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,

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.