The Box

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Third game of the young baseball season. Double, standing at second in the bottom of the third inning.

The adrenaline of the young season already pulsing through his veins. He had scholarship offers from three D-1 schools, but this season was going to put him in the elites. The team was eliminated in Semi- State last year, but the championship would be theirs this year.

Single. He comes around easily to score. This was going to be his year.

Bottom of the ninth. He walks. He’s already scored three times, but their bullpen had issues and gave up a two run homer. Game was tied. He’s 264 feet from the sweep.

Bunt drops. He dives for second. Safe. One step closer.

He’s been giving it his all, not just for the offers, but because, he believed, he was the best on this team. And of course he was. Led in most catagiries, defensively good in the outfield, and brought it every game. Great teammate, and this was going to be his year.

Next batter. Shallow single, but not shallow enough. Give him the sign as he rounded third to hold. Fuck that. He picks up steam. He slides focusing on the plate, and the catcher has the ball. Time to collide.

He hits the catcher full speed, ball drops out. Game won. But in the commotion, in the heroic act to win the game, he comes up wincing.

“Probably just a sprain…”, he thinks. Then he feels the sharp pain in his knee. He drops. The team, in their celebration around him clears for the trainer and coaches.

He’s sure it’s not serious. But damn it hurts. He goes for X-rays. Torn ACL, sprained MCL, the blood drains from his face. There it goes, the offers, the state championship, all of it.

This was supposed to be his year.

Sometimes, we’re so focused on checking the box, pushing so hard to get it done, that we destroy everything else around us in this singular focus.

The idea of hitting a goal, at whatever cost necessary, sets us back further on other, more important things.

Instead of losing one thing, we lose everything. In the example above, the best player that the team needed, pushed when he didn’t necessarily have to. And in his push, it cost him and his team the championship. It cost him offers. But most of all, it cost him himself.

Sometimes, playing smart means taking the short term L for the long term W.

Blazes of glory don’t do you any good when you’re dead.

Injuries don’t help you because you can’t play.

We give people shit sometimes for not going 120% all the time, because we think they aren’t trying hard. Whereas, many of them are playing the long game, understanding that it’s difficult to go undefeated if you don’t have your best on the field.

The goal of fixing the light socket doesn’t really matter if the house is burning down around you.

For a long time, at my job, I have two chess pieces in my office. A king and a queen. I knew I had to be a king to get the queen. But for years, and even recently, I’ve been caught up in checking that damn box and getting a woman that I could call mine.

I’ve written so much, so many times about how a woman shouldn’t be your focus, and here I was, making it that, trying to check that damn box, because I thought, after years of frustration, I had finally gotten to the relationship I wanted.

Nothing else mattered, no how she felt, not the timing, not the whole situation. Taking my time wasn’t in the cards, because I had to check that box.

So here I am again. I won a battle, but lost the war. I focused on home plate, but wasn’t concerned with this woman’s reaction to all of it. It wasn’t fair to her. She didn’t get a say. And that wasn’t right.

We, as men, are taught to lead, and they will follow. But we also can’t go off half cocked, shooting from the hip, especially when there are other people involved. It does zero good to build a life with someone by smothering them in your plans, aspirations, and goals without talking to them.

Assumptions are the mother of all fuckups.

If you want a “Ride or Die”, she has to be holding onto you right on the bike, not being dragged behind by a chain.

All because I wanted to check that box.

All because the idea of a significant other overrode all other scenarios. I didn’t make her a teammate, she was a subject, an object that I gave no mind to, all for trying to check that box.

It hurts because it was an unforced error.

It hurts because it could have been prevented.

I was too selfish to see that the plate was blocked, and I was going to get hurt sliding in.

Many of the lessons I’ve talked about in my past posts on this blog have only been given lip service to me and I haven’t truly lived some of them, especially in relationships.

It’s very humbling to have your words used back at you to tell you you haven’t been true to who you say you are. It’s mirror work that needs to happen, and as strong as I am in many aspects of my life, my relationships with women still need a ton of work.

And that starts with me. It starts with applying the lessons I’ve talked about, but apparently haven’t fully grasped.

It’s leading, not dictating. It’s strength, not dominance. It’s empathy, not stubbornness.

It’s confidence, not desperation. It’s abundance, not scarcity. It’s outcome independence, not hanging my hat on a star.

