Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

I've shared my lessons for 2013... my resolution for 2014 is to learn from every one of them.

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ten dating lessons I learned in 2013

In a lot of ways, 2013 sucked, at least when it came to dating. When I looked back over the guys that shaped the last 12 months, I thought, "Good grief." Then I decided to focus on things besides dating that shaped 2013. Much better.
But of course, this is a dating blog. You're not here to read about the raise I got at work, or the new direct sales adventure I started.
So rather than recap the guys, I decided to recap the lessons. Much less depressing.

♡ I want ridiculous love. By that, I mean I don't just want ordinary, "this will do" kind of love. I want a "knock my socks off" kind of love.

♡ I am a little afraid of commitment. Not because I don't want a relationship - because I don't want the wrong relationship. I believe that fear helps me move more slowly, and will ultimately help me recognize the right guy when he comes along.

♡ Some people will disappear from your life as quickly as they appeared. Sometimes they won't say goodbye. It doesn't make them a jerk. In fact, these people deserve forgiveness, not anger.

♡ I'm simply not meant to understand everything.

♡ It takes a lot of time and communication to really "get" a person. Knowing he wants a relationship or hates drama is only half the story. You still need to understand what those things mean to him. If you both define "relationship" differently, it won't matter how much you like one another.

♡ It's OK for me to define what I want, and not accept being treated poorly. It's not too much to expect common courtesy. I deserve to be treated well, and there's no reason to make room in my life for those who don't agree.

♡ Though I sometimes get a little lonely and a little sad, I know I'm better off on my own than I would ever be settling.

♡ I can date casually, but only for so long. I want long-term potential. To say otherwise is simply a waste of everyone's time.

♡ Boundaries are very important, especially when it comes to friendships with exes.

♡ I'm a pretty strong person. Someday, someone is going to be lucky he found me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A guide to holi-dating

A friend of mine came to me last week with this scenario: I just started dating a new guy, and he's asked me to be his date at a get together on Christmas Day. We'd agreed no gifts - but now that we'll be together, should I do something?

My advice was something inexpensive, and possibly homemade (candy, cookies, what-not). That way it can be more of a "thanks for the date" type gift, instead of a Christmas gift. The last thing you want is to make a person feel bad for not reciprocating on the gift.

She thanked me for my "dating guru" advice. While one might argue that of the two of us, the one who is date-less this holiday might not be the guru, it did occur to me that others might appreciate my input on the topic of holiday dating. So, as my gift to you, here are my holi-dating guidelines.

********************************** 

I feel there's a window of opportunity when deciding to date someone seriously. That window closes after October 25. If you start dating someone seriously after that, you run the risk of a very awkward holiday. Between wondering if you should buy him a gift - and if so, how much should you spend - and trying to figure out what it means if he doesn't invite you to meet his family, you could ruin your whole holiday. Now I realize that at some point, every relationship goes through this awkward phase. I just don't want it happening when I'm supposed to be enjoying my gifts family.

Does that mean you can't date at all the last two months of the year? Of course not. I say just keep it very casual, so that you don't get to the gift-giving, family-meeting stage until January (or later).

What if you do get caught in the gift-giving conundrum? See my advice above. Stick with something inexpensive, thoughtful, and not too elaborate. You don't want to create another awkward situation if he does not have a gift for you. Like I said - cookies or candy work if you're the "make stuff in your kitchen" sort. If you're like me, and only know where to keep the soda in your kitchen, then maybe a couple of movie tickets, or even better, offer to take him for a night out. That's nice, thoughtful, and gives the two of you time together, which is what a new relationship is all about.
I am so sick of this song.

What if you do get caught in the family-
meeting pickle? I'm afraid it's been a while since I've personally had this come up. In this type of situation, I always think it's best to fall back on good old-fashioned common courtesies. Wear a nice outfit, but be sure not to out-dress his family. Bring a hostess gift (stay away from food, as you run the risk of insulting the cook) - wine, flowers, etc. Offer to help clean up after the meal.

What about New Year's Eve? There's a lot of pressure on singles to find a date for this night. It's almost worse than Valentine's Day. I personally think it's more important to start your new year off on the right foot - which means spending your evening on a bad date is way worse than spending it with no date. But that's me. The good news here is that New Year's Eve dates don't have to be serious - they just have to be fun. So that guy you met in November who you've been talking to casually? He's perfect. My advice though? If it's been nothing but casual, don't assume that a date on December 31 makes it anything more. Sure, it'd be nice if you start your new year with a kiss from your soulmate - but the truth is, your year can start off just as nicely with a kiss from your dog.

Just my two-cents. Happy holi-dating!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Devil is in the details

I was talking with a good friend last night who I don't get to see as often as I'd like. She's wonderful and smart and funny and she gets me. She asked me what was new - and she meant with everything. Of course, I eventually filled her in on the current state of my dating life.

Somehow, we got on the subject of how certain friends and family seem very concerned that I am not currently in a relationship. She asked me why some people feel the need - or right - to offer an opinion. She suggested not sharing any dating news, and see if that helps.

But it occurs to me that writing this blog sort of opens my life up to curiosity, opinions, and advice. The truth is, no matter how frustrating unsolicited advice can be, I know it comes from a good place when it comes from my friends.

I don't blog about every dating experience (though I do blog about most). Even my closest friends don't know every little detail of every single date. What I share are those highlights that are funny, or that make me think (or both).

But the devil is in the details, as they say. My feelings and perspective is made up of all my experiences - including those I don't share.

That's the part that's frustrating - knowing that the (very well-intentioned) advice being offered can't possibly factor in every piece of information.

I can't do much about that. I couldn't possibly share everything - and if I did, no one would want to hear it all anyway. But my friends still love me and want me to be happy. They will still offer advice based on what they know.

I'll just have to sort it through as best I can.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stream of thought

Like I mentioned, I had a really nice conversation with this guy the other night. As I wrote in that post, he apologized and we'd kept talking. He texted me last week and asked when I was free again. He said no matter what is going on, he would be there.

So we met for coffee (at the same place where we were originally supposed to meet). Two hours of talking, laughing, and just a generally great time. He wanted to get together Saturday, but the area was pummeled with snow, so we settled for a phone conversation. A three-hour phone conversation that I actually enjoyed.

We made plans to get together Tuesday, to just hang out at my house and watch a movie. Monday night he was asking what kind of movies I like, making suggestions, etc. He said, "It's a date."

I never heard from him. I didn't think anything of it at first.  I knew he worked overnight, so I figured maybe he was tired or busy or whatever. Our plans weren't until later in the day, so it was no big deal.

But since I'd sent the nice "good morning" text around 10 am, naturally around 1 pm, the wheels in my head started turning. What follows is really just a stream of the thoughts that ran through my head as I trudged home through the snow...

