Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Distance Schmistance

I was talking to my counselor last week about how I've decided that, in order to have the relationship I want, I need to work on communication. During the course of that conversation, the topic of Mr. Ding-A-Ling came up, and he said to me,
"Maybe something you should think about is the distance - maybe it just doesn't work for you."
It's very true that I didn't like the distance between Sparrow and me. It's also true that I'm not a fan of how the distance impacted getting to know Mr. Ding-A-Ling.

But to be completely, 100%, clean-crystal clear on this - I am not opposed to a long-distance relationship.
"I wouldn't mind the distance if I was with someone who would communicate at the level I want." 
"But you're dealing with men?"*
Point taken. I am opposed to a relationship that lacks good communication. It was lacking in my previous relationships - which was at least half my fault - but I was able to gloss over that fact because of how often we saw each other. If you spend enough time together, it's easy to fall into what seems like a good relationship, even if you're not communicating well.

It's not the same when you don't have the option of being together. Finding time to text or call is absolutely paramount, and those conversations need to be more than just, "So how was your day?" You can't cuddle and kiss your way around the fact that you don't talk. The distance actually puts a spotlight on the lack of communication.

I can remember saying to Sparrow that if he couldn't (or wouldn't) work with me on our communication, then it wouldn't matter if he lived next door - things still wouldn't work. I believe that's true. If proximity was all that mattered in a relationship, there'd be far fewer divorces, no?

I won't pretend to be stellar at communication. Intrapersonal communication - sure. I can pull my own thoughts together and easily lay them out in written form. I am less skilled at laying them out verbally for others, but I can usually make it happen eventually.

But communicating with one other person, and putting it all out there, and making sure he knows how I feel, and doing so without fear of rejection, or sounding crazy and controlling?

That's gonna take some work.

*It's worth noting that my counselor is a man - and he still said this.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Are we there yet?

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Lewis Carroll

I said in this post that I have made some very firm decisions about where I want to be in terms of my relationship status, and I am trying to make choices that will get me there.

I've always felt that I ultimately want to be in a relationship. So the where hasn't been as big a question for me as how to get there.

When I asked Sparrow for a break, I realized right away a break wasn't really what I wanted. What I really wanted was for him to give me more of a commitment. I didn't think it would happen, so I walked away before I could be pushed. X told me that was a bad move. He said I should "get my head out of my ass" and realize that if I truly want someone to go all-in - I may have to be willing to jump in first. 

So I did. He didn't. It ended. Go figure.

But it wasn't all for nothing. I learned a big lesson about myself. I learned that no matter how much I wanted a relationship, I haven't been truly open to one. Since Big, and maybe even since X, a part of me has been so afraid to say what I'm really thinking, out of fear - of losing myself, or of being rejected. So instead, I put up a wall and block out those feelings.

See, I don't need to have a "relationship talk" because I don't really want a relationship...unless you want a relationship. Do you want a relationship? You show me yours and I'll show you mine.

Get it?

Avoiding that communication has landed me in relationships that just sort of happened. It's one thing to let things evolve naturally because it's happening on its own. It's another to avoid problems because you don't want to deal. I am definitely more laid-back than I once was, but the truth is, I do like to have a plan. I like to have at least an idea of where something is going. I like to have some say in the direction, even if I know ultimately it's not all within my control.

I'm not saying I want to steamroll a guy into a relationship - but I also don't want to sit around, passively keeping my mouth shut when things are bothering me. All that does is attract guys who prefer someone more passive than I really am, and land me in relationships where I can't be myself.

I've come to the conclusion that for a long time, I was OK with those results because, deep down, I wasn't really ready for a relationship. I didn't really know what I wanted or where I wanted to be - so any old road would do.

I realize now that the relationship I want is one that wouldn't be easy. The best things in life rarely are. As Carrie Bradshaw once said,
I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love. 
So that's where I want to be. How to get there? I'm still sorting that out. But at least now I feel like I know where I'm going - and I guess that's a great place to start.

"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there." Yogi Berra

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Glass houses and stones

I have made a crap-ton of mistakes in my life. I could write a book (or a blog - Ha!). I am, in many ways, a shining example of all the things not to do when it comes to relationships. I'm pretty good at giving people advice on their situations, but when it comes to my own life, I guess my personal investment clouds my judgment.

This isn't news to me, and it shouldn't be news to anyone who knows me. I make no bones about the fact that I don't always make what most would consider smart choices. I put myself out there too much; I'm often too nice; I don't always stand up for myself when I should; and I forgive way, way too easily. I also get down on myself entirely too much, though I'm working on that.

I know my friends don't want to see me hurt again. Especially those friends who watched me go dragged me through the breakup with Trooper. I was a mess, and I know I wouldn't want to see that happen to anyone I love. I imagine they feel the same.

So when I do something that seems out of character, or maybe not the safest or best choice, they naturally question why. I get that, and I love them all for it.

But it still hurts to have someone who you admire and respect look at you as though what you did was completely stupid. It stings, just a little, when someone suggests maybe your choices aren't the best, even after you try to explain why you did what you did, and how you feel.

I think maybe it's partly because I get a little defensive anytime I feel like I have to explain myself to anyone. I'm an adult. I'm independent and self-sufficient. I take care of myself. I'm not a risk-taker at all, so you can believe that anything I do has been thoroughly thought out, and necessary precautions have been taken. I guess I feel like that's stuff those who know me the best should already...well, know.

The thing is, I don't necessarily volunteer all information. For someone who blogs her whole life and will answer any question without reservation - I don't give it up that quickly on my own. I also think things through quickly. So, on Monday morning I might be all down in the dumps and worried about something. By that afternoon, I may have found some much-needed perspective, and feel 100% better. So, when people make a snap judgment about how foolish or careless my choices are, they're often doing so without all the information. At that point, if I try to explain what I was thinking/feeling - it sounds like I'm making excuses.

