Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The search string of shame, open sores (Open Source?)

So, I read the Carolyn Hax column religiously. Someone wrote in a few days ago that they discovered they had herpes and wondered what to do now that they were dating. They're horrible because they wanted permission not to tell dates if they were only about to have casual sex, which is basically proof of being a terrible person and so I got all judgy and then got sucked into the comment thread. In there, someone posted a link to an article titled "HOW TO TELL SOMEONE YOU HAVE HERPES" and I thought, huh, how DO you tell someone you have herpes? So I clicked on it, read the article and promptly forgot about it.


When I realized OH NO. That was on my WORK. COMPUTER.  Now the entire IT Department will think I have herpes. Great. I'll bring in brownies and they'll be all "oh, don't touch those, that girl with the open sores made them."


My only defense is weak. When I am ACTUALLY researching a disease I have for reals, or think I have, I SCOUR the fucking internet for information on that shit. For weeks. You best believe it ain't no one-click-satisfaction experience. But imagine me telling that to someone. "It was only in my search history ONCE! I mean, go LOOK at it! And see -- it's right after the advice column link!"

winter is coming

I feel like I should be ashamed of the reason it had to end so it's difficult for me to say it. It feels like I'm broadcasting proof of my unworthiness. Like, if I were special enough, it would have overcome the barrier. Even if logically I know that's not true.

So, why did it end?

He is hung up on someone else. He likes me and all, but is crazy about her. That's why his signals were subdued.

It was really nice of him to be honest with me.

And I am really glad I asked.

The exchange was very friendly, really was a nice way to end things. But oh how I hate that moment where you both know it's over but now he has to walk you out because the neighborhood might be unsafe and you both are smiling starchy smiles and all you want is to get the eff away so you can mope alone with terrible thoughts like why am I so unworthy of love? I will be alone forever.

What a ridiculous fantasy, to think love can conquer all. Love can be crushed by the most mundane things.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

meh, finalized.

We talked. It's over. I ended it. But my instincts were correct.

I just deleted my online dating accounts. I don't want to date anyone anymore right now. I will spend the winter reading novels. Fuck love.

You know, we weren't emotionally attached so why do I feel so shitty?

A fuck to be proud of. A passionate fuck.

I sat on the couch with a friend quietly blogging while he played Call of Duty.

"FUCK!!!" he yelled, an explosive outburst which reverberated throughout the room and rattled around my body, tickling my funny bone. I giggled. He continued playing, deep in concentration, oblivious to my amusement.

Now THAT is a fuck to be proud of. A passionate fuck. Not a lame sputtering oozing from lazy lips but a hearty revilement full of life and fight. How can you not love a fuck like that?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

another meh update.

So, I said I would talk about my heart here on this blog. And lately I don't know what to say.

The Cyclist and I are developing a really nice foundation of trust and friendship. What I can't tell if we're developing is a sense of closeness. This amount of distance is okay in the early stages but it's starting to move past that. If it doesn't show signs of deepening, if we don't begin to connect more, it will start to feel empty.:(

I guess there's not much else to say.

Monday, October 15, 2012

short update: taking care

I'm feeling guarded about mentioning The Cyclist. It's the same reason people don't like to announce a pregnancy until it's more established -- too awkward to explain if it doesn't work out. And most don't work out. I mean, up to 1/3rd of all pregnancies fail before the woman even knows she's pregnant (a prof once told our class) and, so, what -- it's gotta be like 99% for fledgling relationships.

We had a date last Friday, before I headed out of state for a family thing The date was simple -- assembling  furniture and crepe-eating but something about the allen wrench stimulated a deeper conversation than usual and we shared more stuff from the past. The process is still moving very slow but that's good. We only see each other like, once a week (? it's not regular nor a given) so the slow pace seems fitting.

Although he is extremely private, tentative bonds of trust are starting to form between us. It's easy to feel affection for someone who treats you so sweetly. He has extremely thoughtful ways, like he will give me little care packages of food when I leave his house or if we are sharing a glass of water, he holds it out to me first before he takes a sip. He gives me the gift of his attention.

Many of my relationships have had a caretaking slant but it's unusual to feel the roles switched in this way where I am being cared for. I am so used to feeling forgotten, secondary or inadequate that I don't even know what to do with his insistence that my thoughts and feelings are important. I want to give back but he doesn't seem to want/need much. I'm not sure how to show him how much I appreciate these things other than being expressive. But I feel very warm inside when I see him because he's so kind to me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Does it count as a date if it's a counseling session?

Two nights ago I sat at a picnic table with a friend while we swirled paint onto canvasses.
Friend: This is going to make a great sound when it lands in the trash.