  • It's really no big deal...the guy doesn't owe me anything. If he just disappeared at this point, I couldn't even really be angry.
  • He just seemed so different....I am just irritated that I let my guard down and trusted that he
    Just like that - he was gone.
      wouldn't be like the others. 
  • It's not like I really lost anything...I hardly know the guy. Just because it seemed like we had a good connection doesn't mean he wasn't a jerk. Maybe I dodged a bullet.
  • But would it really be such a big deal to just text me back and tell me something came up for tonight...or that he'd changed his mind altogether? Why is simple courtesy and respect such a challenge for some people? 
  • Am I just expecting too much, for people to show me the same courtesy I always show?
  • If he planned to just disappear, why make such a show of asking me about my taste in movies, or even asking me about a particular one? If he already knew he planned to no-show, what was the point? 
  • I'm so tired of having my feelings hurt. What is it that I did that warrants this sort of heartache? 
  • What could have possibly happened overnight, when we didn't even talk, to make him change his mind? Whatever it was, I probably shouldn't take it personally. After all, I wasn't even around, so how could it have anything to do with me?
  • Still, it's sort of tough not to take things personally, when the feelings being hurt belong to me.
  • At the end of the day, the guy showed his true colors the first time we were supposed to meet, when he just blew me off. No matter how good his reason was, it still demonstrates a total lack of communication. 
  • This is why I don't like having expectations...because what really happens always falls short of what you think will happen.

Then I got home and turned on NCIS. /rant

Monday, December 16, 2013

Agendas

I had a very good conversation with a guy the other night (it was actually this guy... more to follow).

We got to talking about how people date with agendas. They date with a very specific goal and timeline in mind. The minute the relationship doesn't live up to those expectations, they assume it has failed.

I wonder if this is really a healthy way to date? Dating is tough - and I think expectations are half the problem. How can you possibly know the kind of relationship you want with a particular person until you've gotten to know that particular person?

I mean, sure you may know the type of relationship you ultimately want. You know you do (or don't) want to get married, start a family, etc. But even after a great first date, all you can really know for sure is that you would (or would not) like to try for a great second date.

Isn't that enough? If there's no attraction, or you both want different things, then fine - don't see him again. But what if you are attracted, and you have a great time, and it seems like your ultimate goals are similar? Does that have to mean you're meant to be? Or can it simply mean another date is a good idea?

I know couples who are absolutely meant to be together. I'm sure any of them would say now that they knew that from day one. But did they really? Or are they just so sure now that they can't remember not being sure?

Those "perfect" relationships put a lot of pressure on us imperfect daters. They ask questions like, "What is he looking for?" Or, "Where do you think it's going?" and, "When will you see him again?"

Those questions all make me feel like I'm wrong if I don't have an agenda all laid out before we end the first date.

Can't it just be enough that I know the date didn't suck, and I like him enough not to run through the parking lot?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shallow waters

During a twitter chat, The Single Woman suggested that it is good to have standards, as long as they're not shallow. I totally agree - but I think it's important to define shallow.

I guess some people consider it shallow when others are concerned with looks. While I agree that judging people only on their appearance, I don't think it's shallow to look for physical attraction in a romantic relationship. That seems reasonable and very fair, even if it seems shallow at first. 

Physical attraction is important. It's not shallow to prefer thin women or blonde men anymore than it is to prefer black men or red heads. It's just a preference. I think the same can be said for someone having a preference for certain personality traits, or lifestyle choices. Wanting to date someone of a certain religion or political affiliation doesn't make you shallow. Again - it's a preference. 

I've been called shallow because I want to date a guy with a job and a car, who doesn't live with his mom.
While I can see the guy's point, I still think this is unfair. It's not like I'm asking for pay stubs or last year's W2. I don't really care what a guy earns or drives, or where he lives.

My concern is that the two of us be in a similar place in life. I sort of have my act together (mostly), and I'm looking for someone in a similar situation. That's my preference. It's based on experience, and learning what works and what doesn't (for me). I don't think that's shallow at all.

Obviously, in a long-term relationship,  you're bound to encounter rough times.  That might mean figuring out financial problems, or health changes, or even accepting a person as she ages and her looks change. Whatever the challenge, I'm all for working through it together, and supporting one another. I just don't happen to think that's where a relationship should begin.

I think that makes me reasonable - not shallow.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Speed dating conversation

After my last speed dating experience, I thought I was probably done with the whole idea. I reconsidered, partly because of my problems with the online thing, and partly because I know I need some practice with the in-person flirting thing. I thought speed dating might help me with both of those things - so I found an event and signed up.

First - I picked an event closer to me and with better parking. Sounds silly, I know, but having to search for a place, or not knowing what kind of place it is, or wondering how far I'll have to walk stresses me out - and that makes it tough to enjoy the event.

I also picked an event geared towards people closer to the age group I prefer to date. The last one was
30 - 39, which puts me at the top of the group; this one was 35 - 47, so I was closer to the middle.

I have to say, I had a lot more fun at this event - which is ironic, since I made no matches. There was one guy I was hoping to connect with, but no one - not one person - wanted to connect with me.

Sigh. It's OK. Now I get a free speed dating event, and I will check it out again.

In the meantime - I think it helped me identify a few things I need to improve. First, about halfway through the event, they always break for appetizers and mingling. Like I said - I'm bad at the in-person flirt thing. But I think I need to work on those skills, or risk looking like I'm anti-social at these events. Sigh. I hate that as much as I hated class participation in school. Just give me the darn quiz and let me show what I know - ya know?

Anyway - I also want to work on conversation. Each date is six minutes. Some people really just want to talk the basics - what do you do, are you from the area, do you have kids, have you been married? Others love to start the conversation asking if you've done speed dating before.

In my opinion, either is fine - but neither really makes anyone stand out. The guy I really liked asked where I lived, and I mentioned my city's name, and we got to talking about the area and all the improvements that have been made in the last few years. I thought that was a good conversation - different than the regular rundown. It shows I'm invested in where I live, gave me a chance to talk about a hobby, and gave some genuine insight into how I think and what I like.

That's the kind of conversation where I feel like I shine - and it's the kind of information that I think would make a guy stand out in my mind as well.

Of course, I could just let the guys steer the conversation. That would certainly be easier - but it's not what self-improvement is about. I guess it's time I just take matters into my own hands.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I am not a Match

I joined Match.com right after Trooper broke up with me, as an experiment. I'd always read that the online dating experience was different on paid sites (versus free sites like Plenty of Fish or OK Cupid). Since I was newly single and looking to make a change, I figured it was the perfect time to test that theory.

Something you want to keep in mind when purchasing online-dating memberships - they will offer you several deals. Inevitably, the best one will be the one-year deal. It will have the lowest monthly rate. It will also be the biggest hit to your credit card, as the whole thing will be charged at once.

Something else to keep in mind - they renew automatically, at the same rate. So if you purchase a six-month membership for $20 a month, you're charged $120 at the time of purchase - and then they'll charge your card another $120 six months later to renew your membership.

If you decide to subscribe to a paid site, I suggest going with a one-year membership. If you're really not sure, purchase a one-month membership, but be very sure to cancel that subscription before it renews automatically at the inflated monthly rate.

Back to my Match.com experience....

I did not have a lot of luck on Match at all. In fact - I had decided to non-renew my six-month subscription in November 2012. I was waiting until just before my account was ready to renew - and then I met someone. Though he turned out to be a world-class jerk, my faith in the process was renewed - and so was my subscription.

Fast-forward to June 2013, and I still wasn't having much luck on the site. But, I was enjoying the Stir Event concept enough that I decided it was worth letting the subscription renew. Plus, I missed the chance to cancel prior to the renewal date, and since I'd already paid for the next six months, I let it be.

Since June, I've gone on a couple of dates from Match. Both were borderline disasters, as were all of the emails I've exchanged. I've yet to find a suitable "match" on Match - so this morning I pulled the trigger and canceled my subscription before it renews automatically in a couple weeks.

My feeling? It's not them, it's me. Match seems like the absolute perfect site for twenty and thirty somethings looking for their first real relationship, and/or marriage. The search screen is full of beautiful, hopeful faces looking for their happily ever after.

