-realize-it-now-but-it’s-true kind of way.

It was often accompanied by a playful smile, almost a smirk, as if to keep me wondering, “Is this girl for real?”.

We spent time together on 4 separate occasions. 4 dates, if that’s what you’d prefer to call them. And how much can someone honestly change your life in 4 days? It’s a valid question, for sure. One that I asked myself several times on the car ride back from Gaston.

Well, day 2 was the best conversation I can remember having in a long time. And as far as dating goes, maybe the best ever for a 2nd date.

Day 3 we set a world record for longest 3rd date. 7+ hours. We also did it with no agenda, no plans, no bug spray (huge oversight), and for the last 3 hours, no light (it gets pretty dark in the woods). And all of this on a work/school night.

Day 4 we spent nearly 20 hours together. No break from each other, other than a few hours of sleep. I met her dogs, her students, her colleagues, and the sweet Italian woman at the only Italian restaurant in her town.

I could go on and on about all the things we crammed into 4 dates. It’s an impressive list. But the more impressive thing is that in 4 days, she really did change my life.

Those who know me know that I am a bit of a perfectionist. Those who know me even better know when it comes to girls, I can be very selective. And the crazy thing about this girl is…

The only thing wrong with her is that she can’t keep her tube of toothpaste clean.

Yeah. I think I can get over that.

Yesterday, we said goodbye. Not goodbye for good, but goodbye for now. A little thing called timing got in the way of a great opportunity.

Although I might have made that last conversation seem easy, believe me, it wasn’t. You know how Murph & Kota looked when they thought you were leaving them? The same thing was going on inside my head (I just don’t have Murph’s puppy face to illustrate my feelings).

And if timing can so easily, and so quickly, break something apart, I’m really hoping it can put it back together again. (Humpty Dumpty, we need ya, bro.)

Here’s to our next adventure…

Why are you still single?

This question came up in conversation the other day. I chose to answer it truthfully. Here’s what I’ve learned about my past decisions, and how they are helping me make different choices moving forward.

This question came up in conversation the other day. And I answered it… truthfully. It was an interesting (and very brief) look back at the 2 previous & 1 current stage of my life, and why I am still single.

I feel as though this is a question where you typically get 1 of 2 things. Either they lie & you don’t get anything remotely truthful. Or the 1 out of 100 that do tell the truth… you find out the truth is pretty scary, and there is a reason why they’re still single… and it’s frightening.

My response is neither a lie nor a frightening physical deformity.

In high school, I was kind of a player. I loved the attention from whoever was willing to give it to me. Immature? Absolutely. Lesson learned? Yup.

In college, I wasn’t willing to commit. I didn’t realize that a relationship took time, effort, sacrifice & commitment… and lots of it. Selfish? Very. Lesson learned? It took a while, but yeah, now I get it.

Post college to present day… I haven’t met a lot of new people. I let work consume my life for the first 2.5 years. Then came running, and I got over-competitive. Tunnel vision set in. My social life took a back seat. Lesson learned? Well, I’m still working on this one, but I have been making improvements.

With all things in life… you get to make choices. Relationships are no different. In looking back, I haven’t made a relationship a priority in my life. And the consequence of my choice is simple: I’m single.

Now that I know why, I can make the choice to do something about it. Here’s to change…

Improving relationships with family, friends & the ladies

I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships in my life recently, and now I’ve finally written it down on paper. I’ve been neglecting certain relationships, ones that I’m not particularly proud of, and it’s time for that to change.

Here’s how I plan to improve the relationships I have with family, friends & the ladies.

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. Mainly,

  • How I’ve treated them in the past
  • Their importance in my life
  • How I’m trying to improve them

Why am I thinking about relationships in this way?

  • I’ve lived by myself for the past 2 years, and at times I get bored & lonely
  • I don’t have a lot of friends in the Richmond area
  • There are important events happening in the life of my friends, family & loved ones
  • I’ve been exploring the online dating scene, and have had a few interesting encounters

All of this has led to my decision to try to improve relationships in 3 main areas of my life:

  1. Family relationships
  2. Friend relationships
  3. The girlfriend relationship

Improving family relationships

Growing up, we never had big family gatherings. My family was somewhat spread apart, up and down the east cost. Several divorces & fallings out led to complicated relationships that I didn’t even understand until I started asking questions in college.

With age comes appreciation

As I have gotten older, so has the rest of my family. Health issues have arisen. And in some cases, even death. With more practical life experience, I understand these things at a much higher level than I used to. I’m much more appreciative of my family & close friends.

They’ve sent me a birthday card every year for the past 26 years. They attended hundreds of baseball games when I was growing up. They’ve donated money to charity on my behalf. Every time they see my parents, they don’t leave without asking how I’m doing. Bottom line: They care. They always have cared. And they always will.

Unconditional love

I used to think this was some stupid cliché. Now I understand what it means (well, I’m starting to, at least). We all need people to care about us & be there when we need something or someone. If you can’t count on family, who the heck can you count on?!

It’s the thought that counts

I used to hesitate before calling my relatives & close family friends. I thought, since I have never talked to them on the phone before, and haven’t spoken to or seen them for a few years, it would be awkward. I wouldn’t have anything to say.

All the while I’ve been missing the point. They don’t care if I say nothing at all. Just the fact that I picked up the phone means the world to them. Most of the time they’re the ones asking all the questions. They want to know how I’m doing. Just to know I was thinking about them… that alone can make a huge difference.

Improving friendship relationships

I haven’t made many friends in Richmond. I chose to put my job first. And for many years, running second. This left no time for hanging out, meeting new people or socializing with friends. It was all about working & running. That was it.

You don’t miss it until it’s gone

Recently, I’ve come to realize the importance of friendships. I miss the interaction with other people. While I do need some alone time to recharge, there are many times when I thrive in an environment with ample human interaction. I get into this fun zone, where I’m about as happy as one person can be. I can’t ignore that feeling. And I certainly don’t come anywhere near it when I’m alone in my apartment.

Selfishness

The more time I spend by myself, the more selfish I become. If I’m not spending time with other people, I don’t think about other people. This is clearly not a good habit to start forming.

Opportunity

I’m actively looking for opportunities to get out more. Just being out with other people, regardless of where we are, what we’re doing or who I’m with, will help get me back to where I need to be. My life is missing a little piece right now, and these new opportunities will help fill that void.

Improving the girlfriend relationship

Until recently, I was clueless about relationships. Again, it was working & running that gained all my attention. And while I still thought a relationship was possible with my one-track mind, it didn’t stand a chance.

Relationships take time, effort & sacrifice. Any extra time went into my running. And sacrificing my job or a big race… ha, forget about it. Just wasn’t happening.

Single forever?

Once I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being single (which didn’t take long at all), I realized I needed to make some changes. While I still love my job, and spend many hours/wk running & training, I’ve created room for a third priority… a relationship. And I’ve even vowed to sacrifice parts of my job and/or my training to make a relationship a real possibility.

Online dating

I’ve met up with a handful of women I met online. With each experience, I’m learning something. I’m mainly interested in learning things about myself: my turn-ons & turn-offs, how I communicate, what kind of person makes me happy, etc. What I’ve also learned is that very few people I’ve met communicate in the same way I do… and that can be really confusing (for both sides).

Never stop exploring

This is The North Face‘s tagline. While they use it in reference to outdoor adventures, I’m using it in a slightly different way. I’m in the midst of an interesting time in my life. One in which I’m exploring myself, as well as the relationships in which I participate. This exploration has led to a new understanding of my life, one in which I’m sure will continue to change as I continue to explore.