The Ping Pong Theory

Have I ever told you about The Ping Pong Theory?  Yes, I have, but no one reads my blog religiously so I’m sure it’s okay if I re-hash my theory in more detail.  It’s a brilliant theory by the way. You’ll enjoy.

Personal explanation: I’m 15 years old and I had a new boyfriend.   Tall, dark, handsome and pretty damn awkward for a 16 year old. He had a pretty sweet car and was okay with wearing matching outfits.  He dumped me after he went to Spain for the summer when he realized he needed to date a girl that puts out.  Uh uh.  I collapsed on the floor of my bedroom wailing nonsenese “I’ll never find anyone that loves me again.”  My poor dad witnessed this but didn’t know what to say to me, other than calling me ridiculous.

SO what did I do to move on? PING PONG.  I started looking for traits in guys that were almost the exact opposites of my first boyfriend.  I’m about six relationships in now and the distance between the paddles has shortened significantly.

Scientific explanation: If you reflect on your relationships, what works and what doesn’t, then I guarantee that you’ve applied the ping pong theory to your life.  Rational people can recognize (most) of the traits in another person that make them happy/unhappy.

It’s natural to feel repelled from the qualities that lead to the break up (i.e. Bad temper, selfishness, lacks motivation, treats you badly, doesn’t know how to communicate, etc).  As a result, you tend to hone in on new targets that exemplify the opposite negative traits while maintaining the positive traits your ex managed to show.  Little by little, you start refining what you’re looking for until there’s very little wiggle room between ping and pong.

Not all people abide by the ping pong theory. I have one friend who never deviates from “her type” despite numerous failures and more recent lack of options (she’s picky). But, if you track the ups/downs of your relationships and approach breakups as an opportunity for self-improvement then you will use your past  experiences to inform your future decisions.

What’s next for me? I’m pretty sure I’m heading towards another break up. I’d give it a 10% chance of survival.  He’s a good guy, the relationship has been good, but it feel like its winding down.  I’ve noticed that being with him generates more upsets than happiness (lately). Although I hate endings, my intuition has a good sense of where I should ping pong to next:

  • Love the confidence, intelligence,  strong communication skills and chemistry
  • Love his sense of honor, loyalty.
  • Love his support of me.
  • Dislike his autonomous take on relationships because I’m looking for more of a partnership
  • Uncomfortable with his excessiveness. He’s either really hot towards me or frightening cold. He’s either obsessed with working out or potato couch.  He is either stone sober/anti-social or the most wasted person at a party.
  • Incompatible with his timing—I don’t see him settling down for another 4-6 years

I’m trying to grapple with things now, live the moment, etc.  This is hard to do once you know things are fizzling down.  We’ll see what happens next.


Guide to Breaking Up.

You know, I set this blog up because I wanted a safe space to rant. I wanted to say whatever I wanted without any repercussions or need for filters. Then, I had to go and tell my friends/families that I had a blog and that it received favorable reviews every once in awhile (more like once in a blue moon). Naturally, my friends/family started to ask me what the name of my blog was and I eventually caved in. Now, I find myself not writing about the topics that I want to write about because my anonymity is gone.

Well, F-That.

Breakups suck and I am having an AWFUL time handling it. I wish I could write 100 pages on the topic, but that would be both pathetic and entirely unhealthy. The best I can do is write this guide for breaking up, the stages of emotions that I have gone through recently…..

