Monday, December 29, 2014

Leap of faith

"If nothing changes - nothing changes."
 
Turtle says that all the time. Baking Suit pointed out that even though he has a tendency to be a "big dummy head" sometimes, Turtle is definitely spot on about change. You can not expect things to change in your life if you're not willing to change some things in your life.
 
(For the record, I don't think Baking Suit really thinks Turtle is a dummy - I think she just questions how smart he can really be if he doesn't quite realize how lucky he is to have me. She's awesome that way.)
 
It occurs to me that while I let go of control and expectations, I might also need to let go of some bad habits. I've met a lot of men. Some have been nice, some have been not so nice, and some have been downright awful. The one thing they all have in common is I met them online.
 
I have embraced online dating determined to find excitement and romance and ultimately, love. I have used online dating sites to search for the love of my life, but have succeeded only in finding new friends, casual sex partners, blog material, the occasional distraction, ego boosts, and sometimes a cure for boredom and/or loneliness. It's so easy to sign in and find new men when I am lonely or sad or vulnerable. 
 
Obviously, I have met some great guys - Trooper, Engineer, Big, Sparrow - even Turtle. I truly believe in my heart that he could be the one for me. However, since things have not gone my way, I have found that I continue to use my profiles as a distraction - meeting more wrong people at the wrong time. Even with hidden profiles, I still go searching out guys, and sometimes contacting them. I even had a couple coffee dates - all while I wasn't really interested.
 
Online dating has become a game for me, more about how many people I could meet, and less about finding the right person. It's also become a bad habit - one that needs to be broken.
 
So, it's time to make a change. It's time to let go.
 
As of this morning, I have permanently deleted all of my online dating profiles (for the record, I still had them on Match, OK Cupid, and Plenty of Fish).
 
Does this mean I'm giving up? Absolutely not. In fact, quite the opposite. I have been talking for months about wanting to walk in faith; about handing my heart over to God and letting Him bring the right man into my life at the right time.
 
I finally realized the other day that sometimes true faith requires a bold step. Nothing was ever going to change until I finally found the courage to walk away from the thing that was cluttering my life with all the wrong guys, and make room for God to work.
 
Is Turtle the right man? Only time will tell. But I believe if he isn't, God will bring the right man at the right time - and this time, I will be ready.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lessons in letting go

The last twelve months have been exhausting. I had so much going on (new job, new home), dating really wasn't a priority. Then a guy I already knew showed himself back into my life. I let him really get the best of me, and I reacted by making some horrible, terrible, just plain awful choices.

(I never shared much detail on those choices; some things are better left locked in a vault - know what I mean?)

That went on for about a month, culminating in a, "What the &%@# am I doing?!" moment, after which I immediately gave up on all that nonsense.

Then I met Turtle. Things started off slow...then picked up a bit....then got weird. Turtle is not ready for a relationship, but he is still in my life. We do not hang out as often as we once did, but we still talk just about everyday and we do see each other pretty regularly.

I am still trying not to set expectations. I am trying to just put a pin in my feelings, enjoy the time I spend with him, and let things evolve into whatever it is we are meant to be. I have, for the first time ever, tried to approach dating with patience and understanding and compromise; without an agenda, or pushing.

I suck at it.

(To be fair, though - I am improving.)

If nothing else, I have learned a lot about myself.

I learned that I have spent the last few years (since Trooper) with my heart closed off and a big wall built up to keep people from getting all the way in. I thought I was being laid back when it came to dating - but really, I was just not allowing those emotions to show. The trouble with walls is that while they are a great way to keep out the pain and the tears - they also block your blessings.

The truth is, while I am laid back about a lot of things in life, when I really care about someone, I can get anxious and worried and frustrated pretty easily. I can say that I'm OK with taking things slow, but the truth is, I do have a pace in mind. When things don't go at that pace, I can get insecure and freak out a little.

Why do I react that way? What has me so scared? All of the major relationships in my life (right back to my mom when I was a baby) have resulted in me being left behind. It's the one thing that completely knocks me off my game. To cope, I try to put things in a certain order - what I want, when I want - to calm my fears and convince my mind that he (whoever "he" is at the time) won't leave.

That was pretty easy to figure out. What wasn't easy was trying to figure out how to go about changing a reaction and a behavior that is forty years in the making. I mean - I know better. In a million years I never expected that X would leave - but he did. That taught me it doesn't matter what order things are in, or how much control you think you have. But knowing better and behaving better are two completely different things.

(Ironically, it was a long conversation with X that really helped me start to realize what I needed to do.)

I needed to learn that it wasn't about having better control of things - it was about learning to let go of the illusion that I have any control at all. Things happen. Life happens. It can't be predicted. We don't know where we're headed from one moment to the next. Every day, every hour, every minute we're faced with choices. There's no way to predict where those choices will lead - and that's OK. That's the way life is meant to be. If we all knew the future, there'd be no surprises, no lessons. No hope.

Life isn't meant to be controlled or predicted - it is meant to be lived. Enjoy time with people when you can; maybe they won't be here tomorrow. Learn lessons. Allow yourself to be sad. Sit in the quiet now and then and listen to your heart. If you're so inclined, listen to God and what He wants for your life. Focus on what you know you want, and keep making choices that will get you there. Keep moving until you run out of options.

I have thought many times that Turtle may have come into my life as a way to teach me how to know when it's time to let go. This thing with him is not perfect, or easy. I'm not always happy....there's a million reasons to leave, and I owe him nothing. I know I don't have to stay.

I have sat in quiet, in tears, and prayed to God on what is best for me. I have handed Him my problems and fears, and asked that He fix them, because I surely can't. I have accepted that God works at His pace, not mine, and I might be waiting a while.

I do think I am meant to let go - but not of a relationship. The God to Whom I pray loves me and wants nothing but the best for me. He would not look to punish me or make me sad. He wouldn't drag someone into my life to teach me a lesson I learned long ago. I am an expert at walking away before I give things a chance. I know all too well what it means to take charge and try to control the outcome.

My God would look to prepare me - and I do realize that while Turtle is here to bring the lessons, they may not be about him. Only time will tell for sure.

I am learning how to let go of the illusion that I control when, or how, things happen. I am learning to let go of the idea that life, or love, needs to look a certain way in order for it to be true. I am learning patience and understanding and how to accept someone, faults and all, and learn to build him up rather than look for reasons to walk away. I am learning that it isn't all about me, and that sometimes, I can't have exactly what I want, when I want - and that's OK.

It turns out I don't always know best, anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why I am a fade out convert

Anyone who has been around a while knows how much I used to hate when men would go black hole on me. I figured it doesn't hurt to just say, hey, I'm not really that interested, sorry. I've thought and wondered and hypothesized why anyone would just not have the courtesy to tell the truth.

But I have to say, over the last 12 months, I've come to realize there's something to be said for just letting someone fade away. Obviously I'm not a fan of doing that when you have an actual relationship. Once someone has invested, even just a little, they deserve some kind of closure. But for brief exchanges, or even after just a date or two, I am officially a fade out convert.

It happened when I met a guy and we messaged, and then we texted. At first it was OK, but then I realized I really wasn't into the conversations we were having. I tried to be polite - but not encouraging - but he didn't take the hint. I started to feel like I was a hostage of my phone. I felt like I had to reply, and I had to be nice - or I had to explain myself.

I finally did, but it was so awkward. He asked for a reason, and I didn't have one. I just didn't like talking to him. I ended up inventing a story (I think I told him I just wasn't in a good mental place to meet new people), and he went away. But I found myself irritated that I had to lie, and even more irritated that I had to explain myself to someone I had never even seen in person.

It occurred to me that might be one of the reasons that men fade away. They don't have a reason, it isn't personal, and they really just don't want to explain themselves. Maybe the truth is as simple as it wasn't worth pursuing.

I've come to the conclusion that's OK.

A friend said to me, well what about when there's a date and it seemed to go well? That's always bugged me too, but I think we can give it the same perspective.

