Friday, January 31, 2014

Big picture

"Maybe it's a case of bad timing." 
That's what a friend suggested about this guy I recently met. About a month after we started seeing each other, he suffered a significant personal loss. It would have been a test to any relationship, never mind one that was brand new.

The thing is - I don't believe in bad timing. I believe that when a relationship is meant to happen, there isn't anything that can stand in the way. If we were meant to be together, that situation would have drawn us closer together, not put a wedge in between.

It's the same as "the one who got away" - that's just a myth. If that person was meant to be in your future, he would be. Even if you made a mistake that caused him to "get away" I still believe that just means it wasn't meant to be. If it was - there isn't anything you could have done to chase him away.

So, GGS, if there's no such thing as bad timing or mistakes, why do so many singles meet, fall in love, fail, and then grieve the loss of the relationship?

My answer? Because it's hard to accept that we invested in something that wasn't meant to last
forever. It's difficult to admit we may have misjudged a person or a situation, and believed it was more than it was. It's hard to be wrong.

We'd rather blame it on timing or circumstance or even a huge blunder.

If you trust in God - or cupid, or the universe, or destiny or whoever you like - and the plan for your life, then it follows that when things don't work out, it's not because of a mistake. It's because those things don't fit in your plan.

This small moment of sadness and hurt will pass. Eventually, when the big picture comes together, you'll realize why it wouldn't have been right for you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's not you, it's me (except it's really you)

"You deserve so much better than me."

Complete hooey.

A line like this, and its many variations, is really just a nice way of saying that you're just not into that other person.

I don't mind telling you that I've heard this plenty of times - from great guys as well as not-so-great guys. The one thing they all had in common was none of them really wanted to date me.

It's easy to believe the not-so-great guys might think they're not quite good enough. The thing is, self-centered and selfish people are usually not capable of admitting their flaws. So when a guy who has always been all about himself suddenly realizes he may have made a mistake - I'm skeptical.

Personally, I think this line is an attempt to lay guilt on the other person. The guy seeks to make the woman feel responsible for him being down on himself. The guilt-trip is a great way to manipulate her into accepting responsibility for the problem. Either he'll get her to take him back, or he'll get her to walk away. Both absolve him of any real responsibility.

Do I think every case of a guy apologizing is an attempt to manipulate? Of course not. I think you can tell when a person is being sincere, because that humility doesn't just materialize out of nowhere. If a guy has always been upfront, honest, and willing to take responsibility, chances are his realization is sincere. What he's really saying - even if he doesn't know it - is he's just not that into you.

But if a guy is always about himself, focused on getting himself out of trouble, or making excuses for things he's said and done - he has not suddenly come to the conclusion he could be a better guy.

Both of these guys are right about one thing - you definitely deserve a guy who absolutely adores you, is 100% into you, and isn't afraid to say so. Any guy who isn't all of those things really isn't good enough for you.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Love and math

Last week, I came across this Buzzfeed article about Chis McKinlay, a doctoral candidate who did his dissertation on a data harvesting and statistical experiment to help himself find a date on OKCupid. McKinlay used fake profiles to determine which profile questions to answer on the site's match questions, to increase his matches with women in his target profile. 

It worked for him - he ended up finding a future wife and wrote a book.

I read another article (that I can't for the life of me find now) that pointed out the flaw in this plan. Love doesn't work the way statistics work. The article compared the predictability of individual responses to questions to flipping a coin. No matter how many times you flip a coin, the odds of head vs tails is still 50/50. The results don't get easier to predict based on history. 

It's the same way with dating. You can't predict how two people will interact based on their responses to canned questions. Romance is about personalities and connections, not statistics. 

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to online dating is assuming that everyone is looking for true love. Of course, there are plenty of people on dating sites who are looking for a relationship - but they join the site hoping to meet people. After all, you have to meet new people if you're going to find that one true love.

It's true that every date has just as much chance of going bad as the date before. It's also true that if you never go on any first dates, you'll never go on your last first date. Some people come by dates easily in person - they have a wide circle of single friends, and a reason to network in person. 

Others use online dating sites to increase their chances of going on a first date that will actually lead to a second. This guy didn't hack his way into true love - but he did use statistics as a way to increase his number of dates and ultimately get a date with that person.

Love may not be a numbers game - but dating is. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Truth bites

I wonder - often - why men just disappear. I get that things change. Feelings or circumstances can shift whenever, especially when two people have just met or a relationship is new.

