Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago · 7 min. reading time · visibility ~100 ·

chat Contact the author

thumb_up Relevant message Comment

How To Build Your Own No Bullshit Zone

I didn’t want to
fall in love,
hi al: #2
EE blew it. ’ } . . '
&£ om Tm
Building Your _

No-Bullshit Zone
This is the follow-up to "On Love, Relationships, Loss, And Mind Hell," that describes the idea Mo came up with about 20 years ago. That was way back, just after my first divorce. I loved Mo's idea so much I gave it a name and adopted it fully. 

Maybe I should stop here and address the elephant in the room. Why am I talking about relationships? After all, I'm coming out of my second divorce. My first marriage crashed and burned. The divorce was extremely painful to the point of being traumatic. In fact, it was only very recently that my first wife and I reestablished a type of friendship. It still feels a little bit weird, though.

The second marriage dissipated by mutual consent. We parted amicably and remain good friends. Recently, I was in her neighborhood on a rainy day so I picked her up after work rather than let her walk home in the rain. How many guys would do that for an ex (or vice versa for that matter)? For that matter, how many exes would even enter the vehicle?

There's an old joke that goes like this: Mariage is like the suits in a deck of playing cards. It starts out with two Hearts and a Diamond. It ends with you wishing for a Club and a Spade!

It doesn't have to be that way. I may have loved and lost two phenomenal women, but I was with each for 20 years and still have friendly relationships with them. If that doesn't give me the right to talk relationships, fine, don't read further.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a psychologist, nor am I a psychiatrist. The following are the musings of a layman. They work for me, but may not work for you. I don't see how relationships built on a platform of 100% honesty can be harmful, but again, I'm not a  psychologist, nor am I a psychiatrist. Use the following at your own risk, or don't. Your call, your choice.

How Mo got the idea for the No-Bullshit Zone

After my first divorce, I was angry. I felt betrayed. I had serious trust issues with women. I lashed out. I behaved badly. . . very badly. Fortunately, I also had Mo to talk things through with. The poor girl listened to near-daily bitching from me for months. 

I'm amazed we're still friends. In the unlikely event that I marry again, I think Mo should be the Best "Man."

Eventually, we got to the trust thing. Bottom line, I didn't trust women to not hurt me so I dumped them first. Mo noticed the pattern and forced me to confront it. She asked a simple question, "It wasn't always like that. Who were you able to talk to effortlessly, painlessly, and honestly to?" 

Only two names came to mind, Mo herself, and my first-wife circa ten years previously. Neither were even remote possibilities for a relationship. 

Mo can be very persistent. She kept pushing. It took quite a while, but eventually, I remembered a conversation that was truly effortless, easy, and honest. It was great. We yakked away like lifelong friends even though we had just met. It was also completely innocent. Maybe the lack of an ulterior motive helped? I don't know. 

She was single. I was married. The connection was ignored as was the attraction.

Nevertheless, that conversation became the G-Test. I shortened its name to her initial for publication here.

Twenty years ago, about 10 years after the G-conversation, was the time of my first divorce. Then the shoe was on the other foot, G-wise. I was divorced, G was engaged. 

Yes, my timing sucks.

"No worries," Mo said, "We just need to find you another G!"

Easily said. Not so easily done. 

I decided then and there that I would not start any new relationship unless it was on a similar footing of honesty as shown by the G-test. I don't really need the instant connection so I used a discounted version of the G-test. 

But there was a problem. I needed to really understand and get to know a woman to see if there was a possible connection there. How else could I apply the G-Test? 

A simple conversation wouldn't cut it. We tend to fake more than we reveal when talking to a potential love interest. " Fake It 'til You Make It" kept rearing its ugly head. I needed something else. That something else brought me to wife #2.

The No-Bullshit Zone was created

As the name implies, this is a zone where bullshit is not allowed to exist. The Zone can be a temporary thing or it can be permanent. Mo and I have been in the No-Bullshit Zone for twenty years. My second wife and I called No-Bullshit sessions as needed.

The No-Bullshit Zone works like this. . .

Both sides take turns asking anything. The other side agrees to answer fully, truthfully, and bluntly, no holds barred

Both sides agree to a no-judgment philosophy. 

Both sides agree to ask for clarification or rephrasing before getting angry. Both sides agree to a time-out if anger sets in anyway. After that time-out, either party may or may not return to the zone, their choice and theirs alone. Clarification can be for a question as much as for an answer.

Both sides agree to listen! They make no assumptions as to what was meant over what was said. They agree to resist the temptation of reading between the lines. Look at this page. Now, look between the lines. What do you see? Exactly, there's nothing there except what your imagination adds. Ask for clarification if you're unsure as to meaning.