Me: Yes. It doesn't matter if we hate it (because I do) because we're just experimenting, right?

Friend: Right. And doing this in the dark was a great idea. I can't even see it. So I'm not full of rage like I was in that shitty drawing class we took.

Me: Ha!

Friend: So how's it going with that new guy?

Me: I think we broke up.

Friend: Why?

Me: We didn't email at ALL today. So it's probably over.

Friend: Oh, sorry to hear about that.

Me (swirling gobs of black onto painting): Eh, what can you do.

Friend: Did you get back together with your ex?

Me: Yes, we have a date tonight. We never even TALKED about the breakup, can you believe it?

Friend: It will probably come up in couple's counseling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

another quickie

This morning a friend texted me. "I'm sorry this is last minute but I'm trapped at the doctor's and they won't let me leave unless it looks like I have someone to come pick me up."
I texted back, "be right there."

When I arrived, he was still in a back room. I messaged, "I'm here! They said you need a note from your mom. I told them I AM your mom. How do I pronounce your last name again?"

Be sure to call me next time YOU need a ride. I'll only embarrass you a little bit.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear new guy: some things I won't tell you yet.

Dear new guy,

Some things I won't tell you yet. Maybe never.

Thank you for not pressing me about my past. I don't really know how to talk about it right now.

Thank you for not making fun of the fact that I cannot navigate around the city.

Thank you for not asking me why that movie made me all misty.

Thank you for hugging me when I left and looking like you didn't want to see me go.

Thank you for being kind to me. I need that more than you might know.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Where does fear come from?

The origin of fear is loss of confidence.
  • Pain at the dentist.
  • The heartache of failed love.
  • Lost in the city.
  • Injured while skiing.
  • Falling down.
  • Betrayed.
  • Failing.
Before we experience these things, we are innocent. The first time a bare knee hits the pavement, we instantly become educated to the possibility of falling off our bikes.

We become scared when we realize we can be hurt.

How do you get your groove back?

You gain confidence back through through repeated exposure, a sense of control, and practice.

Keep doing that thing. Exposure takes away the newness. Did you know that it takes about 4 times of repeating something before it stops feeling as new? That's the minimum number of times you will, say, need to drive someplace before you start to recognize the route (although it may take 6-10 times before you start feeling bolder).

Gain a sense of control by having training wheels or a GPS or exploring the route when there's no deadline. Date without giving your heart away until you're more sure you're both on the same page. Get back up on your skis and try again. Take a class. Keep dancing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why are people such dicks about power?

I spend a good deal of time thinking about this because I see it all the time.

Why are people such dicks about power?

Money is power, beauty is power, knowledge is power. Share it, don't wield it. If we share, then all of us have a chance to be powerful in our own way. Everyone wins.

Sometimes when I see a phenomenon in human nature recurring, I think oh, there must be some root in evolutionary biology. Some reason humans have adopted this behavior. An out-for-thyself mentality probably comes from a time when successful survival really did depend on how well you looked out for yourself. That's outdated in today's world but there are still stories of people climbing on the backs of others with ne'er a thank you to all those that served as steps.

Maybe that's why I like science so much. The curriculum by nature instills the humble adage "we are standing on the shoulders of giants" into the psyches of its student body and I'm aware of this every time I turn on a light or fumble with my phone. I try not to become so lost in my daily routine that I forget how lucky I am.

This is also one reason I like giving back, in my small way. I'm not building circuits or inventing things but I know people and I can love them. Yesterday I thought I don't care if I was snowed sometimes. I gave with an open heart. What of it? We give what we can when we can and we're all the better for it. I've gotten better at not being too foolish though. Reciprocity is a good measure. "Never love anybody who treats you like you're ordinary" wrote Oscar Wilde. Don't make someone your priority when you are only their option.

Back to the power thing. I think there's more at play.

People want to preserve their value by not sharing their knowledge -- it dilutes their worth, perhaps -- but it's not just that. There's more.

We're a herd species, and if one member doesn't "get it" or is clueless, that feels like a threat to the rest of the pack. Maybe that's why there's so much derision for those who don't fit in.

If people look like they're not paying attention to themselves, well, then, they're the outlier ready to be snatched up by a lion. No one wants to be near that guy when he gets picked off.

Maybe that's also why there's so much peer pressure to conform.

It's safer to blend in on a grassy plain.

If we know this, though -- what's in our natures -- we can fight against it. Mind over instinct, bitches. We're better than that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Do we matter?

