How to have the perfect relationship – Trust me, it aint easy…

by Mike Masters on December 1, 2011

Riding the cusp of the relationship wave

Riding the cusp of the relationship wave

Seriously? you want to marry her?

I got into horrible trouble after a conversation, with my sisters psycho ex-boyfriend. “Dude, stop. I know you are in love with my sister but seriously? Come on buddy, there are two types of girls in the world, the ones that you marry and the ones that you sleep with. Honestly, which one do you think my sister is??” As you can imagine I got in a whole lot of trouble for this one.

My friend Jen is really frustrated, she is caught between two guys. One is the Sportsfish and the other is the Keeper. I didn’t know this terminology until Jen explained it too me, “It is from the comedian Steve Harvey, who wrote the book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. “Hmmm…” I said, “That sounds a lot like my theory of the Nester and the Breeder.” I haven’t read his book but the analogy is excellent so I am going to steal it to explain something I seriously doubt Steve does.

There are two states that nearly all of the people we are attracted to fall under. The Sportsfish and the Keeper. The Sportfish is the exciting and unobtainable guy/girl, they are incredibly fun and slightly out of our reach. The Keeper represents safety and security, and are too easily reached, eventually becoming boring.

Simple? Really…? Lets add a few layers of complexity.

1.    Everyone, including you, has the capacity to be a Sportsfish or a Keeper
2.    The others perception of you pushes you to either state
3.    We often try to force the Sportsfish into the role of the Keeper (chill out Captin Ahab)
4.    After being burned by the Sportfish many of us flee to the Keeper (then we cheat on them)
5.    There are apparent conflicting demands of human nature, we want the Sportsfish that is a Keeper

This is one of the things that makes it so frustrating to be human. We live fricken forever, we need to be paired to raise our young, and we have a ridiculously over developed mind that revels in throwing monkey wrenches into the cogs of its evolutionary programing. We are probably the only animal that enters the world so bloody confused over the opposite sex.

The failure pattern

I am no exception and I did what most people do. I attempted to land the Sportsfish for most of my life. I lived for the danger and the excitement, I LOVED the chase and the attempts at taming this ferrel beast but I got cut, slashed, hurt. I bled with tears and frustration over the need for security and mental health, I screamed on the inside for something simple, normal and tame. What did I do? Exactly what you did or are going to do soon. I found “the Keeper” and? I got so bloody bored that I vomited peace and calm all over the shoes of my security.

There are a few phases of maturity that people go through with relationships. Maybe they start from the direction of security or the exciting side of danger. Whichever side they start from they will oscillate from one to the other. They will use one failure to prove to themselves that the opposite must  be the solution, which of course in it’s failure will point back to the next extreme.

The understanding of this dichotomy is the second stage of relationship maturity. It is when one realizes that they need both the Sportsfish and the Keeper to be happy.

Life and the perfect wave

There is a secret to life that parallels all relationships, life is not static nor should it be. There is no destination, everything in life is a vision that we put into motion, flowing over the completion of that vision with the next. With life, the secret to incredible passion and Joy is riding the cusp of one’s comfort zone, riding it as a surfer would a wave. This comfort zone will ebb, flow and oscillate and you must be willing to limberly dance on it’s edge.

Attempting to land the Sportsfish is the same as the surfer dropping into a wave much too big for him or her. It will tumble them every time. The Keeper wave is equally as disappointing and can’t challenge  the surfer’s abilities or help them grow. The perfect wave is the one that rides the cusp of your abilities. It is that perfect combination of safety and danger. This is what is sexy, this is what makes life worth living!

However, there is a complication, you are both on a wave, you are both surfing the other, and are both dynamic in your enjoyment. You are the generator of your partners wave, and are the one that keeps the challenge and safety in balance. When relationships crumble it is most inevitably because the balance of each other’s wave was never correct OR that balance was compromised during your time together. The wave you create for your partner is your responsibility, and the one they create for you, must be demanded.