If you think a question is inappropriate or premature, say so. It should be tabled, but you can bet your sweet patootie it will come back.

This is not the time to try and spare the other's feelings. How is it kinder to lie to avoid giving a sharp pinch so that later, you can reach down their throat to tear their heart out? Please, I'll take the pinch, and thank you for it.

Simplicity belies complexity

The idea is profound in its simplicity, yet very difficult to implement. My first attempts were decidedly frustrating. It takes a while for the other person to understand that (in no particular order) . . .

We are attempting to determine the solidity of a foundation for a future, or ongoing, relationship. That means it's okay if the solidity isn't there. Really! We start as friends and continue as friends, just not lovers. Better that than continuing as lovers and parting as enemies. 

- Most people have trouble telling the raw, unvarnished truth. We're raised to be polite and considerate of other's feelings. That's wonderful. This isn't the time for it. Blunt, brutal honesty is de rigeur. It won't come right away. Nobody believes you will truly be honest. They hear what you say, but assume it's bullshit. That speaks volumes for the current state of romantic relationships, doesn't it?

Never ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to. If you ask me if your butt looks big in those jeans and it does, I’ll answer, “No, it looks Huge.”

The No-Bullshit Zone is also the No-Judgement Zone. Answer truthfully. Be brave. You may feel a little pain now which is a lot better than a lot of pain later.

The No-Bullshit Zone is also the No-Fudging Zone. That should be obvious. Hedging your answers is just another form of Bullshit.

- It's the No-Bullshit Zone, not the Digging Up Future Fight Topics Zone. That too is just another form of Bullshit.

Implementing a No-Bullshit Zone

First of all, you need your G-Test. When were you completely at ease and comfortable with a member of your preferred sex? When was your conversation 100% effortless? When were you able to just be yourself, and the other person liked you as is and vice versa?

Grab hold of that memory. Remember how you felt. Hold it in your mind.

That's what you're aiming for, that feeling.

Understand that you are not looking for a perfect fit to your mental projection. That'll never happen, not even with the original person. Besides, chances are, your subconscious embellished it. You need to get as close as possible to the feeling you had. Just how close you need to get is up to you.

Let's use an analogy to explain this. This is just an analogy, so don't start flaming me just yet. 

The suit analogy

Consider the act of buying a designer suit. It can be a man's suit or a woman's tailleur (skirt suit), same idea.

You know it won't fit you perfectly right off the rack. You know it will need some minor alteration. 

Maybe the sleeves will need shortening. The hem(s) will surely need attention. Maybe the shoulders will need a little letting out or taking in. All that stuff is expected and normal. Nothing here is a deal breaker.

So far so good.

Now, consider this scenario. You find a great deal on a great skirt suit from a great brand. You gotta have it. But, you wear a size 8 and it's a 14. We are no longer talking alterations, here. That suit will need a complete rebuild. It may be possible, but probably not. Either way, you'll lose the garment's integrity as the designer intended it to be. In short, you aren't getting what you expect. You got a half-assed facsimile of what you wanted. You didn't get what you bargained for.

That's trouble.

That would be a deal breaker for something mundane like a suit, yet, many of us accept this scenario in the vastly more important case of a romantic partner.

How does that make any sense?

Your partner's true self should fit your true self at least as well as a frigging suit! Hold back the pretense. Hold back the bullshit. Be yourself. If they don't love you for who you are, they don't love you.

Finding a romantic partner is a lot tougher than buying a suit. For one thing, the size etc is written right on the suit's label. The suit isn't actively lying (consciously or subconsciously) to get you to buy it. 

Imagine the skirt suit scenario above but the label reads size 8. You would have been ecstatic! You would have grabbed it and skipped all the way to the cash. You found the perfect suit! The feeling would change dramatically once you got home and learned the truth. That's when disappointment sets in. 

You didn't get what you wanted. Neither did the suit. That's when both you and your "suit" start feeling resentment. Eventually, that resentment boils over and off the "suit" goes to Good Will.

Farfetched? Not at all. This happens every single day when people try to negotiate a "win" relationship-wise. Even our language has expressions like "winning her love." A common piece of advice is, "To keep your mate, you need to keep doing what won you that mate." 

Seriously, people, a love interest is not something you "win" or "negotiate." You build it.You build it from a solid foundation.

All I'm saying is that it's best to learn the truth, whatever that truth happens to be, early. If that truth means you didn't find the perfect suit (romantic partner), so be it. 

Grow a set, deal with it, move on.

Ease into honesty

Easy does it. That may sound counter-intuitive. Most people are so used to "Fake It 'Til You Make It" in their relationships that it takes a while to break through the inertia built up from years upon years of bullshit. Avoid the deeper questions at first. You won't get straight answers anyway until you've proven the No-Judgement part of the Zone.