  1. Denial. There’s a brief stage during the beginning of the breakup where the breaker-upper (me) feels relief, total clarity, and what maybe happiness in light of the nasty details that caused the breakup in the first place.
  2. Rebound. Guys (I’m a girl) usually take this denial and turn it into rebound activity. I didn’t pursue that path, but I can see how that path would be attractive. I did flirt more.
  3. Facebook (The Good?). Denial does a number on the breaker-uppers profile. This is when people change their relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single” or “blank.” My status was, thankfully, already blank so there was no need to change it. I immediately removed all tags of my ex from my pictures. I started taking my camera out more, snapping pictures of “fun times” and then plastering them all over my facebook for all to see—see me move on, see me with other cute guys, see me having fun, see me being me.
  4. Forget. Strong emotions fuel a breakup. Anger. Resentment. Betrayal. You name it, the person breaking up probably feels it. Well, those feelings tend to fade with time for what some might say is one of the “nice” things about being human—pain is forgettable. Seriously. Can you recall exactly how you felt the last time you had a migraine, broke a toe, puked your eyes out after a night of drinking? I can’t. I get a hazy sense of what it kind of felt like but I don’t “feel” the pain. Can you recall exactly how you felt the last time you really cracked up laughing about something? The last time you felt truly grateful for something? I can. I know exactly how I felt, and depending on the memory, I’ll even chuckle or smile the second I’ve re-lived the moment. Negative feelings are forgettable, but positive feelings are not. This is why you start to remember the good times in the relationship. Weekend rituals. Fun conversations. Sweet moments. I can still remember the bad times too, but the memories are not that sharp. Regardless—this “forgetting the bad times, remembering the good times” is what makes you miss the person after the break up. It’s why you miss waking up next to him, but forget how annoying it felt to have to wake up freezing to death because he hogs the covers. (Actually, I’m the one that hogs the covers).
  5. Doubt. Once you start remembering the goods times and forgetting the bad times, you start to wonder if breaking up was a mistake. This is especially difficult if the other person is actively trying to get you back. Doubt. You start second guessing everything—Was the breakup a knee-jerk reaction or something justified? Can the fissures in the relationship be mended (can he change? you change? the situation change?) or is it a lost cause with no other option then to break up? Did you exaggerate? Did you freak out?
  6. Facebook (The Bad). Oh, and does Facebook become a bad thing….remember how you were quick to splash the new, free you all over Facebook? Well, now that you’re in the doubt stage you are wondering what he’s up to. You start looking at his pictures. Who are the people in those pictures? He’s having fun, a lot of fun. Is he happy now? Is he more happy than you? Wait, is that him moving on??? Are girls leaving comments on his page? Who are those girls anyway? Why weren’t they around when you dated? (NOTE: My ex and I are not Facebook friends so the stalker behavior doesn’t apply to my case this time, but trust me, if we were friends I would be stalking his page like the true OCD-ridden patient that I am. We’re talking “wash your hands 100x a day for fear of germs” OCD level stalking. Thank GOD we are not Facebook friends.)
  7. Brief Moments of Clarity. The constant sadness, sense of loss, and insecurity isn’t sustainable so your brain figures out a way to move on. You make an active effort to socialize. You make an effort to enjoy the moment. You drink wine, and try to keep yourself from letting your mind wander to your ex and away from the conversation at hand. You get better at being “present” with time, and being “present” is what allows you to start enjoying yourself—this is when you realize “hey, I’ll be okay.” Then someone will say something that reminds you about your ex (in my case, it’s usually something I would have joked with him about) and the cycle starts over again.
  8. Friends. Girls talk to their friends about how they feel more often than guys do, so I’m not sure how this applies to guys…but, my friends must be SICK of hearing me talk about the ex. They helped me when things got bad, had my back, told me that I deserved someone who accepted me and loved the good in me instead of putting it all down. They organized dinners and drinks and nights out once I broke up to celebrate what we all thought was a joyous occasion during the Denial Phase. Then you start to waver…and maybe you even voice that doubt to one or two of your friends and they quickly give you a smack down. They say “UH UH. Your inability to move on becomes our problem because you will depend on us when things go south again. Remember how you felt when XYZ happened and remember that you concluded you wanted ABC from the guy you date. Why go back to something you know doesn’t work. Whatever. I’m not the one that will get a divorce.” Your friends, they keep you grounded (and scared shitless)…but you can’t listen to them all the time because if you’re anything like me, you go to them when times are tough but do just fine when things are going well. You gave them information that guarantees their unfair bias, and that waters down the validity of their comments….though you can’t ignore them entirely either.
  9. Stalemate. This is where I’m at right now. I know that breaking up was the right decision, but I still have extremely strong feelings for this guy. I know that I love him. I know that there parts of the relationship were exceedingly good—there was love, the core-values, shared interests, the day-to-day that is my life, the support during certain events, the humor. I also know that the particulars that led up to the breakup were justifiably bad too—the insecurity, the pushdown, the shutdown, the silence, the reproach, the way I doubted myself as a result. Breaking up was the right decision, but dealing with the ramifications of the breakup feels impossible sometimes because I’m still very much tethered to the idea of being with this guy again. At least that’s how I feel right now.
  10. Time. Life is binary. You do x or y.
  • I/He will still feel butterflies, or not.
  • I/He will miss the other, or not.
  • I/He will be happy single, or not.
  • I/He will move on this summer, or not.
  • I/He will meet someone, or no
  • I/He will change, or not.
  • I/He accept the way he/I am, or not.
  • I/He will something when we see each other again, or not.

All you can do at this point is wait it out and see how you feel later on. It’s awful advice. I hate hearing it from my parents and friends, but it’s true. Right now I’m too deep in it to have any sense of what the “right” outcome should/will be. Time will tell. For now, I’m not a happy camper but I’m trying really, really hard to not let the breakup rule my summer.

Bottom Line. Whatever. We’ll see what happens but I trust both my gut and decision making abilities.

1.5 MONTHS LATER UPDATE: I’m not going to lie, it’s really hard, but it does get better. Steps #7 and #8 were particularly helpful. My friends have been great. Guy friends, girl friends, married friends, single friends…they all basically have one thing to say “Enjoy being single, take this time for yourself, and rest assured that you will find someone great someday.” That’s easier said then done, but the one comment that got to me was the following: “Do you ever worry if Suzy, Mary or Jane will find someone worthy of them? No. You don’t. Because they are your friends and you know they are great. Well, why don’t you trust us when we say you will be fine.” That logic is hard to argue against. It’s also easier to move on when your friends constantly throw stink bombs at your ex. Point #8 was helpful too…act like you’ve moved on, and you’ll be able to move on. I’ve already started to put myself out there, and at the very least I can say that I am having a great time and that I am excited about starting my MBA, meeting new people, and continuing to have fun. But yeah, 1.5 months and I think I have a long way to go…especially since the ex will be attending the same MBA program as me. DAYUM.