Friday
May 18, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 20
 
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Ask Michael
'Projects' have a lot to offer, says reader
'Projects' have a lot to offer, says reader by Michael Raitt, MA, LMHC - SGN Contributing Writer

Michael, in my opinion, 'projects' have a lot to offer, too!
Michael: Thank you for sharing your opinion. Besides your statement, you didn't provide me with any other information about your position. Therefore, I decided to broaden my explanation about "projects". In the end, your position may remain the same or your ideas may change - either is fine. My only goal is to get people to think about themselves and/or the situations they find themselves in. It is about reflection and insight that may open a path to positive change - not about labeling and vilifying anyone. What they decide to do with that is up to them.

My definition of a "project" is based on personal and professional experience and lots of observation. For people who are unfamiliar with the discussion, this came out of a piece I wrote for the May 4th Seattle Gay News about dating and 3 basic types of men: penis, projects and peers.

A "project" (which can be either a man or a woman) is someone who engages in relationships at a certain level and with a certain agenda that influences the course of the relationship and affects the other person - usually in a negative way. These attitudes and agendas are usually self-serving.

"Projects" come into relationships with a lack of commitment. Their actions tend to contradict what they say to their partners, which lead partners to a place of frustration, confusion, self-doubt, and trust issues - they use the phrase, "I love you" yet consistent behaviors are opposite. An underlying pattern of manipulation develops where the "project" becomes close and attentive when he/she wants something and becomes distant and punitive once they've gotten what they want. There are many examples of this. One scenario that comes to mind is when one is very loving, attentive, and close because he wants the other to take him out for dinner/drinks and once this has happened, pulls away and becomes emotionally cold and distant. This becomes an on-going pattern in the relationship. This leaves the partner frustrated, resentful and, yet, willing to try harder to win the love and affection of the other. This is poison in a relationship.

Being driven by their own needs and a level of self-centeredness are also traits of a "project". They are either unable or unwilling to participate in a relationship where the give and take is more equitable. They tend to take and use more than they are willing to give back - emotionally, financially, physically, and materialistically. Another example would be where a "project" requires that her girlfriend contribute financially much more towards shared expenses (household, bills, etc.) while choosing to spend the majority of her own money on herself and friends - leaving the girlfriend out.

"Projects" also try to put the emphasis on the other person in the relationship and take little or no accountability of their own actions. They continually ask other people to accommodate and modify while justifying their own behaviors. If you hear a lot of, "You need to&", "It's your fault&", "If only you would&" red caution flags should be going up.

Here are some questions to ask: are the two people in the relationship getting the level of emotional love/connection/satisfaction that makes for a mutually rewarding relationship? What is the impact that these behaviors/attitudes have on others? Is there enough care that one is motivated to change? Do your own attitudes/behaviors negatively impact your goals regarding relationships?

A part of the foundation for a good connection and relationship comes through the process of reciprocity. This is where two people in a relationship share and where each is feeling a reasonable level of give-and-take. The manipulative and one-sided behaviors and attitudes (as described above) do poison the relationship with resentment, confusion, and distrust.

This is important because there are a lot of men and women out there who are looking for good, quality partners. They are going in with hopes and a positive intent. They are looking to give and receive the respect that comes from mutual regard and the trust that is built through giving and receiving.

Some people are "projects" because it is their nature and they know about it and don't care to do anything to change it because it serves them. My belief (perhaps naive) is that these are, by far, the minority. In my opinion, these people have borderline psychopathic tendencies. However, just because you think you are (or are with) a "project" DOES NOT mean you are a psychopath!

It is true that many "projects" have gotten themselves in patterns of behaviors that they are not necessarily aware of or don't know what to do with. Behavioral patterns evolve for a myriad of reasons. If you think you are with a "project" -- and are not a "psychopath" -- with insight, education, and feedback, you can change your behaviors and attitudes so you can engage in more rewarding relationships. You are not a bad person! You do have a lot to offer! What you have to offer may have a better impact on others when you are acting differently and you may actually achieve some personal goals regarding relationships that have eluded you until now.

Honestly, most of us have dated "projects" and some of us have been "projects" at one time or another in our lives. There is a fine line between judgment and awareness. This discussion is about awareness: what part do you play in your own life and in the lives of others? Is it working for you? Are you satisfied? What do you want to do to improve yourself and your relationships? Anytime your own attitudes or behaviors get in the way of your happiness and goals, it is time to reflect on those and begin the process of change.

Michael Raitt, MA, LMHC, can be reached at 206-325-4113, by email at askingmichael@comcast.net or by visiting www.michaelraitt.com.

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