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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Keeping Love Alive

Robert Manni - Friday, March 31, 2017

Rule number one: Don’t take your lover for granted.

You know how it goes. You get busy, you fall into a routine, and before you know it the sparks of love have turned into the embers and ashes of a once hot relationship.

Modern life brings challenges to any relationship, no matter how deep and committed the connection. And, so many guys, even Guy’s Guys, get bored and fail to take care of their relationship. Left unchecked this leads to undesired results. And since a lot to dudes think with their penis, unless their sex life is constantly cranked up to ten, they mistakenly think that their relationship is waning. That is usually not the case.

Women get bored too, but they work on ways to make the relationship better. Unfortunately, guys are often oblivious to their efforts and the little things women do to improve men’s lives. As a result, couples drift apart and when communications break down, the relationship can implode. Relationships are tricky and keeping the sexual fires burning is no small task, especially if you have kids. So, couples need to listen to their partner, empathize with their needs and find common ground so they can meet each other halfway. That’s how loves “works”. When love is not nurtured, it fizzles out. But if two people in love put in the effort, there is not reason why they can’t maintain a long-term loving, sexual relationship. Here’s how…

1. Pay attention – The fastest way for a guy to ruin his relationship is by not paying attention to his partner. No matter how bad things get, women always pay attention to the relationship. Although it often goes unspoken, women expect the same from their man. And, it’s the least we can do. After those initial three blissful months of drinks and sex and sleeping in together, it’s easy to sluff off when shifting into the next phase of a relationship. Maybe you lounge around your crib in the same sweats too much and stop buying her flowers. Maybe you storm out on those nights when she wants to chill and watch her housewives shows. I get it, but, even if you see her in the bathroom more than when she is decked out in lingerie, don’t take her love for granted. Make an effort. Check in with her, ask her how her day went, and give her a hug. And actively listen to her. Every day. That’s not all you need to do to keep the fires burning, but you get the idea. Be present. Do something nice for her every week. It will remind her why you’re a champ and I promise that if she loves you, she’ll pay you back in kind. One other thing. Try not to fart in bed.

2. Roll with the punches – You may think you have it together, but in reality you’re no Superman and she’s not Wonder Woman. Once you realize that we are all human and flawed, the easier it gets to savor a partnership, warts and all. Everybody has a past and with it comes baggage. Over time you’ll find out some weird shit about your partner. But take heart, amigo. Not all weird shit is bad. Maybe she was bulimic in high school and now she’s on a vegan diet.  Maybe she despises sports. Gasp. No worries. These are details, and you probably watch too many sports anyway. Our differences can be positives if you maintain the right attitude. Consider where she’s been, where she’s coming from and most importantly where she’s headed.  And don’t sweat it. Look at her tastes and quirks as opportunities for you to learn and grow, and don’t take anything personally. Everyone is different. Live with it.

3. Be open to change – Here’s a quick case study. I was a long-term carnivore when I met my wife. She was a vegetarian. So, on our first date I decided not to order a cheeseburger. I must have gotten a check plus for that because on our next date she ordered fish. Now, neither of us eats meat, but we both eat fish now and then. We were open-minded and considerate, so it was easy finding common ground and making things work. And, I’m very happy that she showed me a healthier lifestyle by her example.

4. Forgive – Guys screw up all the time. Fortunately, most women are understanding and pretty reasonable about most of our snafus. Of course if you cheat and get busted, all bets are off. But for the most part, forgiveness is a great quality to have in a long-term relationship. Because you’ll need it. You are bound to have spats and blurt out something stupid, so couples often need to apologize or forgive their partner. It happens to the best of us. What can you do? Start by practicing kindness and empathy when your partner messes up.

5. Remember how and why you fell in love – It’s easy to take love for granted, but, if your eyes start wondering and you get that itch that needs scratching, stop and think before you do something that hurts your partner and your relationship. Think for a moment about how you fell in love with her and the qualities that endeared her to you. Then take her out for dinner and remind her about why you dig her so much. If you’re not interested in stepping back and putting in a little extra effort when you get an urge to sample the menu, that’s a sign. Maybe you’re taking your partner for granted or you are in the wrong relationship. It’s your move. But, don’t be hasty and toss a good thing away without thinking about the consequences. Good love is hard to find, so be appreciative and do your best to show her she’s the best thing that ever happened to you.

Our GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is the actor Hugh Jackson. He’s a Wolverine and a heartthrob that’s stayed in a long marriage when he could be banging his way through Hollywood.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Navigating Change

Robert Manni - Saturday, March 25, 2017


Change doesn’t come easy for a lot of us, but it’s something we all need to come to terms with if we want to live happy, fulfilling lives.