It’s patience, not pushing. It’s understanding, compassion, and humility.

A man who is measured, strong, and content in his life won’t be eager to check a box. He sees home plate and a shallow single, but also sees the hold sign at third. He knows that he’ll still be playing in the next series, win or lose, because he listened instead of busting ahead haphazardly.

I wasn’t ready. I was only ready to check the box. And checking the box doesn’t mean shit if the whole world is burning around it.

It does you no good to be sitting out injured while your team goes on without you when they didn’t have that choice. You made that choice when you rounded third, and you hurt those who depended on you, who loved you, and who believed in you.

But most of all, you hurt yourself. You made choices that you know weren’t right in order to justify checking that fucking box.

This blog has always been a journal for me, taking the lessons in life, the experiences that have shaped me, and applying them and learning from them. But there are still lessons I haven’t learned. Still things I have to apply. Still places where I’ve fallen short, merely pretending to learn while not truly grasping these situations.

This isn’t a simulation. This isn’t a sheet of paper with boxes to check off. This is real life, love, and other people with feelings, goals, desires and aspirations. They matter too, and in the quest to find a quality LTR, they have a say. They’re your teammate. They’re your lover, they’re your friend. They aren’t a mark on a paper, a post on social media, a trophy that you can add to your mantle.

I have work to do. I’m still trying to be the best man I can be, I’m working everyday to put what I preach into practice. But there are still blind spots that I need to address, especially when it comes to relationships.

But as I’ve always said, and recently forgotten: “You can’t have a quality relationship until you love yourself.”

Everything about you has to be sincere, honest, and representative of who you are striving to be.

I’ve forgotten some of that, and those closest to me have made it very clear that this is a pattern I need to correct. And I intend to.

Time will tell.

Relationship Lessons – Part 1: Save Yourself

This is part 1 of a three part series on lessons I’ve learned from my relationships.

Sometimes, the hardest thing for a man to do is walk away from something he knows he wants, but isn’t what he needs.

“It wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right. And it’s not her fault that it’s not right”, I sat in my car as it ran in the parking lot.

The wind was howling outside.

Everyone was gone from work.

It was just me, late afternoon sun shining over my car.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make, but I had to make it.

I’ve had to make this choice twice before. But this one was different. She had a ton of what I wanted in a girl.

When you are a man in a relationship, you are sometimes blind to what is good for you and what isn’t. Many a man has stayed in a situation where he didn’t belong, didn’t feel right, and this was just like that. How much time was I going to spend in a situation that didn’t feel good to me? At what point was I going to draw a line on what I needed in this?

And, as in a few of my past relationships, why was I giving more than I was getting?

I have had a tendency, especially if I find a girl I really like, of slipping into a role of driving, flying or meeting them in their area. And when I wasn’t? I was calling and texting like mad. Neediness.

I did it throughout 2019 and 2020, meeting girls on Twitter, flying to their area, having a fun weekend, then flying back hoping they would be persuaded to come live with me in Indy. In many of my past posts, I lament on this problem.

But this one was different. I thought she would come. And she didn’t.

I thought I had communicated it correctly. The ultimate goal for me, in my life, is that if I’m in a long distance relationship with a woman, is that she would naturally come here.

Indiana is my life. It’s where my kids are. It’s where my career, business, and family reside. There isn’t a compromise when it comes to this place. It’s my home.

But herein lies the problem: I was trying to be the exception to a rule that I knew wasn’t good.

Long distance relationships are not good, especially if they aren’t quickly turned into face to face relationships.

It cannot be stated enough that I was naive in thinking that I was different, I was special.

Most men do.

But I was kidding myself. Dammit I hate when I’m wrong, but I was warned, and I didn’t take it seriously.

When you meet someone long distance who you really like, you tend to gloss over the bigger deals because of the fact you like them.

I was trying to bring something that wasn’t going to happen and the lines should’ve been drawn sooner, but alas, my blindness to a girl I really clicked with precluded me from making those boundaries known early and often.

Hence why I was muttering in my car on that April day with frustration over letting it get this far.

Lesson – Boundaries Early and Often

I let it ride. I didn’t question. I constantly pushed off bringing it up.

But it was important.

You let it fester, you don’t push the issue, and it drags on.

