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You Spin Me Right Around, Baby

March 25, 2010

Skiddle recently ended her first official romance. She did it with dignity, though if left to her own devices, she’d have done him wrong.  The pressure to be part of a couple has been enormous since she was in the 6th grade if you can believe it.  And I’m sorry to say that it was girl friends from school who put that pressure on.

Her reasons for ending it were clear and succinct:  she felt like she had been “rushed” into “dating” (she’s 14 – there are no real dates, only handholding between classes and the occasional stolen kiss, which she was comfortable enough to tell about), and it was too time-consuming.  They texted into the wee hours of the morning and not only was she not getting enough sleep as a result, she was rushing through homework without any real effort so that she could get to the nightly texting marathons.  And her grades quickly showed it.  She was planning to let him know, via text (natch) that night, which led to a brief discussion about the importance of (1) doing such a thing in person versus chatting online and (2) timing.

The first one should be self-evident.  The tables will be turned one day and I asked her to treat him like she would choose to be treated when they are.

The second one was not so clear for her.  She knew he had 2 big exams the next day (math and science).  Breaking up with him via text the night before would have been extraordinarily inconsiderate.  But she had been thinking about breaking it off for about a month or so prior and, once she’d made her decision, she felt it would be disingenuous to pretend like everything was the same if she happened to run into him before they could talk.

So she avoided him and made arrangements to stay after school the next day to talk.  Once she had spoken to him in person and had also completed all her exams, it was time for a longer discussion about relationships.  The guy, it seems, is devastated.  He desperately wants to know what he did wrong.  And the answer is nothing.  But if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the “It’s not you, it’s me,” discussion, you know that is an unsatisfactory answer.

Fortunately, Smumzie has a Masters in Life from the School of Hard Knocks and is about to impart the critical wisdom I shared with her right here:

Ladies, girls, Skiddles, Smummies – be your own hub.

Most women I know – even the ones who just happened into romances without a lot of effort – take themselves out of the center of their lives when they find a guy who they think might be “the one” – and put him in that center.  Breakups under these circumstances can indeed devastate your life.

Picture the wheel of a bike: it’s composed of the tire, the hub and the spokes that connect the two together and keep it spinning around correctly.

Most men seem to keep themselves in the center of their own lives with various spokes surrounding them: one is their parents, another perhaps is their siblings; his job or school is a spoke, sports or hobbies might be another; friends may be grouped together or exist as individual spokes. Somewhere in that mix is a girlfriend, but note that she is another spoke in his wheel, not the hub.

Each spoke offers individual support yet they function as a whole.  No wheel can continue to spin when all the spokes break at once but if one or two of the spokes break along the way, as long as the guy has kept himself in the center, the whole thing will continue to work just fine.   It might wobble a bit until some repairs are made, but it will be OK.

Women need to adopt the be your own hub approach to relationships.  The second you make someone else the center of your universe, you are in danger.  Because in that moment, you have given that person the power to break you.  Even if they don’t want to, they will just by the simple act of ending your relationship.  And you’ve just placed enormous pressure on that person to hold it all together for you.

Relationships can be fantastic and the temptation is strong to revolve around a great one – but it’s a pretty sure bet that you’re going to have to kiss some toads along the way, Princess.   We’ve all found the hard way that toads can be poisonous if you’re not prepared.  The best way to protect yourself is to never, ever resign yourself to the position of being a mere spoke in your own life.

Skiddle listened intently but pretty much blew me off because she couldn’t ever foresee herself being so obtuse as to put someone else into the center of her universe.  And she might not.  I see in her an uncommon sense of ‘self’ for a 14 year old girl.  She is strong and confident and I can’t help but associate her poise with the relationship she has with her father.  She carries a conversation with most adults as though she’s an equal, not a child.  She has always done this, even when she was eight.  And I realize that her father never talks to her in baby talk, never issues directives, never yells.  He sets good examples of strong behavior and she follows it.  And instead of pointing out the disadvantages to playing the victim (a course of action she is regularly exposed to at her mother’s house), he simply lets the situation play out and then asks her how it’s working for her.

And she sees the down side to playing the weak female, the damsel in distress.  She is her own hub and she exudes the rare confidence found in women who have had that unconditional father support in the form of many strong spokes in their wheels.  And though I know the pendulum must swing in all directions before it can settle into the center, somehow I think Skiddle is ahead of the game.

She recently turned down two other boys at school who asked her to “date” them.  Her reason was simply that she didn’t want to be a part of a couple – because she liked just being herself.  I am very proud of her.

We have our third blood test tomorrow and if it has continued to double, we’decided to share the news with Skiddle over the weekend.  It’s important that she have time to absorb the reality of becoming a big sister and that she have the opportunity to ask questions and express her feelings.  Given her past waffling (from apoplectic to extremely enthusiastic to lukewarm), we’re not sure where she stands on it just now.

This blog is for journaling our experiences together and I have the feeling that it’s about to get very interesting…


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  1. Mack has had a few boyfriends, mostly just friends that are boys. I have always been so impressed with her in how she handles things, she dated a boy last year for a few months, she told me that she was going to break things off with him because she was bored and missed hanging out with her friends. She does have a boyfriend now, and I know that she really likes him, and you can tell that he adores her (why wouldn’t he!). This is her first kind of serious boyfriend. I have been so happy that she took things slow in the dating game. It’s so hard when they start at 13, & 14 years old. Good for Skiddle, in being a strong independent young woman!

    I think that Skiddle will be just fine with the news…Mackenzie was kind of the same way when we started our adoption process. Sometimes, she would be really excited, and other times really withdrawn, to the point I was really worried about it. Now, she is the best big sister ever. The age difference between Mack and Mea, would be nearly the same with Skiddle and a new baby! So awesome!

    • She’s having friends for a sleep-over tonight and will probably sleep very late tomorrow so we won’t get to talk until dinner time probably. Hopefully, there will be something good to talk about. I think you’re right about the age difference being about the same as your girls. She’ll be 15 when this one (or 2?) is born. I’ll be pinging you for advice for sure!

  2. Love your metaphore of the relationship. So true, so true!!

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