Archive for the ‘self-analysis’ Category


Girlfriends?  Boyfriends?  Or just friends?  Can men and women be friends without benefits?  We seem to think so.  However, I’m skeptical…for this is a question that, in all marriages, may just come “up” more often than he does.  Can my sweetie be “just friends” with a person of the opposite sex?  Well…maybe…if that person has a third eye, ear, or boob…and the extra boob disclaimer is iffy…that could backfire.  We first need to define “friend.”  A friend isn’t one of the hundreds of faces and statuses we see daily on social networks.  It isn’t a co-worker we see only at the office and speak to in passing, or even chat with in spurts.  And it isn’t the doorman, delivery man, or handyman we see and touch base with a few times a week.  Discussing mundane details regarding the sweltering weather or the day-to-day details of our riveting existence does not a friend make.  These are acquaintances, at best.  Then there are the friends we grew up with and still consider great friends, but only speak to occasionally and see even less.  With very little time to nourish the relationship…of course, we can manage these “friendships.”  And sometimes, not.  😉  The “friend” I’m referring to — the one that blurs the line — is the one with whom we share our deepest secrets and feelings, hang out with regularly, grab a bite or a movie with,  or call when we’re upset or excited…the one we look to for emotional support. Our shoulder to cry on.  Our ear to rely on.

For THIS is the male/female “friendship” standing trial.  The charges:  providing a pick-me-up, tripping us up, and ending in breakup.

We’re so sure we, ourselves, can successfully have platonic friends…yet not so sure about our spouses.  If our partner does develop a close friendship with someone other than us, we can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy…wonder why he/she needs that friend (aren’t we enough?)…obsess over just how “friendly” they are, or will be.  Before long, our imagination has eaten away at our brain and sanity like a nosy live-in mother-in-law on steroids.

However, psychologists now say a successful cross-sex friendship is not only possible, but beneficial.  Possible out of necessity…the idea that men and women couldn’t be friends, they say, came into play before women entered the workplace and had no reason, aside from romantic, to hang out with men other than their husbands.  They say men and women have been forced to successfully manage friendships due to working conditions.  Forced to…yes.  Successful at…questionable.  (So, according to this theory…if we force a sexual tension, the tension will dissolve?  I think workplace affairs have “blown that willy” out of the water.)

Experts say a cross-sex friendship is also beneficial to both men and women.  Men find they’re able to confide in and open up to a female friend in a way they simply can’t do with another guy.  This freedom to confide gives men a “shoulder” and benefits them emotionally.  Women, on the other hand, find they can be more laid back with a guy friend…walk on the lighter side a bit.  She’s able to temporarily escape the drama that lurks among women like the grim reaper…eager to take our souls over just one wrong word at just the wrong time.  Breaking news:  Women are sensitive and easily offended.  These benefits, though, are undeniably evident.  It’s also reported that in order for us to manage this successful cross-sex friendship, certain precautions must be made.  We must be up front, open, and honest about our friendship.  Address a possible sexual attraction.  Agree on how to handle that attraction.  Negotiate what the relationship means…define it.  And establish boundaries.  If we define and manage it, psychologists say, a platonic friendship is very much possible.  Men and women can, in fact, be friends.

The defense rests.

How very optimistic of them.  Life always goes according to plan, doesn’t it?  😉

And now…the prosecution.  The psychologists have determined one thing…yet, proven another through studies, interviews, questionnaires, etc.   One study consisted of 150 professional men/women.  Sixty-two percent of them reported sexual tension present in their cross-sex friendships.  Men claimed that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship in the first place.  Hmmm, really?  A separate study questioned 1,450 members of  The answers were oh so contradictory and proved us to be optimistically hypocritical.

~ 83% believed men and women could be platonic friends.

~62% say they’ve been engaged in a platonic friendship that has crossed the line.

~94% say it’s possible to fall in love with someone who starts out as a friend.