It is this magical balance that you are seeking and it is a magical balance that you bring to the table for them. This is a tightrope of qualities and challenges constantly shifting in all parties. It is an organic thing that can only be harnessed by it’s organic equal.

Finding the perfect wave

We all have the intrinsic need to ride the perfect wave and we must ride many waves to know who or what that person is. We will also be ridden, leaving people lacking or tumbling into the foam. This is the natural progression, and it is incredibly elusive, it is the bulls eye on the back of a wild horse. Yes, it is challenging, yes it is scary, but can you honestly tell yourself that you would have it any other way? Could that partnership ever be so wonderfully beautiful if it didn’t take all your skill to master it? No, you must be responsible for finding the sweet spot in that relationship wave. You must never give up or settle for someone too strong or too weak. The perfect wave is out there, and as you drop in they will do the same, creating an ecstasy in union as you ride the cusp of each others delicious slopes.

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1 Zoë April 5, 2010 at 8:24 am

You knew I’d love the surfing metaphor! ;) How well-said, though, and it’s absolutely true that you need a good balance between what’s exciting and what’s safe. That’s a difficult balance to strike for anyone, and even when you’ve “got” it, is never static and always needs to be maintained. In other words, next to impossible to achieve! But, ah, the fun in the chase.

An extremely well-written and well-thought-out post. I can’t help but think that those hours of Easter service yesterday really improved your writing. Solution: Attend more church! ;) Ha ha.
.-= Zoë´s last blog ..WTF profile pic: XS man =-.

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2 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I can’t believe you thought god had something to do with my post!
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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3 Something She Dated April 5, 2010 at 9:37 am

So is it wrong that my goal is to BE a sportfisher? (I’m assuming the connotations of unattainable, fun and breezy and detaching the slutty overtones)
.-= Something She Dated´s last blog ..Being Breezy: Learning Lifeskills From TV =-.

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4 Zoë April 5, 2010 at 9:49 am

Oh, YOU are funny. Good point, chica. What if you do just want to “catch and release”? Nothing wrong with that.
.-= Zoë´s last blog ..WTF profile pic: XS man =-.

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5 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I think that is the best kind of fun, just as long as you never try to land one.
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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6 singlegirlie April 5, 2010 at 9:55 am

The perfect wave is ever elusive, isn’t it? I notice we all try to make Keepers out of Sportsfish, but don’t try to make Sportsfish out of Keepers. Most likely, neither one is possible. I have a couple girlfriends who, out of frustration with Sportsfish, went for Keepers. And right now they are very happily married with children. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but it’s nice to know that it’s possible.
.-= singlegirlie´s last blog ..Saturday Night with Fred: Get Off and Get Out =-.

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7 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I think the usual route is to make the sportfish into a keeper but I do think we go the other way sometimes.
Happily married? I would argue that they have a luke warm marriage held together by the glue of children.
I will never settle for this.
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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8 Dating Diva April 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Very good post Mike. I’m hoping I finally found the Keeper. :)
.-= Dating Diva´s last blog ..It’s Not the Size That Matters, It’s How You Use It =-.

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9 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

You did not! You found a keeper that you will attempt to turn into a sportsfish.
Let me know when my prediction starts to become a reality.
(was that mean?)
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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10 Lifebeginsat30ty April 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Wow, this is a really great post! You’ve really tapped into something within yourself lately. Keep it up!

As to the post itself: I like to think that we are all surfers learning how to ride this wave of life. I’ve never been one for pendulums, but I like to think that after every wave I take time to think just what it was that tossed me off, made the board stall in the doldrums, or even put the salt up my nose. So that when the next wave comes I can recognize it for what it is, put my feet in the right place, and coast that one in to shore!

But of course it all depends on the weather, the phase of the moon, whether I remembered to wax my board, etc etc. And sometimes I just like to sit out there past the breakers and appreciate it for the beautiful thing it is. Here’s to finding your perfect wave!
.-= Lifebeginsat30ty´s last blog ..Lessons from Fucktard =-.