It does not seem that Match works for those of us who are a little older, and no longer under the impression that marriage necessarily lasts forever. Also - and this is not a complaint, just an honest observation - most of the men on Match are looking for someone younger and thin. (I know this because a Match profile actually gets that specific as to what a person's preferences are. The number of men who will "accept" a woman who is "curvy" or "a few extra pounds" is quite small.)

The Stir Events (at least locally) were mostly happy hours hosted at venues that appeal to a younger crowd. So it was just a collection of those same young, beautiful people looking for other young beautiful people. Which is absolutely wonderful - for the right demographic.

I think Match is probably the perfect site for some people seeking dates - it's just not for me. If you're a younger, commitment-minded single, I would say it's absolutely worth the membership. I would caution that while the paid subscription does weed out some of those just looking for a hook-up, or catfish scammers - it's not absolute. There may be fewer of them, but they're still there. 

If it were free, or even just slightly less expensive, I probably would have stayed. But the reality is, there are other ways I can spend that money each month. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fool me twice

If you can believe it - it happened again. After almost five years of dating without ever being stood up, I was stood up twice in one week. Before you ask - yes, it was a different guy.

Similar situation...single dad, seemed to have his act together, seemed very nice. We started talking online and we seemed to have a lot in common. What's also nice is we don't live too far from each other.

I emailed him first - and when he replied, he told me he kept visiting my profile but didn't message me because he "wasn't sure I'd reply." So, I took the hint he's not big on the first move, and asked if he'd like to meet for coffee "sometime."

I just wanted to put it out there that I'd like to meet. I did not pressure him into a day. He asked my schedule, he picked a day, time, and place.

The day of, I messaged to ask if we were still on...and heard nothing. At that point, I knew I probably shouldn't bother going - but since we'd actually made and confirmed plans already, I didn't want to just not show up, in case he did. Then I'd be the jerk who stood someone up.

So I went - obviously, he did not show.

Several days later, I got a message from him apologizing. He said he'd gotten some terrible news about a friend, and had been out of touch for several days. He said he felt bad that he messed it up because he "really wanted us to meet."

I decided I would accept his apology, tell him I was sorry about his friend, and said I'm sure something will work out eventually. I did not see any point in being mean about it, or getting angry. I also did not want to question his honesty.

But - as a friend pointed out - I do think if he really wanted to meet me, he would have apologized and then suggested another day and time.

We still talk now and then, though he's made no mention of meeting, and I will certainly never bring it up again. I do have to wonder - what could his endgame possibly be? What is the point of continuing to talk, if you know you don't want to meet?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fool me once

At the end of the summer, I met this guy. He seemed nice - smart, funny, with his act together. Single dad, with a good job, and a nice life. We went on one date and had, I thought, a great time. At least I had a great time, and he said he did, too.

We made plans (at his suggestion) to go out again later that week. He cancelled last minute, saying something had come up at work. No big deal. We made plans to meet up again that Sunday. Saturday came, and I hadn't heard from him, so I texted him to see how his day was going. Nothing. I didn't really think anything of it, knowing he was busy with his son's football practice.

Sunday came. I texted a couple of times...nothing. So, I assumed he'd changed his mind about getting together again. I was confused, but obviously wasn't going to chase after the guy, so I let it - and him - go.

A few weeks later, he messaged me. Asked how I was, blah, blah, blah. He asked if we could get together - then cancelled on me about an hour before we were supposed to meet. He said something had come up, and he'd like to get together that weekend.

I was obviously skeptical, but I told him sure - he could get in touch with me on Sunday if he wanted to go out. Never heard from him, and once again, I let it go.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I heard from him again. He said he wanted to talk and see if I might be interested in getting together. I reminded him that I had always been interested; he was the one who kept canceling and blowing me off.

He said, here he was thinking I was the one who wasn't interested. He said he'd pulled back in an effort to see if I was really interested - and when he didn't hear from me, he figured I wasn't. He said his friends had told him to stop with the games and just ask me out.

We met for dinner that night. Again, it seemed to go really well. Good conversation, we seemed to be on the same page in terms of what we wanted out of dating. We agreed to get together again that coming weekend.

We texted and talked on the phone a few times over the next few days. That Saturday, he asked if we could get together on Sunday to watch football. He suggested "about 1" at a sports bar. Sunday morning, I checked in with him to confirm we were still on - and he said yes.

So after church, I went (sorta out of my way, mind you) to the sports bar. I was early; about 5 minutes to 1, I texted him to let him know I was there and waiting outside for him. No response; I thought perhaps he was on his way and couldn't text while driving.

Fifteen minutes later, I still hadn't heard from him, and he hadn't walked past me to get into the bar. I did a quick walk through, and didn't see him. The place was packed, so I really didn't want to use up a table unless I knew I'd be staying. I went back outside, and texted him again.

Still nothing.

I checked with Baking Suit on what seemed like appropriate wait-time for a guy who said he'd meet me "about 1." She felt 1:30 was more than reasonable, especially since he wasn't responding. I actually waited until about 1:45, when I'd been at the bar for almost an hour.

Just to be sure, and so that I could never be accused of not having made an effort to get in touch, I called him. As I expected, I got his voicemail.

I was pretty proud of myself. As tempting as it was to leave him a really nasty message, I managed to keep my voice very calm and my message very polite.

"Hey. Thought we were meeting around 1. I've been here a while, so I'm going to head out. Hope everything is OK. Take care." Then I left.

I have not heard from him since, and I don't expect I will. If I do, I reserve the right to not be so polite.

Side Note: This is the guy who felt not responding to texts, calling, etc. was not disrespectful. Given that's his feeling on canceling and ignoring, I'm inclined to assume he just didn't show up because he didn't feel like it, and feels he was perfectly justified in doing so because "that's life."

I now feel far less guilty about telling him I don't blog about dating.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Drama and respect

For a while now, I've been wondering if part of the problem with dating (at least for me) lies in a definition of terms. I seem to agree with a lot of guys that we "don't do drama" and "respect is important" and we both "want a relationship."

But when it comes right down to it - there seems to be some kind of disconnect. Like, a guy saying he doesn't like drama or games - and then playing games with me.

The last few guys I've met who specifically said they don't like drama, I actually asked what they meant. Not surprisingly, they all had a different answer.

One guy defined drama as a person being materialistic or feeling entitled. Another guy felt drama was when people start trouble, or go looking for fights. Another simply said drama was any time a person is unreasonable. (I personally felt this was just a catch-all so he could cry "drama" anytime anyone did anything he didn't like.)

So where does that leave me? I don't go looking for a fight...but I won't back down from one, either. Would a guy consider me a drama queen if I stood up for myself? Even though I do like my "stuff," I also like to spoil people as much as I like to be spoiled. I think that means I'm not "entitled" - but it doesn't mean I don't like a guy to put in effort, and I do look for a certain amount of reciprocity (in other words - I'm not looking to be anyone's sugar-mama). But would that make me dramatic by some standards?

It's not just drama, either. What about respect? I consider it very disrespectful when someone just ignores a text message, or says he'll call then doesn't, or constantly cancels plans - or just plain doesn't show up. I had one guy tell me he doesn't think that's disrespectful at all. He felt that's "just life." Fine. But if I tell you I consider those things to be disrespectful, and I never treat you that way, doesn't that make the behavior disrespectful? I think so. I find a blatant disregard for another person's feelings to be very disrespectful.