Change comes at us in many forms. Sometimes it’s organic, just a natural part of our journey. Other times it’s thrust upon us whether or not we want it or are prepared for its repercussions. But one thing is for sure—change is part of life and the faster we come to terms with it, the better off we’ll be.

Even us Guy’s Guys often find themselves challenged when faced with change. Like most people, we’re creatures of habit. Job loss, a sudden break up with a girlfriend, or the death of a loved one can often be devastating and require maturity skills to cope with life’s sway. And although not all change is bad, even a windfall of money brings with it important decisions that can have a lasting impact on the road ahead.

I’ve been going through a number of changes lately and have finally have come to terms with the fact that if you live in the present, change is a lot easier to deal with. So here are a handful of tips to help you navigate through the infinitesimal changes that will come your way, whether you like them or not. Did you really think Trump would become president? Talk about change…

1. Stay present - Although change is omnipresent, it comes in different forms. Some of it seems good. In other instances, not so good. Whatever the circumstances are, living in the now keeps you balanced and adaptable. Being present means having your head screwed on right and your hand on the wheel. This makes a huge difference in how you roll, and gives you a major leg up when things get shaken to the core. So when shit happens, even good stuff, try not to overreact. Take a deep breath and exhale. Don’t do anything yet besides grounding yourself. Get your footing before you deal. It will make a difference.

 

2. Take stock of the situation - Let’s say your boss just called you in and fired you out of the blue. Or, maybe you just won $100,000 from your scratch off. Obviously these are very different scenarios with different implications, but in both cases it doesn’t pay to overreact. Nowadays, almost everyone loses a job at one point or another. My dad worked for the same company for forty years with the same colleagues. How often does that occur now? Rarely. So even though your parents might think losing your job is the end of the world, it’s not. In fact, in most cases it can turn out to be a very good thing.

But, a lot depends on how you handle yourself. If you win a hundred grand in Lotto, it’s cool, but it isn’t that much money, especially after taxes. So, before blowing it all on a hot car or material indulgences, sort out exactly how much your win is worth. It’s probably not as much as you expected. But now you know, so give yourself major thumbs up and buy yourself and your lady a nice treat. I’m not saying that you should bank the rest, but don’t be too quick to jet out to Vegas if you want to make that cash work for you.

3. Find the lesson - Nothing in life is sporadic. It’s all about cause and effect, amigo. When your world is suddenly flipped upside down, there’s usually a reason behind it. So whether you lost your gig or had that windfall of coin, there’s a good chance that your actions had something to do with it. I know Lotto is a game of chance, but you did buy that scratch off at that same bodega when Hector was behind the counter, so you did play a role in your stroke of luck. In the case of the job loss, there is always a reason. I’m not suggesting it was your fault. But, there were certainly factors in the decision, and when it’s work related, in most cases it comes down to the money. All of us can become collateral damage when revenues decline. Don’t take it personally, but also be honest with yourself and see if you can discern why you got the axe. Then, keep it in mind for the next time your company trims its headcount. 

4. Be appreciative - This is obviously easier when the changes are good, like in the winning that scratch off. But, even if you lose a job, it almost always leads to other doors opening when the timing is right. And if you follow the first three steps, at some point, you’ll probably find yourself shaking your head and realizing that the gig wasn’t right for you long term anyway. So there you go. 

5. Consider your options, make a plan, and take action – Regardless if the changes were bad or good, after you’ve taken stock of the situation, found the lesson and given thanks to the universe, it’s time to get cracking. Use change and even chaos to make things happen. Most people are sleepwalking through life anyway, so use your recent experiences, bad or good, to elevate your game. Bruised or battered or better, you’re stronger now, so decide what you want and then go kick some ass. After all, you’re a Guy’s Guy.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is David Bowie. This man was the consummate changeling—writer, musician, singer, and a true creative chameleon. Wasn’t he the GG who sang, “Ch-ch-ch-changes…?”

No Wingman, No Problem

Robert Manni - Friday, March 10, 2017

 

Dating in 2017 can be tricky, but the game of love hasn’t really changed all that much. Despite the plethora of online dating sites and apps, swiping left and right making a one-on-one connection still requires a Guy’s Guy to step up and seal the deal on his own.

And that’s the way it should be. Your best bud can be a good sounding board on the front lines at the bar during your hunt for female companionship, but when all is said and done, does a Guy’s Guy really need another dude to help him chat up and connect with a lady? I think not.