~71% hope that once they find a romantic partner, that partner would have been a friend first.

So, the majority asked declared with certainty that men and women could be friends without sex ever entering the equation; however, this same majority admitted to crossing the line, falling in love with a friend, and hoping to marry a friend.  Get a calculator!  This doesn’t quite add up.  Wishful thinking, perhaps?

Cosmo has done its own informal questionnaire.  Findings confirm that most men wouldn’t mind if a platonic friendship moved to the next level.  It also found women truly believe they can be friends with the opposite sex…believe being the operative word.  Eighty percent of the women interviewed underestimate just how often their male friends are attracted to them.  I’ll now refer back to the previous result in which men declared a sexual attraction to be the main motivator for initiating a friendship.  It seems we attempt to be intellectually driven, but remain a slave to our loins.  Our minds may be evolved, but our animal drive to mate refuses to make the transition.  Damn sex drive!

Psychologists also say that males and females participate in “voluntary gender segregation.”  This refers to our tendency to group up with members of the same sex.  “NO GIRLS ALLOWED!”  Sound familiar?  From the time we’re tots, we gravitate towards same sex groups.  We tend to stay in these groups until we reach puberty, lest we catch “cooties.”  Our main motivator for leaving and seeking out members of the opposite sex is our looming sex drive.  Once we settle on a mate and marry, we once again find ourselves gravitating towards members of the same sex for recreational fun.  And achieving and maintaining a “friend” of the opposite sex becomes more difficult…why?  Jealousy!  We know what that “friend” is thinking, don’t we?  Because that’s what we’d be thinking…though we’d never admit it.

So, can men and women be friends?  We seem pretty enthusiastic, in theory, that we’re perfectly capable of separating romance and friendship.   But, as the studies indicate, that very thin line can blur quicker than the vision of a drunk on a tilt-a-whirl.  When it comes to applying the theory and taking one of two routes, the libido seems to be the path of least resistance.  Plenty of short-cuts and few stop lights.

When put on the stand and asked the infamous question, “Can men and women be friends?”  we say “Yes, absolutely, men and women can be friends.  Sex won’t get in the way.”  But are we kidding ourselves?  Are we denying our own animal instincts?  Convincing ourselves we’re better than that.  Are we better than that?  When it comes to the case of male/female friendships…are we perjuring ourselves?

Can men and women be “just friends?”  It seems the jury is still out.  I think not.  But you decide.

Chick Hughes

Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable Oscar Wilde


Midlife crisis.  It’s simple utterance conjures up thoughts of 50 year old men wearing pathetic synthetic rugs to cover those shiny bald spots, candy-apple red sports cars intended to represent his youthful, virile speed and attract just the right combination of bimbo and daddy complex in a girl half his age,  desperate affairs to reaffirm his manhood, and divorce followed by remarriage to that bimbo who is, albeit disgusting, perhaps a savvy financial planner taking advantage of her sugar daddy’s newfound zest for life.  Movies, sitcoms, songs, jokes…all had a helping hand in creating the commercial image of the  notorious midlife crisis.  A crisis previously dominated by men.  But isn’t it a logical assumption that women suffer the same insecurities, fears, and regrets…only in different ways?  That she, at some point in her life, begins to wonder what she’s missing?  How life may be passing her by?  Men get more power, more prestige, more money, freedom from child bearing, not to mention PMS…must they also be the only ones allowed to ponder a midlife do-over?  Somewhere in our 30s, we may find ourselves wondering what happened to that fabulous life we had scrapbooked together in our mind.  We may wonder why pieces are torn, tattered, or missing all together.  What happens when we find ourselves slowly sinking with no life vest in sight?  When we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a mid-life, what-life, crisis?