What I've never understood is why people don't just say something. Call, send an email - mail a letter, even! - and just say, hey, sorry but things have changed. Take care.

I have always thought it might be because the guy doesn't want to deal with the unpleasant conversation. He doesn't want to have to hurt the woman's (OK, my) feelings. Maybe he doesn't want to deal with her getting upset or crying or asking him to explain.

Which honestly, in most cases, wouldn't happen. I can't be the only woman who doesn't always care for an explanation - I figure at best, it'll only be part of the story, anyway. Most of the time, my feelings are a little hurt - but not enough to pursue an explanation. I'm certainly not going to try and talk someone into dating me.

Then the other day, during an email conversation on this topic, it occurred to me:

Maybe that's the real concern?

Maybe some guys realize that they are not actually the center of a woman's universe. Maybe some realize that if they pull away, she might just let him go. They just might realize that if they aren't into her...maybe she feels the same.

Maybe that's what they don't want to face?

I'm thinking it's a mixture. Some guys don't want to tell the truth. Some guys don't want to hear the truth....

...and some guys wouldn't know the truth if it bit them.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Badge of courage

Since November 2010, I've written 712 posts. Some of them have been about smiles and laughs - but there have been quite a few more that were about bad dates or tough lessons.

712 posts is a lot of tears, and a lot of lessons.

Recently, I met yet another guy who said he really liked me...and it turned out he did not. I caught myself in the middle of a little pity-party the other night, thinking about all the times I've been misled, lied to, or hurt.

I found myself wondering why some women seem to have it better. They meet men more quickly, find guys who really like them, and even find relationships much more easily.

So what's wrong with me? I wondered.

But that really is the wrong question.

Everyone's path is different. Meeting guys quickly, or finding relationships easily is simply not part of my journey - and that's OK. I just need to have faith that my path will get me to the right place, in the right time.

Which is fine - but sometimes I still wonder, why does my path have to include so many tears?

The answer is, because I trust. I give people the chance to hurt me.

It's tempting to take that opportunity away - to stop dating, or stop trusting. In some ways, it almost feels that would be the smarter, stronger thing. Toughen up, and stop allowing my feelings to be hurt.

But I don't think that's the answer. There's nothing brave or strong about walking away from a challenge. There is no honor in avoiding the hurt. Honor is found in working through the hurt.

If it's true that courage is the triumph over fear, and not its absence, then maybe the real courage in dating isn't to walk away.

Maybe it's learning to shed the tears, and wear the lessons like a badge of courage, as you keep moving forward.

Full moon

I'm fascinated by the phases of the moon, and all they seem to affect. That may be because I'm a Cancer...or maybe just because I'm an odd duck.

Thankfully, there's a phenomena in my life that signals when a full moon is coming. That way I also know when I should expect the printer to stop working and my wifi to go wonky.

It's when the guys come out of the black hole.

I swear, it's like clockwork. One day my phone is quiet, my calendar is empty, and I'm hanging with my cat. The next day, my phone is blowing up - texts and emails and phone calls from guys circling back, to see "what's up? "

On the one hand - this is an annoyance. Clearly, things are not going anywhere with these men. I can't even trust them enough to be friends, making the conversations nothing more than a huge waste of time.

Except, in a weird way, I find these usual suspects reassuring. They annoy me, yes - but they also give me hope.

The fact that they come back reminds me that no matter how final something might seem - few things really are. You never know how things will change. Where you are right now is not where you'll likely be in a few months, or even weeks.

That's a very comforting thought, when things aren't going so well.

I realize I can't put much stock in these men. The fact that they walk away proves we don't have the connection I want. I'd like to think that the fact that they keep coming back means they're drawn to me...but I know it most likely means they have very little respect for me.

But I'd much rather focus on the positives from these full moon regulars. At least that way they're good for something.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Not the girlfriend

So, Engineer is getting married next month (yay!). He invited me with a "plus one." At first, I wasn't going to bring a date. Going solo wouldn't bother me. I'd just chat and make friends with my table-mates.

But it's a formal affair, with dinner and dancing - and no one I know. The more I thought, the more I felt it might be more fun with a date.

The thing is - I'm not at the "wedding date stage" with anyone at the moment (remember - timing is everything). It would be relationship suicide for me to invite someone who might not show up, anyway. If you think I'm tough on people who cancel on me, you don't want to see what I'd do to someone who canceled on my friend.

