Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Looking for a type

You may or may not realize this, but I am white. Yes, I mean white as in caucasion, as in not-a-minority.

Up until I met Trooper, I pretty much always dated white men. That wasn't by design, just the way things worked out. I didn't date Trooper because of his race, or really even in spite of it. I dated Trooper because he was a nice guy - who happened to be African American.

When we broke up, I guess I did lean towards a particular "type" of guy. I mostly dated outside my race, though there were several dates with white guys mixed in. Again, it really was just the way things worked out.

When I dated outside my race, I came to expect questions, looks, or comments. I could predict what was coming, and knew how to respond.

But I honestly never thought I would spend any time explaining my choice to date a guy of the same race.

When I first started telling my friends about Toyfriend, the reaction was the same, pretty much across the board. Even when I wasn't around, friends reported back that other friends reacted the same:

"Wait - he's white?!"

I probably should have anticipated the reaction, and it probably shouldn't bother me. After all, I did have a "type" for a while. People know what sort of men I find attractive, and I guess everyone just assumed that was the type of guy I would end up with. I suppose because that's who they would expect me to meet.

I guess I just wish that my friends' first reaction would be one of happiness. Like, "Wow, GGS seems happy - how great is that?! She deserves it." A few friends did react exactly this way - you know who you are, and I hope you know how grateful I am.

But I think I also wish that people had believed me when I said I never dated anyone because of his race. The surprise makes it seem like people expect race was a deal-breaker for me - and it never was. It is certainly true that I find men of a particular race very attractive - that's been true since my first crush. But liking how someone looks and falling in love with who someone is are very different things.

When I was just looking for someone to spend a little time with, I went looking for guys based solely on physical attraction. Why not, right?

But if I had stuck to that "type" and made race a deal-breaker, I'd have shut out the possibility of the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me. Yes - I said ever.

That's the thing about "types" - they work when you're doing the looking. They don't work when you're ready to be found. 

(The fact that Toyfriend is completely adorable is really just icing on my happy little cupcake.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pleasant surprise

I expected I would be bad at some aspects of being in a relationship. It's been roughly forever since I even attempted to be in a relationship, so I was bound to be a little rusty.

I also figured I would be good at some relationship stuff. Some things come naturally, and others must be a little like bike riding, no?

I was right on both counts. But... it turns out, I'm not good at everything I thought I'd be - nor am I bad at everything I expected.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself taking someone else's clothes out of my dryer, folding them, and putting them in a drawer? Let's not even discuss how I cleaned out that space for these clothes that are not mine.

I thought that my cynical, closed-off side would keep me from opening up... but I have found myself happily making room in my life, in more than one way. I've even cooked. In my kitchen.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd be OK with things like alone time and female friends. (sigh) It turns out that some of my insecurities have reared their ugly head, and I am not quite as OK with that stuff as I expected.

What I am getting good at is discussing my concerns and even my insecurities. It also turns out I can have those conversations without arguing, which was a pleasant surprise.

I suppose that to be a good relationship, it needs balance. A little give, a little take. I have historically given way more than I've taken, and I still find myself struggling to make sure I am compromising without settling.

Mostly, I have found myself very happy - and I have found that I'm better at being happy than I expected. That was a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Faith is bigger than fear

So....

Remember when I said I've met someone and it's gotten serious and I'm still trying to catch my breath?

Here's the funny thing. It's Hiker.

Yes, I know what I said. We're in different places and want different things. We don't have a ton in common. I don't want to be the "you'll do for now" woman.

The thing is, we kept spending time together. We were just friends - he talked to me about the women he was seeing, I talked to him a bit about the guy I was seeing. We had fun, we laughed, always had something to chat about. It was great.

Then I started to notice something funny was happening. When I made plans for my weekend, I always wanted to make sure I saw him. If I was looking to invite someone out, he was my first thought. I looked forward to his number coming up on my phone. The most telling thing was when I found myself feeling jealous when he talked about his dates.

I was falling for Hiker (who, by the way, would like me to refer to him as "Toyfriend" going forward).

I knew all the aforementioned issues were still a challenge, and a part of me thought I should stay away. But another part of me started to realize that this was someone who makes me happy. Truly happy - which was something I haven't felt in a very long time.

I decided happiness was worth the risk, and even if I get hurt, it would be worse to wonder "what if" for the rest of my life. I finally thought that maybe I needed to stop worrying about all the reasons it wouldn't work, and focus on the reason it could: We make each other happy.

One night, after a great non-date, Toyfriend and I had a very long conversation about all the reasons we shouldn't date.

Then I kissed him. (Way to stand your ground, GGS.)

We have seen each other almost every day since. Turns out, Toyfriend was open to more with me than he was with those other women. He wasn't avoiding a relationship, he just wasn't with the right person.

I think Toyfriend will be around for a while (so I guess I need to get used to that name).

Monday, July 6, 2015

Trust life a little bit

"What will you do [about your blog] when you find someone?"

It seems like it was about 100 years ago when a friend asked me that question. (In reality, it was probably about 4 years ago.) At the time, I answered that if it ever happened, I would probably just change the tone of the blog to talk more about a single woman making the transition to life as part of a couple. I wasn't too worried, because I really never thought it would come up.

Well.... it's come up.

It happened pretty fast and I'll admit, I'm having a little trouble catching my breath. There's a few lingering doubts and worries, but with each day I find myself thinking about them less and less.

My biggest struggle has nothing to do with him, his baggage, my trust or commitment issues, etc. It has to do with me - wondering why am I OK with such a huge change, and why am I not more worried about losing the woman I've become? As I said to Baking Suit, "My lack of uneasiness is making me uneasy." Silly, right?