I'm very, very aware that I make mistakes. I over-analyze, worry when I shouldn't, and avoid problems when I should deal with them head-on. Sometimes I invest too quickly; other times, I keep my guard up and don't invest quickly enough. I pretend to care less than I do, or sometimes I seem to come on too strong.

I'm not perfect; but that's me. What I do is out of love and compassion and a sincere desire to find a good, honest, healthy relationship with someone who makes me as happy as I make him. I firmly believe that the right person will recognize and appreciate those intentions.

But if I hide what I really want, it's going to be awfully hard for him to find out. So in the meantime, I have to be myself - faults, mistakes, bad choices, and all.

I'm careful and I (OK, mostly) know what I'm doing. Even if something doesn't turn out the way I want, I wouldn't call it a mistake; I'd call it a choice, and one that I made knowing full well what the consequences might be. I know myself well enough to know what I can handle, and I don't do anything that will push me past my limits.

I'm going to get hurt. I'm going to cry. I'm going to be disappointed and angry. I know it's coming; the only way to avoid it is to close myself off and not let anyone in. If I want a relationship, that's not an option. I'm at a point where I know I can handle the little bit of pain I may have to suffer in order to get what I want.

The one thing I can't handle is harsh words or looks from people who I know have made just as many mistakes as I have, yet somehow feel they are better than me, simply because they're in a different place now.

I'll continue to write about my mistakes honestly and freely here. But at least for now, this glass house is officially closed off to visitors.

I never could juggle

One thing I've always wanted to learn how to do is juggle. I feel like I lack the patience, focus, and hand-eye coordination to toss multiple flaming torches above my head, and try to catch them one by one, while keeping the rest spinning in the air. But I feel like it would look so pretty if I could figure it out - especially if I could do it while wearing one of those cute circus outfits.

Found it here
Sometimes I think the same is true with me when it comes to dating. I'm not sure I have the patience and focus to manage, skillfully, putting my best foot forward while also being true to who I am, and at the same time look out for myself and where the relationship is going, while also not being too pushy, or putting too much pressure on the situation.

I mean, I know how to do all of those things - but I can only manage one or two at the same time. The rest seem to fall out of the air and into a burning pile of destruction, usually right at my feet.

For instance, my current situation...

I know I've put my best foot forward, both while we talked and on our first date. I'd like to be that woman who can just casually wait and see if he calls, and then follow blindly while he steers the relationship. But while that might seem like the "best-foot-forward" play - it's not being true to myself.

Being true to myself means saying something to assess his interest-level, so that I know I'm not spinning my wheels. But I want to do that in the best way possible, and with the best timing, so that I don't scare him away.

Do you smell something burning yet?

I asked Engineer what he thinks. He said he's waited until the six-month mark, which may have been a little too long. Then again, he also says women have brought up the "Where is this going?" conversation on a first date - which is way too soon.
So what you're saying is, the perfect time is sometime between now and six months from now?
Well that's helpful.
The truth is, I don't have doubts about Mr. Ding-a-Ling's (still giggling) intentions. I don't get a player-vibe from him at all, nor do I get a "I'll just blow you off" kinda vibe. I think he'd tell me if he wasn't interested.

What I do wonder is, between a heavy travel schedule for work, and family that includes kids out of state, and the fact that he doesn't have a permanent address right now - does he have room in his life for the kind of relationship I want?

It could work, but it's a lot to ask of a new relationship. But recently, I've made some really firm decisions about what I want in terms of my relationship status, and I'm trying to make choices that will help me get what I want. That doesn't include choosing to wait around for anyone to fit me into his life.

Not even if anyone makes me drool in my pasta (just a little).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One-hit wonder

So I know I'm supposed to be thinking positively and not getting down on myself. But sometimes that's easier said than done.

I finally met Mr. Ding-a-Ling (I literally giggle every time I type that). Turns out, his current work situation, along with a part of his family situation, has him somewhat between permanent homes. He has a stable job, and is living out of ridiculously nice hotels while that gets squared away. By no means does he not have his act together (just the opposite, actually), but his current circumstances did make it challenging to schedule a date.

After he cancelled our first plans, I asked for a little reassurance he was still legitimately interested in meeting me - and that he wasn't just looking for a hook-up. While I understand sometimes that's all something ends up being, there's a big difference between just ending up as a "friend," and going into it with that expectation.

Found it here
I felt pretty confident that we were on the same page. That being the case, I agreed to a date that would require me driving, and meeting him when his work would bring him close enough to my area. So I did. This also meant our first date would have a very awkward, she-drove-all-this-way-should-she-stay-in-my-hotel-room component.

I didn't want that. First of all, the absolute last place I ever want to be is somewhere I'm not wanted. I would absolutely not want for him to feel he was stuck being hospitable because I drove a ways to have dinner. If we're not clicking - we're not clicking. If that was the case - I also wouldn't want to feel trapped. Nothing like a good hostage situation to ruin a perfectly good meal.

He asked me point-blank, "Is your plan to stay or drive down and back that night?" I told him I'd come prepared to stay, but we could decide that night if it made sense for me to do so. The truth is, I'd have gotten back in the car and gone home; and the reality is, my cousin lives about 15 minutes from where I was, so I had a very safe alternative.

I told you - it may not always seem like I have my stuff under control, but I usually do.

All I'll say is: It was a great first date, and went as well as I could have hoped. We talked, we laughed, and we had good food. He shares my love of all things sweet (yay!). He also shares my love of technology and had no issue with me checking my phone (double yay!). He's so incredibly good-looking I had to force myself not to stare at him. Or drool in my pasta.

After the date was over, though, I found myself wondering...now what? His schedule makes it so hard to plan dates, it's not like I can text him in a day or two and see if he wants to get together again. That fairly simple, innocent question - "Do you want to do this again?" - usually helps answer the more complicated, underlying question - "Was our date a one-hit wonder, or the first in a string of potential hits?"

In other words - I like you; do you like me back?

