12 Girlfriends in 2012

December 17, 2012

Wow, what a year!  It’s hard to believe that I actually did it.  I had a different girlfriend every month for a year.  I often think about how one decision can change the entire course of your life.  This is no exception.  When I first had the monthly girlfriend idea, I didn’t know if it would even last past one month.  I revel in ridiculousness, though, and so I went for it.  I couldn’t have imagined how that simple idea would transform my life.  I am so very grateful for each and every girlfriend, who each, in their own way, enriched my life more than I could have ever dreamed possible.  This experience has taught me to cherish the unique qualities of everyone in my life.  Truly, no two months were even remotely the same. Girlfriend with alligator One of the top questions I get from people when talking about the girlfriend a month experience is, “Do the girls know that it’s only a month?” as if I would just drop the “I’m breaking up with you” bomb at the end of each month.  Although I did use that line in jest a few times, in all seriousness, it was all about setting a clear relationship expectation (one month) ahead of time and then discussing the details (we will go on at least x number of dates, attend events together, we’re allowed to see other people or not, etc.) before agreeing to be boyfriend/girlfriend for a month.  Another misconception I struggled with is that people would often say “You have so many girlfriends!”  I was always quick to point out that I only had one girlfriend.  …at a time.  Not that I think there’s anything wrong with having more than one girlfriend, mind you.  That’s just not what I was doing. Girlfriend puppet master It’s a funny thing, putting a relationship in a one- month box.  I became very good at knowing what I want out of it and what I have to give.  It challenged me to learn more about myself than I ever cared to.  It inflated my ego and made me humble all at the same time.  It raised my standards.  It boosted my confidence.  It forced me to realize just how little of life I have experienced, and, when placed in a greater context, how narrow my perspectives can be. Girlfriend graveyard doll I spent an inordinate amount of time pondering the apparent necessity for humans to define and classify everything, even something as complex as the way two people relate to each other.  She’s MY girlfriend.  He’s MY husband.   Is it not enough to say, “I just really enjoy spending time with this person”?  Apparently not.  There’s this quality built in to our DNA that makes us want to be possessive of our loved ones.  It’s a peculiar human trait.  At least to me it is.  The experiences I had with each and every one of these girls were so vastly different that to use the same terminology (This is my girlfriend) barely makes sense to me.  A more accurate and all encompassing description might be “This is an exceptional human being who I have had the great pleasure of spending quality time with”.  …but that doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as “I have a different girlfriend every month” now, does it? Girlfriend clown rubber chicken On at least a few occasions, I’ve run in to people that simply don’t believe me.  “There’s no way you could convince a girl to be your girlfriend for just a month, let alone 12 of them!”  I have a lot to say about this but, for the sake of this article, I’d just like to share a little bit of my experience as it relates to relationships.  Let’s call this “Josh the Terrible’s relationship psychology corner”.  I think a lot of people operate with an attitude of “I’ll take whatever I can get”.  Maybe they’ve experienced the feeling of rejection and assume that everyone must find them unattractive.   Maybe their role models as children taught them that it’s better to “have something rather than have nothing”.  Maybe the fear of not being able to have sex compels them to “keep” a lover as long as possible even if it drives them crazy.  Some people are just afraid of being alone.  Whatever the reason, I refer to this as the “scarcity model” of relationships.  It’s THAT attitude that causes many people to struggle in their love life.  Who would want to be with someone that will settle for anything?  Instead, I approach relationships with what I refer to as an “abundance model”.  There are many people to choose from and I will only settle for those that I deem to be of high quality.  At first, it may seem that high quality partners are rare, and indeed this may be so.  But let me tell you something, when I made the decision to have high standards and I began to make it clear what my expectations were for relationships, it wasn’t long before I had more exceptional people in my life than I knew what to do with.  Fortunately, I discovered some biological truths that make it possible for me to have many deep and meaningful relationships.  Our culture has taught us that we are all looking for the one person who completes us, when in reality our deepest desires are simply to feel special and to be treated with respect.  And what’s so wonderful about this is that it’s a human trait, not a gender trait.  We ALL want those two very basic things. Girlfriend ballerina cute In the end, I simply took the advice that I give to EVERYONE that ever asks me for relationship advice, “Decide what YOU want”.  Here’s another nugget of free advice:  Do everyone a favor and fall in love with yourself.  You’ll change the world. Girlfriend in bed stuffed animals NOTE FROM JOSH THE TERRIBLE: All of the photos in this article were taken by my friend and photographer Nāt Stillmaker.  Check out his work at www.natstill.com If you’d like to buy my calendar featuring my monthly girlfriends, check out my online store at www.zazzle.com/joshtheterrible* I’ve also been writing a book about my experiences which I hope to have published some time next year.  Inquiries on the status of this project can be sent to joshtheterrible@gmail.com.

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