A couple of weeks ago, I noted that there’s a tendency to get envious of other people’s love lives without really knowing the full story, and to compare ourselves to others based on a false and distorted perception of their partners. In particular, this can be a real killer to a man fresh into the game, as he’ll be constantly discouraged thinking everyone else around him is slaying poon like a hair-metal musician, OR that everyone else is landing perfect relationship partners with ease, and that anxiety will cause bad game to leak out.
I just came across a Mark Manson post that that develops this idea, using the environment of a Rio beach’s cross-section of people:
On the boardwalk at Ipanema Beach, it’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro. Skateboarders, rollerbladers, joggers, surfers, bikers, juicers, tanners, vacationers, staffers — they all pass by, skin shiny and mildly naked. Sand and salt and vanity fill the air.
And the man with the four hot girls with him is annoyed at how loud and obnoxious his sisters and their friends are and wishes he could hang out with his guy friends instead. Not far away, a man at the beach with his guy friends ignores their games and jokes and looks longingly at the girls laying out tanning topless and wonders how one would go about meeting them.
And the girl laying out tanning wishes her boyfriend were around so the men would stop staring at her. And her boyfriend, wading into the water alone for hours on end, wishes his girlfriend would stop crowding him and demanding his attention all the time. He envies the single men who are able to roam free and do what they want whenever they’d like.
The skinny girls wish they had hips and the girls with hips want to be skinnier. The brunettes dye their hair blond and the blond girls wish they were darker like the brunettes. The men playing volleyball wish they could surf and the surfers wish they had the time and money to buy drinks and a nice umbrella to sit under and the men with drinks and the nice umbrellas wish they were young and healthy and playing volleyball again.
Read the whole thing, it’s really good.
A bit of dissatisfaction is not a bad thing; it keeps us striving for more. But when dissatisfaction means cursing your lot for not having this or that, and thinking that someone else who does has got it made, you’re on the first step to an endless cycle of chasing “happiness” or “contentment” like it was something you could catch, clean and mount on the wall.
To add a personal note to this, before I got into the game field I was working hard on honing my happiness and my acceptance of the regular yet unpredictable changes that were evolving my life from high school to college through grad school and then the working world. I’m proud of how I’ve been able to roll with it and successfully accommodate job changes, cross-country moves, and single and coupled periods. My work on that composure has paid off quite well, and it’s the key to my sense of groundedness and outcome-independent demeanor, which in turn has obviously enhanced my game.