So - I invited Trooper.

For those keeping track, or if you're new around here - yes, I'm taking a guy I used to date to the wedding of another guy I used to date.

The thing is- Trooper will be a great date. He'll be on time, he looks absolutely phenomenal in a suit (and knows to wear one). He'll open doors, pull out chairs, and help me with my coat. He's met Engineer, and is super-fun at a party. He might even dance with me.

He even responded to the invitation perfectly. He thanked me for inviting him, and said he'd love to go. No one is ever that enthusiastic about hanging out with me - and definitely not for something like a wedding.

I thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to meet a guy who would respond that way? I mean, one who wants to date me. They're never that nice.

Then it occurred to me - that's probably one of the main reasons Trooper was so cool. It's not a "date" since we're just friends. No date means no pressure. Since I'm not his girlfriend, he's free to say no. That freedom makes everything more pleasant.

Of course, dating takes away some of that freedom. A guy who is in a relationship feels obligated to say yes, to keep his girlfriend/wife happy. But what does that say about dating? That it's a series of unpleasant obligations, done so that you don't have to meet new people?

What about my hope, to meet The One? A guy who will be nice to me, even when I'm asking him to do something he doesn't want? I'd have better luck finding a leprechaun to lead me to his pot of gold.

I suppose there is always the possibility that nice guys exist. Even when we dated, Trooper was a good guy (but don't tell him I said so).

If I found one, perhaps another isn't too much to ask.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Men are a luxury

I'm off today. So I spent my morning watching some bad daytime TV.

I caught the beginning of The Wendy Williams Show. I know nothing about Ms. Williams, other than her sense of humor makes me giggle. Also, her legs just go on and on and on. Hmph.

During her "Hot Topics" segment (which I think she kinda stole from The View), she talked about a recent magazine interview in which Jennifer Lopez said she "doesn't like to be alone." (The interview was about why JLo started dating so quickly after her divorce; her answer was she prefers relationships.)

Wendy Williams applauded JLo's admission, saying too often, women who prefer relationships are labeled as weak, when really, it's just a preference.

"Men are not a necessity. Men are a luxury - a luxury I always want to have in my life." - Wendy Williams

I tend to agree - mostly. I do think preferring relationships to being single or casual dating is perfectly normal. People in general are built, and taught, to exist as part of a couple.

I also think we do label people who search for relationships as weak. Of course we also label people who avoid relationships as unsuccessful, or a failure, or afraid to commit, or whatever.

It does take a certain amount of strength to stand on your own, and not rush into a relationship you don't really want. It also takes a certain amount of strength to admit that while you're OK on your own, you're better with another person.

Really, the only weakness is relying on another person - or avoiding vulnerability. Basically, it's weak to do what you think you're expected to do, without staying true to what you really want.

So perhaps we just need to stop with the labels. Instead, maybe we need to encourage women (and men) to really take the time to know what they want - and then be true to themselves.

Maybe the real luxury is finding this wonderful thing (whatever it is) that makes your life just that much better.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A picture to make you smile

Have you ever been in a situation where you had a lot of thoughts about something, and a lot to say... but can't quite get there?

I've been seeing someone, who I really like. It hasn't been long, and it's not super-serious. It has hit a bit of a question mark. The problem is - I'm not sure how to figure it all out. I'd like to share, but I'm not quite sure how, just yet.

While that sorts itself out, here's a picture of Shemar Moore (from his Facebook page). He always makes me smile.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Urban legends

I used to think meeting the guy was just an urban legend. Like Loch Ness, or Champ (for those who know Upstate New York lore) or finding the perfect bra. Except, I personally know several women who have met wonderful men, and from the very first date, have known that he was The Guy.

One is a brand-new relationship - but the other two live together and are planning to get married. I know all these women pretty well, and I can tell you - these couples are the meant-to-be sort.
"This is the first time I'm not wondering anything..."
Just knowing that this sort of happiness is out there makes me feel a little hopeful. These are all women my age, dating in a post-divorce life where many think real love really is just a myth. It makes me smile, knowing that my friends - each of whom deserves all the happiness she can find - have found men who make their hearts happy.

It's also hopeful. Everyone's the guy is different, and everyone's perfect relationship is unique. It's just nice to think that honest, genuine happiness really does exist. It gives even the most cynical dater (ahem) something to look forward to.

