Let’s Return Early to the Domicile for Some Malfeasance (Date 13 of 35)

23 Sep

“CAN YOU STOP BEING A LAWYER, FOR JUST ONE MINUTE?  CAN YOU?!”, Aces screamed as he walked out onto the balcony, slamming the door loudly behind him.  I sat on the floor by the coffee table, knees pulled up to my chest, sobbing.  The past 30 minutes a whirlwind.  One minute, we were discussing some current event and, before I knew it, he was pacing the dining room, yelling.  His face was bright red.  His eyes cold.  I peeked through the blinds out onto the balcony and saw him smoking a cigarette while tapping his foot repeatedly.  He was angry.

It wasn’t the first time we had been in this situation.  “Stop thinking like a lawyer!”  “Stop acting like a lawyer!”  “Stop questioning me like I’m on the witness stand!”  “We aren’t in court, Rita!”  “You over analyze everything!”  Always the same conditions – discussion of some non-memorable topic, with no real importance to either of our lives – quickly escalating into an argument that resulted in me sobbing and him storming out.  I never understood why.  I always felt as if he were overreacting!  To me, it was a lively discussion, a debate.  And debates were made to be won or lost!

The truth was, it wasn’t just AcesSociopath had said the same thing, begging me to stop problem-solving everything and, instead, just listen.  Mr. Adventure pointed out that I didn’t respect his opinions.  Aiden often said I analyzed myself out of ever being spontaneous.  Yet, I couldn’t see it that way.  With Aces, we were having lively intellectual discussion!  With Sociopath, I was being a supportive girlfriend helping him with his career search!  With Mr. Adventure, I felt that, by stressing his opinions, he was discounting mine!  With Aiden, I was spontaneous – I just had to make sure to plan it out so that details were covered and nothing would go wrong!  I went to law school for 3 years and, by the time Aces and I were having this argument, I had been in practice for 7!  That’s a decade of “lawyer training.”  It wasn’t that I couldn’t turn it off – it was that I couldn’t see it at all.  Because I was only looking at it all from my perspective.

So I was hesitant when Mike asked me out.  Mike is also a lawyer.  I first met him at a charity event that Singles in the Suburbs organizes every year called “Feed the FISH” (supporting Herndon-Reston Friendly, Instant, Sympathetic, Help).  He questioned me on the validity of a waiver I drafted. And questioned me.  And I think questioned me one more time.   I had flashbacks to the instances with my ex boyfriends and felt that, one of me was hard enough – two of me was a recipe for disaster!  But, I said yes.  After all, that’s what the 35/35 Project is about.  Getting outside of my comfort zone.

Date 13; The Salsa Room

Mike informed me that he had purchased tickets for us to go salsa dancing!  I was excited!  My night of Blues Dancing still fresh in my mind, I was ready to hit the dance floor again!  I looked at Mike and said “No lawyer talk.  We aren’t lawyers tonight.” Which, to my surprise, he most whole-heartedly agreed.  Salsa dancing is addictive!  It just makes you want to move!  I had a fabulous evening.  So much so, that I’ve decided to enroll in salsa lessons at Born 2 Dance Studio in Vienna, VA.  (I won a 10-class pack from a charity event at work and have been debating how to use it.  Now I know!)  Mike is a great salsa dancer!  A fabulous leader, he made me quite comfortable being the follower and I was able to immediately relax and just let the dance and music move me!

On my way home, I started thinking about something my dating coach, Jess McCann, said to me at our first meeting.  She had me list all the traits that I wanted in a partner.  Then had me divide them up into various categories.  At the end of the exercise, I was able to highlight those traits that I wanted in a partner – but, myself, do not possess.  After discussion, I realized how unfair it is for me to demand from others what I cannot also provide.  I am looking for a man without, what we will call, “lawyer traits”, while displaying them quite “loudly and proudly” myself.

In her article, “Marry a Lawyer?  Proceed with Caution“, Dr. Fiona Travis illustrates that the traits that make a lawyer successful happen to make for a lousy partner/spouse.  Lawyers are trained to:  win, doubt, cross-examine, argue, attack, avoid vulnerability, think for others, deny weakness and hinder/delay.  As a partner, we should:  compromise, trust, discuss, admit error, accept fallibility in self and others, concede, respect partner’s opinions and ideas, allow for vulnerability and cooperate.

It was at that moment that I fully understood why Aces was so angry the night  of our fight.  I couldn’t switch off the lawyer and switch on the girlfriend.  At all times, I was practicing law, when, with him, I should have been practicing love.

I know now to be more conscious of this going forward.  To turn off those lawyer traits and, instead, listen without interruption, discuss without arguing and provide emotional support without problem-solving.  To see things from the perspective of the one that I am with.  After all, when you change your perspective you change your life!

You are good at practicing law; try practicing love!

-Dr. Fiona Travis


5 Responses to “Let’s Return Early to the Domicile for Some Malfeasance (Date 13 of 35)”

  1. Maria September 23, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Oh God… I don’t even know where to start on this one!!! It goes right to my heart in so many ways, Rita! As a lawyer, as a salsa lover, as a person who doesn’t stop being a lawyer in her relationships… man! Let’s go and have a drink and talk about it! I am happy you are dancing more and more! 😉

    • Rita September 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      You got it! I’ll have a happy hour for everyone when this is done!

  2. Dave Elliott September 25, 2011 at 4:18 am #

    Again; awesome blog entry. You are really starting to see what we talked about during our lunch meeting! Let me just make sure you see it…when you take on the masculine position whether it’s with Aces, Sociopath, Mr. Adventure, Aiden or anyone else…the guys can’t stand it. It creates distance…extreme irritation…and attraction goes out the window. By the same token…when you stayed in your feminine, left the lawyering at the office and allowed Mike to take the lead while dancing…you had a great time. And he even took care of you and provided for you without your help. Hmm…this might be something to remember for the next 20 dates or so…and then, every day after that…forever. Congrats, Rita! This is huge progress!

    • Dave October 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      A great book on male/female communication is by Deborah Tannen. She is the pioneer in sociolinguistics and wrote “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.” By reading it, anyone can flex their communication style to either gender.


  1. (Date 19 of 35) « Rita's Quest - September 29, 2011

    […] Eliminate possibilities to find the right answer.  I touched on this recently in my post about Date 13.   In his post, “Unlimited Possibilities Exist When You Think Outside of the Box“, […]

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