I became, in essence, and emotional tampon for her. I was there whenever she needed me. I called at the same time every night. I was enamored with her from the start, but I didn’t reinforce my boundaries and tell her, over and over again, that this wasn’t going to work if we weren’t going to meet.

Until that April day, when I did.

Finally. I said something.

It was met with disbelief and frustration, as if wanting to meet in person was an affront to all that was decent.

I had finally, mercifully, put down a boundary that I had been playing footsie with for months.

Why not sooner? Because I was weak. I wanted it to work. I really liked her. I still did.

As a man, you let a woman you really like walk all over you, or worse, commit an abundance of your time to her, then you pull away, of course she’s going to be pissed. You were doing what she wanted, what she liked, and there was no risk for her.

I wasn’t consistent with my boundaries, and she had every right to be upset because I let it fester too long. But I had every right to ask her to come. If she truly wanted to be in my life, if she truly loved me like she said she did, it wouldn’t have been hard to come see me.

As a man, you MUST provide a strong frame and not bend or break on certain things in your life. I was not only bending, but certain boundaries were not-existent. All because I didn’t want to lose her. And I did anyway.

If someone is not willing to do what it takes to be in your life, then they really don’t want to be in you life now, do they?

The minute I put down boundaries was the minute the relationship ended. She couldn’t do what I needed her to do in the time I needed her to do it. You can’t be afraid to lose her. If she wants to be in your life, she’ll find a way to do it.

Lesson – Long Distance Generally is a Bad Idea

Rollo and the boys are right about long distance relationships. They are much like playing pretend.

Women can do long distance relationships better than men because they can get their emotional needs filled.

I don’t recommend long distance relationships for a man unless the women you really like is planning on visiting you SOON.

If you hit it off with a woman over the phone, long distance, as a man, especially an man who is established, she needs to come and see you.

Before, I had made it a bad habit to be talking to a girl for a month or so then be on a plane to see her. We’d have a great, sexual weekend, then reality would set in. She wasn’t moving for me. So I had to choose very carefully on who I was going to visit. And with my issues with my business and COVID, traveling wasn’t in the cards.

But here’s the thing. I could’ve visited her. But that would have led me to the same destination as all the other women I had gone to visit. I was making a stand this time that a requirement of this relationship, if it was to move forward, was that she had to visit.

This wasn’t on her, this was on me. And that’s okay. I have a specific requirement for relationships and if it didn’t work for her, it didn’t. I shouldn’t have prolonged this as long as I did.

Sometimes, bluntness is necessary. Sometimes, you have to put it out there to see if she’ll flinch. And I didn’t. I wasn’t honest with myself on what I wanted, I wasn’t honest with her, and I was afraid of losing her.

But what was this? Can something be classified as a relationship if you’ve never met face to face?

The answer? To women, it can. To men, it can’t.

But the bottom line. You can’t truly have a “relationship” that involves two people that haven’t met. There’s only so much of a connection you can make to a voice over the phone or a face over the internet. There’s only so much you can do because inevitably, intimacy must be created. Sex and intimacy are cornerstones of a relationship. And you can’t create that over a digital space.

It’s pretend. You are still not real to the other person nor are they to you unless there is physical touch. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.

Stop Being Afraid

What motivated me throughout this whole thing?

Fear.

Fear is a huge motivator for many things in our lives, and my fear of losing a woman I really liked was driving the lack of boundaries and the persistence of a long distance relationship.

We see men all the time give up their lives and move for a woman they love, only to be blindsided when all they’ve sacrificed translates to a whole mess of resent from her end. Then she finds another man who is solid and strong with his boundaries and his requirements and respects him more for those attributes.

I let fear dictate my actions. I was afraid of losing her. And that’s a risk as a man that you have to take. Your self respect is too important to let slide with a woman you really like. Hold your frame and let her know that you aren’t wavering.

I didn’t. And it cost me her, but more importantly, it cost me a bit of myself.

And while sad, I’m still glad I was able to enforce my boundaries at some point in this situation. I can only imagine how much longer it would’ve taken if I had just not said anything. How many more months or god forbid, years, would I have stayed on the line giving her what she needed while I got nothing of what I needed?

Know when to call a spade a spade. And know when to walk.

I’m sorry to her, but I’m glad I did what I did.