Forget about relationship. Some guys think this means that we'll move in together on the fifth date. Other guys think it means he calls me first before moving down the rest of his list of potential dates. I can't even begin to figure out all the different ways people view relationships.

So what's a single woman to do? So far, my only plan of attack has been to keep defining my own terms, and asking dates to define theirs (within reason, naturally). Eventually, I figure I'm bound to run into a guy who shares my views.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Raising standards

While I do want to raise my standards for choosing dates, I also want to examine how critical I am. I don't want to take crap, but I also don't want to leap to conclusions, or let my baggage get in my way.

Sure, I have met my fair share of jerks. But there's no reason that needs to cloud how I see all men. Would I like it to help me become a better judge of character? Yes. Help me to see warning signs, ask better questions, and look out for myself a little more? Definitely.

But a conversation with this guy made me wonder if I might be applying my bad experiences to all men, and judging them unfairly - which I do not want.

Despite my many jokes about cooties, I truly don't think all men are bad. I personally know several very good men - they're just not good for me. I also know many women who have found wonderful men, who treat them with love, and respect, and kindness.

Found it here
So I know it's possible. I just find myself doubting that it will ever happen for me.

I'm pretty sure I let that doubt make me defensive with some of the men I meet. Almost immediately, I
question their motives, their words, and their feelings. It would be one thing if I did this quietly, or only to my friends - but I've always been a little more transparent.

Not that I come right out and accuse anyone of lying. I definitely put up a wall, and refuse to let people in. As soon as a guy does something that might be suspect, I jump on it and use it as an excuse to end things.

Basically, I walk away before he can leave.

Having figured this out, and realizing I probably need to knock if off if I'm ever going to go on another second date, I find myself in a very awkward position. I have to balance not wanting to judge men too quickly or unfairly, but also make sure I'm keeping up with my standards and not letting anyone treat me poorly.

But how does one do that? My desire to only let the good guys in practically forces me to boot a guy the minute he does or says anything that seems out of line. But the sad truth is, meeting new people is tough for everyone, and it's easy for a guy to slip up - just like it's easy for me to slip up, too.

It's kind of like when I was trying to learn to ride a bike. On the one hand, I really wanted to learn how to ride my pretty pink bike with the sparkly streamers and little basket. I wanted to go out and have fun with my best friend, and ride all over. But on the other hand, I remembered what it felt like getting hurt when I fell (down a hill, landed in a bush - seriously not one of my better moments).

I eventually gave up the bike.

Let's hope I've matured some in the last 30 years.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quantity over quality

At the beginning of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge (which, thanks to a crazy work schedule and technology issues, actually took me about 41 days) I fully intended to take a break from dating. I'd been on a few too many bad dates, and just thought it might be time for a little breather.

That, naturally, didn't work out quite like I expected. About 2-3 weeks into my "break," I met a couple of guys who are nothing like the guys I've been dating over the last year and a half. While neither of those developed past one meeting, they did help me gain a little insight into a pattern I think I need to break.

I've been dating too many guys.

I let my standards go. My walls were down, and so was the criteria I usually use to weed out those who aren't a good fit.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not suggesting I'm better than anyone else. But, if a guy is at a different stage in his life than I am in mine, we're a bad match. I used to identify this right away - and recently, I've been ignoring the signs.

For example - emotionally unavailable guys. Dating these guys serves no useful purpose - except when I wasn't looking for a relationship. But for the most part, that's temporary for me - which means these guys are just a way to pass the time. In the end, that is pointless, and just ends up making me feel bad about myself.

The flip side is guys who are eager to jump into a relationship. Whether it's because of their situation, or a recent breakup. or they just don't like to be alone - they were just in a hurry. I knew the rush would make them more of a "sure thing" and I would tend to latch onto them, even if I wasn't sure of them.

I finally had to admit to myself that I've been ignoring my standards. Yes, it's great to be open-minded when dating, and not stick to a "type" too much. But it's also OK - good, even - to have standards. It shows you value yourself, and know what you want and what you deserve.

I let guys in who I normally wouldn't because I was just so eager to meet someone. The result was I let people in who were also eager...and before I knew what was happening, I was being dragged into situations where I did not want to be.

Raising my standards means there are fewer prospects. I'm no longer meeting as many new people.

I'm hoping to replace quantity with quality.

Friday, November 15, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 30

Today's blogging challenge: Write a letter to your future mate saying whatever you want to say. 

Dear Derek Shemar You Lucky Guy You,

As I write this, we have not yet met (I hope not, anyway; if we have - boy, do you have a lot of damage control to do). So I thought I'd take this chance to say what I need to say while I'm still unbiased by any knowledge of who you are.

I hope that when we meet, you appreciate all that I've gone through, in an attempt to make myself the absolute best partner, lover, and friend I can be. I have done my best to turn all the negatives into positive lessons that help me improve and grow. I hope that shows when we finally meet.

I won't be perfect, and I hope that's OK. I have not been in a relationship for a while, and I know if/when I am again, it'll take me a while to remember how all that sharing and compromise stuff works. I'm sure you'll be worth the effort, but if it's all the same, I'm hoping we can have more than one TV, DVR, bathroom, laptop/computer, car, and closet.

I'm perfectly OK if we don't always agree. In fact, I'd prefer we not - it'll be so much more fun if we can learn from each other! However, discourse needs to be respectful. Just because I don't agree with you doesn't make my opinion invalid - and vice versa.

Along those lines - it's perfectly fine if you are a Mets fan - or even a Red Sox fan. But it is not OK if you hate on my Yankees. If you absolutely must, then I suggest you stop just short of hating on Jeter. If you don't, you may find our fairy tale romance coming to an abrupt ending.

Speaking of romance and ending - I love my cat. He stays. If you're allergic, I know the name of a good doctor. This is not a debate.

I don't cook or clean for anyone other than myself. I've met a few guys who seem to think this is still a "woman's job." If you're a good match for me, then I don't imagine you feel this way, but just in case you do - stop.

I hope you can forgive my cynicism, occasional doubt, and mild insecurity. It's been a long time, and there's a part of me that wonders if you'll ever show up in my life. When you finally do, I might worry or doubt a bit, but it'll just be temporary. Once I know I can trust you, I'll happily turn over my heart.

But if you break it - I know a guy.

Hugs and kisses,
GGS

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 29

Today's blogging challenge: Who is your closest or most special friend that you've never met, and what do they mean to you? How did you cross paths? Talk about how you "met" - Facebook, Twitter, an online support group, etc. 

Sometimes I think it's easier to connect with someone online because we tend to be more "ourselves" when we're behind the keyboard. We feel less vulnerable, and therefore more free to share who we really are.

I think that's one reason why online dating is my go-to way for meeting new dates. I am so bad at flirting in person (more to follow on that). I am always worried about looking foolish, or saying the wrong thing, or bursting into tears when I get rejected.

When you approach someone in person, the reaction is immediate. You have to stand there and let him say (or not say) whatever he's going to say. It's like time stands sill, and you're trapped in that spot - and he has all the control.

But when I email someone online, there's none of that. I type the email, click send, and then move on with my life. Either I hear back from him, or I don't - either way, I'm on to the next thing. Rejection is much more passive, and I feel far less exposed.

Plus, if I try to approach a guy in person, there's the issue of getting tongue-tied. That's not a problem when I approach online. I can type and retype the email as many times as it takes to get it right. But in person flirting? You only get one chance - and I usually blow it.