Past generations of women have burned bras, led women’s rights rallies, juggled picket signs, and paved the way for our present day freedoms as women.  We finally caught up with men.  We can have it all, can’t we…dreams, families, careers, deadlines, asshole bosses, parent-teacher meetings,  after-school activities, crushing pressures, insecurities, and…the Big Daddy every daddy faces sooner or later…the midlife crisis.  Wait…women can have a midlife crisis?  A “crisis” is a form of drama, right?  Women own the copyrights to anything of, or relating to, drama.  So, yes.  Women can and do have midlife crises.  But her crisis is defined differently from that of a man, has never been talked about, and is only now beginning to stick it’s never-before-seen, repressed head out of the closet.  Here’s another shocker…women are going toe-to-toe with their midlife meltdown much sooner than men…as soon as 30.  Girls mature faster than boys…and apparently… fall apart faster.  🙂  In theory, we CAN have it all, but in reality “it all” becomes relative, and quite simply…unrealistic.

Lia Macko and Kerry Rubin, prominent journalists and co-authors of the book Midlife Crisis at 30 , have hit on a topic that has women everywhere taking notice…an epidemic that, until now, remained unnoticed and unidentified.  Their findings…findings resulting from pondering their own manic panics… have earned them book deals, guest spots on major morning news and talk shows, and the attention of every desperate housewife, working wife, and mail-order wife with a pulse.   Macko and Rubin interviewed over 100 college educated women ranging in age from 25-37… and found that around age 30, the average woman found herself at a crossroads…a crossroads at which marriage, motherhood, and career were overwhelmingly colliding and threatening to mow her down like knee-deep weeds.  Studies showed 75% of these 100 women claimed their professional lives interfere with their personal lives.  A woman finishes college around age 25, spends the next few years trying to jump start a career, marrying, and beginning a family…3 things that together, form a perfect storm.  That storm unleashes sometime after 30, once she’s had a chance to attempt them simultaneously.  Upon entering college, she had it all figured out.  She knew exactly how her life would play out in the next decade.  She’d have the perfect husband, amazing children, promising career, blah, blah, blah.  But as most balloons do, this balloon of expectations gets manhandled and pops…only to wither to the ground in wrinkled, defeated shreds…each shred representing a sliver of her ex- expectations.

Midlife crisis is defined as “a period of dramatic self-doubt that is felt by some individuals in the ‘middle years’ or middle age”…typically triggered by the realization that one is running out of time to accomplish the things he had hoped for. Women are hitting this malicious milestone a decade earlier then men.  Why?  Men panic after the fact…women before.  While men in midlife crises tend to focus on regretted decisions, strive to regain their youth, and wonder where all the time has gone…women in midlife crises look ahead.  They wonder how to get back on track, what lies ahead, and where the time WILL go, rather than where it HAS gone.  Society implies that we SHOULD be able to juggle everything — marriage, motherhood, and career.  But when we find we’re unsuccessful at triply duplicating ourselves and conquering all three, we blame ourselves… not the system.  Rather than reexamining the system, we wonder what’s wrong with us… “Why can’t we handle it?  Other women make it look so easy.”  It’s not easy…women are just great at covering, want to be perceived as perfect, and indirectly lead ourselves right into the arms of the Midlife Mangler in our 30s.

She could be the woman who graduated college, married, and chose her children over her career…temporarily, or so she thought.  Once the kids are older, she can pick up right where she left off, right?  Ignorance is bliss, huh?  Fast forward several years.  Her kids are in school, and her husband has the impressive career she dreamed of  with a resume that makes her question the last decade of her life.  She has no idea how to begin a resume…because no one cares that she’s been “mommy” for the last several years.  She has no marketable skills, no experience, and to top off this working girl wannabe’s attributes…no confidence.  What now?  She has a degree, but when asked for references, experience, or skills, she can proudly say… “I can wipe a mean ass…just ask my kids!”  Then, she can kiss that job goodbye.  So, now, she’s left to wonder… “What now?”  “Who am I?”  “How do I find ME again?”