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11 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I liked that comment
here is to the perfect wave, and here is to me being able to ride it.
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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12 AV April 5, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I’ve written about this. I call it the Jackie/Marilyn Dualism. Except I don’t think everyone has the capacity to be one or the other. You’re either one or the other. And as much as men adore the passionate whirlwind of Marilyn, they all want a Jackie to greet them when they get home with roast beef.

No, I’m not bitter.

But I will be when I meet a man who can actually keep up with me and he settles down with a meek and mild suburbanite whose idea of edgy is taking pole-dancing lessons.
.-= AV´s last blog ..Thinking of You: If I Was Your Coworker =-.

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13 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 8:59 pm

AV
Sometimes I think you are too smart for you own good. Jackie/Marilyn Dualism! wow… Had to put on my fake glasses for that one.

It makes me sigh with relief to know that women like you exist. Horny and brilliant.
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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14 Miss Alpha April 5, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I’ve given up on finding the sweet spot and have instead made it my life’s mission to marry Chris Evans aka Captain America. I figure… if you go for the Sportfish, you’ve got to go big!
.-= Miss Alpha´s last blog ..Overthinking? – The 7 Habits of Highly Mindful Daters =-.

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15 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Really? I don’t know, I reserve judgment on a man that puts Kanji tattoos on his skin.
But hey… each to their own.
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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16 Miss Alpha April 7, 2010 at 10:42 am

Hey, everyone makes mistakes. Love is all about accepting those mistakes and letting them go…
.-= Miss Alpha´s last blog ..Writing A New Story =-.

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17 Mike Masters April 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I suppose I could over look tattoos on someone as sexy as that.

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18 Man-shopper April 6, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Mike, you astonish me, you truly do. How is it that you are so wise? Everything that you’ve said here — and I really do mean EVERYTHING — is just spot on. And the more I think about how my own relationships have panned out, it all fits! I messed around with far too many Sportsfish, and when I find a Keeper, who ended up deciding that he didn’t want to keep me around because I was *his* Sportsfish. Still looking for that perfect wave, but at least now, thanks to you, I have some idea of what that means…
.-= Man-shopper´s last blog ..Mr. Hovercraft =-.

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19 Mike Masters April 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Wow, you make me feel so smart!
but I think you did really get the depth of this post. I have a feeling like a lot of people breezed over it without really “getting” it.
This post took a while to write since it was so hard to explain. Thanks for noticing, and I am so happy to contribute to better dating.
.-= Mike Masters´s last blog ..The perfect relationship a bullseye on the wild asses’ ass =-.

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20 Jersey B April 7, 2010 at 5:43 am

Fantastic post. I think you really have to recognize the importance and basic need to be with someone who fits both bills before you can actually find such a creature. For years I swung back and forth between keepers and sportsfish (always deciding after each break-up that I really needed the opposite of what I just had), until I finally decided after I ended my last relationship (with a very boring, but otherwise great keeper) that I wouldn’t settle for less than the ideal woman for me – someone both respectable and bad-ass, but also sweet and emotionally stable. Lo and behold, once I raised my standard, I began weeding out those women who didn’t meet this high threshold (women who, in the past, I probably would have continued seeing), I found my sweet spot and have been with her for over a year (with no signs of boredom or fatigue).

You can’t find such a person unless you know what you’re looking for and refuse to compromise, even on the risk that perhaps you’ll never find him/her.

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21 Miss Alpha April 7, 2010 at 10:43 am

This comment hit my phone early this morning and I just wanted to say thank you. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. Good luck with your “wave”!
.-= Miss Alpha´s last blog ..Writing A New Story =-.

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22 Mike Masters April 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for the comment!
that was very valuable JB, like I have said many times in the past I would be stoked to have you guest post. Or hell, if you would like a little help getting a blog going?

Nice to hear that you have found what I am talking about. I am wonderful at theory but in practice I have been lacking these days (working on business not relationships)

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23 Jersey B April 8, 2010 at 9:40 am

One of these days, when I have a stroke of genius, I will get my act together and take you up on the offer!