Even though we've been talking for a few weeks, and have both said we feel like we've known each other forever and feel very comfortable with each other, it's not an easy question to ask. At least if you can just keep making plans, it sort of evolves naturally.

I suppose I could wait and see. I mean, I'll either hear from him again, or I won't. If I do, I could just say, "Are you interested in getting together again sometime?" His answer would (with any luck) lead to a more in-depth conversation about where we both see things going (or not).

But who are we kidding? We all know I suck at waiting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's not you, it's him

I was recently told I need to stop with the negative thinking. I need to stop doubting that it will ever happen, and start realizing that I do have a lot to offer. If I start putting positive thoughts out, I will start getting positive back.

I was told that I don't give myself enough credit. That I need to stop thinking I'm not pretty enough or smart enough or successful enough. I especially need to realize that the right person is going to look at me for my whole person - and he will realize what a dynamic, loving, wonderful person I am. He will see that I've "got it all going on" - but I have to realize that first, before anyone else can see.

I was told that I need to realize that just because one guy was "an asshole" that not every guy will be. I need to stop assuming as much, and start letting the good ones in. I need to start listening to my instincts more, because the truth is, I knew things weren't right with that guy, I just chose to ignore the problems. I need to have more faith in myself.

The funny thing is, the person who said all this was a psychic medium, who said he was connecting with my grandmother. Sounds hokey to some (and creepy to others) I'm sure - but he struck me as very sincere, said things that made me believe Nanny had something to say, and seemed to be picking up on things he couldn't have known.

Dating certainly challenges my self-esteem. Some of the challenges are obvious: Someone you like doesn't like you back, and you naturally wonder what you could have done differently to keep his interest.

But it's the less obvious questions that I think really get to me.

Is he out there? Am I doing what I need to find him? Will he feel the same when I do?

When I'm not meeting any guys, I wonder what's wrong with me. If I meet a lot of guys who all turn out to be wrong, I start to wonder what I'm doing wrong.

Why do I do that to myself? I know I'm not the only one. Why do any of us internalize what is really an external issue. If a person passes over your dating site profile - who cares? It's one person - who is a total stranger and for all we know, not really worth the worry.

If a first-date doesn't go well, why does that have to be a big deal? So this guy won't be Mr. Happily-ever-after. So what? Why does that automatically translate to we did something wrong? Maybe he just wasn't meant to be more than a first-date. If that's the case, then it doesn't matter what we did - he wasn't going to stick around, anyway.

I know self-esteem is an issue for me, and the funny thing is, I think it's an issue for even the most beautiful, intelligent, successful women. No matter how much a woman seems to have her act together, dating can undermine her self-esteem pretty darn quick.

How do we change that?

I think it starts with changing our perspective. Don't get so caught up in how to make sure we get past the first date to the second. Start by enjoying the first date. Be yourself - your best self. Wear what you like; be sure you love your hair; suggest a place you're happy to eat; order what you like; talk about what interests you; if you want, give him that hug at the end of the night.

If you do enjoy the date - don't be afraid to put yourself out there for a second. If he doesn't want another, or he does but then it goes poorly - remind yourself that it isn't necessarily anything you said or did - or didn't.

You put your best out there. You didn't get his best back.

That's not you - it's him.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Great dates

I've been thinking a lot lately about my current dating situation. I have friends who meet guys quickly, and have a different date every weekend (it seems). Attractive guys, too - the sort with their act together, who really seem like they might have potential.

I'm not in that place right now. Truth be told, I never really have been. Even in the past when I had a bunch of dates close together (even on the same day), my dates weren't always guys with their stuff together. I seem to attract guys who present normal - and then I find out later that they really have more than a couple issues.

But regardless if your situation is like mine, or like my friends', one thing seems to be true for every woman I know who is dating with the intent of finding a relationship:
Dating is seriously like a job, and every first date is like a first-round job interview. If you make it past coffee/drinks, you hope you called back for a dinner.
Dating is a constant struggle between being completely honest about who you are, and highlighting your strengths to make the best impression possible. Is your outfit OK? Do you look too fat - or too skinny? What about your hair? Are you going to the right place? Do you have something in your teeth? Did anyone notice you trip? Do you have enough hobbies to make yourself interesting, but not so many that you don't have time to date? Did you come on too strong? Should you have let him kiss you? Should you have kissed him?

Why do we do that to ourselves? Why does it have to be about doing something wrong? So what if all this guy amounts to is one date? Maybe that's all it was meant to be. Maybe we should stop wondering what to say and do to make sure that we get to the second date, and concentrate on enjoying the date we're on. Maybe there are some people out there who are only meant to be one really great date. Maybe there are times in our lives when all we're meant to have is a series of good first dates.

What's wrong with enjoying that time in your life? If you want a committed  long-term relationship, and you're open to finding one - I believe you will. I think you get back what you put out. Does that mean maybe you shouldn't change things? Of course not. Dating is as much about learning who you are as it is about meeting new people.

If dating sites aren't working, then switch it up. If meeting people at the bar or the bookstore or the club isn't working - try a new place. If you want to meet more people, you may have to relax on your "must-haves" - at least your first-date criteria. If you find you get caught in a rut with the wrong people, then limit yourself to three dates, and if it's not working - cut 'em loose.

Don't be afraid to learn, or grow, or change. Being the best you puts you in the best position to meet the right person.

In the meantime - enjoy the great dates. Soon enough, you won't get to look forward to first-dates anymore.

Friday, October 19, 2012

She wanted to play hooker

Remember I promised to tell you about the woman Chef met, who he said came on too strong? I always keep my promises.

Acording to Chef:
We met online. She admitted that she had approached me because I am tall and black - and those are her only requirements.
She also told me she wanted me to treat her like a hooker - telling her what to do, yelling at her, etc. That was her sexual fantasy, that she wanted someone to fulfill.
She shared this with me after a week of texting - and before we'd ever gone on a date, or even talked on the phone.
I wanted to play scrabble...she wanted to play hooker.
I found the whole thing pretty funny. Truth be told, I couldn't stop laughing. I'm always amazed at how quickly a guy who seems normal can turn - I guess I sometimes forget that women can do the exact same thing.