Oh, and yes...in case you didn't notice, I am cleverly (or not-so-cleverly) avoiding the actual question in today's challenge. Most of the people I've met online have turned into in-person friends...there are a few that have not. Yet. They're all important to me in different ways, and I don't want to choose just one.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 28

Today's blogging challenge: Describe a moment when you made a big, bold move. Could be in any area of life: Career, love, etc.

Big, bold moves aren't really my style. I'm more a small, calculated move kinda gal.

I'd say my divorce was a big, bold move - but to be fair, the move wasn't mine. I suppose creating this blog, or blogging elsewhere were bold-ish moves - but certainly not big.

Same is true of my recent entrance into the direct sales world - a big move, but certainly not bold.

I am selling my house next year. That will be a big move - and I can't wait.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 27

Today's blogging challenge: Talk about something that you really, really love about yourself. 

For me, this is a tough one. Like many women, I've spent years learning to focus on those things about myself that I don't like - what I need to change, improve, or hide. We're taught not to like ourselves and wave away compliments.

Which is kind of sad, if you think about it. We're all unique, and fabulous in our own way. We should celebrate our differences, and our quirks, and love ourselves - flaws and all. Instead, we convince ourselves that if we're not like everyone else, there's something wrong.

So, something I really, really love about myself?

I like that I know how to forgive. I think it often seems like I let others roll over me sometimes, and take advantage. My kindness is probably seen as weakness, but that's not how I see it.

I see the ability to forgive as a strength. I see my ability to choose my battles as a sign of maturity and wisdom.

No matter how many times people (and I mean men, as well as friends and family) treat me poorly or hurt my feelings, I keep forgiving. I believe people are good, and deserve a chance.

I also believe that the way they treat me is their karma - and how I react is my own.

Friday, November 8, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 26

Today's blogging challenge: Name a song that makes you cry every time you here it, and tell why. 

I don't really have "sad" songs. Music isn't that big a deal to me. I just listen to whatever is on the radio; when it's gone, so is my interest, pretty much.

At some point while we were dating, Trooper posted a YouTube video of a nice R&B song (the name and artist have since been blocked from my memory) on my Facebook timeline. I thought that was so sweet and, you know, obviously it meant he liked me (which is clearly not always true), so I thought it might be nice if I offered a similar gesture (this is likely why I'm not nice to men anymore). 

So I posted a video on Trooper's timeline - Uncle Kracker's "You Make Me Smile." So for a while, I couldn't listen to that song when it came on.

I'm over that now.

But boys still have cooties.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 25

Today's blogging challenge: Describe a moment when you "paid it forward." What happened and how did it feel? 

Admittedly, I'm a typical only child. I am very, very spoiled; I strongly prefer to get my own way (and can be a bit of a pain when I don't), and I don't share well.

My closest friends say I'm "too good of a person" to be described as selfish. That's probably because I'm not (usually) selfish with my friendship, my honesty, or even my resources. Need money? If I have it, it's yours. Need time, or advice? I always have that to give. A shoulder to cry on? Anytime.

But try to borrow my stuff, or ask me to share my space - and we might have a problem.

But I do like to pay it forward. I have to admit, I've never done one of those things where I purchase the order for the person behind me in the drive-thru, or paid for the breakfast of the service men (or women) I see in the diner. I'm always tempted - but I get all tongue-tied in those situations and I feel like I'd mess it up, or look like a jackass.

I do volunteer a lot. I got into that after Trooper broke up with me, because I thought a positive distraction would be better than simply spending the summer eating my weight in fried dough. Between fundraising, outreach for Planned Parenthood, and Big Sister duties, I'm pretty busy.

Over the summer, I was working a table for Planned Parenthood at a county fair (a staple of summer life in Upstate New York). Tabling for Planned Parenthood can be iffy sometimes - though PP is really just a healthcare organization, their mere presence can stir controversy, because they lobby for women's reproductive rights (abortion, morning after pill, birth control) and are outwardly LBGT-friendly.

Sometimes, I think the people who schedule these events get a kick out of placing our table near the most right-wing group they can find, just to see what might happen. I know some of my counterparts have been in heated "discussions" with people at different events. I, personally, have been approached by church groups - but I can be good at ignoring people, and not adding fuel to the fire (sometimes).

But this day at the fair, the reception was actually quite positive. Most of the people who approached the table were very nice, polite, and interested. A few came to the table just to say they were happy to see us there.

One woman asked if I worked for PP. When I told her I was a volunteer, she thanked me. She said she used to work for a PP, and she knew how important volunteer help was in spreading the message. She said she had seen what some volunteers put up with, but she hoped we all remembered that if being there changed one person's mind, or put much-needed information into someone's hand, then in a way, just sitting there for a few hours could be life-changing.

I realized - she's right. You never know how your actions are impacting another. So if you take just a little time to inspire others to do good, or educate, or provide support (even if you don't realize it) - what seems like such a little thing to you could be HUGE to someone else.

That's a feeling that even this selfish, spoiled-brat wouldn't trade for all the stuff in the world.

Monday, November 4, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 24

Today's blogging challenge: If you could relive one day of your life, what would it be? Would you change anything?

I don't really like this challenge. Not because I can't think of a day I'd like to relive, or changes I'd like to make.

I just prefer to think that things happen the way they're meant to. I like to think that there's some sort of grand plan, or even just a layout, in place, and everything that happens is a part of that journey.

If that's true, and a person goes back and monkeys with events that have already happened, then the entire course of events that took place after could also be altered. That sounds like it could be bad news. I mean - if I'm where I'm supposed to be, and everything that's happened up until now is part of how I got here, then going back and changing things could have catastrophic consequences, right?

Then again, if this is all part of some grand design, then I guess if I changed one thing, the designer would switch a couple other things, and I'd end up right where I'm supposed to be, anyway, right?

Either way, I prefer to leave things just as they are - the good, the bad, and the not-so-pretty.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 23

Today's blogging challenge: Talk about a moment when you got annoyed with a married friend, a person in a relationship, or a person with kids.

This happens now and then. Most of my friends are in committed relationships (married or otherwise) and most of them have kids. I have two friends with situations similar to mine, and neither of them live near me. So my life is very, very different from those friends with whom I spend a lot of time.

I get a lot of relationship advice. Things I need to change in order to find a relationship, and things I need to change in order to keep a relationship going. The advice usually comes in the form of links to articles about dating, or relationships. Occasionally, I get links to articles about how to live happily without a relationship.

To be clear, I get this is all well-intended advice. My friends love me, they're concerned for my happiness, and just want to see me get all they think I deserve.

But it can still be frustrating to constantly be told how your lifestyle and choices are all wrong.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 22


Today's blogging challenge: What fictional character in a movie, TV show, or book do you identify with, and why?

Miranda from Sex and the City.

Aside from the law degree, the Manhattan salary, and the marathon training, Miranda and I are essentially the same person.

We're both smart (OK, one of us is really more smart-ish), independent, and fiercely protective of our friends. We both enjoy dating, but not necessarily relationships. Neither of us want to give up our free Saturdays, closet space, or chocolate.

We're both also a little insecure. We both push people (OK - men) away before they get the chance to leave. We're convinced they will, because all the others have. We also keep our feelings bottled up, and as a result, sometimes take innocent comments way too personally.