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24 wanderingmenace April 8, 2010 at 3:20 am

Well this pretty much sums up my life. I mean, literally could not be more true.
The Sportsfish is a dangerous, dangerous creature. But I’m starting to wonder if the Keeper isn’t just as dangerous-albeit in a tamer, milder sort of way.
Women love the Sportsfish, I think on some level we all want to be the one to tame one. Though this rarely-ok maybe never-happens.
My current danger is the Sportsfish claiming he wants to be the Keeper.

Pretty sure he’s still just a big ol shark though.

In case you can’t tell-I’m loving this analogy. Very well thought out post Mike.
.-= wanderingmenace´s last blog ..woes of a clumsy ballerina =-.

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25 Fishy April 8, 2010 at 6:40 am

Refreshing wisdom in a blogworld full of tripe.
.-= Fishy´s last blog ..The Umbrella Fight =-.

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26 Caleb November 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Good post. I don’t generally find generalizations and either/or dichotomies particularly useful, but in this case they’re fairly spot-on.

How about a natural extension of riding and taming this perfect wave: we’ll never be satisfied with a relationship (or other aspects of life for that matter) unless it took absolutely everything we had to achieve it.

Or just keep a few Sportsfish AND Keepers in your harem? Maybe alternate them in line with the vernal equinox. Or something.

Caleb
Caleb´s last blog post ..Entry 109- Christmas Shopping In Anal-Town

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27 Ben January 9, 2011 at 7:59 am

Probably time to throw your blog away eh Mike?

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28 Mike Masters January 9, 2011 at 10:47 am

Actually it makes me quite a bit of money, enough not to have to live in Fargo North Dakota. (Your IP address is pretty easy to follow)

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29 Ben January 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Fargo is balls. I agree.
Medic Firefighter making 110k a year is fun though :)

Just wish you would keep making articles.

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30 Katie January 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

Wow. I think you might have just defined – in a way I can finally understand – what is wrong with my marriage. How have I never heard of you?

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31 Judy February 14, 2012 at 2:16 am

Love reading your posts Mike. This is a great one! But you forgot to bring up that Steve Harvey cheated on his wife, Mike. Hmmm…..what does that make him — Keeper or Sportsfish.

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32 Mike Masters February 19, 2012 at 3:15 am

It makes him typical.
Cheating stats are now almost identical 50-55% among men and women. I would also argue that success makes it extremely difficult for any man or woman. Women throwing themselves at him, tempting this icon of a relationship expert. Not easy, not easy for anyone, but it doesn’t make it okay. My partner and I have a screw up rule, we expect that one of us are going to mess up at one time during our relationship. It doesn’t give us license to do so but it allows for human nature.
Tough subject and one I might write about, but I am probably finished blogging.

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33 Mrs. Birdman June 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

This post is like finding out you have the holy grail of symbiotic unions. He is my perfect hybrid Starfish/Keeper, and I am his. It is perfection and true bliss. :)

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34 soouse September 14, 2012 at 6:30 am

I am in a lukewarm marriage and am dating someone on the side. My husband and I have kids together and this is why we are still together. Do you have any advice on how I should handle this situation? I’m not financially stable right now so I rely on my husband s income. What should I do?

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35 Keka April 1, 2013 at 1:24 am

Maybe I have different idea about type of girls. The one I want to sleep is the one I love and the one I want to spend my times till I’m old. Of course I love to marry with those kind of girls.

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36 Jacky April 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm

It’s hard to balance between the exciting and the safe in relationship. I was a Sportsfish before. Now I am Keeper to be safe.

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37 chickenjoymeal September 17, 2013 at 6:58 am

I just recently purchased your textappeal for men. It opened my eyes. GOOD STUFF!!

Don’t you think the sportsfish and keeper concept is similar to that of the best friend and girlfriend concept?

One would want his/her partner to be a best friend to whom one can talk about anything and everything and simultaneously be a girlfriend/boyfriend who you can have horny and passionate sex with.

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