Sort of reminds me of something that happened not too long ago. A guy emailed me on a dating site, and I replied. His second message asked how I was doing, and I replied that I was having a nice quiet night. His response?

"Want me to cum over and make it not so quiet?"

Good grief.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no prude. I think sexual fantasies can be fun and healthy and a great part of a good relationship. I also think innuendo can be funny.

Like with any humor, time and place is important, as is knowing your audience. So how long does it take to know someone well enough that you can share these comments and thoughts?

I'm not exactly sure. Somewhere between one week and a lifetime, I think. Three messages is definitely way too soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'll admit...

...that I got this idea from Baking Suit.

...that I should probably not continue to spend time with Chef - but I probably will, at least for now.

...that Mr. Ding-a-Ling and I might not be compatible for the long run, but I'd still like to meet him.

...that While mysterious and intriguing may not be the basis of a great relationship, they could be the basis of a really great story.

...that My future is so important to me, I have a tough time living in the present.

...that I sometimes give myself permission to make a mistake, as long as I know I'm not hurting anyone else, and I believe I can handle any personal consequences.

...that It has taken me a long time, but I finally know what I want out of life, and a relationship, and I'm getting much better at recognizing when a person can't offer what I need.

...that I probably seem like I make all sorts of bad decisions, but that isn't always the case.

...that Sometimes I talk to guys just for entertainment, practice, or a blog post.

...that Sometimes I'm too careful.

....that Other times, I'm not careful enough.

...that I'm happy that Trooper is in my life, but sometimes it breaks my heart that he doesn't love me the way I love him.

...that I really do miss Sparrow, even though I know it couldn't have worked.

...that I am sometimes afraid that I will never find the love that I want.

...that I am sometimes afraid I don't deserve the love that I want.

...that I sometimes doubt if I'm pretty enough, or smart enough, or funny enough, or successful enough. Sometimes I just doubt if I'm enough, period.

...that I always (eventually) come back to my faith, and repeat to myself over and over, "Just believe" - and then I do.

...that life is scary, and it would be a hell of a lot scarier if I didn't have my friends.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm a snob

I went on a date the other night with this guy.

Turns out - he's really not a jerk. He really did delete his profile because he didn't like the women who were approaching him. He was not attempting to plant doubt in my head about my previous relationship, but rather comment on how impressed he was by the lengths to which I would go to try and make a relationship work.

A few weeks back I told him I couldn't continue talking to him because I needed time to sort things out with Sparrow, and see if it could be worked on. He reacted poorly; he's since admitted that was becasue he prefers to not be in situations where he knows he doesn't have a chance.

That seemed very fair - and honest.

During a phone conversation, and subsequent date, I learned a lot.
  • He's very tall
  • Source
    He cooks (we'll call him Chef - which totally makes me think of the muppets)
  • He has had some work and health issues which left him without a job for a while
  • Being out of work has put him in a tenuous financial position
  • He lives in a neighborhood that scares the crap out of me
  • He does not have a car (currently)
  • He's very intelligent
  • He's also very sweet, and respectful
  • His sense of humor is right in line with my own
  • He believes some of his troubles (part time work, no car) are temporary
  • He is a night owl who works weekends, making our schedules nearly opposite 
  • He sees himself as a "forever bachelor" - so even if we formed a relationship, it seems it already has an expiration date
I told Baking Suit that I think this means I'm too snobby to date him. She suggested maybe it just means we're in "different places in life." Which I think sounds like I'm too old to date him, which is funny, because he's seven years my senior.

But the more I think about it - the more I think (and hope) she might be on to something.

His "bachelor" status is, in large part, tied to his lifestyle. Being single suits him; and he suits the single life.

So maybe it isn't about me being a snob, or getting too caught up in the future. Maybe it isn't about me not wanting to try, or make an effort, or seeing things in black & white.

Maybe it is about me finally recognizing that I am in control. Maybe I'm finally learning that it is OK to keep searching for the right person who fits into my life, instead of trying to fit myself for the the wrong people.

Maybe it's about acknowledging, and appreciating, that everyone will have some good qualities. Maybe it's about learning what qualities are actually important to me.

Or maybe I am just a snob.

Either way - at least I know I'm in control.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Little lies

I am a firm believer in telling the truth on my online dating profiles. I don't exaggerate my height, or lie about my age, and I always make sure that my photos are current, and that there is at least one that shows off my "curvy" figure.

I figure there's no point in leading anyone on, and wasting his time (or mine).

The closest I've come to meeting guys who "lied" on their profile were a couple of guys who used older photos of themselves, presumably because they were better pictures. They were good pictures (I think one was taken professionally), but they looked almost nothing like the guy who showed up on the date.

I found that to be a turn-off. Not necessarily because they were bad-looking, or that I wouldn't have agreed to the date if I'd seen a more current photo. It just left me wondering - if they misled me on that, what else are they misleading me about?

iVillage posted the 17 Lies you shouldn't tell on your online dating profile. A few of my favorites:

  • Saying you're deeply religious...when you're not
  • Saying you don't want kids...when you do
  • Saying you're not looking for a serious relationship...when you are

We spend entirely too much time and effort saying what we think is most appealing, trying to meet the most people and go on the most dates. We never stop to consider,

What if we just told the truth? We might meet fewer "someones" but we'd also increase our chances of meeting the right one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A real couples photo shoot

"Couples photo shoots" seem to be a hot trend in photography. I see them popping up all over my facebook page. I'm not talking about wedding photos, or even engagement photos, which I can almost - almost - understand.

I'm talking purely narcissistic, we're in a couple and isn't it wonderful, type photos.