But we also both know how to love, and forgive, and ask for help. We just require someone very special before we'll make the effort.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 21

Today's blogging challenge: How would you pitch a reality show about yourself? To what network?

I have been told that my dating life would make a great book - and I suppose that in turn means it might make an OK movie. The thing is, that observation is based on hearing the best stories I have to offer. Most of my stories are pretty boring. 

A book or a movie could work with a little embellishment, creative license - and maybe some special effects to spice things up. A cute actor wouldn't hurt. 

But a TV show? A reality show even? I have to believe those poor viewers would lose interest pretty quickly, watching me type on my laptop, or push paperwork, or hang out with my cat watching Netflix and On Demand. Can you imagine how the camera people would feel?! They'd die from sheer boredom.

I'm not even sure I could plug a reality show of my life with a straight face. But I mean, A&E has made hoarding a successful TV show. So maybe once a month, they'd follow me on a date? They could do 30 minutes on the online back and forth I went through to meet the poor sucker guy, and then 30 minutes of some creative editing to show the actual date.

Though, if all the dates were as boring as the one I had the other night, I still think the show would be canceled after episode one.

Monday, October 28, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 20

Today's blogging challenge: Describe your most difficult breakup and what you learned.

My divorce was certainly my most difficult breakup. It was the most difficult thing I've ever been through. It was more than just the end of a relationship...it was the complete breakdown of everything I ever thought to be true, or that I thought I could count on. My whole world collapsed.

Or at least, that's how it felt.

I learned that things are often not as bad as they seem. You may have to go through something awful to get to something wonderful - but the bad is just temporary.

I learned that independence is important. Even if you don't have to handle things on your own, you should be able to do so. It makes you stronger as a person, and it makes you a better partner.

I learned that friendships are the most important relationships you can have. Family loves you because they have to. Spouses aren't always as permanent as you might hope. But friends... they will get you through the darkest times, even if they have to drag you.

I learned it's OK to need help - and it's OK to ask.

I learned that a change in a relationship doesn't necessarily mean the end of the relationship.

I learned that love comes in many forms - and is precious no matter how it's found.

I learned that what seems like the end is often the beginning to something even more wonderful. We may not always understand at the time, but things really do happen for a reason, and you really are right where you're supposed to be.

Most importantly - I learned to believe.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 19

Today's blogging challenge: What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?

Since I'm pretty much an open book, there's really not a lot about me that I think surprises people. Baking Suit did once tell me that she was very surprised to learn that I was once a fan of professional wrestling (you know, WWE - Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant - all that stuff).

I guess it doesn't really go along with my girly-girl demeanor - but perhaps it would make a little more sense if I explained it all started because of a cute guy.

My uncle used to hang at my house once a week before he'd go bowling. He was there early in the afternoon, sometimes before I got home from school. Back then, wrestling was more kid-friendly, and was on cable in the afternoons. He'd put it on TV while he ate his dinner.

One day, I was watching it with him, and happened to see a wrestler named Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.

Sigh.

The rest is history.

I may, or may not, have almost gotten my older cousin ejected from the Glens Falls Civic Center for throwing a stuffed bear with a fan letter pinned to it for Mr. Steamboat.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 18

Today's blogging challenge: If you could have a conversation with yourself in high school, what would you say?

I've written the "Letter to my sixteen year old self" post before. I think these are the kind of posts that evolve with time, though, and sometimes it's fun to revisit, and reconsider, what you might say.

In middle school, and early high school, I was bullied a bit and made fun of a lot. My self-esteem took a major hit, and I was in a very bad place. In my junior year of high school, having taken some accelerated English classes, I was able to fit a Journalism 101 class in to my course schedule. I instantly fell in love, and writing became my new passion.

By the time I was a senior, I was pretty focused on a great future. I wasn't trying to date (It helped that my major crush had become a great friend. I knew he didn't feel anything more for me than friendship, and I didn't want to ruin what we had - but no one else could compare.). I spent most of my time either studying, working, or at my after-school passion - as the Managing Editor of my school paper.

I spent time with friends, though they were never dates. I enjoyed my fun, and my independence, and everything that went along with working hard and earning a little more freedom from my dad.

I went to college fully-focused on becoming a journalist. I was on an excellent path - until I met a guy who would change my life.

He was abusive and callous and simply horrible to me. He took what self-esteem I had fought so hard for and shredded it. It would take years - decades, really, and a failed marriage - to fully realize the impact he had and begin regaining control over my own self-esteem.

So, if I could tell my high school self anything - it would be to trust my gut and stick to the path I laid out for myself - and not to let that guy get in my way.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 17

Today's blogging challenge: What are your spiritual beliefs, and how do they impact your relationships / relationship status?

Well... Technically, I guess I'm non-denominational Christian. At least, those are the services I attend each week. Trooper actually introduced me to the church. Prior to meeting him, I never attended church, and considered myself a Recovering Catholic.

But I don't necessarily believe everything my church believes. For example, they don't perform weddings, but if they did I suspect they would not perform same-sex ceremonies. I don't believe marriage should be restricted that way. I also don't believe that sex is just for procreation, that abortion is a sin, or that women should take a lesser role.

I'd have to say those beliefs impact my relationships far more than my church.

I really don't care if a date is Christian, nor would I care if he ever attended service with me. But I won't date a man who is not in favor of same-sex marriage. Which I know puzzles a lot of people. Why should it matter to me, right? I'm not looking to marry a woman.

But I don't look at equality and freedom as something that only matters if it affects me personally. I see threats to the freedom of others as a potential threat to my own freedoms. I believe freedom only exists when we're equal.

This is particularly true because I often date outside my race. Fifty years ago, no one discussed same-sex marriage - but there were protests everywhere against interracial marriage. If I want one freedom for myself, how can I not defend a similar freedom for someone else?

It may not sound like a deal-breaker to some, but I have found this to be an issue on which I don't want to compromise. So I have trouble dating others who don't agree. I find they either they don't respect my position, spend way too much time trying to convince my I'm wrong, or I find that they have short-sighted views of equality elsewhere, as well.

It just doesn't work.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 16

Today's blogging challenge: If you planted a time capsule of your life right now, to be opened in 20 years, what would be in it?

For those of you born after 1980, a time capsule is what we used to keep memories before everything achieved immortality through Facebook and Instagram posts.

I guess if I were to do this now, the things I'd need to collect would be (in no particular order):

  • A picture of my cat
  • A picture of my house
  • My cell-phone (which I would need to upgrade first, obviously)
  • A piece of jewelry from my current collection
  • A picture of Shemar Moore
  • A picture of Derek Jeter
  • A picture of me with my Little
  • A picture with my with my friends
  • A picture of my Dad
  • A picture of my Nanny, who I think about everyday. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 15

Today's blogging challenge: Narrate a conversation between you and someone in your life with whom you never had closure (friend, ex, family member, etc.). What would you say? What would they say? What outcome would you hope for?

I tried and tried this post. I really did. I thought about a conversation between me and Big. I thought about a conversation between me and Trooper. I think you always walk away from relationships with a few unanswered questions, and a few things you think you still want to say.

I even thought about narrating a conversation between me and any of the men I've met who have vanished into thin air. Obviously, there are plenty of questions, the first being - what the heck happened?!

The thing is, every time I started to narrate the conversations, I felt like I was drudging up bad feelings for no reason. After all, the relationships are where they're supposed to be at this point. Whether that means the relationship is over, or has just changed - whatever truly needed to be said, has been.