I've been on some awful dates. Most of the time, the other person felt the same. But I have, on occasion, been miserable on a date - only to hear from the guy, wanting another. He thought it went well. Like he was on a totally different date.

A good date is really subjective. You may have thought it went wonderful for both of you; but maybe he was just good at pretending. Or maybe you had rose-colored glasses on. Or maybe the date really was great, but for some other reason, another can't happen. 

After one date, does it really matter?

I've come to the conclusion that the fade out is a sign that, for one reason or another, this is not the guy for you. It's the universe's way of protecting you from the unhappiness or hurt or even just inconvenience that comes from investing in the wrong person.

I know it feels like there's no closure, and that stinks. I like closure, too. But sometimes in life, we have to create our own. I think looking at the fade out as protection is a great way to find the closure we really need.

The right guy - the one who is really meant for you - wouldn't just fade away.

Friday, December 12, 2014

In store for 2015

I am counting down the days until January. I'm over the holidays, and I really just want to turn the page on 2014.

I look forward to a fresh calendar year, full of possibilities. I'm ready for new goals, new projects, and new adventures!

I have no idea what's in store for 2015, but I do know this...a lot can happen in a year.

If this picture is any indication, 2015 will bring me health, wealth, peace, and love. I'll take it.

(OK, OK- so I found peace first, and health soon after. I stumbled across wealth after 10 minutes of searching for love. Totally still counts.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Middle ground

I have decided to have no expectations where Turtle is concerned. By "no expectations," I mean mostly I don't worry about where things are going. I try not to predict, or plan. I try to just take it as it comes. When we see each other (which isn't often), I try to just enjoy his company and conversation. When we talk/text (which is just about every day), I try to be as positive as possible.

As someone who likes to know where things are going, this has been a totally new experience. But I have to say - it's truly been enlightening. I am learning a ton about myself, my strengths and especially my weaknesses when it comes to dating. I am learning why I have been unhappy in previous relationships, and (hopefully) what I can improve going forward.

Of  course, no expectations also means that I am not just sitting around,waiting for Turtle. For all I know, he and I will never be more than friends. So, when I got bored the other night, there was no reason not to reply to a message on OKCupid....

....except that, as I suspected, I really can't give this guy a fair chance. He seems very nice. He seems enthusiastic about dating, and like he really would like to find someone. He's probably a lot closer to where I am (emotionally) than Turtle.

But I just can't bring myself to care.

I know I should give the guy a fair chance. But even if I cast Turtle out completely (which I do not plan on doing), my feelings for him would still exist - and they would still get in the way of anything happening with anyone else.

So what do I do? Well, for starters I completely hid that profile. I may continue talking with this guy - but not much longer, so I don't lead him on. Things will have to remain as friends, and see what develops.

As for Turtle....

I promised myself I wouldn't try to plan or predict. I also promised myself I wouldn't wait around. I guess it's time to figure out the middle ground.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shine on

The last few weeks have been tough. I have struggled with sorting through some feelings, trying to decide if I want to open myself up to dating again (more on that later), and struggles with friends. Add the holiday and family stress, and I'm about spent.

Don't even get me started on my New Years Eve plans.

It occurs to me that I just need to focus my energy on the good stuff. What's meant to be, will be. In the meantime, I'm free to do what I want with whomever. I can enjoy my friends (and the family I like), and I spend time with those friends who fill my life with smiles.

Plus - shopping.

Sometimes life isn't how you hoped or planned. Sometimes you're not too sure of yourself, or your choices.

All you can do is keep pushing forward, focus on the good, and hope for the best.

Shine on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Honesty is my policy

I have been told that I am too accomodating in relationships. I'm too available, too nice, too understanding. I give a lot, without expecting much in return.

The other day, though, I was told that while I am accomodating, I do expect something: Unabridged honesty. While I am understanding, I do have trouble grasping that this might be difficult for some.

I suppose some people think honesty means I want them to be open about the things I want to hear - but keep the other stuff to themselves. Some people have trouble saying anything to anyone that might be hurtful. They definitely don't want to say anything to me that will hurt my feelings, because in all likelihood, I have been nothing but nice (and accomodating, understanding...blah, blah, blah) towards them.

Which, if you think about it - kinda stinks. It's almost like I give kindess and in return, all I get are lies. It could easily make me want to start being less honest, less likely to trust, and quicker to leave.

But I really don't think that's the best way to look at things.

That same friend pointed out to me that I tend to surround myself with people who will give me honesty - even when it makes them uncomfortable, and even when they know my feelings might get hurt. I know a lot of people, and obviously not all of them are 100% honest with me all of the time. But those with whom I am closest, the ones who really know me, will always tell me the truth. They know I want to hear what they honestly think about me or my situation, so that I can make good decisions, and improvements where needed. They tell me what I need to know - not what I want to hear.

I do not want to get discouraged from asking for, or expecting, honesty. I also don't want to stop being understanding, or start assuming everyone is lying. I don't want to change who I am or settle for a man who is less than what I want.

I will continue to be accomodating. I will continue to be available and nice. I will continue to be honest - even though it means putting myself out there. I may try to be even more understanding, and realize that not everyone is capable of the sort of honesty I want.

That honesty exists - my friends are proof. So I will keep looking for that honesty in any sort of partner. After all, if I need that from my friends, it only makes sense it should be on my list.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top of the list

Everyone has a list of what they want, both from their relationship and in the person they choose. Some people are specific (he needs to be tall, she needs to like video games, we need to travel, etc.), while others are more general.

Every list is personal and unique. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

But I do think every list should start out with one primary requirement: I should be happy.

That may mean that you find someone who wants to spend a lot of time together. It may mean you finally find a guy who is taller than you. It may mean you find a guy who doesn't mind that you don't cook, or a woman who doesn't want kids, or a man who wants to help you train for your next marathon.

A friend recently pointed out to me that we all have something we want from our relationships. One of the greatest things we can learn about ourselves is what that something is. Once we know, we are in a much better position to choose the relationship that's best for us - whether or not it makes sense to anyone else.

I'm not in the best position to offer advice right now, but I hope you'll take some great advice from one of my dearest friends: 

Top your list with happy - and the rest will fall into place.

Friday, November 14, 2014

(Un)Setting expectations

To say Turtle has waivered in what he wants would be an understatement of epic proportions. We've gone from hanging out as friends to casual dating to ernest discussions about what we want back to casually dating to....whatever the hell it is we're doing at the moment.

We are still talking, but we haven't spent any time together in a while. My understanding is that he's not up for time with anyone, other than casual friends. We both agree there is something more than friendship between us - which is not something he can deal with right now. I already knew that, and told him it was fine, that we could put a pin in that discussion until he was ready.

I've been completely honest and upfront with Turtle. I was totally sincere when I said I'd like to go back to just hanging out and seeing where things went. I enjoy spending time with him, and while I would like a relationship someday with someone, and he has potential, I do not see us in a relationship now. I am kind of over the serious relationship discussions, and ready to get back to having fun, getting to know each other, and seeing where things end up.

Turtle does not seem convinced that I really feel that way, or that we can really make that transition. He seems worried that I say it's fine, and then when we're together, he'll feel pressure to say or do certain things. (Personally, I think a lot of that pressure is in his own head; he admitted that's probably at least partly true.)

That said - I have been thinking a lot about how I've behaved since we first discussed "where we were going."

When things first started getting a little weird with Turtle, I was talking to Engineer about what I could, and could not, handle in terms of a relationship. Engineer suggested that Turtle seemed like he needed a lot of time and space, and that if I was willing to give that to him, it might make sense to do so. "I'm talking about spending time together, as friends, without expectations," he said.

I wanted to let go of any expectations. But I also wanted to understand where I stood. I wanted to know - is he saying he just sees me as a friend? Or is he saying he has other feelings and just can't do anything about them right now? To me, those are different. That difference would affect how, or even if, I stayed in Turtle's life.

In my effort to understand, I think I may have unintentionally put some pressure on the situation. I intended to let go of my expectations, but to be honest and fair - I'm not entirely sure I ever did.