I probably sound bitter; I assure you, I'm really not, but you're free to think what you like. These people are in love and happy and want to show the world, and I think that's all very lovely. But aren't there enough real opportunities to capture your life as a couple? Parties, weddings, concerts, vacations...heck, you can even have your photo taken on amusement park rides! Aren't photos better when they capture honest, true moments, rather than moments that are created, and then propped and posed?

Not to mention - if you're trying to capture your love and life together, shouldn't the photos be taken in places you actually go? How many of us really spend time lying around in a meadow, with or without our SO?!

I may not be in a couple (yet), but I have been one-half of a couple more than once in my life, and I know a thing or two about how couple-life really works. So, if couples really want to take these photos, and truly celebrate their life together, I've come up with a few suggestions:
Lights should be tangled, and half of them burnt out.
There'd be no smiling, or hugging.

* In the woods...covered in mud, clothes torn, one of you holding a compass and map (or a smart phone) with the other yelling, crying, and looking out for bears.

* Racing through an aiport, luggage falling open, screaming wildly as you try to make your connecting flight.

* Cooking a big holiday meal. Someone should be covered in flour. One of you should be struggling with an obviously under-cooked turkey while the other casts a panicked look at the front door, showing that your guests just arrived 20 minutes early.

* One of you should be standing in front of the TV, coat on, remote in hand, watching a final play - while the other stands by the door, coat on, checking watch, because you should have left the house 30 minutes ago.

* If you want to do the sexy, in the shower photo, fine. Capture the moment when one of you slips and falls, taking down the shower curtain and bar. There should be soap in your eyes, too. Very sexy.

* If you want to take the reading in bed photo, also fine. Capture the messy sheets, messed up hair, no makeup, dirty underwear on the bedroom floor, and you should be arguing over a section of the paper.

* That outside, in the snow nonsense? Sure - but skip the snow angels on the sunny afternoon. Hold shovels in the dark, and pretend you're up at the crack of dawn trying to clear your driveway so you can get to work.

That is the life of a couple. When you look back on your life and relationship, you won't remember that time when you just stopped and smiled at each other across the room (or a meadow).

You will remember those little arguments, and the rushing around, and the family dinners gone wrong. When you're with the right person, those moments are just as full of love as any other.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Who is the jerk?

"I single-handedly blew it," she said.

She was at his house, after a great third date. One thing led to another, and after some really awkward first-time sex, she lay in his bed, unable to sleep.

No goodnight? No kiss? No nothing. He'd gotten what he wanted, took a quick shower, made himself a snack, and went to sleep. Her staying was more of an afterthought than an invitation.

She felt icky, and irritated. Mostly, she just wanted to be in her own bed, far away from what was feeling more and more like a big mistake.

So, she got up and left.

She told herself that she wasn't waking him because he was tired. But as soon as she got in her car, she realized that wasn't true. She didn't wake him because she was angry, and hurt, and didn't know how to bring it up. She left because she couldn't stay next to him without saying something.

She texted him to explain, and apologize. He replied the next morning, saying that he was hurt and needed to "process" what had happened.

She felt lousy - and told her friend she'd managed to single-handedly ruin something that could have been good. I was asked, so I'm sharing my take:

They were both wrong.

Sure, she should not have bolted. I mean - in all honesty, unless specifically invited to stay, I have never spent the night after the first time. I feel like it sets a bad precedence that I will always want/expect to spend the night. I don't. I have a life; it includes my own bed, my own closet, my own shower, and my cats. I got stuff to go home to, ya know? Besides, there's plenty of time to work up to the sleepover.

But when I leave, I certainly say goodnight, and I think she should have as well, even if that meant waking him. If you can let someone put his parts inside your body, you should be able to shake him on the shoulder. But hey - we've all been there. She was probably caught off-guard, not knowing what to expect. Before she realized what was happening, she was laying next to some guy snoring away, while she tossed and turned. She panicked. It happens.

But what about him? Quick, all-about-him sex, a shower and snack, and he just goes to sleep? That's their first time? No freakin' way. You only get one first time at anything - and you're supposed to put your best foot forward. Allowing for awkwardness isn't the issue...he was flat-out rude. If that is his best foot, I'd hate to see what might happen after they became comfortable with each other.

As for him needing to "process" her apology and explanation, here's how I read that:

I have to process = 
I got laid, and didn't even have to figure out how to kick you out. 
As a bonus, you feel bad enough that I can blame you for the fact that I'll never call again. 

I know that might seem harsh, and maybe it's a little unfair (I don't even know this guy), but I mean - c'mon! The woman was, at the very least, his house guest. He must realize he should be considerate and kind and polite? Surely he was taught better?  

My opinion is that this guy owes this woman as much of an apology as she owed him. 

The fact that he hasn't offered that apology tells me that what she really ruined was the chance to keep dating an inconsiderate clod, who apparently can't even spell the word "orgasm." 

I don't consider that a "ruined" anything. I consider that a bullet dodged.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New-outfit worthy

"I can always tell when you're going on a date. You always look nice, but when you have a date - especially a first date - your outfit is new."

Mr. Ding-a-Ling - now even more appropriate
This observation (about me) is at least partially right. I do like new outfits, and I do my best to put together a really good outfit for a first date. If I start seeing someone, I go to great lengths to make sure he doesn't see the same outfit twice, at least in the beginning.

But I don't always buy a new outfit. I am slightly more fiscally responsible. Nowadays, I will only buy a new outfit if a guy seems really, really worthy.

Last week I met a guy on Plenty of Fish that I thought might fit the criteria.

He's ridiculously, out-of-my-league good-looking. He seems smart, and funny, and gets my humor. He's good-looking. He has a good, stable job, and says he's ready to find something more long-term. He has kids, but they're grown. He likes pets. He likes the wrong baseball team, but nobody is perfect. Did I mention he's good-looking?

He travels for work, and was out of town all week. We made tentative plans to meet on Friday. His suggestion. Earlier this week, he told me he comes back in the area on Thursday (I assumed late).