I just may find that perfect bra after all.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Solo holiday

I actually meant to hit publish on this closer to the holidays....technical difficulties. I've updated the end to make it a little more timely, though I believe the observations themselves hold just as true in January as they would have in December.

I'm basically a pretty happy person. Hopefully those who know me are nodding, and those who just read this blog are thinking, "Yeah, I can see that."

I was not kidding when I shared my guidelines for dating during the holidays. Something I forgot to mention: If you start dating someone too close to the holiday season, you run the risk of letting the inevitable breakup ruin your fun. (Unless you have a fool-proof method for identifying your soul-mate - in which case, you should be writing a book!)

That's just one more reason to remain single for the holidays, if you haven't met someone a few months out. But, if you do shy away from dating, you may wonder  - doesn't it suck to be single during all the parties and fun?

A little - but not really.

It does not suck to not have to worry about whether or not you need to purchase a gift - or what to get or how much to spend. It does not suck to be able to come and go from get-togethers on your own schedule - or avoid them altogether, if you choose. It does not suck to be spared the stress of organizing two schedules, when one is difficult enough.

What can suck?

It can suck if you really want to share the holidays. If you like the hustle and rushing around and stress of worrying and wondering what will be under your tree from your SO. Some people really enjoy that stuff; for them, being solo around the holidays probably sucks a little.

I, personally, am not one of those people. Having experienced first-hand this Christmas how easily one can find a headache from her own family (nevermind anyone else's), and how disappointing it can be to have your holi-date let you down - I'm not sure I'll ever care to share my holidays with anyone. Like, ever.

I'm also amending my original schedule. I used to think it was OK to dive right into the dating pool January 1. It occurs to me now that Valentine's Day might mess with that a little. Early January - fine. But I feel like you need to have a date secured by January 14 - or resign yourself to the fact that any date you do find for the big day will probably just be casual. Again - timing is everything.

If one of your friends decides to get married right after V-Day, and invites you with a plus-one? Forget it. You might as well go to the ASPCA in January and clean them out of cats, because your dating schedule is ----ed. 

(Relax - I'm obviously kidding. I also learned this Christmas I have a great knack for "embellishing....")

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Circle back

January is a big month for resolutions. Gyms are more crowded, more money is saved...maybe more vegetables are sold.

Another big resolution for those looking to make a change? Love life.

January is the busiest month for new enrollment on dating websites. People start the year with a renewed interest and determination in finding their one true love.

It's supposed to be a time of change; of doing things differently. People have turned over a new leaf, figured out the mistakes of their past, and reinvented themselves to make a positive change.

Which is why I was a little surprised to receive my regularly-scheduled blast from the past messages. You know - when mistakes guys from my past reach out and try to "reconnect."

So far - two. One is a guy who has been around for about a year now - he comes and goes. We've talked about him before. His reappearance was brief - he said hi on a dating site, I said hello, and he never responded. Weird - sometimes I think maybe he just likes to be sure I'm still alive.

The other was a message from a guy who I met once for coffee, back in the fall. Nice enough, no real spark. I considered going on a second date - until he messaged me online to question what I was doing, and then didn't believe me when I told him. I never heard from him again, and figured he wasn't interested. I didn't care enough to find out for sure.

He messaged me over the weekend and asked how I'd been doing. He didn't identify himself, and he'd taken his picture down, but I remembered him based on his profile. He asked if he could text me - he had a new number and had lost mine.

He'd also forgotten my name.

I suggested that if I wasn't even memorable enough for him to recall my name (which, by the way, is ridiculously easy to remember) then perhaps my initial feeling was right, and we are not a good fit. He disagreed - I let him know it wasn't open for debate, and wished him well.

Neither of these reappearances will amount to much more than a momentary annoyance. Still, they do make me wonder...what makes some people circle back?

We're supposed to learn from our mistakes. We're supposed to take those lessons and make positive changes, to move our life forward - and in a better direction. That's the whole point of new year resolutions - replacing bad habits with good.

I know not everyone subscribes to the whole resolution idea. A lot of people figure January 1 is just another day - and to an extent, I agree. If your life sucked on December 31, it probably won't be much different twelve hours later.

But those are circumstances, which always take time to change. What we can change immediately - and at any time - is our attitude. It doesn't have to be on January 1 - but if the day fills people with hope and a renewed sense of focus and motivation to improve, what's so bad about that?