I told him that I trust and care for him enough to put my cynical, cold, hardened single-gal attitude in the backseat - and I do. But I'm used to that woman. I know her. I understand her. I trust her. She got through some awful stuff - I value her strength. I'd never want to lose her.

Not only that, but my friends know and trust her, too. Will people be happy for me if my life changes? Will they accept me? Will they accept him?! Will they respect me for finding and accepting happiness?

Baking Suit sent this link last week. It's right - I don't owe anyone my independence or my single lifestyle. If it no longer serves me, it's time to let it go.

My true friends will stand beside me.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A complement

A while back, I met a guy on meetup.com. I thought this was funny because... 1) I always hated that Turtle met friends at meetups and 2) I've always wondered how it would work with someone I met somewhere other than a dating site. (For those not familiar, meetup.com is not a dating site. It's a site designed for users who want to set up activities for groups of people. It's really for people who are looking for others with similar interests to share activities. As a result, many users happen to be single.)

Anyway, this guy messaged me and we started chatting. He eventually asked me out. We've formed a good friendship, but not much more. He has said he'd be interested in dating, but I have been clear from the start that wasn't in the cards.

We have gotten into the habit of chatting about his dating life. He tells me the tales, I offer occasional advice, he ignores me because obviously, being single, I know nothing.

The other day we got on the topic of a guy I have been seeing. My friend (we'll call him Hiker) asked why I am willing to date this other guy, and not him. Not an easy question to answer.

I started by explaining that it worries me that he and I wouldn't share his favorite hobby (hiking, obvs) and that I know he's looking for someone who will join him. That is a relatively minor thing, which he pointed out. But it's part of a larger issue, which I then had to explain. (Leading off with the hobby angle was a rookie mistake; I'm rusty.)

He and I are in very different places. His marriage is newly ended and he's looking for casual companionship to keep him busy. He's still learning his dating style, and he's still accepting women who are not his type, or who don't treat him well, simply because he wants the company.

I'm pretty sure I fall into the "you'll do for now" category, and I told him as much. I explained that I think we could have a great time, but once he gains some confidence, he will realize I'm not for him. Experience has taught me that will happen right about the time that I fall head-over-heels - and I will be left heartbroken. Again.

He said he'd never want to hurt me. "Hiker," I said, "No one ever wants to hurt me. That doesn't make it hurt any less when they do."

I don't begrudge anyone going through the post-marriage phase of looking for a distraction, or looking for some fun. Everyone needs a little time to figure themselves out - who they are now, what they want, and what works for them. I've had the "opportunity" to be that distraction for more than one man. My heart got hurt each time - but I learned a lot, and wouldn't change a thing.

I never saw it coming before. Now I do - which means I've learned even more than I realized.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Something missing

Did I mention I created new profiles on two sites (Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid)? I gave in about a month after things ended with Turtle. I felt like I had been hiding; like I needed to put myself back out there, and let people in. I still believe the right guy comes along at the right time - this is just my way of giving him a door to walk through.

It has gone about as well as one might expect. I've gotten emails from men who are married...an email from a woman who clearly did not know how to use the search feature....emails from boys half my age who just want to hook up....and emails from an army of men who don't speak English (or any other language) very well. I even got a message from a guy who lied about his first name, and couldn't understand why that was an issue.

In a way, it's annoying that online dating hasn't changed. In another way, it's comforting that you can still count on some things to be consistent - even if the consistency is found in its flaws.

But while the online dating world hasn't changed, something else has: Me. My attitude is different. I talk with fewer people. I forgive and overlook far less. I have (slightly) higher standards. I question more. I am more selective.

The truth is, I don't think the online thing was ever the problem. I think the problem was my attitude. My need to push, to force, to compare myself and my situation to others. My need to accommodate and please, even to my own detriment, because I believed I did not deserve better.

I think this time around, online dating will work better. Actually, dating in general will work better. Not necessarily because I'll find more people who like me - but because I finally like me.

That's what was missing all along.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I have learned

As angry as I am about Turtle, I am grateful for the lessons he taught me.

I learned about letting go of control. I realized that I spend a lot of energy trying to force things, usually as a way to make myself feel more secure. I also learned that security, especially in relationships, is an illusion. Relationships, by definition, involve other people - which we can't ever control.

I learned about patience. Not everything is about me. Some people will need you to slow down. Not everyone you meet will be in the same place, or ready for the same things. Some are worth the wait.

I learned that not everything is about me, and sometimes I need to be there for others.

I also learned that sometimes, it is about me. Sometimes it's OK to look out for myself. Sometimes, it's OK to expect others to wait for me - or catch up, as the case may be.

I learned I do not want to feel like a chore, or an obligation. I do not want to be treated like a problem that needs handling.

I don't want to be a second choice, or a backup plan. I don't want time with me to be spent at someone else's convenience. It's great to be considerate and understanding of others - but sometimes I should come first.

I want someone who wants me around. Who genuinely enjoys my company (quirks and all). Who will go out of his way to not just talk about having fun, but to actually put those plans in motion.

I am tired of being treated like a secret; like a guilty-pleasure TV show you watch when nothing else is on, but are ashamed to admit you've seen every episode.

I've learned I am tired of feeling left out of all the real fun, and kept as a backup plan when nothing better is available.

I have learned that it doesn't matter why a person might treat me that way. He could very well have the best reasons in the world (and yes some are better than others). What matters is how it makes me feel.

I have learned that I can be patient and let go of control, and still look out for myself and my feelings. My wants and needs are just as important as the other person's.

I have learned I am no longer willing to feel like second best - and I have learned it's OK to say so.