When I tried to confirm (with only two days notice, which I don't think is unreasonable) if we were on for Friday, he said,
"Depends on what time. I might not get back to the area until late."
Now - I don't even know this person. I'm certainly not going to call him out on what could be a legitimate schedule change or mistake on his part. Maybe he read his calendar wrong. Maybe he just found out about a stop he has to make on the way back that will mess him up. Who knows?

Doesn't really matter - if he is blowing me off, that will be perfectly clear on Friday. I will have lost nothing. He asked if I minded "keeping it open" and I said I would keep it as open as possible - but asked that he not leave me hanging. I'm not giving anything up by keeping my schedule open, so we'll see.

I don't know enough about him to know for sure if he's playing a game, giving me a line, or is being honest.

The one thing I do know for sure? He's not new-outfit worthy, no matter how good-looking he might be.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First time sex

Recently, in two completely separate and unrelated conversations, I was told by two people who don't even know each other (and are practically from different planets), that "first-time sex is always awkward."

I'm no expert, but I have had my fair share of first-time sex. In my experience, it isn't always awkward; it is sometimes awkward.

It's really no different than a first date. I think we can all agree that most women probably have more first dates than they do actual relationships. When you meet someone, you think there might be a connection - but there's no way to know for sure until you go out. But for all the first dates we have, few lead to a second. Even fewer lead to an actual relationship.

A lack of conversation, or a disagreement over the date activity, or a boring time, or whatever is a sign that it just isn't going to work. This relationship isn't meant to be - and that's fine. We gave it a shot, and now we know. Rarely do we invest so much in first date that we get upset if it doesn't work out. Really - nothing is lost (except maybe a few hours and a few dollars, which is really just a cost of dating).

Sometimes, first dates eventually lead to first-time sex. Personally, I think if it's awkward, that's also a sign. Just like the signs a date isn't going well, awkward sex is a sign that you have different desires, preferences, fantasies, or rhythms. Whatever it is, you're just not in sync.

That should be fine, too.

Just because you got to the point of wanting to have sex does not have to mean that he is The One. You have to keep looking if you're going to find him, right? Sex is just a part of that search. It would be an important part of any relationship you choose to pursue.

Sure, if you've decided to wait until you're married before having sex, and your first time is awkward, then it's something to work on. But if you're having sex early on, why is it something you have to "give a chance?" If you found out that the two of you wanted different things out of life, or a relationship, or finances, or family, would you try to "work it out?" No? Then why give the sex a chance?

Maybe the awkward sex is just the the sign we need to know it's time to move on. I think we need to cut ourselves some slack and realize that while we're looking for Mr. Right, we're going to have sex with a few Mr. Right Nows. It doesn't mean we're sluts, or have poor judgment, or make mistakes.

It means we're trying to find what we want, and what makes us happy, and we know that sex is a piece of that puzzle.

*Note: Yes, I encourage casual sex and/or sex early on in a relationship. I think it's important for women to know what they like, and casual sex is a good way to learn. I also believe sex is an important part of a healthy relationship, and you need to know if it "works" with a person before the relationship continues. However, I encourage safe and responsible casual sex. Safe means protecting yourself; responsible means being honest with your partners about your situation, including if you're not monogamous.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Worth a try

When I was struggling with whether or not I wanted to work on things with Sparrow, I had a well-timed visit to my counselor. I discussed my fears of taking on a project, "forcing" someone to change, and whether or not he might become resentful - and was it all even worth the trouble?

My take on it was that it could be one of two outcomes:
  • I could struggle and compromise and work - and end up heartbroken anyway
  • I could struggle and compromise and work - and end happily ever after
My counselor, in his infinite wisdom, pointed out to me that I was "doing it again" - it being painting things in black and white, and ignoring all the gray.

What if I struggled and compromised and worked - and revisited in a month (or whatever time made sense)? What if I decided for myself, at that point, if things were working? What if I asked myself, "Am I trying hard enough? Is he?" and took it from that point? What if I took a little control, and responsibility, for protecting my own heart, and stopped relying on someone else not to break it?

I was worried that I'd end up broken hearted because Sparrow owed me nothing. My counselor reminded me that I owed Sparrow the same. All I was committing myself to was trying. I wasn't making a promise of forever, or a promise to be perfect.

As long as I tried, I'd done my part.

It occurs to me that is true of any relationship. Along the way, you make various commitments; I won't date other people, I'll meet your parents, I won't get drunk in front of your parents, etc. Eventually, if it gets there, you make a commitment to love that person forever. Til death do you part.

I'll spare you the joke about how that means you either need to love that person no matter what - or kill him.

But until you've made that promise - well, you haven't. Seems like it should be simple enough - you're only responsible for keeping the promises you have made. But it's not that easy for someone like me, who tries to plan for every possibility, contingency, and variable.

I worry if I can keep a promise before I'm even asked to make one. Maybe I need to just stop that; to cut myself some slack, and realize that I'm smart enough to know when a promise is too big, even for me.

It's a lot to teach myself, and will probably take some getting used to. But it might be a project that's worth a try.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Finding a friend

I'm on a train, on my way to visit a friend who I haven't seen in a year. I miss her terribly. She's one of my most favorite people on Earth - literally. Before she moved to distant lands, we spent a lot of time together, especially the spring and summer after Big, when I was "on a relationship hiatus."

Once we started spending time together, we found out that she used to work at a place where X worked, as a trainer. Turns out - he trained her in one of her first "professional" jobs after college. So, we've been connected before, just never knew.

I suppose back then, I didn't really need a younger, single, strong, independent friend. I was married (happily), and settled in life. Several years later, I did need someone to show me how fulfilling and happy the single life can be. I did need someone to help me find how much strength I really had inside, and how much I really love the life I have.

My friend may not realize this, but she's probably one of my biggest inspirations. I look up to her - and not just because she's, like, 7 inches taller than I am.