Somewhere in all of this, I have learned that I am not very good at letting go of expectations. I may not be in a hurry to get anywhere, but I do want to know where I am headed. That alone is an expectation - and probably one that he wasn't ready to manage.

So where does that leave me? Well, since Turtle and I haven't spent any time together, one could hardly say we're "dating." I suppose we're friends - but just barely. I am not sure if we'll ever get past this point, or what could happen if we did.

But I suppose that's the point, right? I need to learn how to let go of expectations, keep moving forward, and just see what happens.

I may be incapable of just doing things the easy way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Worth the effort

There's, like, four of you that know the whole Turtle story. The rest know this little bit, in which I said I was willing to take a step back and let things just play out.

Everyone, regardless of what they know, seems to think I'm crazy. Which is fair. They are my friends, and want me to be happy. They see what I'm doing, and wonder why I'd put this much effort into a guy who, in their collective opinion, is not worth the trouble.

Here's the thing....

I have, as we all know, been on roughly a bazillion dates in the last 2+ years (since Trooper). I haven't really found anyone worth crossing a street, much less multiple conversations, and compromise.

But Turtle seems to be. Why? Well... He's kind and smart and respectful. He's hilarious and always makes me laugh. He's fun and likes some of the same things I do. He's a great listener. He makes me feel special. I feel like I can trust him.

But he is not 100% available (emotionally) to be in a relationship. That's a problem.

You may wonder - well, GGS can't you find someone who has all those qualities, but is ready?!

Well....see above. We've seen no evidence to support that theory.

I am totally OK with the slowing down. What has proved to be a challenge is the inconsistency. I still find myself wondering where I stand. Am I being friend-zoned? Will this phone conversation be the last I hear from him? Has he changed his mind? Because Turtle is all over the place, it's hard to pinpoint just where I stand.

The questions are endless, and I have given myself (and, I suspect, others) a headache trying to find the answers.

I do think Turtle is worth the effort. I accepted a long time ago that the relationship I want isn't one that is necessarily simple or easy. Sure that'd be nice - but what I really want is amazing.

Amazing is worth the effort - and I think Turtle could be amazing.

But, admittedly, all this back and forth wreaks havoc on my insecurities. It brings back every fear I have ever had about being left, about losing someone, getting hurt, or about being misled.

To say I'm scared out of my mind would be putting it mildly.

I have thought about just walking away. Telling Turtle this just isn't working, and I can't hang out with him at all. Letting myself off this hook, allowing myself to heal, and then hopefully making room for someone else in my life.

While I know that may be what happens in the end, I've decided I want it to be a choice I make because I know in my heart I've given all I can. If I walk away simply because I am insecure or impatient - I'd feel like I lost. Like I let my flaws shape my world.

That may have been OK when I was discarding my flavor of the week, whose name I couldn't remember. But it is not an OK way to treat someone amazing.

I need to fix these things about myself. I may always be a little impatient, and a little insecure. No one is perfect. But I don't have to let those qualities define me.

So, for anyone who thinks Turtle may not be worth the effort - you might turn out to be right. He might friend-zone me, he might mislead me, he might just break my heart.

But even if that happens, I've still had the chance to work on some things about myself.

Which, I hope you'll agree, is totally worth the effort.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The truth is...

Confession: Sometimes, when I'm confused, I reread my own blog posts to try and make sense of how I'm feeling.
 
Turtle and I have been going back and forth...in and out...over and under this conversation about where things are going.
 
The truth is, he doesn't know. He was able to tell me honestly how he feels, where I stand, and what he can offer.
 
The truth is - that was what I needed all along. I didn't need some declaration of commitment, or a label, or even for things to go anywhere. I just needed to know where I was. Now that I do, I am OK staying in this place, at least for now.
 
Hopefully, we'll move on from this point as a couple. Maybe. Down the road. But maybe not. The truth is, I am OK with that, too. Trust me, I'm as surprised as you.
 
So, this was the confusion that led me to stalking my own blog posts...
 
A couple months back, I wrote a post called "How do you spell love?" At the time, Turtle and I had been on only a few dates. I had no idea where it might go, and had no plans that the guy would be in my life for another week, let alone another couple of months. The post was really all about me, and had nothing to do with him.
.....I want something that makes sense. Something that can start off slow, but has the potential to grow into something lasting. Something that feels good. Something that just works....
The truth is, I'm not looking for a specific person, or a particular relationship. I want to feel special and beautiful, and empowered. I want to be content in what I have, and excited to find out what's next. I want to be passionate, and easy-going at the same time. I want to be completely uninterested in meeting anyone else - and  I want him to feel the same....
Reading that, I guess it is a little vague. Which, I suppose could make it tough to find. But the truth is, I threw out my "type" and my "rules" years ago. I promised myself that if I met someone, I'd give him a chance - until there was a reason not to.
So I guess what I'm looking for is just tough to describe. I'm not worried,  though - I'll know it when I feel it.
The truth is.... I knew all along.

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Compromise

After much back and forth, a lot of anxiety on my part, and several surprisingly good talks - Turtle is not ready for a relationship, or even serious dating.

He asked if we could continue hanging out, so we could "see what happens." In my experience (Anyone here remember my Big?), that's guy-code for "I want you around for now, but don't get attached because I'll drop you the minute something better comes along."

Something for which I wasn't looking to sign up.

But, when I thought about it - really thought - what he wanted wasn't unreasonable - or even objectionable. He has solid reasons for asking, that go well beyond "I'm just not sure." The truth is, I like the guy, and I love spending time with him. I liked it when I thought we were just friends.

So what was it that bothered me so much? And while I'm pondering stuff....how did I, she of the no-boyfriend rule, find myself in a place where someone thinks that's what I want?!

I felt it might be time to regroup.

I came to the conclusion that I didn't need him to say a particular thing, or agree to a specific set of rules. It wasn't the pace that bothered me; I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere. What bothered me was I had no idea where I stood, or if he was standing with me.

I realized I'd been trying to force a specific action in an effort to ease my own insecurity. "If I get him to agree to dating, I'll feel better."

That, for the record, is a stupid freakin' plan.

I'm not saying I don't like the guy. I do. A whole lot. Otherwise, I think we can all agree I would have been long-gone by now. But just because I like him doesn't mean I couldn't use a little work on myself, too.

Since meeting Turtle, I've come to realize that I have spent the last two and a half years avoiding feelings. Since Trooper broke up with me, I have not wanted to let anyone in. I have not trusted myself to feel anything. I couldn't rely on myself to decide if anyone was trustworthy, because I got it so wrong with Trooper.

During that time, I made some OK choices about men and dating. I met some nice guys, learned a few lessons, and had some laughs. I also made some bad choices. I let men devalue and disrespect me. Worst of all, I let myself get to a point where I questioned if maybe that was all I deserved. I stopped letting people see the real me because I was afraid they wouldn't like her.

Part of me thought I needed to draw a line with Turtle and demand to be treated a certain way.

A bigger part of me realized what I needed was to finally let someone in and see who I really am, insecurities and all. I needed to walk away feeling valued, and like he wants me in his life. I need to let myself trust, and be OK with myself if I get it wrong.

If he could give me that, then maybe he's worth a little compromise on my part, too.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Good advice

For those keeping track at home - things are basically still the same between Turtle and me. Well - to be fair and accurate - our status has not changed. We did have a chance to have a long conversation. While we didn't walk away as a "couple" or anything, I walked away with a much better understanding of where he's coming from, and his concerns.  He's still "sorting through things" and I'm still "giving him time."

I know some people think I should cut this off. The uncertainty isn't fair to me. Admittedly, it doesn't make me happy - and I deserve to be happy. It would be nice if it was as simple as "Do you want to date? Check yes or no." But it isn't that easy - at least not for him.

Here's the thing....

I can't even describe how happy this guy makes me. When I'm with him, all I do is laugh. When I think of him, all I do is smile. Do I ever have doubts? Yes. But they are way more about me than about him. I know I have every right to protect my feelings. But I also refuse to let my own self doubt and insecurity get in the way of something my gut says could be amazing.