Everywhere I go, I see corporate campaigns. "____ matters!" Outreach consisting of imploring statements about value. This commonality -- that everyone is doing it -- is perhaps a reflection on an increasingly troubling state: bombarded with information overload, how do we REACH people anymore? How can we insert ourselves into the hearts of those around us? Puppies are dying and kittens are homeless and children are starving and forests are disappearing and people are illiterate and ohmygod, how do we rally support? Public giving reflects our pinched economy and the oversaturation of those things that tug on heartstrings.

And it exists on a personal level too. Do I matter? Did I matter? Was I important even in a small way? Even Gotye intoned this in the hit devoured by the hungry lovelorn: "But you didn't have to cut me off... make out like it never happened and that we were nothing." 

Can you have mattered even if your time with that person has ended? Why does it feel like all the nice things are erased just because they're not current? Maybe it is because we don't always get to hear, "Hey, you were really important to me. Thank you. I will never forget that."

So many conversations inside the head, so few make it out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

a quickie

I've got like, 12 minutes to post a quick update before I have to begin a freelance job. This has been a good week so far! I've been in incredibly good spirits. Not feeling alone despite being alone. Have been incredibly productive and physically active and even told myself that would justify being a pig again with the candy jar today despite attempts to break this habit. So, I fail there, but okay, I'm PMSing. Once fucking Aunt Flo arrives, the cravings should settle down.

The Cyclist is still away on a trip. We've been emailing though, every night. Nice letters. Nothing deep -- still getting to know each other but it's kinda nice. I like his writing voice. I told my mom about him. Well, 8 minutes left... will have to write more later.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dating rules

I love you I adore you!
Cripes, I thought she'd never leave...

How to filter dating profiles
(aka don't waste time!)

RULES, ho. Gotta have 'em. First off, no dinner dates. COFFEE. Then if you both hate each other instantly, you only have 20 minutes to suffer through, not TWO HOURS. (God, that was a shitty date.)

No long, drawn-out conversations either. ONE phone call before the date so you can hear their voice and see if it clicks. I only turned down one date because of the guy's voice but he sounded so much like Bill Clinton that I knew I'd never be able to concentrate on what he was actually saying.

You can't be messaging for eons either, you have to meet. It doesn't matter how well you click as pen pals, you still have to be attracted to each other and that can only be determined in person, no matter HOW compelling the photo.

Disclaimer: because these are my dating rules, these are targeted towards women looking for men.
1. Screen dating profiles carefully.

Red flags:

--- Mentioning sex, intimacy, or any reference to the physical aspects of a relationship:
Everyone loves getting it on, dude. Why you gonna mention it in your profile? That's just creepy. Any reference to sexual prowess or awesomeness in bed is TMI and just made me lose respect for you. The one time I overlooked this rule because I didn't actually catch the reference, I was sorry. Chemistry is as private as it is unpredictable and should not be mentioned in a profile. It it something only to be unveiled between two partners when the time feels right.

--- Signs of negativity:
That huge list of everything you don't want, sir, is also a turnoff. Statements like "please do not contact me if you have trust issues" or "not looking for someone to take care of" or "do not want someone with baggage" can hold valuable information to what went wrong before but here's why you're doing it wrong: people who fit those descriptions probably don't see themselves that way. So it won't work as a screening tool. You just have to get good at reading signs.

Aside from it being ineffective, the main reason I distrust negativity is that it can be sign that previous wrongs are carried too prominently and thus you may be categorized according to those that wronged them before. You will be viewed through the lens of other people's mistakes which is an unfair, reductionist view of all the  beautiful, unique snowflakes in the land of singledom.

It is also flippant to discard someone without seeing how they may actually manifest their issues and whether or not the good points override the bad. Someone might think they don't want to deal with trust issues, for example, but maybe it's not that substantial. A sense of flexibility and acceptance in a person is a sign of a generous nature, one of the most important qualities you can pick in a mate; people have to be discriminating, sure, but you don't want someone who's dismissive.

Negatives can also be a sign that there is a line of defenses guarding against getting close. Someone who is emotionally unavailable may be unconsciously looking for excuses as to why no one will be right.

--- Read into declarations:
If the dating profile says: "I am looking for an independent woman" that can be a sign that they may be vulnerable to feeling depended on or crowded. Most women who actually are independent wouldn't classify themselves as such; it's just part of their personality. For women who like very close connections or a lot of attention, this could be possibly interpreted as dependence, triggering a sensitive partner into aloofness. Pay attention to signals and don't get too invested too quickly.