Start with easy questions that don't divulge much. Just get to yakking in the most comfortable way you can. You aren't so much looking for specific answers to specific questions as you are trying to get an honest conversation going.

That's harder than it sounds.

There is no end goal

That honest conversation is the end goal. You aren't trying to build a relationship. You aren't trying to determine if this is the right person for you. That will come later. You just want to see if there's a reasonably strong foundation on which to build that relationship. 

No, "She's crazy hot," is not a strong enough foundation.

If the honest conversation indicates that there is no foundation, that's fine too. If you force the issue, the relationship will likely fail eventually. No, he/she will not change to suit you, at least not for long. No, you can't "fix" them, they aren't broken. There are no, "They're perfect! Except for point A, point B, .... point ??" 

Minor "alterations" are okay. A major rebuild is not. 

Use your head

Don't push into questions that will cause discomfort. Don't insist on answers if they are asked prematurely. Being abrasive is just another form of Bullshit. That's not allowed in the Zone.

Once your potential significant other believes in the No-Bullshit, No-Judgement thing, you will be on the path of knowing their true self. Hopefully, it'll fit your true self.

If not, not.

If so. . . Mazel tov!




Blog Poets

About the Author

I'm a ghost but not the kind that's to pottery
wheels. I'm the wnting kind

Toften wonder if Im a tech-savvy writer or a
writing-savvy technologist Maybe I'm both. As
one CMO put it, "Paul makes tech my bitch!
That might be going a hittle too far
The Ultimate Twitter System

thumb_up Relevant message Comment

Louise Smith

3 years ago #30

#28 #29 #30 #31 #32 #33 Match, eHarmony, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Lavalife,, Senior People Meet, Godess with Conversation EAT your HEARTs OUT ! BeeHarmony at work !

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #29

Ok, deal, that'll be in November, barring a previous commitment

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #28

OK, so 401 to 412 up to 407 then

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #27

LOL, cute indeed, Denise M Barry, and Canadian too! Humm, I just may have to head down the 401

Cyndi wilkins

3 years ago #26

"I don't think anyone can build resilience to this except maybe sociopaths. It is always painful, but less so when there is no shock, no surprise, no sense of betrayal, no feeling of "WTF just happened?" Precisely why we have these experiences in the first place...To s-t-r-e-t-c-h us beyond our complacency...When we stop growing WITH someone, we will ultimately grow apart...and it is meant to be painful. If it were not, we would all be sociopaths. I hope your summer working with disadvantaged children fills your heart with peace and healing Paul \...I couldn't think of a better way to handle heartache;-)

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #25

Logistically, there is no difference. It's a question of context

Louise Smith

3 years ago #24

Hate to seem to be splitting hairs ( for obvious reasons) but can you explain to me the difference on a Social Media Profile between Single & Divorced ? My Take is Single- something wrong with the person if they have never committed to a relationship Divorces - something wrong with the person as they have committed to a relationship & they or it failed

Louise Smith

3 years ago #23

I'm not worried I would like to meet you & a lot of my beBee colleagues f2f And I have a plan but in infancy stages who knows ?

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #22

LOL, well I'm on FB as divorced, not single. heheheheheheeh. Don't worry, Lou, I don't plan on visiting Oz any time soon, even though my family was actually supposed to emigrate there instead of Canada.

Louise Smith

3 years ago #21


Louise Smith

3 years ago #20

I meant you ! ha ha ha
I agree, "won" and "win" seem to be more like winning a contest, which some relationships start out that way. But "winning" your mate sounds archaic and high schoolish. Perhaps, we need to keep doing what captivated their heart. No matter what words we use, if it's fake then yes, it will eventually explode.

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #18

Thanks, Franci. I like the phrase, "To keep your mate, you need to keep doing what won you that mate," too, but I'm not crazy about using the word "won." Then again, nothing else really fits any better. I guess the corollary is also true, "If you don't/can't keep doing what you did to win your mate, you won't keep your mate." Put that way it sounds a little depressing. I guess if what you did to "win" the mate is something you're okay with doing, Great! If not, it becomes a Fake It To Make It thing that will eventually explode.
Paul \, absolutely the best article I've read about relationships. I like this - "To keep your mate, you need to keep doing what won you that mate." My first marriage ended in divorce, after 9 years. It was mutual and I was glad to be able to move on. I stayed single for 10 years and loved it. I remarried and was widowed after 8 years, which I never wanted any relationships after that. Now, I am married 13 years and we're doing things we like and having fun. You know, as we get older, we become more set in our ways so another applicable statement - Minor "alterations" are okay. A major rebuild is not. I agree a No Bullshit zone is key.