The advice to walk away makes sense. Honestly, it's likely the advice I'd give, if someone else were in my shoes. But my gut says something totally different.

So, I've decided to keep stuff a little closer to my heart, at least for now. I know this can't go on forever. I also know that while I figure out that time frame, it could resolve itself (one way or another). In the meantime, I don't want to miss out on enjoying one minute of my time with him.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hope instead of worry

"You're doing that thing where you analyze his Facebook, and make yourself crazy, aren't you?"

Baking Suit pointed that out to me the other day. To be fair, what I was analyzing was a picture of Turtle and one of his female friends, which I don't have to search out because it's his profile picture. Grrrr.... But, yes - the truth is, I have been doing that thing. I can be as foolish and girlie as the next woman.

I do have doubts. Lots of them. Things are still a little up in the air, and while Turtle has made it absolutely clear that he likes me, it is still not really clear exactly what he's going to do about it. Any minute now, he could drop a "it's not you, it's me" bomb, and I just know I'll be sad.

I told Turtle this can't go on indefinitely, but I did agree to give him some time. (Without going into details, let me just say he's not letting it sit around; I know he gets it.) The waiting and wondering is killing me, though. I have thought about how long I can wait before just pulling the plug; just telling him we are not on the same page...I can't do this anymore....let's just be friends.

Those thoughts usually creep in when my doubts make me worry. I am tired of letting my doubts win. When I stop and really consider things for a moment, I realize my doubts have way more to do with me than they do with him.

Doubting myself is a bad habit, that's tough to break. I realized the other day, while writing a post that will probably never see publish in its entirety, that I like this man enough to give it all I've got.

"I am ready for a wonderful man in my life. I'm ready to accept that I deserve it, it is possible, and it is in God's plan for me. I am putting all my faith in God on this one. I've chosen to spend my energy hoping, not worrying, and believing this will all work out the way it's meant to."

Normally, I would worry. They say hope takes the same amount of energy. So I've decided to try that instead.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My heart knows

So the "what are we" conversation happened. It wasn't totally planned, though I gave it a lot of thought beforehand. Mostly, it just happened.

It went fine, though a little unexpected. We sort of agreed to hold off and continue the conversation at a to-be-determined time - but also, agreed to keep communication open. He wanted a little time to think, which seemed fair.

Or, so my brain tells me.

My brain knows that there's no need to rush. In fact, it doesn't do any good anyway, because stuff is going to happen when it's going to happen and not a minute sooner (or later).

My brain also knows that if this doesn't go my way, it just wasn't meant to be, and that's OK. It opens up the door to something even more wonderful.

My brain even knows that I am very lucky to have met a great guy. No matter what, I learned the advantages of taking a little time to get to know a person. I learned a better way to value myself. I had the chance to put my feelings on the line again - and was reminded the world won't end when I do.

My brain is super smart. My heart? Not so much.

My heart has wondered a couple of times why I can't just have what I want, when I want, and how I want. My heart wonders why things can't just be simple. My heart wonders why it feels like it's being punished, when it did nothing wrong.

Rejection sucks. No matter how rational or well-adjusted you are, it stings to lose something, even if all you're really losing is the hope for something more. Doubt sucks, too - even when you know you'll have an answer soon, the wondering can mess with you, just a little.

My brain tells me I'm weak, for even thinking any of that. I disagree; I think it proves I'm strong. Strong enough to put myself out there. Strong enough to say what I want, and will accept, while still allowing someone to get close enough to know what I'm feeling. That takes some courage - courage I was never sure I had until now.

My brain may be super-smart - but my heart is strong as hell.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How to ask

While I do kind of enjoy the "getting to know each other" thing, it occurs to me that I may, sooner or later, need to ask what is up with Turtle and me. It's probably unrealistic to expect some sort of Hollywood-type romantic revelation, complete with a scenic backdrop and theme music. My life needs better writers.

Theme music aside, I absolutely dread "what are we" conversations. I think they cause problems on so many levels.

First, it forces everything. Once I tell what I'm thinking, I'm practically committing myself to a relationship I'm not even sure I want. If I'm going to bring it up, I have to be prepared to put my money where my mouth is. Meanwhile, he's forced to rush to a conclusion he hasn't come to yet. This could go one of two ways; the point being decisions made under duress don't always turn out well.

Second, I don't care how good a communicator you are, how carefully your words are chosen, or how nice a person you try to be. There's really no way to raise this question without sounding like you're giving an ultimatum. That's really no way to start an honest, healthy relationship.

Then of course, there's the obvious problem. I'm not too "cool, aloof single gal" to admit I like Turtle. If I don't ask, the possibility of something more remains. Once I ask, I may find out that possibility is gone. This is the real bummer no one ever wants to admit.

Once I get past that insecurity, I know I'll need to do something.

I do not want to mess up a nice friendship by making Turtle feel as though he's been backed into a corner. I do not want to let my severe lack of patience ruin what could possibly be a good thing. I do not want to unwittingly paint myself into a corner by coming across like I want something serious right now.

I also do not want to spend my time wondering what is happening between us. I do not want to over-think every text or Facebook post. I do not want to waste precious energy worrying about something that I don't control.

All I really want is a little context. We met on a dating site. Presumably, that means at one point, there was the potential we would date. I am really just curious if that potential still exists, or if he's made a friend-zone assignment already. If he has, I'd be disappointed, but at least I could deal with that set back, and move on.

So, here's my question: How do I ask for that context, without backing myself into a corner, sounding like I'm giving an ultimatum, or making things so incredibly awkward that friendship is impossible?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Right time, right pace

Turtle and I are still seeing each other. He was out of town for 10 days, and I will admit, I really thought things between us would just die a natural death while he was away. I didn't think we had enough of a connection to withstand the distance and time.

Before he left, he added me on facebook. This opened up a whole new way for us to get to know each other (more on that in another post). It also allowed us to keep in touch, even when we weren't texting.

I give credit where it's due, and Turtle did keep in touch. A lot - definitely more than I expected. We texted just about every day, and less than a week into his trip, he asked to make plans for after he was home. Then, even better - and totally unexpected - he called the day he landed and asked me to meet him for lunch.

It may not seem like a big deal, but I thought it was a nice thing, that he wanted to see me the day he got back. Especially since we still planned to keep a date that was two days away.

I still find myself wondering. Are we just friends? Actually, I know right now that's really what we are. But it feels like something a little more. Like we're investigating the possibility.

I told Baking Suit that as long as there's progress - even subtle - each time we get together, I think it's worth the time and effort. If it stalls, and we seem stuck in a particular place, I'd probably have to bite the bullet and, you know, ask.

This is truly unlike any other dating situation I've been in. I haven't made it to date number eight in years - and I've never made it this far and only hugged a guy. My first reaction is to run away. Tell him it just isn't working for me, we don't seem to be on the same page. You know, before I really start to like him, and risk getting hurt.

I stop just short of that because, while I know there's always the possibility it'll fizzle and we'll just remain friends, I find myself really digging this guy. Plus, the change is refreshing. At the very least, this will teach me a whole new way to value myself and my relationships.

I have not put my feelings on the line since Trooper. I've been too scared to feel that pain again. Even though I know every date, every hug, every Facebook "like" puts me a little closer to the fire, I feel like it's finally time to put myself back in the game.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It really is OK

I'm always saying how much I love being single. It's true - I love my single life. I love all the things about my singleness - not having to share, making my own plans and schedule, no fights, only having to deal with my family (which is more than enough family, believe me). Did I mention not having to share?

But, just because I like being single doesn't mean I wouldn't love to find a relationship. I might be a little more appreciative of my life than some who haven't embraced their singledom - but I'd give it up for the right guy.

In the past seven months, I've watched three friends get married. Each wedding was different from the last, but the one thing they each had in common was that a dear friend had found love.

It was a mix of emotions for me, to witness these unions. Most of all, I felt happy for my friends, the people I believe are most deserving of their happily ever after.

I also feel a little left behind. My inventory of single friends is dwindling. I'd be lying if I said that doesn't feel a little lonely.