Some dating rules advocate acting "cool" -- like you don't, in fact, need attention but then you will just find someone who doesn't like the real you. Why would you want that? If you like to be connected, then connect. If this is uncomfortable for a potential partner, you just learned something valuable and avoided a lonely relationship.
--- Income:
I get suspicious if people list income in their profile. The guys that I saw do this seemed on the egotistical side and bragged about their money (and then wondered why they were attracting money-grubbers). Income should be private until you and a partner establish appropriate trust levels.

--- Work:
They need to have a job. Ain't nothing going on but the rent. It's hard to respect someone with zero ambition who's not even trying to better themselves.

--- Angry or unsmiling photos: 
Really? That's the best they can do for a DATING profile? Maybe they never smile in real life either. I admit that I do look for a warm, open face.

--- Grammar & punctuation errors:
A dating profile is like a job interview: every person on a dating site should be putting their best foot forward. If their profile is riddled with errors, either they don't know or care about how they come across.

--- Lists too many books, movies, songs, etc.:
This isn't a common flag but I have seen it more than once. It's just weird that someone would list their top favorite 800 books, movies and songs. Who has time for this? Are they even working? Who even remembers that many? It seems obsessive.

--- Odd age range idiosyncracies:
If their preferred age range does not include their own age, that's weird.

2. Be selective about messaging back & forth:
"And you first met this guy in real life?
How do you know he's not some homicidal maniac?"

--- No corresponding with blank profilers:
Do not respond to anyone who does not have photos or details in their profile. Lots of people have logged in to surf before they were ready to put themselves out there, sure -- I've lurked through profiles too -- but I'm suspicious of anyone who reaches out while their own slate is blank.

--- Did they put some time into reading your profile?
Do not respond to anyone who does not give any indication of having spent the time to read your profile. "You're cute," "Hi" or any other short snippets do not warrant a response. Also ignore messages that look canned, like "Hi, your profile looks interesting and I thought we could meet." If they are interested in your profile, it will show in their contact.

--- The merit of old-fashioned ways:
I generally do not reach out or contact people first. Old-fashioned, I know. I will visit profiles and sometimes favorite or rank them highly but that's usually the most I will do.

Here's the benefit to being passive:
  • You get people who are actively looking. You won't get those who are dating someone and not logging in as often.
  • They'll see that you visited and so now they can check you out -- if they like what they see, they can initiate contact. This eliminates reaching out to someone who isn't receptive. I try to have my profile contain realistic pictures -- both flattering and those less so. Whoever still likes me at least knows what they're getting into looks-wise.
--- Avoid overt flirtatiousness or familiarity: 
Anything too flirty in a message, shut it down.

--- Permission to listen to your gut: 
If anything about your correspondence together turns you off (they write 17 pages, they sound too flippant, they talk about the last 10 women they blew off, etc.), shut it down politely. I had someone recently send a nice, thoughtful message and append it with the footnote that they were looking for a "50 Shades of Grey" type of relationship. I haven't read the book but I don't need to in order to know I will not be writing back.

--- Don't become penpals:
Don't spend too much time writing before you meet. I give it 1-3 weeks with several exchanges before I will meet. I do not give out my phone number until we are about to agree to meet.

--- Protect your identity:
Use the dating site to message and refer to yourself by your username to continue maintaining your privacy. Do not shift to your regular email until after you meet and establish trust.

--- No texting:
No texting before you meet unless you are communicating about the meetup. Texts carry an intimate tone and that informality is unwarranted until you meet and establish a connection.

3. One phone call:

Have one phone call before you meet. You can tell a lot about a person by their voice and also their personality and whether or not you click. Yes, you will both be nervous and guarded but this will save time from meeting if you find that you absolutely do not click at all.

If possible, use Google Voice or another resource to get an anonymous number.

4. Quick coffee date:

Meet in public and let someone know where you'll be. Safety first! That goes without saying. Here's what to look for on your first date:

--- Are you attracted?
Do you like the way your date looks, carries themselves, smells, etc.?

--- Is conversation easy?
It doesn't have to flow perfectly, but it's a good sign if conversation is easy on the first date. It means you have established a good rapport.

--- Watch negativity: 
If someone spends the date recounting their many wrongs or if they have been "screwed over" many times, you're next in line to be badmouthed. Steer clear.

--- The ex should not be in the room: 
You want to learn about each other's history as trust levels dictate but too much talk about an ex can indicate that their presence is too large. I once dreamed I was lying in bed with a new partner, ready for sleep and their ex lay between us. I didn't take the dream seriously at the time but it turned out to be more telling than I realized.

--- Is the conversation one-sided?
Make sure they ask you about yourself and seem interested in getting to know you.

Aaaand. the horror stories!

See how MUCH can go wrong at the Annals of Online Dating.