I am back with the farmer.
This probably is not surprising to you, because admittedly, it is absurd to be engaged one day and not engaged the next day. But there are exacerbating factors, and basically, the way I got him back was to be more likable.
I have spent most of my career overcoming my lack of social skills by studying research about what makes people likable. And I think the research I've applied so systematically in my career is finally helping me in my personal life.
Here's what we know about being likable:
1. Don't give ultimatums. It's disrespectful. Instead, be a negotiator.
The farmer does not want to be in this blog. As you might imagine, we have this discussion a lot.
First it was like this:
Him: I don't want to be in the blog.
Me: You have to be. I can't live without writing my life.
Then the conversation was like this:
Him: I don't want to be in the blog.
Me: How about if you can edit whatever you want?
2. Try to think about situations from the other persons' perspective.
That worked for a while. But the problem is that I've been setting boundaries about what I write about for my whole life. He's only been doing it for a year. And after the Thanksgiving Day post he felt like he did not do a good job. In hindsight, he thinks he should not have let me write about that.
But here's the farmer's dilemma: He is fascinated with the idea of living an honest life. And he loves watching me do it, but he's horrified to realize that there are a million versions of every story, and the person with the big blog audience gets extra weight for her story.
3. Don’t hide what really motivates you; secretive people are not likable.
So I am back with the farmer, but we have new rules about what I can write. Well, I think we do. We were going to. But then we had to think about the ramifications. If I don't write about the tension on a farm, then who is writing about that?
Do you read The Pioneer Woman? I love her blog. I love her blog so much that I told my designer he should make me her blog.
He said, “You don't want her blog. It's huge. It probably takes five full-time people to run that blog.”
I said, “No. I do want her blog.”
He said, “I think you want her life.”
The Pioneer Woman does have a great life. Every guy in the photos on that blog is on a horse or about to get on a horse, and all the men are hot. Their rear ends poke out of chaps. Everywhere. And their tough, gritty faces suggest they'd ravish me in bed.
Sure I want that blog, and that life.
I also love how that The Pioneer Woman never, never never disrespects her guy. The Marlboro Man. That's his name. He's always studly, sexy, kind, fun.
The farmer is that, too, but there are issues. He's not studly when we're having a fight. The problem is that I'm drawn to writing about the fights, and the Pioneer Woman is drawn to writing about pies, and feeding the Marlboro Man.
I am a great cook. But this is not the sort of thing that would go over well on this blog. I'm the kind of cook that understands principles of food so I don't ever use a recipe. But I'm not drawn to tell you how to make pot roast perfectly as a precursor to cowboy sex. I'm more drawn to tell you that I experimented with fruit in stew and accidentally used bad wine, and to fix it I laced it with brown sugar. And it's not just that the farmer wouldn't eat it, but neither would the farm cats, who will eat almost anything in winter.
I want to put a recipe of that. The worst stew ever. With grass-finished beef, of course. Because the farmer gets a full cow butchered and then stores it in his freezer. And before he knew me he used to turn everything into microwaved hamburger, but now he brings me gifts of frozen cuts of grass-finished beef that I defrost over days and turn into dinners to wow him.
The secret, really, to amazing cooking with beef is to spend a lot of money on ingredients and then do almost nothing to them. The farmer did not know this until he was with a city girl who will spend $5.00 on a bag of spinach.
4. Try to look at the positive side of things; people like optimists.
I digress. Sort of. Not really, though. Because what I'm telling you is that what would be perfect is if I could be the Pioneer Woman and only tell you good things about me and the farmer.
But what about that she's living on a family-owned ranch that is a business, and surely, she had to sign a prenup? Surely her in-laws are nuts over the possibility that their son gets run over by a stampede and she inherits his part of the ranch and marries a different guy with a tight ass in flowing chaps and gives her share of the ranch to him?
What about that? Was there discussion?
Is there discussion over that she has so much traffic on her blog that surely she earns more money than the Marlboro Man? This is not easy stuff to deal with. But there is nothing about that.
Unfortunately, for me, the world loves reading the Pioneer Woman. And so do I. She's upbeat and her site is gorgeous, and no kidding: the minute the farmer broke off my engagement I started thinking there's gotta be a guy on her ranch who's right for me.
But I am drawn to write about only the hard things. I don't need help from a blog community to know that I'm great in the kitchen. I need help from a blog community to figure out my anger management problems . Because I need to fix that fast: The farmer won't put up with me yelling anymore.
So I guess that's what I'll blog about. I have an anger problem with the farmer, and, honestly, everyone at work is sick of my anger issues, too. So I have a problem. It's so much more interesting than the cupcakes that I decorate so well that my friend said she could sell them in SoHo.
5. Understand peoples' boundaries and respect them.
This would be a great place for a picture. Of a cupcake. But what I'd like is a picture of me, and the farmer.
He won't do that. He is figuring out boundaries. And that's definitely one.
Another is yelling.
And another is his family.
I am figuring out boundaries, too. I would be insane to say that my blog is more important than he is. But, in some ways, it is. My blog is what makes me able to support myself–I can support myself, somehow, as long as I'm posting to my blog. And my blog is what makes me able to not feel isolated on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I'm always connected to people if I'm blogging.
But I told him that I'd stop blogging about him if he wants me to.
I could offer that only because I knew he wouldn't want me to. He likes it. He likes that we would have had to keep a secret, forever, that we considered an abortion, but now we can talk about it openly and he can tell people what he thinks. He's from a farm in the back, dead end street of a road in the middle of nowhere. No one ever asked him what he thought of abortion before. It's interesting to him. To have a real discussion.
It makes him uncomfortable. But the thing is that the stuff that is most interesting to me is what makes me uncomfortable.
So we agree that we are back to where we were: Me blogging and him getting final edit to any post with him in it.
And I say, “Thank you so much. You make me feel really loved.”
He says, “Tell that to your readers so they know that. ”
And I say, “They already do.”