A midlife meltdown could also belong to the woman who has devoted the last decade of her life to her career, works 70 hours a week, has no prospects for a husband, and no foreseeable future surrounded by a family of her own.  She may wonder “How can I maintain success at work and find time to have a family too?”  “When I do come home, what will I have to come home to?”

Then again, she may be the woman who’s happy in her job and her marriage, but ready to start a family.  Only, she wonders “How will I manage everything?”  “How will I be at every board meeting, anniversary, BBQ, first step, first word, and school play?”  The realization that she can’t is the nudge that sends her into panic mode.  And she may be the woman who already has a husband, family, and career, but struggles to keep it all together.  She may be so run down from starring in the amazing 8-armed one-woman show that she finds herself fantasizing about doing one thing…running…running to find solitude…running to find peace…running to find herself.

A midlife crisis is a natural transition in our lives…an inevitable one.  It’s a transition that proves personal growth on our part, rather than failure.  A transition from young adulthood (when we feel young, unstoppable, and immortal) to middle adulthood (when we realize those youthful feelings are as quickly fleeting as our twenty-something supple tush.)  Midlife crisis shouldn’t be a time to sink, but a time to reassert ourselves, redefine our goals, and redirect our expectations.  We learn, grow, and change along with the world around us.  What we wanted in our 20s may not necessarily be what we want in our 30s.  Society tell us we can have “it all.”  Redefine “it all.”  Maybe “it all” is overrated.  Maybe having “enough” is what we should be striving for.  A healthy balance.  A mix of nourishing what we’ve started, taking charge,  and redefining what’s to come.  Get out of the passenger seat and take the wheel.  But, stay within the speed limit or you’ll find yourself spiraling out of control once again.

Whatever her situation, the average 30+ year old woman will one day wake up to find herself waist deep in unfamiliar waters, as her ship has sprung a leak.  Her marriage, family, and career will butt heads, form the perfect storm and slowly sink her.  If her ship sinks, not only will she go down with it…but her husband, children, and career that represent her passengers will go down as well.  The only way to patch that gaping hole is to admit to her co-captain — a.k.a. her husband — that there is, in fact, a hole threatening to take them down, ask for his help in patching that hole, and chart a new, more exciting course.  Expect the unexpected.  No sailing adventure is complete without the occasional squall, overboard upchuck, or attempted pirate takeover.  So, batten down the hatches, hold the upchucker’s hair, and fend off the pirates…all in a day’s work for the modern woman.

She is woman…hear her roar.

Chick Hughes

“Turn your midlife crisis to your own advantage by making it a time for renewal of your body and mind, rather than stand by helplessly and watch them decline.”  ~ Jane E. Brody


Ever considered handing over your bank card, along with your password, to a stranger and trusting that person to simply hang on to it and return it to your mailing address in a week?  What are the odds you would ever see that card again?  Slim to none.  Some of us wouldn’t hand over our bank cards to a family member, let alone a stranger.  It seems with our money, we’re extremely cautious.  With our hearts…not so much.   We’re much quicker to trust others with our hearts.  But should we be?  Why do we so badly need to trust others?

Just how trustworthy is this phenomenon we call trust?  We say one must earn trust…that once trust is breached, it cannot be restored.  We place such great emphasis and expectation on such a tiny little word.  We “trust” our best friend not to “spill the beans” on our most shielded secret.  We “trust” our spouse to be faithful to only us, and never want another,  for the remainder of our time on this planet.  We “trust” our religious leaders to live the life we, ourselves, cannot possibly duplicate.  We “trust” our family members to be there for us anytime, anywhere, every time, everywhere.  And when those “trusted” people fail us – and they have in the past, as they will in the future – we allow ourselves to play victim, our hearts to break, and our perceived “perfect” image of them to be exposed for the fraud it is.  I wrote a previous post on trust, believed in it, and once took the concept of trust at face value.

I didn’t over-think it…until now.

Do we trust simply because we need to?  Is trust an illusion we create to cradle us from the devastation of reality?  Do we simply need an insurance policy for our heart?