Then I started thinking about the last question in the challenge: What outcome would I hope for? Well, I suppose in any situation like this, what you want is the closure you're missing.

I have wasted too much time hoping for closure in situations where I'm just not meant to find it. Sometimes we're just not meant to have our own way, to say every little thing we're thinking, or understand what happened completely. It's taken a long time for me to realize that letting go sometimes takes a lot more strength than holding on.

I prefer to focus on what's ahead, rather than look over my shoulder.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 14

Today's blogging challenge: Describe the last moment you felt really, truly blissful.

I'm not sure if the challenge is supposed to be when I last felt really, truly blissful in a relationship - but my memory isn't that good, so let's hope not.

I feel like blissful is how you feel when all you feel is joy. There's no worry, no little nagging thought in the back of your mind, no wondering "what if."

About the only thing that makes me feel that way is shopping. I mean, eventually, I have to suffer the financial consequences. But in that moment, when I put on my new shoes, or try on my new jewelry, or wear my cute new outfit - I'm truly blissful.

So the last moment...was probably about two weeks ago when my newest necklace from Stella & Dot arrived in the mail.

Yes I realize this means I'll be single for a while. Which is fine - my closets are full anyway.

Friday, October 18, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 13

Today's blogging challenge: Describe how you met the last person you texted, and talk about your friendship/relationship.

Well, as it happens, as I write this, my last text message was to Baking Suit.

How did we meet? Twitter. I don't remember who followed who first, but I do remember finding her comment on another blog I wrote, and thinking, "Wow, that really popular blogger reads me?!"

We started tweeting back and forth. She was asking for guest-posts for her blog, and I wanted to write something inspired by my feelings for Big (this was just after our breakup). Rather than writing as myself (I had not created Girl's Got Shine yet), I guest-posted for her. This was a pretty big deal, because it was the first time I really opened up to anyone about how I felt after the whole breakup thing. I'm not sure if it was the fact that Baking Suit was still practically a stranger, or if I somehow knew we would be friends - but I knew I could trust her.

We kept emailing and commenting on each other's blogs regularly. About a month (six weeks?) later, we met in person at a mutual friend's meetup. Baking Suit greeted me with a friendly hug and the prettiest smile I've ever seen. (Seriously - she has the most beautiful smile. Her whole face lights up.)

That was three years ago - and we've texted or emailed (or commented or tweeted or facebooked - sometimes all at once) just about every single day since.

I don't know how to describe our friendship, except to say that I'm indescribably lucky to call Baking Suit my friend. My life is so much better since she's entered, and I am thankful every day that we met.

Baking Suit has gotten me through some horrible moments. She's listened as I rambled about my latest dating fiasco, she looked on as I cried into my soup when Trooper broke up with me, and she's asked me tough (but always fair) questions that cause me to look more closely at my life.

She's my greatest cheering section when I have new projects or accomplishments or challenges. She has supported my fundraising efforts, my new business, and this blog in ways that no other friend has, or could.

Baking Suit has inspired me - her relentless enthusiasm and "sure we can" attitude is contagious and provocative in all the best ways. She has taught me what kind of friends I want in my life, and the sort of friend I hope to be.

I do not know if I deserve to have a friend as good as Baking Suit has been to me. I do not know if I have been as good a friend to her - but I know I have tried.

I simply adore her.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 12

Today's blogging challenge: Your proudest accomplishment.

I'm actually proud of a lot of things in my life. I have some professional achievements of which I'm quite proud. I am proud of the fact that I own my own home. I am proud of some of the fundraising efforts I've taken on in the last couple of years.

But I think I'm most proud of my independence. It was something that I lacked when I was married. When I divorced, it would have been very easy for me to give in, sell my house, and live at home. It was scary for me, having to face all of life's challenges alone.

I decided not to give in to that fear. Rather, I chose to push through it, and even in situations that were difficult for me, I figured out how to move forward.

I kept that up through my first difficult breakup (Big) and forced myself to acknowledge that I needed to get better at making friends, and get over my shyness. Once again, I chose to put myself in difficult situations (for me) so that I could learn how to overcome those fears and improve as a person.

Most people who know me today would never guess that I'm shy. Those who knew me before and know me now would tell say I'm like a completely different person.

It's what I call my shine. I lose it now and then - but I'm pretty proud that I found it, and I know how to get it back.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 11

Today's blogging challenge: Your worst/funniest/most embarrassing date.

For the whole story, click here and read why Trooper owes me shoes.

Highlights:

  • He wouldn't order food, even though he took me to a restaurant and got a table - twice.
  • He gave the waitress a hard time.
  • He tried to explain why men sometimes need to lie.
  • He laughed at me because I was afraid to fall in the snow.
  • He admitted he's not completely over an ex, but that he treated her badly and lost her.
If that's not bad enough, or you're new around here, or you haven't committed my dating history to memory - or you're just bored - you can also click here to read about the time I was trying to make a speedy escape from a bedroom, and the doorknob fell off in my hand. 

Awkward.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 10

Today's blogging challenge: Google the meaning of your name and talk about how it fits (or doesn't fit) you.

This a little tough for me to do, because I don't ever mention my real name here. Without saying the actual name, I can tell you:
The Hebrew root for the name for the lily is derived from the root...meaning "to be joyful, bright, or cheerful", which is the basis for the word and name...meaning "joy of life". 
So to know me is to have found the joy in life. 

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 9

Today's blogging challenge: Your favorite "weird/funny single behavior" - anything you do that is uniquely you, and that living alone allows you to do.

Well...

  • I let my cat sleep on the bed.
  • I occasionally let the dishes pile up in the sink, when I don't feel like dealing with them. 
  • I am currently using all of the closets in my house for my clothes and shoes.
  • I will happily eat dinner in front of the TV. 
  • I like my house to be cool - much cooler than most prefer.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 8

Today's blogging challenge: Five things that are most important to you in a future mate.

We all have a type, right? Some people want their future mate to be rich, or super-smart, or come from a good family, or a fitness buff, or adventurous, or interested in the same causes. Of course, most everyone has a physical "type" to which they're most attracted, and that tends to be who they notice first because, well - they're human.

I'm no different. I have a physical type. But none of those characteristics are deal-breakers when it comes to who I date.

Of course, it'd be nice if my future mate and I shared certain things - such as a love of movies, sarcasm, volunteerism, life and career goals, or support for certain social and/or political issues.

But the truth is, those aren't really deal-breakers, either.

I'd like my future mate to be honest. If I know he's telling me the truth, I won't have to wonder where I stand, or whether or not I can trust him.

I'd like him to be open. If I've learned one thing, it's that relationships don't work if there isn't communication, and sharing. I want him to open up to me about how he feels, and I also want him to open his life up to me - and allow me to do the same.

I'd like him to be successful - which doesn't equal being rich. By success, I mean I'd like him to have found a path in life that makes him happy, and allows him to live the life he wants. Like me, that might be through work, or through hobbies, or other interests. But a happy guy is a successful guy.

Speaking of interests - I'd like him to have some. It'd be great if we shared some, but if that's not possible, I'd love if he had his own hobbies. At the very least, it'll make him more interesting, and who knows - maybe he'll even teach me something.

Above all else, I want him to be confident. Why confidence? It shows up in several ways that are important.

  • I don't ever want to have a conversation about how I don't think he's good enough - and a confident guy won't have that conversation. 
  • I want him to take charge - make plans for us, initiate conversations, get involved in the relationship. That takes confidence. 
  • I want him to respect me. I want him to listen when I have an opinion, even when it differs from his, the way only a confident guy can.