A teeny part of me also feels a little sad, like maybe it will never happen for me. I know I may never find the guy who makes me feel happily ever after.

Then, I'm reminded of all those things I don't like about relationships - and I honestly feel a little relieved. I'm still single - phew.

All these emotions don't make sense, all jumbled together in my head. Big part happy, little part sad, small part lonely, and a tiny part relieved. I may have shed a tear (or two) and am not even sure just why.

Most single / dating blogs will say it's not OK to be sad. You should be happy for your friends, and have faith your happiness will come. Others will say it's not OK to feel relieved. You should be looking to your friends as an example of what you want to find.

I say, all of it is OK. It's OK to be happy for them, even if it's not what you want. It's OK to feel relieved, because you get to continue enjoying your single life. It's OK to wonder, to dream, and yes, it's even OK to cry.

Feelings change, just like people and circumstance. So, give yourself a break. Cry if you need, wonder if you want.

Just remember, in the end, it really will be OK.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rejection isn't personal

No matter how you slice it, rejection is tough. Even when it's coming from someone you barely like, it stings.

When I think about it, I think rejection is one of the main reasons I rush with so many of the guys I meet. I rush so I can reject them, before they have a chance to reject me.

The truth is, rejection early on isn't personal. If someone rejects you after just a few dates, that has much more to do with him than it does you. After a while, though, that changes. At some point, a rejection has more to do with you - your personality, values, habits, etc - than him.

I've been on seven dates now with Turtle. They say ("they" being dating blogs that I can't remember right now, so you'll have to take my word that I read this somewhere) that if two people have not had sex by the fifth date, it will not happen. Turtle and I have only hugged - and that didn't happen until date six.

Without divulging the sordid, somewhat embarrassing details of my sex life, let's just say this is a first for me. After date five, I figured I'd been friend-zoned. When the hug happened, I thought perhaps it was just a buddy-hug. Then I thought, hey, if we're still making progress after the fifth date, perhaps this thing - whatever it is - just needs more time.

Unfortunately for me, in order to find out for sure, I can't rush. Well...I could. I could rush to the conclusion that we are just going to be friends, and move on to the next guy.

Normally, that's what I'd do. Turtle is on vacation for 10 days, and I seriously considered just seeing who else I could find while he's gone. There's a big part of me that thinks, even though we've progressed, we may just be moving forward in our friendship. But there's another part of me that thinks maybe that's what this needs - a friendship base, in order to grow into more.

Which is great. The problem is, by allowing our relationship - and my feelings - to grow, I run a risk of being rejected.

Not the impersonal, it's him, not me sort of rejection I would have had after date four, either. I'm talking about a full-on, four-alarm, rejection after a few months. A rejection that is all about me.

Talk about personal - and scary as hell.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Questions and answers

I need to learn to take my own advice, and not poke around on a potential's* online profiles. Whether it's his dating profile, or his facebook page (we recently became Facebook friends - his doing), online stuff is too open to interpretation.

Stalking profiles doesn't do anything but lead to confusion and mis-trust, and hinder communication. Jumping to conclusions doesn't help anyone. If I have a legit question, I should be able to just ask. If I can't ask... well, that's a separate problem altogether.

Of course, the temptation to look always exists. Whether it's insecurity or curiosity (let's be honest - it's probably a bit of both), I can't deny that I just want to know.

But the truth is, I won't find any answers online - only more questions.

*Thanks to my cousin, this guy's name will be Turtle - because he's moving soooo sloooww.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Draft stage

No kidding, I have like six posts in draft stage right now. I hsd a clear idea of what I wanted to say, but I couldn't make sense of it in writing. I returned to one post after a few days only to realize I didn't even understand my point.

I have started seeing a guy I actually, you know, like. We're moving glacially slow at this point, so I have no idea where it might go. But I like him enough that I haven't even signed into a dating site in a couple of weeks. Those who know me well will agree - that is saying something.

In the meantime, I've been poking around dating blogs, looking for inspiration. Nothing. Which is surprising - there are some great blogs out there.

I think being in limbo in real life might cause a writing block for me, as well. It's almost like avoiding expectations or wondering in my life also suspends my ability to write about looking towards the future. Putting a hold on my feelings must mean I have to put a hold on the writing, too - at least for now.

So, while my life is in its own "draft stage," I'll keep taking notes. Things are bound to sort themselves out at some point, and then I'll hit publish.

In the meantime, feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, August 8, 2014

How do you spell love?

I'm probably asked what I'm "looking for" in a relationship at least once a week - and I still don't have a good answer.

My standard answer is that I want something that makes sense. Something that can start off slow, but has the potential to grow into something lasting. Something that feels good. Something that just works.

But that never satisfies anyone. Either they think I don't really know what I want, or they only hear half of what I say. Sometimes people think I'm too vague, and other people think I'm asking too much.

The truth is, I'm not looking for a specific person, or a particular relationship. I want to feel special and beautiful, and empowered. I want to be content in what I have, and excited to find out what's next. I want to be passionate, and easy-going at the same time. I want to be completely uninterested in meeting anyone else - and  I want him to feel the same.

Reading that, I guess it is a little vague. Which, I suppose could make it tough to find. But the truth is, I threw out my "type" and my "rules" years ago. I promised myself that if I met someone, I'd give him a chance - until there was a reason not to.

So I guess what I'm looking for is just tough to describe. I'm not worried,  though - I'll know it when I feel it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What's next

"I often rush because I get the feeling a guy isn't worth the effort, so I push through it, basically to get it over with."

I typed this in a text to Baking Suit the other day. We were talking about my weekend date, and how he takes his time getting to know new people (and how that's not usually my style).

As soon as I hit send, I realized two things:

- That's a pretty profound realization

- I probably needed to think about it some more

I do tend to rush things, which is strange because the idea of rushing into a relationship scares the crap right out of me. I guess my impatience and desire to know what's next sometimes outweigh my fear to commit.

I always want to know what's next. So much so that I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to predict what will happen. I plan outfits for dates that haven't been discussed; I formulate answers to questions that haven't been asked. I understand that everything needs to happen in its own time, and I can't force anything, anyway. I don't even mind waiting - I just want to know what's going to happen.

But I don't just spend the first few conversations strategizing future plans. I also pay attention. I listen and observe. I take in everything - how a guy speaks, how he acts, how he treats me, how he treats others. I'm constantly trying to learn, not only based on what he says to me, but also based on what he doesn't say.
Long before we ever even arrive at the conversation, I have figured out if I see any point in continuing. If I don't, then I am really just looking for a way to put myself (and him) out of misery. That's when I think I may rush things a bit. I give up on getting to know him or letting things develop.

I think that's probably different than many women. Most are probably rushing so they can get to their happily-ever-after - they want to lock it in, before he changes his mind.

Not me - I'm happy to wait forever for that happy ending. I just don't want to wait around with the wrong guy.

The only thing I'm rushing to is whatever's next.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

No one can predict true love

Did you know OK Cupid has a blog? I had forgotten, but that's probably because they just published the first new post in three years. No wonder they sent a blast email to announce! The post details some "experiments" the popular dating site has done on users, concerning the importance of photos versus profile text, match score, etc. Interesting stuff, actually.

" I’m the first to admit it: we might be popular, we might create a lot of great relationships, we might blah blah blah. But OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website."

No kidding. Most of us have known this for a while. Well, except for that one guy who, despite me pointing out some glaring differences between us, insisted that "an 87% match is nothing to ignore."

Yes it is - and that blog post proves it.

"The ultimate question at OkCupid is, does this thing even work? By all our internal measures, the “match percentage” we calculate for users is very good at predicting relationships."

I would agree. OKCupid said I was 90% matched with Trooper, and 98% matched with Big. While neither relationship lasted, each was successful in its own way.

OKCupid uses a series of questions to match users. Some are personality questions, some seem like IQ questions. Of course some are sex questions.

If a user doesn't answer any, I still find we are at least a 10% match. I can only assume that represents the fact that we match in some basic ways (he's a guy who dates women, he is the right age, and lives in the right area).