Each and every one of us is human.  Regardless of how much trust another places in us, we will, forever and always, look after number one first.  This trait is one that has kept the species thriving for centuries…a trait that is not possessed solely by mankind, but by every living species on Earth.  When a member of the animal kingdom turns on another, we call it the “circle of life.”  But when a human acts in his best interest (without regard for another), we call it “untrustworthy.”  Punishment: Social Exile.

As human beings, we will always act in the best interest of ourselves.  If we’ve committed some wrong-doing (whether it be adultery, flirting, stealing, lying, backstabbing, etc.), we’ll go to extreme measures to keep that wrong-doing hidden behind the dark cloak of  night – so hidden that no one will ever stumble upon it. This is why they say a little white lie will grow and grow…it grows because we’re in the throes of hiding our previous lie…at all costs.   And if, by chance, someone does stumble over our transgression, we’ll deny…deny…deny until slammed with hard proof.  But only then will we admit our mistake.

We’ve all lied.  We’ve all cheated…something OR someone.  We’ve all protected ourselves from getting caught with our “hand in the cookie jar.”  So, we know that we, ourselves, aren’t infallibly trustworthy.  We know – somewhere in the closets of our mind – that we have wronged someone…something.  Yet, we still choose to entertain the concept of trust, project that trust onto someone who will (one day) breach it, and insist that we, too, can be trusted with anything…everything.  The human mind is just one complicated trap after another, it seems.  🙂

We give trust “honestly.”  We accept trust “honestly.” – All the while lying to ourselves about our human capability of breaching that trust given the right circumstances.  Maybe the idea of trust is simply a self-preservation method.  Maybe we feel “safer” with a person if we include them in our “circle of trust.”  But the reality is every person we trust is capable of breaking that trust.  When they do, we feel betrayed and angry.  Our perception of that person has been shattered.  We feel we no longer know our traitor.  This leaves us feeling alone.  Nothing terrifies us more than being alone.  So, to avoid confronting that fear, we do most anything to cover our imperfect humanity with idealistic expectations, or trust.  We convince ourselves that those we choose to trust are somehow superior and incapable of committing a transgression against us.  But sooner or later, that trust collides head-on with humanity, and we’re left wondering how this “trusted” person could have hurt us…not put US above themselves…been so selfish…

How incredibly human of them!

When we put ourselves first and breach another’s trust, we’re acting out of selfishness.  When we trust others not to hurt US, regardless of the cost, we’re also acting out of selfishness.  So, even when we think we’re selflessly trusting or being trusted, our core motivation is self-serving.  However, we choose to deny that reality and lie to ourselves.  Why?  Simply put…the illusion makes us feel better than the reality.

Without the illusion of trust, we must see our loved ones unmasked as the imperfect humans they are, rather than the Photoshopped images we’ve created in our minds.  And ironically, when our trust is breached, we tend not to be understanding, not to remember that we too breach trust, not to forgive…instead, we tend to hold a grudge, to be hypocritical, to forget that we are equally guilty at times, and to ban our transgressor from our lives.

So, I wrestle with this idea of trust…an illusion we create to give ourselves a blind sense of security…but a necessary evil all the same.  We must trust those close to us in this life…to a point.  Otherwise, misery, suspicion, and solitude are inevitable.  Maybe the secret lies in trusting our loved ones to be the best human beings they can be, expecting fallacies, not judging those fallacies (as we have our own), and being ready and willing to forgive.

And celebrate our imperfection.

We will have stones thrown our way many times over in this life, just as we will throw stones.  Our strength is determined by our understanding that these stones are flying without aim in every direction on any given day…sometimes we dodge them, sometimes we get hit square in the face.  But all in all, it’s just a stone…a weak imperfection in the mountain of life.  Our job…keep climbing.

Trust is a fragile and fickle illusion, but a necessary one just the same.

Chick Hughes