Life is funny, that way. We move around, find new places and take up new interestes. We meet new people, and expand our circles. We find new friends who we think will be around forever - then life takes those people away.

But the truly important people? The ones who make the most difference, and leave the biggest impact?

They were there all along, and they're never really that far away.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I deserve that guy

Things are over with Sparrow. While some big, dramatic, ending would be fun to read - it wouldn't have been fun to live through. I'm happy to report that wasn't how it went down.

We had agreed to talk when we could do so in person. I was torn about what direction I wanted that conversation to go.

The thing I wanted "to work on" was communication. Sparrow does not express his emotions; I'm never sure if he's happy, content, sad, angry. He just always seems indifferent about everything - including our relationship.

He always made me feel welcome when I visited. In fact, he didn't even make me feel as though I was visiting. When we went places he was (usually) considerate and attentive.

But I never knew if he was having fun. In fact, of all the times we were together, he never suggested one. I invited myself there, and I invited him to visit me. I began to wonder, if I never suggested getting together - would we? Does he even care?

I told him I need him to take an active role in the relationship. To communicate his opinions, preferences, and yes, even emotions, a little more freely. I told him I needed him to open up and tell me what he was thinking. I don't even feel as though I got to know him all that well...and yet, here I was calling this person my "boyfriend."

He acknowledged he needed to work on those things. He felt he was probably a little out of practice, having been single for so long. He said he knew communication was a part of a relationship, and he wanted to do that for us. Even if he didn't like it - compromise is also a part of any good relationship,

So while part of me was happy that he was willing to work on things - another part of me was wondering, should it really be this much work so early on? It's only been three months - shouldn't it still be wonderful and easy and carefree?

Not to mention - shouldn't he already know how to do all of this? What if we work on it, and it just never improves?

I kept wondering - do I really want this project?

I also kept wondering how much compromise is really OK. People need to continue to grow and learn, and a lot of times that can come from spending time with someone who introduces you to new things. We should learn from relationships.

But how much change is OK - and how much is enough to eventually make someone resentful? I'd never want to "force" Sparrow (or anyone) to change, only to have them become angry with me. I've had the "Look at all I did for you, and what did it get me?" conversation. It never goes well.

Anyway - all that wondering turned out to be moot. Sparrow showed less and less enthusiasm for getting together over the weekend. Thursday, I reminded him he was invited for either day. That was met with crickets....so I asked that he let me know on Friday which day he was coming up. Might seem unfair - but hey, I have a housemate and I was attending a birthday party on Saturday. I needed to let people know if it was just me for the weekend, or me plus one.

He said, "I'll let you know." I realize the phrase makes sense in the context of this conversation. However....it seems to me if seeing me and starting to improve communication were really priorities, his response would have been more definite.

I'm just looking to be a little bit more of a priority than, "I'll let you know."

I never heard from him Friday, even though I'd specifically asked that he get in touch with me and he specifically agreed that he would. I revisited the text thread - I even said please. [Side Note: Though I'm becoming more and more an advocate for in-person communication, moments like this make me realize the value of having a transcription of certain conversations.]

I didn't hear from him Saturday morning, either. At 2:43 on Saturday, I got a text: I won't make it up today. Pulled my back picking up a 36" TV. Hurts to move.

I thought about the fact that I knew he was going to an electronics recycling event that morning. I thought about how painful a pulled back can be. I thought about how heavy tube TVs are, and realized that was the sort of TV he was probably lifting.

Then I thought....

Did he ever plan to come up Saturday anyway? If he had, wouldn't that have been his response on Thursday? Or at the very least, wouldn't he have told me on Friday? Seems to me he didn't want to come up Saturday, and his intention all along may have been to present some lame excuse as to why he wasn't able.

I responded by saying, "When I didn't hear from you yesterday, I figured you weren't coming. Hope you feel better soon. Take care."

He emailed me on Sunday, and I ended up calling him to talk. I knew what was coming, and I suppose he did, too. The fact that he emailed me seemed pretty bush league, to be honest, and I thought emailing back, while polite, would be cowardly on my part.

There was no fight, no yelling, no tears. Just agreement that things can not go on the way they are. It's easy to blame the distance (and I'm sure it plays a part), but the truth is, we were not communicating. We were not on the same page in terms of where the relationship should be, how it should work, and where it is going. We agreed to be friends.

At the end of the day, the guy I want to date - the guy I deserve to date - would have wanted to see me this weekend. He would have done whatever it takes to make sure he was up here on Saturday. He would have acknowledged how important it was, and made it - and me - his priority.

Sparrow is a great guy. He's just not that guy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Long distance sex

Long distance relationships have their ups and downs, and their own unique challenges. The one no one really focuses on (out loud) is the fact that sex isn't as big a part of a long distance relationship. (At least not sex that you're having with that person; but that's a different post.)

Thanks to a very horny love struck inventor who was in a long distance relationship for a while, there is an answer (pending) for that problem.

The smartphone sex toy includes a "female end" and a "male end" that enable both partners to simulate whatever sort of sex tickles their keypad. It's enabled with bluetooth technology, wirelessly connecting it to your phone, where it also downloads a video chat service so that you can see, hear, and "feel" your partner across the miles.

Thanks to the Inquisitr for posting this, and to Baking Suit for forwarding the most wonderfully random stories from her reader.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My bitch-switch...and other fine qualities

Trooper and I have been talking. Turns out, we actually get along as friends, which is nice. I missed having him around. He "gets me" in ways that many others don't.

I even talked to him a little about Sparrow, and the fact that we were "on a break." Trooper's take?
"You're not that into him because I set the bar too high." 
He was kidding (I think), but the truth is - he may be on to something.

I was once told that I "should come with instructions." Sounds harsh, maybe, though it was said in humor, and out of love. It is also not really that much of an exaggeration.

It's hard to face our faults. After a divorce, a few years of dating, and several failed relationship-attempts, I'm starting to come to terms with at least some of mine.