If users do decide to tackle the questions, it isn't enough to respond. To "improve match accuracy" users also need to indicate which answers they consider acceptable, and assign a level of importance to the question. Of course, answers depend an awful lot on each person's interpretation. So while you might not "match" on a particular question, if you took the time to discuss the issue, you might find you actually agree.

Like everything else on dating sites, I've found match scores need to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Sites may be good at predicting the success of initial conversations, or how those first dates will go, but no one can predict chemistry or real attraction.

No one can predict true love.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Moving on

Him: How have you been?

Me: Good. We were talking a month ago and you just disappeared. What happened?

Him: I was MIA for a while. I'm back now.

Me: Gotcha. I saw you online, so I figured you'd just moved on.

Him: I have the app and I never logged out so it looked like I was online but I wasn't.

Right.

I've used that excuse. I've told people I was going to delete my profile and asked if we could text, to avoid being "seen" online. I've hidden my profile, but still used it to contact new people. I've told people "I just signed in to delete messages."

Eventually, I grew tired of inventing excuses. I got frustrated with a dating process that requires me to explain my every move to a guy I just met. I learned when to move on. (Hint: If I'm still online looking, or irritated by a question, it's probably time.)

I truly don't care if we were talking, and you met someone who you found more interesting. It happens, and it happens even more often when meeting people online. But I do believe you have to own that decision - even if it turns out to be the wrong one.

He's not the only one. I dated another guy briefly last fall. One day, we were talking. The next, he texted to let me know he'd met someone and decided to be exclusive, so he was deleting my contact info. We were still friends on Facebook - and a month later, he messaged me to let me know it had not worked out. When I pointed out that he was clearly not that into me, he got very cranky - and unfriended me.

So when he messaged me again recently, I reviewed this all again. His take was that all happened in the past. My take was that may be, but it's still an indication that we are not a good fit. He asked if I wanted to start over, or move on.

Definitely moving on.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No excuse

I read a few blogs by "relationship experts." While I don't think anyone can really be an expert in relationships, sometimes a different perspective is interesting. I don't always agree with what they say, but what do I know, anyway?

But this atricle Men look for sex and find love.... deserves a pause.

"Just because we think you’re attractive and we show you a good time doesn’t mean we’re actually INTERESTED. It just means we’re being “in the moment”."

OK. Just. Stop. Listen, I'm a 40-year-old woman whose motto is "boys have cooties." I know all about gender stereotypes. Women are crazy, men are stupid, etc, etc. Stereotypes exist for a reason - and they are often true. No one gets that more than I.

But living up (or in this case down) to a stereotype isn't an excuse. Being a woman does not excuse me from being crazy - and being a man does not excuse someone from being a jerk.

Mr. Katz points out that men who want a real relationship also want sex, plain and simple. So what's a guy to do?

"How should I notify a woman that I am not serious about her before we start a physical relationship? What’s better? A written warning? Or perhaps a canned speech that while I find my date attractive and will gladly sleep with her for a few weeks, I’m actively continuing to pursue other women in the meantime? How’s that gonna go over?"

Newsflash: Women are exactly the same. Some may want a real connection, but in that moment - pardon the bluntness - just want to get laid.

It doesn't make anyone bad, or wrong. It makes everyone, men and women alike, human.

So what's a guy to do? He should be upfront. He should tell the woman his true interests and intent as far as his "relationship" with her is concerned. How's that going to go over? Well, some women will get pissed off. Some will be hurt. Some just might want the same, and everyone is happy.

Instead, men "say nothing and hope you don't get too attached." Or, they say what they think you want to hear, so they keep getting sex.

Those are both strategies to protect that guy's future comfort and happiness. Which is understandable. It's also the exact opposite of living in the moment.

"Why don’t we go to Adultfriendfinder for easy, no-strings-attached sex? Because it’s kind of skeezy. Because there’s no challenge and no human connection. Because we actually want someone that we can talk to, vent to, and hang out with."

Listen, I've already shared a bit about my feelings on AFF. Are there skeezy men out there? Sure. I bet there are skeezy women, too.

But at least it's honest. They want sex without commitment, and say so right upfront. There's no game, no illusion. No one is being misled.

No-strings-attached sex might not be for everyone. Some might find it empty, or unfulfilling, or just plain gross. But there's nothing skeezy about being honest.

Think about it: Who would you rather meet? The guy who just wants sex...and tells you he just wants sex. Or, the guy who just wants sex...and buys you dinner and flowers and says you're amazing and he can't wait to see you again - and then just stops calling one day, when he senses you've become too attached.

Men may "live in the moment" when it comes to things like where they put their car keys, or how late they are for dinner. That's a stereotypical guy thing, and that's fine.

But when a guy plans a strategy to have casual sex, and plans a way to let himself off the hook when his mark falls for his lie, that isn't "just being a guy."

That's being an asshole - and being a guy is no excuse.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nothing good happens

Trooper used to say, "Nothing good happens after midnight." He was quoting Tony Dungy, an NFL Coach who believed his athletes needed sleep, not parties.

I'm no athlete, but I do know I should not be allowed to access the internet after midnight. I'm far too tired at that hour to make good decisions. Honestly, if I'm awake after midnight, it's probably because I can't sleep. If I'm already upset or worried about something, I really shouldn't go anywhere near the internet.

Nothing good happens then, either.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling particularly bummed. I knew I was in a bad frame of mind, and really needed to shut down and sort out my feelings. Instead, I took to the internet for validation and distraction. Never a good idea.

I wanted to find a new way to meet singles. When I'm in that "poor me, single forever" mindset, meeting people takes priority. This should have been my first clue I was about to jump down the rabbit hole of bad choices.

After a quick google search, and a couple hershey kisses (my answer to alcohol), I joined a site called Adult Friend Finder. DO NOT visit that site from your work browser - don't even Google it. From the name alone, you can guess the point of the site, and why I'm not even adding a link.

A free membership lets you search, but not view profiles. I suspect that's partly because they want to really verify you're old enough to have a credit card before giving full access, and partly because sex sells.

I wasn't going to pay, but then curiosity got the best of me, so I signed up for one month. I did not (and have not) post a photo. I barely completed the profile.

But on a site like this, that doesn't matter. Everyone (men, women, couples...) is looking for one thing, and they have pretty broad standards about where it's found. My faceless profile was bombarded in a matter of minutes.

My first thought was, are they nuts? They don't even know what I look like, or anything. Then when random men just started inviting me over to their apartment, it became clear that they were stupid, or desperate, or have a death wish (in answer to your question - no, I didn't accept random invites from strangers).

After a while, though, I found that wasn't the case with everyone (some - definitely). Many are really just looking for casual, no-strings-attached fun - and they're being honest about it. Which, in a way, is refreshing. I'd guess about 80-85% of people on sites like Plenty of Fish are looking for the same - they're just not upfront.

Still - the site is a bit much for me. It's overwhelming, and not really geared towards what I want. Plus, it is really, really hard (pun intended) to take a guy seriously when his profile picture is his penis. Just staring at me.

Since I paid for 30 days anyway, I decided to stick around, if for nothing else, than research purposes. I mean, if I don't investigate, how will you all know if you want to join the site?

So, I'm taking one for the team. You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

This was different

We've talked about this guy before. He came back (again) a little over a month ago. Actually, I may have been the one to reach out to him this time. I don't remember now.

Anyway, we ended up getting together on a Saturday. We were actually having a really nice, open, honest conversation (a first). He said something strange to me that night.

"I don't know why you're always running away from me."

It got me thinking - does he perceive our relationship differently than I do? Does he honestly believe I am the one who walks away? Or was this just a line, another way of blaming me?

A week later, we had a rough start when he was out on a Friday. We got talking on the phone, and I was a little upset that he was out with someone else, when he never goes anywhere with me. (OK - I may have also jumped to the conclusion the someone was a woman. Sue me.)

The conversation ended poorly, but he called me the next day to apologize. Then invited me to lunch.