The concept of deploying a wingman emerged over the past few decades. Maybe it began when the online dating technology nudged its way into the mainstream. No longer did a guy have to man up and approach a lady face to face with the real possibility of flat-out rejection. Instead, young bucks can sit at home in their tighty-whiteys plinking on their keyboard and chirping with attractive women on one of the many dating sites and apps. Maybe guys have gotten lazy and soft because they don’t have to put themselves on the line. And as a result, some younger fellas may have fallen behind their older male predecessors in the art of charm and small talk. So on those occasions when they head into the night out looking for love, they recruit a friend to help break the ice with the women. No judging, mind you.  But if this makes sense, read on…

Now, there is nothing wrong with going out with your buds for a few brews with the possibility of meeting some ladies, but ultimately, there are certain things a man needs to do on his own. One of them is stepping up and forging a face-to-face connection with a woman. You don’t need to be rubbing shoulders with your best bud to make that happen. Sure, there are a few advantages to bringing along a friend when trying to meet women. You won’t risk being seen as the creepy guy who is out by himself. And, your wingman might help grease the wheels during those often-awkward first exchanges with a strange woman and her friends. But, when having a wingman on board can also crate a few unwanted problems? What if he thinks you’re his wingman and you find yourselves both interested in that same cute blonde? Or what if he’s not looking, but the lady you’ve got your eyes on is more interested in him? Or, maybe he’s better looking, has more bank, or a better rap than you. Then you are competing with your wingman. Not good, amigo. And, even if he’s in a relationship and not looking, he’s still human. And that means he might be taken with the same lady that caught your attention. So, on the surface it may appear that recruiting a wingman has some benefits. But as you can see, there are a number of pitfalls that come with the program. 

Now you may be thinking, “Oh, what about a female wingman or wing woman”?  That’s a better option, but do you really want to deal with filtering your horn doggie passions through the lens of a woman friend who may not like the ladies you are chatting up? And what if they don’t get along? Or what if your wing woman only accompanied you to either check out your game or maybe she even has her eyes set on you? It’s gets complicated.

Amigos, the news is not so bad.  There are plenty of opportunities to meet women without the help of a wingman. You can meet women at work, through friends, at clubs or organizations, at the gym (if you keep your cool), in a class, at a wedding or a party, at Whole Foods, or the museum, all by just by being yourself. Nothing beats the old-fashioned, organic way of chatting up women anywhere, anytime, any place. No pick up lines, no games, and no bullshit necessary. Just be your authentic self and approach a woman confidently with an observation, an open-ended question, or a smile and, “Hi, I’m Jason.” Believe me, just being you works. Once you get comfortable in your own skin, you can talk to any woman. Not every woman will respond the way you want them to, but so what? It’s a game, and when a lady expresses some interest, then it’s on you to keep things going. And, you know what? That’s a Guy’s Guy game and one you can win. So, although it’s comforting having a wingman at your side, you’ll be ahead of the game and a leader of the pack if you go it alone. Vamanos, amigos!

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Vince Vaughn. Here is a guy who plays a role like he owns it. He knows his game and can talk to any woman any time, anywhere. And, that my friend is money.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Letting Go

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 02, 2017


Life keeps serving us up the same issues until we learn the lesson.

That’s how it works, amigos. Until we experience that V-8 moment, we continually face the same problems that have always dogged us. And because we are either not paying attention or very stubborn, when we learn the lesson, most of us learn it the hard way.

I had an epiphany last week as I watched my 17-year old vehicle being driven away by its new owner. I literally hit myself in the forehead with my palm as my eyes followed my silver sport utility as it disappeared down the road. It was at that moment that I realized that I had held onto it for too long. And because of my unwillingness to let it go, I paid a price in dollars, stress, and time. At that moment I knew that this had been the case in other areas of my life. That was the reason I kept having the same issue raise its ugly head at me over the years.

There’s no plan or special process to follow to achieve success. All you need to do is be mindful of the things, people, and situations that you may be clinging to. Then, step back, make a plan and let go, confident that you’re severing ties to an attachment that has run its course. It’s simple in theory, but can be challenging to execute.

Instead of articulating a multi-step plan, I’ll touch on key areas where I have fallen prey to holding on for too long at the cost of personal growth and success. Although I’ve learned my lesson and have grown wiser as I move forward, I will be tested again. But, I will face each challenge as they crop up. For now, let’s do this. I offer you the Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Letting Go.