I can be opinionated. I'm more than happy to listen to what you have to say, and on some issues, may even be swayed a little. But when it comes to things about which I'm very passionate - don't bother. Not only don't I want to hear what you have to say, it's very possible I will interpret your opinions as an attempt to convince me I'm wrong. Then I'll get angry.

Speaking of angry...

It takes a lot to get me there - but once I am, it takes even more to get me back. Not only that - it comes out of nowhere. I don't always express my frustration early on, figuring it's probably not worth the aggravation. When I hit a certain threshold - I can't hold it in anymore. As a result, I appear to go from nice to bitch in about 10 seconds. I call it my bitch-switch.

The right guy has mastered the difference between sharing his opinion, and convincing me mine are wrong. He knows to look for the subtle "anger cues" that even I can't hide. This prepares him for the bitch-transformation. Even better if he can anticipate what will get me to that point, and head it off at the pass.

I need things a certain way. Blame the fact that I'm an only child. Blame the fact that I'm a daddy's-girl. Blame the fact that I've been single for a little while. I don't care - but be ready to accept the fact I don't like to be kept waiting, when I'm hungry I need to eat, I will check my phone more than you, and I require more time than you to get ready for any event, ever.

The right guy not only accepts these things, he plans around them.

I don't share well. This is probably also a result of being an only-child. There is plenty that I will happily share: I'll loan people (who I trust) my things; I'll loan people money with no thought to when (or if) I might be paid back; I love to give gifts and am happy to give my time.

But don't ask me to share my closet space - and never ask me to get rid of my stuff to make more room for yours. Don't invade my personal space. Don't ask me to share a computer, or a TV. I need those things when I need them, and there is no room for negotiation.

The right guy plans for this stuff. He can also tell when a surprise hug would be cute - and when it might be invasive.

I like to be a priority. Not all the time (I do actually know it's not always about me). But sometimes it's nice to know that with everything a person has to choose from (friends, sports, hobbies, strip clubs) - I come first.

The right guy knows just how to do this - because he wants to, not because it's required.

I suppose it sounds like I'm asking for a lot. The truth is - I may be. Here's the thing...

I've been with a great guy who could do all these things. Even now - after fights, and bitterness, and anger, and tears, and separation, and finally moving on and becoming friends, he still knows me better than anyone, and accepts me the way I am. He can still tell, better than anyone, how I will react to just about anything, if I'm getting in my own way, or if I'm about to go bitchy.

He never complained about moving boxes upon boxes of shoes, or decorations, from one place to another. They were important to me, so he made them important to him. He put me first - ahead of friends, sports, and hobbies. Always.

He made sure there were always two bathrooms, so I could get ready at my own pace and in my own space. When we had to share - he got out of my way quickly, anticipating the time I'd need.

I suppose this is one of the true hazards of dating after a long marriage. Sure, you know all the things that didn't work, and what not to do again. But you also know what can make a person wonderful, and you hope - or expect - that someone else will do the same.

The thing is - none of that would have happened if he hadn't been getting something in return. I know I have an awful lot of wonderful to offer some lucky guy.  *pats self on back*  I not only know my faults, I know my strengths (I'll spare you that list). I'm not asking to get anything I'm not also willing to give.

So yeah - I'm looking for someone who shows that he's capable of that much wonderful. I know it takes time to work up to that point - but the potential should be there almost instantly.

Trooper was right about the bar being high. Between you and me, he's even right about the fact that he reached (and easily cleared) the bar.

He's just wrong about who set it so high in the first place.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Online dating pet peeves

I am sure we've discussed my online dating pet peeves. There are a bunch; no photo, poor spelling and/or grammar, the shirtless, Myspace-esque pose in front of the mirror, pictures of your children, pictures of you with your ex....I could go on.

I don't like to give advice on what to look for in a profile, or in messages, because the things that turn me off often don't bother other people. For instance, most of my friends are not bothered (or don't notice) if a guy uses "their" when he should use "there" - or similar transgressions. I've actually not replied to messages from absolutely gorgeous men because of those sort of mistakes.

Something that I know bothers others, that doesn't really phase me? Meeting someone online, clicking - and then him disappearing. Sure it bothers me if he just disappears after you've started forming a relationship - that's just rude. But disappearing after a few conversations? Doesn't really matter.

I just consider that a hazard of online dating. If you're aggressively working a dating site, you're likely to meet a dozen people in one night. A bunch are going to seem like they may have potential, and you are often tempted to over-commit yourself to more conversations. Some fall through the cracks. I'm sure I've done it, and it's been done to me before.

Before I met Sparrow, I talked with several guys on various dating sites. One of them was a very good looking guy who seemed very nice - smart, and funny. We had a nice conversation over IM, at the end of which he asked if we could chat again. We set up a time to chat - and he never showed up online.

I never gave it a second thought.

But that brings me to a pet peeve of mine that I also don't think I share with others...the prodigal son syndrome. It usually goes something like:

  • You meet
  • You chat
  • You click
  • He disappears (after one, or maybe as many as five conversations)
  • He reappears with some lame excuse like "busy with work" or "had a lot going on" or "decided to take a break"

This is a huge pet peeve for me. HUGE.

I'm totally OK that I wasn't your favorite, or I didn't make the first cut. I don't take it personally. It's not rude, and actually has very little to do with me, specifically, since you likely made that choice before you got to know me.

But you know what? You did make that choice. Now you need to stick with it.

If you're unhappy with the women you met, then I'm really sorry you chose poorly. Better luck next time. But don't treat me like your Plan B, back-up plan, and come back to me with a terrible excuse, hoping I'll talk to you again.

Because you know what? If you did that to me once, I have no reason to believe you won't do it again - and I deserve better.

The truth is - no one gets that busy with work. I know you didn't take a break, because the dating site shows me you've been online every night since. So you didn't really have that much going on, either.

You just didn't want to talk. So let's stick with that plan, shall we?