The rest is all negotiable.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 7

Today's blogging challenge: Where are you in your life versus where you thought you would be at this point.

I could (and do) devote a whole blog to this very topic.

If you had asked me ten years ago where I thought I'd be at 39, I would have said I'd be happily married, loving my home, in a wonderful career. I'd have expected to be very happy in my very settled, structured life.

Which is, you know, exactly nothing like where my life is at 39.

I'm divorced, single, not even sure if I want to date, in a career I hate, and hoping to sell my house next year.

Of course, all that turmoil has forced me to fix things about myself, examine what I really want in a relationship, and find other ways to fill my time and give my life meaning, if they can't always pay my bills.

Along the way I've met amazing friends, some of whom I'd have never met if my life had stayed on that steady course. I've offered help to friends I never could have, and supported friends by understanding in a way I'd have never been able.

So...my life isn't where I thought I'd be, but it's where I'm supposed to be.

Friday, October 11, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 6

Today's blogging challenge: Sound off on the quote "Every woman has the exact love she wants."

Ha. Hahaha. Ha. What a nice idea. If only it were true.

Here's the thing about people, in general, and women in particular: We always want what we don't have.

If I'm short with naturally curly brown hair, I want to be tall with straight blonde hair. If I was born smart, I want bigger boobs. If I wear a DD cup, I wish I was more graceful. If I have a lucrative career, I wish it was something that was more fulfilling.

The same is true of our love life. If I'm married, I secretly envy my single friends, if only now and then. If I'm single, I sometimes wish I could come home to a secure relationship. If I've found the love of my life, I might be just a little sad I've had my last first kiss. If I'm in a seemingly-endless string of horrible first dates, I wish it would end already.

I might absolutely adore my significant other because he's a great lover - but maybe I wish he was a little more successful, or could make me laugh a little more. Maybe I love that my husband is a wonderful provider for me and our kids - but I wish he was a little more romantic. No matter what I say on Facebook - nothing is as perfect as it seems.

The thing is, God, or cupid, or the universe, or whoever you believe is in charge of such things, isn't helping us by sending us the love that we want.

We get the love that we need, when the time is right.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 5

Today's blogging challenge: The biggest misconception you think people have about single life.

Easy enough - that all single people want to be in a relationship.

When most people learn that someone is single, they immediately assume that she must be looking for a relationship. They often jump right into advice on how to find relationships, and make them last - as if this is obviously the single person's biggest dilemma.

It rarely occurs to anyone that I, as a single person, might be perfectly happy. True, I'm currently a pretty bad example, because I've made no bones about the fact that I'd like to be in a relationship. Still, as much as I want a relationship, I won't settle for one that's just "OK" - and I have spent plenty of my single time not even looking for a relationship.

This is something few seem to understand.

There are plenty of people who choose to live relationship free. Does this mean they don't date? No. Are they celibate? Hardly. Does it mean they are unlovable or afraid of commitment or just generally undatable? Of course not.

It means they are happily single - which is an absolutely amazing way to be.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 4

Today's blogging challenge: Your biggest fear as a single person.

This is sort of fluid. It evolves, and devolves sometimes, based on my situation. But after some thought, I think I've nailed it down.

I'm afraid I won't find true love. I mean, I know I can find someone. That's as simple as walking into a singles event or jumping on a dating site.

I'm afraid that I won't find the one. That I blew my only chance at honest, true love with a person who really loves and appreciates me. I'm afraid that I'm not meant to find that all-consuming, inconvenient love that Carrie Bradshaw described.

Sure, I might find romantic love feelings. I mean, eventually I'm bound to go on a date with someone that goes so well, we go on a second date, then a third, and so on. That kind of romance is nice - the convenient kind, that just works and makes sense and has perfect timing.

But what if he just likes me, and I just like him? What if we settle because it does make sense, and the timing seems right?

I want more - and my biggest fear is I'll never find it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 3

Today's blogging challenge: Describe a moment or day when being single was really awesome.

This was pretty easy.

I actually find something awesome about my single life pretty much every day. I mean, I just devoted a whole week worth of posts to why being single is great.

But the first moment I can remember coming to this conclusion, believe it or not, was at the first family party I went to after my separation. You'd think that would be a tough one, right? It was the first time (as an adult) I'd ever gone to a family function without a date.

I do remember being nervous. I knew everyone there would be coupled off, and I felt silly and foolish and (again) like a failure. But I'd promised my family, so off I went.

First, I realized something pretty cool... There was no argument on the way. I didn't have to fight with anyone because he was late (or because I was). I didn't have to worry that my date was angry about having to miss a game, or hang out with my family. My ride to the party was peaceful and calm, and I arrived with no stress at all.

I quickly realized the whole couple thing didn't matter, either. The women were mostly gathered to one side, the men to the other. No one cared that I didn't have a husband or boyfriend with me. In fact, they were actually more interested in hearing about my dating adventures than they were talking about their own relationships.

A little later on, I started noticing tense looks between the couples. Looks that I knew meant there would be an argument on the ride home, or before falling asleep. I realized that, also for the first time as an adult, I wouldn't have to worry about that argument.

My ride home was as peaceful as my ride out - and I remember I slept like a baby that night.

Monday, October 7, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 2

Today's blogging challenge: Describe a moment or day when being single really sucked.

The toughest part about this is choosing just one. I managed to narrow it down to two moments. Neither is what you might expect.

Not long after my separation, I remember having to fill out a new patient form at a doctors office. I was humming along, answering all the questions the same way I had answered for years. Until...

Emergency Contact Information

Ugh. I panicked. I had never not had an answer to that question. I was engaged for three years and married for ten. For as long as I could remember, I'd entered X's name and phone number.

I suddenly realized there was no one for me to put down. I live alone, and I can't expect anyone to show up at a doctor's office just because I have an emergency. Sure, I have friends and family, but they all have lives and responsibilities. This was the first moment I realized that, as a single person, for the first time in my life, no one is responsible for me.

It was probably the most profound moment I ever had in terms of realizing how my post-divorce life would never be the same. So naturally it took place within, like, 20 seconds in front of a dozen strangers in a waiting room.

I entered my father's name, address, phone number, and relationship as 'parent' and moved on to the next question.

The second worst moment of my single life (so far) was right around my 35th birthday. It was the first birthday I spent alone. I felt old, and like I was a failure. Divorced and single was not how I envisioned my life would be at 35.

I had gone on a date with a guy months before. One date, and we'd drifted apart. At one point, we IMed and he confided that he'd met someone else, and it seemed she was pregnant, and he'd been dealing with all of that. I'd wished him well, and moved on.

This night, right around my birthday, he sent me an email. The subject line read: Great News! When I opened the message, it said: The kid's not mine. Call me sometime? ;)

I'm not even kidding.

I deleted the email and laid down on my bed and cried. I had never in my life encountered such a mess, and I couldn't believe this was my life, at 35, dealing with this kind of nonsense. It was such an overwhelming sense of failure and no hope.

In the morning I woke up, chuckled, and had a great day.

The take away from both of these stories? Being single is going to suck sometimes. So is being married (trust me, I know). But the part that sucks is never, ever permanent, and it's never as bad as it seems at that moment.

When life throws you an unexpected hurdle, and it feels like the worst thing ever, you should feel encouraged. It means things are about to start looking even better than you ever imagined.