Drum roll, please…

1. Love – Who hasn’t stayed in a relationship too long? Most of us, and definitely me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m lazy, optimistic that people can change, or just lame. When it comes to love, it’s been all of the above. I’ve made the same mistake of hanging on too long more than once. Now that I’m happily married, hopefully I’ve learned my lesson in this area of my life. In a number of past relationships, deep down I knew things weren’t right, but I forged on, and on, and on. Instead of advancing or ending the relationships, I trudged along, grasping at straws that things would eventually turn out the way I had originally hoped. But in each affair, I let the clock run out and each woman caught me off guard and left me high and dry. That should never have happened, but I just let things be for too long.

In retrospect, and in deference to the women, I should have ended these relationships the moment I came to terms with the fact that nothing was going to change. Even if the abrupt exits hurt at the time, I bounced back and hold no grudges. In fact, the only person I am upset with is yours truly, because I did a disservice to the women and to myself by not moving on at the appropriate time. But, that was then, and it all worked out. All of the ladies are now married and I hope that they are happy. I know that I am.

2. Work – Your job sucks, but you hang in there anyway. Yep, we’ve all done that. It could be the money, not wanting to be looking without having a job, or sheer laziness. In any case, as the pages fall off the calendar, that job you hate can start to work against you. And, many times, it doesn’t end well. My career has been a roller coaster of high highs and low lows, but that’s okay. The highs have made everything worth it and each high was higher than the last one, so I know the next high is going to be off the charts.

I’ve stayed in a few jobs that I despised too long and every time it worked against me. The people who were jerks never changed, conditions went from bad to worse, and eventually these jobs turned into torture with a paycheck. A few came of these situations came to abrupt endings, just like my expired relationships. It doesn’t have to be that way though. When you know it’s not happening at work the way it was promised, start looking. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll automatically move into a perfect situation, but at least you are investing your energy into making a positive change. In the end, it all works out the way it’s meant to be. Just don’t sit there until you get canned because it’s obvious that you hate your job and don’t want to be there.

3. Home – Moving is a pain in the ass, but not moving is not always a good option. This is another area where we all fall prey into staying in a situation too long. I hung onto a modest studio on the West Side for a few decades because it was cheap and convenient. The good news is that I bought the place for less than the price of my car so I always had cash in my pockets. The bad news is the place was below my standards and as a result I hesitated bringing really hot women home with me because I did not feel comfortable about my digs. When I eventually sold it, it financed my current home, so I’m not complaining. But I probably could have flipped it and traded up or bought a bigger unit when my building went co-op and I had access to the insider price. But I didn’t, and that’s that. I made money and had the luxury of keeping a crash pad in the city. I also learned my lesson about holding on to things that no longer served my needs and station in life.

4. Car – I kept my vehicle for 17 years. Never keep a vehicle for 17 years unless you’re a mechanic. Over the past two years my ride was towed three times, and I was forced to invest over $3,000 in various repairs for a sport utility that I rarely drove. And when I did drive it, I was terrorized by every weird sound I heard coming from under the hood.

When I finally found a buyer via a local dealership reference, the guy showed up at my home with a thick wad of twenty-dollar bills. The day before I had experienced a flat tire and a dead battery, and the check engine light was on. Fortunately, I fixed the flat for $15 and got a jump to restart my battery, which somehow shut off the check engine light. I was shitting when the buyer looked under the car and noticed something dripping slowly onto the asphalt. He bought and sold cars for a living so I’m sure he had people who would take care of that, but it was just another stress point that could have been avoided if I would have sold the car a few years earlier. But, he handed over the cash.

Like I said, this experience flipped the switch for me. After I counted the stack of twenties and the buyer drove off, I realized that I had finally learned my lesson about hanging onto things too long.

This lesson also applies to holding on too tight to our dreams and aspirations. I’m not suggesting that you give up. What I am suggesting is that you let go and let God and Oneness and the Universe do the heavy lifting.

Hopefully, I won’t fall into the same old pattern again. But that’s on me. Somehow I think I have a better handle on the situation now that I know what I was doing wrong and why the same things kept happening over and over again. This lesson also applies to holding on too tight to our dreams and aspirations. I’m not suggesting that you give up. But if you let go and let God and Oneness and the Universe do the heavy lifting, you’ll be surprised at the results. I hope this spurs you guys to rethink your own habitual patterns and helps you break any bad habits before they break you.

The week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is all of us. It may have taken me a very long time to sort out my issue, but when the time was right the message rang loud and clear. I know you can do it, too.


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