Whether you choose to make your changes on January 1, or August 17 - the point is, at some point, we all have to embrace the mistakes we've made and try to do something different. It's been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

Which, by the way, is also the definition of dating.

So, if you're going to keep dating, at some point, don't you need to accept that whatever you've been doing up to this point hasn't worked - and then maybe, change things up a little?

Perhaps not calling that woman who you didn't really like that much in the first place is a good place to start.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Facebook fantasies

I was having a very exciting night Saturday - and by exciting, I mean I had take-out sushi for dinner and watched some NCIS and SVU reruns. A little after midnight, when I should have been in bed but wasn't, I got a Facebook message.

The message came from a guy who is in my friends list, but have never met. The truth is, we connected through a mutual Facebook friend, but we've never communicated. I mean never - I'm not even sure either of us has so much as "liked" a post. 

His message came through as just a wink. Well that's odd, I thought. Did I mention this person is married? Not just married, but in one of those facebook-fantasy marriages, where everything is rainbows and unicorns online. I don't know the guy's wife, and since I barely know him, for all I know they are honestly that happy. Hey - it could happen.

At first I thought perhaps he sent the message to the wrong person. Then I thought maybe he was just trying to open up a dialogue. Either way, I was intrigued and, honestly, a little bored. So I replied, hello....?

What followed was a terrifically boring exchange about the weather and how quickly the holidays past. Then he said, maybe we'll see you [around] sometime, and I said, have a great night.

The guy is almost a local celebrity, so a message trying to network or sell me something wouldn't be shocking. But at that hour, my single-girl brain assumed it was some sort of flirt. Since he did none of those things, and since the messages were being sent from the web (thanks Facebook messaging for that helpful hint) I can only conclude one thing: 

It was his wife posing as my facebook friend.

I obviously don't know for sure if that's the case - but it's my guess. Here's why.
  • If a married guy is going to reach out to a single female friend past midnight on a Saturday, he isn't going to talk about the weather. He has another reason for reaching out - and this guy never went there. 
  • After I said hello, he replied with "Hi [GGS]!" Guys are not big on names or exclamation points. Most guys would have picked a nickname, or just said hi, and there would have been no punctuation. 
  • What it would look like if my cat pretended to be me
    on Facebook. Except for the device - I'd never used an Apple.
  • Even if he just wanted to talk about the weather, the hour alone makes the conversation a little inappropriate, given that he's a married guy talking to a single woman. Any guy with half a brain would initiate that sort of conversation from his phone - not a computer. 
I could be wrong. But if I'm not, then it begs the question - what the hell?!

If it was her, my guess is the perfect marriage is really just a fantasy created for Facebook; at least for her. I would guess that she really doesn't trust her husband - to the point that she accesses his Facebook account, looks for unattached women, and then tries to catch them flirting with her husband.

I know people who have done similar things online (which is probably what makes me so suspicious of this little encounter). I understand the temptation - we always want to know rather than guess. 

But what do these little traps prove? Say I had sent a flirty what? All that proves is that if her husband messaged me, I'd flirt with him. Congratulations, you've proven that some random woman in your husband's Facebook list has questionable boundaries. You've learned nothing about him.

Maybe she hoped by opening up a message, she'd learn that he'd been messaging me all along. But still - without context, that information is really not all that helpful. 

I guess the point is - if you're pretending your relationship is all that great - stop. You're not helping anyone, least of all yourself. If you have to create a fantasy, maybe it's time to look a little closer at the reality.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wish I knew

My 2014 dating resolution is to learn from the lessons of 2013.

The biggest lesson I struggle with is not setting expectations. Plans. Agendas.

I blame an active imagination. I spent too much time writing stories as a kid. It's too easy for me to come up with ideas.

I can easily invent a vision of what the date will be like; how he'll treat me, the laughs we'll share, the connection we'll feel. If we keep seeing each other, it's easy to come up with ideas on how it will play out - future dates, meeting friends, etc.

Good grief.

By the way - this works both ways. The minute things don't look like my storyline,  I can easily invent reasons why. I find lies that probably aren't there, hear tones that don't exist, and see behavior changes that aren't real.

It's like a super power, really.

Well-meaning friends don't help. "How are things going?" after only a few days implies something should have changed. Then I wonder, if it hasn't changed, is something wrong? Am I wasting my time? Just spinning my wheels, hoping for something that isn't going to happen?

I tell myself that I need to be patient. These things take time.

"How much time?" seems like a valid question.

Sure wish I knew.