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #16

Found you, friend request sent

Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #15

you are welcome sir Paul \

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #14

Thank you, Debasish Majumder

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #13

Where? I can't find you

Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #12

lovely buzz Paul \! enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #11

Still awfully early to tell, Jerry Fletcher

Louise Smith

3 years ago #10

FB & single !

Jerry Fletcher

3 years ago #9

Paul, Good to hear there is the possibility in your future and you are looking forward to those every two week dinners.

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #8

LMAO! "Getting some" is easy. Getting the RIGHT "some" is a lot harder

Renée 🐝 Cormier

3 years ago #7

Hmm. Maybe you'll get some after all, Paul \. LOL

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #6

Two questions deserve two answers, Pascal Derrien. Actually, I think it may take 3 1 - No, breakups are no different from divorces except that lawyers don't usually get involved. My second wife was not legally a wife at all. No priest or judge pronounced our union legal, we did that in our own. That did not make her any less of a wife to me, and in some ways, more of one. We decided when we should live together. We decided when we should part. 2 - I don't think anyone can build resilience to this except maybe sociopaths. It is always painful, but less so when there is no shock, no surprise, no sense of betrayal, no feeling of "WTF just happened?" 3 - How do I write about it so candidly? Because A - I extended the no-BS zone to include these posts. and B - The actual breakup happened in January. We stayed together, but in separate rooms until the condo sold. We also agreed to keep it quiet until then and to not date until then. C - These posts are proving to be therapeutic. I may just swipe Nicole Chardenet's "Adventures in Mid-Life Dating" concept and offer the male view. There is always a mourning period. Mine started back in January. There are usually denial and anger periods as well. There were none such in this case. I firmly believe that it's the surprise/shock and the accompanying sense of betrayal that causes the real pain in a breakup.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #5

Was thinking. Are divorces any different than break ups ? Are we building resilience when it happens later in life or is it more painful ? I don't know I guess its different for everybody now not everybody can write about it so candidly with such verve and finesse (yes there is an S in BS) :-)

Claire L Cardwell

3 years ago #4

Excellent Paul \ - a No BS zone is essential!

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #3

"it kinda messes with your head"... Understatement of the decade, Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier You would think the No-Bullshit Zone would be useful elsewhere as well. It isn't. Bullshit is social lube. We need to scrape it away to get to reality, but we need a modicum of it just to get by in daily life. Imagine what it would be like if you lived by No-Bullshit Zone principles in your daily life with everyone. OMG, they would think you went nuts. That's why it's a good idea to ease into it and only with someone with whom there is a shared attraction to soften the impact. I always found that aggression breeds bullshit. Even the so-called passive variety People who try to "keep the peace" in a relationship rarely succeed. They only delay and strengthen the impending storm. Often, they eventually unleash it. I find your mention of, "It is interesting to watch how they deal with your honesty," to be -- well -- interesting. Tonight, I had a coffee date with a girl I dated back in high school. We bumped into each other on FB (which I'm really starting to like, LOL). Anyway, when we talked about the No-Bullshit Zone she didn't get it at first, but when she did she really did. The look on her face when she realized she didn't need to play games and pretend was so surprised and relieved that we both burst out laughing. Turns out we are "possibly-maybes." I'm off Monday to cook for a summer camp for at-risk teens. I'll be mostly away until mid-August, but I'll be back every second weekend. We'll have dinner in a couple of weeks and continue the No-BS Zone discussions.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

3 years ago #2

I like the no-bullshit zone concept. I hate dishonesty in relationships. You should be able to have an open, honest relationship with everyone, especially your partner. Both of my marriages were loaded with bull shit. I tip-toed over patties on a daily basis. I even dropped a few to keep the peace. Most people find that style easier, but it's actually harder because it undermines trust. Manipulative people are expert bullshitters. It is interesting to watch how they deal with your honesty. Like you, divorce number one was ugly for me. The second was amicable. Maturity helps. It kind of messes with your head, though.

Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

3 years ago #1

Here's the follow-up, Louise Smith

More articles from Paul "Pablo" Croubalian

View blog
1 year ago · 7 min. reading time

Misadventures In Mid-Life Dating: Heartbreak, Pain, COVID, and WTF?

Hi all, it's been a while since I've reported on t ...

3 years ago · 4 min. reading time

MisAdventures in Mid-Life Dating, the Male View: The Ambush

I think my re-entry · into the dating world would ...

3 years ago · 3 min. reading time

MisAdventures in Mid-Life Dating: The Male View

I sort of hijacked Nicole Chardenet's "Adventures ...