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.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Be you

Baking Suit sent this to me the other night.

"Where do I go to learn to fish? Do I text back? Do I text first? Do I call? How long do I wait to reply? How many days should go by until I should expect to hear from him? What should I say? How should I act?"
We've all been there. Well, at least most of us have. Knowing the rules is especially hard when you jump back into dating after a divorce, or the end of any long-term relationship. It's just so different from the dating we do when we're young, with nothing to lose. It feels so much more confusing, and less fun, and like so much more is at stake.

But I have good news for Vodka Mom. She's already figured out all she really needs to know.

"I will not date anyone just because he might like me...I don’t want to be someone I’m not. I don’t want to worry that being who I am is going to scare someone away.... I want to laugh, smile or call when I’m thinking of that person. I want to text that person when I want to share..."
The truth is - dating does not have rules. Games have rules. If you're playing games to to land a rich husband, or find a hookup for Friday night, or just get some attention - then there are rules.

But if you're really dating, and looking for something real, then the only rule is to be the real you. I don't mean to make that sound easy - it's not. It takes effort and patience to learn who you really are and what you really want. It takes time to build the confidence you need to call when you want, say what's on your mind, and share how you feel. 

If you do figure all that out, and stay true to who you are and what you want, then things will fall into place when the right guy (or lady) comes along. You may have to put up with meeting a few wrong people, but the good news there is that as long as you stay true to yourself, they'll be easy to spot.

Be you. It's the only rule you need.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

OK to dabble

So, about this guy who I wasn't quick to judge...

When we first spoke, he told me he wasn't open to anything serious because he had just gotten out of a marriage. Like I said, I could respect and understand that - and at one point, I would have been OK dating him casually. There have been plenty of times when I wanted to date, without worrying it would get all serious.

But when I say I'm OK with casual dating, I mean that when he is open with me - and any other women he's dating - about his status. In other words, no women think they're exclusive, when they're not. I'm OK with it as long as everyone is on the same page, and has the same status. I'm never OK with being casual with someone who is serious with someone else.

Last week, Mr. Not-so-serious emailed me and asked how things were going. We got talking back and forth about upcoming concerts and festivals, and he mentioned that he and his "gf" will probably check out the mid-week free concerts near their apartment.

Wait...what? Girlfriend?!

I replied and said something to the effect of, I didn't realize you had a girlfriend...I was under the impression you weren't open to anything serious. He said, "Well her and I have an open relationship. So we are free to play and dabble."

Dabble?! Dabble is something you do in hobbies - not with people's feelings or emotions.

I never replied to that email, and I'm hoping he gets the hint and I never have to explain why. Not because I can't, but because I know that no matter what I say, he'll say it's me judging him like the others he mentioned during our first conversation.

To be clear - I still don't see anything wrong with someone wanting to keep things casual. Like I said, I think it's understandable and respectable, particularly if he is upfront about it from the beginning.

But (like I also said) it's not cool when everyone isn't on the same page, or level. If this woman is his girlfriend, she clearly has a right to different expectations than any other women with whom he chooses to "dabble." I would not be OK with keeping things casual, if I know there's another woman who is not keeping things the same.

I'm willing to bet some of those bad reactions he told me about came after he told the other women about the girlfriend. Rather than try to explain myself when I don't owe an explanation, or come across as judgmental or unfair, I just stopped replying.

Hopefully, he'll just take his dabble elsewhere.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Play mode

A while back, I came across an OKCupid profile of an interesting guy who specifically said he wasn't looking for anything serious. Since I have plenty of not-so-serious in my life already, I passed him by. But not too long ago, he sent me an email introducing himself, and we got to messaging.

To his credit, he was open about where he's at. He told me he's in "play mode" because he just got out of a 10-year marriage. I can respect that - but also wanted to be honest. I told him I am not looking for anything strictly casual. Even though I'm not looking to rush into anything serious, I want the potential to be there. I said it sounded like we're in different places. 

He agreed, but we kept chatting as friends. He told me he appreciated that I didn't get all judgmental and angry with him for wanting to "play." Apparently, some women have reacted poorly.

Here's my thing.... I think "play mode" is perfectly fine, as long as the person is upfront. There's nothing wrong with not wanting a full-blown relationship. If you already know you have no place in your life for one, why not just be honest? 

I think the problem is a lot of women (maybe men, too) take that personally. Like, oh, that person must just not want to date me. I suppose that is the case sometimes - but when someone tells me right from the start that he just isn't in that place, I don't feel like that has anything to do with me. How could it? It's a decision he made before I even came along.

It's cool to want a relationship, and it's perfectly fine to limit yourself to meeting new people who want the same. But there's no reason to judge people just because they want something different. 

Some people are just looking for someone else in play mode.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

All settled

So.... I'm all moved in. Not quite settled yet, but getting there. I sold my home (to excellent friends, actually), and moved into an apartment. Perfect for my single-gal lifestyle.

I basically took the month of April off from dating. Between packing, hosting a large family party, and starting a new job - there was no time. I learned (or maybe I was reminded of) something interesting:

I'm happier when I'm single.

That's not to say I don't like dating (sometimes), or that I'm resigning myself to official crazy cat lady status just yet. I just noticed that I was happier when I didn't have to juggle annoying emails from guys I don't want, and silence from those I do.

It was actually a huge relief, and while I know I will return to dating eventually, I have to say - it is nice knowing I don't need to date to be happy.