OK, I thought. Perhaps this time really is different. He's admitting he cares for me, he's opening up to me a little more, our conversations are more honest. I let myself start to believe things were going to be different this time.

A few text messages that week...and then nothing. I tried to reach him Friday, then Sunday. I jokingly (well, half joking) asked, "Is this your way of running away from me?" No response.

This has been his way from the start. Jump in, and then abandon the relationship at whatever point he chooses. We might be in the middle of a text conversation, or talking on the phone, or even together. One minute, we're in the middle of something, and the next he's just gone.

Right about now, you're probably wondering why on Earth I'm sharing. I mean, this guy clearly has a pattern of leaving, and I clearly have a pattern of giving him the opportunity. None of this is new, so why share now?

This time was different - because I believed him. I let my guard down, and let him in. So it really threw me when he cut and run.

I guess I wanted to point out that no matter how above it all you think you are, or how jaded or in control - we can all fall hard. I was having a tough time, really getting down on myself. I felt hurt, but also foolish. Shouldn't I know better? Or am I just getting what I deserve, since I let him in?

But that's not really how it works.

When someone treats you poorly, it says way more about him than it does about you. No one should feel silly or foolish for putting herself out there. You fall....and then pick yourself up.

Of course, that doesn't mean you might not do something foolish. And by you, I obviously mean me....

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Two pairs

Remember when Trooper took me to Engineer's wedding? He asked me to relay a funny story concerning that wedding. I have a particularly tough post I'm working on (tough to publish, not write), so I figured I'd do this instead.

When I asked Trooper to the wedding, I did not know he was dating anyone. It turns out, he was, and she was someone he'd known previously. Which means the two of them were already connected on Facebook. Which also means she knew he and I used to date, knew my name from his posts, and knew we were still friends.

She texted him that night and asked what he was doing (I believe she wanted to know why he hadn't asked to see her). He was honest and said he was at a wedding. This was not a satisfactory answer. After a little more interrogation, during which she actually asked if he was with me, he admitted he was my "plus one."

I actually felt a little bad. Honestly, had I known he was dating someone and going with me would cause a problem, I would never have asked. Trooper assured me it was not an issue, that was just her personality.

Turns out, her personality includes a lil' crazy.

Apparently, not long after, she ended things. Among other reasons, she was upset he'd taken me to the wedding. At that point, Trooper decided meeting women online wasn't for him. He deleted his dating profiles and decided to give up.

Within a week, he attended a party for an old friend and ran into a former coworker. They've been dating for several months.

Trooper told me that he credits our friendship, and his taking me to that wedding, with bringing him together with this new person, who he really likes. Talk about irony.

He also admitted that now, he owes me two pairs of shoes.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Get together

In the last few weeks, I have chatted with several men online. All handsome (in their pictures anyway), all seemed nice.

All single dads.

I'm not talking about guys who share custody and have their kids a few days a week or every other weekend. I'm talking about full-time dads with no help. In one case, the guy was actually helping his grown daughter raise her young son.

These men work Monday - Friday, 9 - 5 jobs, and spend their nights and weekends caring for young kids. They made it clear to me from the beginning that they have no free time. They won't even chat online or text in the evening, or on the weekends.

Do you see my dilemma?

I was raised by a single dad, so I have all the respect in the world for these men. Still, I can't help but wonder what they hope to accomplish. They can't meet - ever. They can only message or text during work hours. How do they expect to date?

I actually posed that question to not one, but two of them. They both answered, "Where there's a will, there's a way." Which is great and all, but not very practical. It's also a pretty vague answer to a very specific problem.

Thanks to the GPS feature on Plenty of Fish, I know these are local men. That being the case...what is the point?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nice to meet you

I'm polite roughly 95% of the time. Even when someone hurts my feelings, I do my best not to hurt his. If I even say anything, I do it as nicely snd calmly and, well, politely as possible.

The other 5% is what happens when I'm caught in a bad place (usually just after having been hurt). I don't go looking for a target - but I'm less careful about being nice if one presents himself.

So this guy emailed me tonight on OK Cupid. In his "hello" message he said, "What do you know? I was just saying I needed to find myself a short, sarcastic brunette. What are the odds?"

It's worth pointing out that statement is a reference to the last section of my profile, proving this guy actually read my whole profile before emailing me. So, while a quick glance at his profile showed we have differing dating agendas, I figured I should at least acknowledge his effort.

He thought I was being presumptuous - which, I supoose is fair. He pointed out we never really know what someone is really looking for. I admitted he had a fair point, but in his next message he asked, since I know so much, what did I think he was looking for.

I repeated the first line of his profile back to him. Admittedly, I added plenty of sarcasm - but this whole thing did start with him saying he was looking for a sarcastic brunette.

So actually, I was being pretty polite.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Profile catch phrases

The real problem with online dating profiles is the catch phrases. The words we see over, and over - and over. After a while, it's tough to be sure what the words really mean - or if they even have any meaning at all.

Some benign, classic examples include:

"I love to laugh "

"I am looking for my best friend."

"I like to go out, but I also love to stay in."

These phrases really don't tell much about the profile subject. We know he likes to do things both at home and away, he likes to laugh, and would prefer to spend the majority of his time with someone he really likes.

I'm pretty sure these statements are true of just about anyone.

What we have learned is that this person isn't sure of what to say.*  Maybe he's shy, or maybe he just lacks creativity. He could also be incredibly dumb, and paid someone to write this profile. In which case, he should ask for a refund.

Then there are some of my favorite words. These appear in a variety of phrases, and are intended to say one thing, but really (I think) mean something totally different.

"I'm laid back" is really code for "I won't commit." Usually these guys have said they are looking for a relationship (because they believe they need to, in order to attract women), and this is their way of letting themselves off that hook.

"I'm easy going" is really code for "I am irresponsible. I will constantly be late and cancel plans." They think it makes them endearing. I blame their parents.

"I am drama free" is actually the most confusing. It sounds like the guy's life is simple, but what he's really saying is he will not, under any circumstances, put up with your drama. His life, however, may be a total disaster - which, of course, you'll be expected to manage.

There are more, but those are the ones I see the most (on Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid, anyway.)

Any to add?

*We could address this more in another post, but do I hate to offer criticism without suggestions for improvement. So, instead of these phrases, consider sharing what makes you laugh (maybe tell your favorite joke, or name a TV show that always makes you giggle). Suggest a few things you do at home (stream Netflix, read, build models) and things you do outside (bars or restaurants you like, activities you enjoy or want to check out). As for your best friend - describe her. This actually serves two purposes. First, it lets others know if they might be your type. Two - it helps you figure out what you really want.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Real love is easy

For a while now, I have been convinced that dozens of false starts have broken me. I have honestly wondered, if a truly good relationship came along, would I be able to participate? Would I even recognize love if it was staring me right in the face? While I suppose we have to acknowledge the possibility that I'm totally broken, I think there's an even more likely, and thankfully more hopeful, reality. 

These false starts have simply made me more practical. 

Romance 101 is being rescued from the evil queen by our knight in shining armor. The first lessons we learn about love involve impossible, forbidden relationships that can only happen when someone (usually the guy) overcomes some obstacle. We're conditioned to believe that love is only love if it hurts; if it's complicated, scary, and confusing. We're taught that unless it's difficult, it isn't love. 

I'm no expert, but I suspect these early lessons might be at least partly to blame for some of the dysfunction we find in adult relationships.

Ignore the nice guy; it's the boy who smacks you on the playground who really likes you. Don't be too "together" - he needs to feel like you need rescuing. Women are practically waiting for the first guy who comes along when they're in a bad situation. Of course, it'll be complicated (since her situation is already questionable), so it's difficult and confusing. Ah ha! Must be love.

Of course when a relationship is good, women tend to doubt. Is he really the right guy? Is this really what I want? Do I really want to settle down? Is he good for my family? Does he make me happy? They might even question themselves. He's a great guy - why don't I like him? What is wrong with me?

Romance 101 teaches women to complicate things - remember, we have to be in a lousy situation for it to be love. The truth, I think, is far less complicated. 

If it was love, you would recognize it. The fact that you question means it's not love. 

Now, is that to say that some people aren't broken? Of course not. People get hurt. They shut others out. They refuse to let themselves be happy, for fear of losing everything again. But as someone who spent years (literally) in therapy dealing with that very issue, I feel like I can confidently say:

If you're aware of that condition - if you're even asking the question, "Am I OK?" - then you most likely are. 

Walls are something we put up to defend ourselves. When they're up, there won't be any question, because no one is getting close enough to make you ask. If you're wondering, then the wall is down - so the questions are coming from somewhere else. 

I think being hurt eventually makes us smarter. Without even realizing, we become better at judging when something is wrong (probably because we've seen so much wrong, it's much easier to recognize). Then we question.

But that instinct to complicate things is still there...to make ourselves available for our rescue. The truth is, real love isn't complicated at all. It's easy.

If what you're feeling isn't easy - then it simply isn't love.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Texting vs talking

When Trooper broke up with me (for those not keeping track, that was about two years ago) one of the "reasons" he mentioned was our lack of phone conversations. I prefer not to talk on the phone, and he felt that gap in our communication affected our ability to connect and really get to know each other. He thought if we'd talked more, maybe he would have recognized our differences sooner, which would have meant we didn't date for as long, and the break up would have been less painful.

I really didn't agree with him. Honestly, I took that whole conversation as a way for him to push blame on me for his own shortcoming.

I still don't agree, even if this article suggests Trooper may have been right.

"A lot of people still want to hear a voice (at least if they like you they do) and aren’t looking to always have to read a message on their phone. It becomes more personal and easier to connect with someone when you can actually talk to them. Ignoring this reality can create a disconnection between you and the person you are communicating with. Not to mention that it can hinder people from being able to open up and have deeper discussions with you because they simply don’t want to have to type a long dialogue. So making time to actually talk more often rather than constantly send a text message can help strengthen your ability to connect with others."

I do agree that texting can leave things open to misinterpretation. Perhaps it might even hinder a person's ability to really open up. No one wants to type a lengthy text message - and who wants to read one?

Here's my thing... if I need to have a serious, in depth conversation, I prefer it be in person. Phone conversations, to me, are still casual and open to misinterpretation. If I have to ask an important question, I want to see the person's reaction. If I know the conversation might not go his way, I don't want him to just be able to hang up on me.

Those conversations are usually long. If I'm on the phone, I can't muti-task. If I'm going to have to devote a few hours of my time to this "talk" it may as well be face to face. Honestly, if two adults can't manage to sit down in front of each other to have a conversation, how serious are they, really? If you're not serious, I'm certainly not devoting a ton of time or effort to the situation.

If all you want to know is how my day went and do I still want to meet for dinner tomorrow, I think that can be handled via text. That way, I can still be out running errands, or out with friends, or working at home, and have this conversation.

Plus, to be honest, most people (Trooper included) talk on a blue tooth. I think those are obnoxious. They pick up all sorts of backround noise and make it nearly impossible for me to hear what the person is saying. Plus, they still continue to run errands or whatever, which also means I can't hear them, and don't have their full attention.

If you're not even paying attention to me or what I'm saying, how connected are we, really? If we're not going to be connected, I would just as soon have mutiple conversations at once - which I can't do if I'm talking on the phone.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How rude

Let me start with a little background...

A few years ago I met a guy online. Back then I chatted with new people on Yahoo Messenger, and he and I went back and forth, chatting everyday for a couple weeks. We never met in person, and after a while, the chats just stopped.

Fast forward a couple of years...

Now and then, this same guy would reach out to me on various dating sites. What I thought was strange was that in every email, he seemed to be saying hi for the first time - as if he didn't remember that we already sorta knew each other. One time I even tried to remind him that we'd talked before, and that we were even members of the same meetup.com group.

Fast foward to two months ago...

Eventually, I gave up reminding him we've already talked. After a while, I even gave up on the polite responses. He obviously doesn't remember me, or have the courtesy to be polite - so why should I make the effort?

Last month, he sent me an email on POF, asking how I was doing. I responded within minutes by saying I was doing well, thanks for asking.

The next morning, he replied by saying, "I guess you're not interested." Totally confused, I decided to ask what he meant. I pointed out that I'd replied to his message right away, to try and continue the conversation. I asked why that suggested to him that I was not interested.

His answer was that I had responded by saying I was doing well, but not asking how he was doing. This, apparently, indicated that I wasn't interested. He went on to explain that even people who are not interested would ask how he was doing, just to be polite. Since I couldn't be bothered to be polite, I needn't bother responding.

So - I didn't.

Now, a month later, he sent me a message on another site, again just asking how I was doing. Per his previous instructions, I didn't bother responding.

Two weeks later, I got a second message from him saying, "hmmm guess not."

I didn't reply. Here's my thing...

First - "How are you doing?" is a lousy way to start a conversation online. It's lazy, lacks creativity, and does nothing but create work for the other person.

Second - Apparently, he's more interested in tricking me (and I assume others) than actually getting to know someone. Apparently the whole thing is really just a test to see if I know how to respond.

Last - He can't remember that he's approached me before - even though my user name and picture are the same on all profiles - but I'm the one who is rude?

So, I've started ignoring him completely. It seems like the polite thing to do.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Greener grass

I'm surrounded by couples. My friends are all coupled. I'm going to at least three weddings this year. My Facebook feed is full of couple selfies, pictures of new homes, kids, and all sorts of couple happiness. Just last week, my coworkers decided the whole office should get together with spouses for a "couples night" - and I realized I am the only single person who works there.

Even my TV show favorites are coupling off. Derek Morgan found a girlfriend on Criminal Minds. I'm watching Scandal, and even amid all the adultery and dysfunction, two assassins managed to go on a few normal dates before moving in together.

Then there's me.

The truth is, I have found so much happiness in my work and home situations that I can't even complain about my romantic failure. If I had to choose between finding the love of my life and achieving this level of peace and joy... I would honestly forgo a relationship.

I guess there is a small part of me that believes that might be the case. Maybe I am destined for happiness everywhere other than romantic relationships. If that's the case - it really is OK.

I suppose there's just a small part of me that can't help but wonder why. Why do others seem to get it all, and I have to choose?

Of course, there is always the possibility that they are choosing, too, and it's just not obvious to me. Greener grass and all.

I like to think things happen in their own timeline, and that love will find its way into my life when the time is right. I like to have faith that God wouldn't let me hope for love if it wasn't in my future.

Maybe I just need fewer couples and more cats in my Facebook feed for a while.

Opening line

Approaching someone online isn't easy - at least not the first billion times. But by the billionth + 1, one gets pretty comfortable.

Until then, it helps to employ a little strategy. Some common sense also doesn't hurt.

I like to think of the first hello as approaching someone in a bar or at a party. That's a good strategy. After all, he is on a dating site. Clearly he's looking to meet people for some reason.

But at a party, I could just walk up and say hi.* Then the conversation can flow naturally (Do you like this place? How do you know so-and-so? What are you drinking/eating? Whatever.)

That doesn't really work online - and that's where common sense needs to take over. If you email me a single word ("hi"), what am I supposed to do with that? Forget just saying "hi" back - it could be hours before I reply. Exchanging one sentence at a time over the course of a few days is tiresome and boring - and no way to meet new people.

Your email needs to have at least a little substance. Say something that can spark a little more conversation. Ask an open question (or maybe two). Extend a compliment.

And for goodness sake, use correct punctuation and grammar. At least make a solid attempt.

Another thing about the opening line... At a party or club, you may be able to just rely on your looks. Hey - I'm willing to admit you might just be that good looking. But no matter how attractive you are (or think you are), it won't translate online. I may not be able to see your picture, and I definitely can't be sure that it's really you. Plus, in person, you can make eye-contact and see if there's any attraction. That won't work online, and assuming that I will be attracted to you is just...well - unattractive.

So, say hi, and then maybe say a little more. Give a person something to work with.

*Hypothetically, of course. I have never had the courage to actually do that...I'm just pointing out the option exists.