Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On a serious note.

Alright guys, Real Talk. 

I've seen a lot of articles floating around lately about the terrible lesson we're teaching men by constantly turning them down by saying we have boyfriends. And I have concerns. 

We're talking about men who hit on you and only back down when you say you're in a relationship--because it can't possibly be something to do with them, but simply that you're taken. First of all, yes I think it's atrocious that a significant other, either real or imagined on the spot, is the only thing that will stop some men from hitting on you. I also think it says something terribly unflattering about those guys--that they don't respect you and your no thanks, but they will respect whatever guy you tell them you're dating. It's awful. Ok? 

So what I keep reading is that we as women should stop playing into this and making up boyfriends or husbands or girlfriends or anybody at all. We should teach this lesson that our no should be just as powerful as our no I'm in a relationship. We should change the culture around being hit on and let these men learn to deal with a little rejection. I'm all for that. 

In theory. I want to be a part of this movement. I want to help now, because I don't want the toddlers in my life to be in their 20s and still making up big, muscular, jealous boyfriends just because they don't want to dance with some random. But the practice of this is a little less...practical. For me, anyway. And maybe for you too. 

There are times when I'm happy to stand behind my no just because I'm not interested, and not feel this pressure to lie to a grown man who can't take a little bruise to his ego. Then...then there are times when a big, tall guy wraps his arms around me to ask if he can take me out. And I assess the situation, trying not to panic. In that situation, I'm not about teaching anybody any lesson. I'm about getting out of the situation and back to my friends. I'm about taking care of myself. So if, in those situations or anything remotely similar, I think that the quickest way out is to say I have a boyfriend, then I will absolutely do it. Every single time.

Because it's a good lesson to teach. And I'm all for doing my part. But it's just that--part. We can't be expected to do all the work. And we can't be expected to feel unsafe while we do it. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flying Solo

I've never lived alone. I've always had family or roommates or a dozen other summer camp counselors. The closest I've ever gotten was living in a single room in my dorm in college. (Mere feet away from dozens of friends.) So when I agreed to house and dog sit recently, I knew it would be a whole new world.

It was eye-opening. Here are some things I learned about myself:

1. Some of my standards are lower than I thought. I only flush the toilet when it's necessary or when I'm entertaining guests. (On the plus side, I know how and when to clean.) Is this gross? Maybe. But at least it's earth-friendly. And yesterday I wanted to take a nap. I arrived home from work to a bed covered in books, my laptop, and laundry baskets full of clothes I washed last week and didn't bother to fold. I looked at that and thought, hey I can take this nap if I move everything. Then I imagined myself taking the time to do that and thought again. I napped on the floor directly next to my bed. I didn't even consider moving to another room to find a couch. I would make the same decision over again. 

2. I really want a dog.*

3. I am not shy. Ask how many doors I closed during those ten days.**

4. If I could get all my exercise via solo dance parties, I would be much, much happier. I pretty much dance partied around that house every day, despite my dog friend not giving a shit. Sorry not sorry neighbors.

5. I talk to myself, out loud, all the damn time.

6. I may not know how to use every corkscrew I come across, but I'll figure it out. Because I'm highly motivated. 
Way more complicated than it looks. 

7. Did I mention I want a dog?





*Not a new discovery but still worth noting.
**If you guessed 1-3 and only when other people were in the house, you'd be correct. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Learning my "love type"...

When I discovered Lovebirds by Trevor Silvester at work, I knew I had to read it. Written by a couples therapist/bird watcher, it promised to identify my love type from a set of birds--AND how to live with me. I mean, come on. I NEED to know my lovebird. Need. Must know. I didn't even know that "love types" were a thing. 

And so I shamelessly checked it out from the local library. Yes, people I know at the checkout desk, I AM reading self-help relationship books. FOR RESEARCH AND SCIENCE AND STUFF. 

We got off on the wrong foot when Silvester states, on the first page of the introduction, that I'm not so much living a life as a slow, painful pre-death coma. 
"If you live in a supportive, loving state of intimacy you live longer, healthier, happier, and more successful lives." How dare you, sir. 

Things improved a bit on page 13 where the author says the first stages of a relationship actually make you a little crazy, since your body is going insane with love chemicals*. (See? SCIENCE.) So he basically says people in love are nuts, which I can totally see. It's something I've been saying for years. 

I took the quizzes to learn my lovebird, which I'm a little disappointed to report feels a bit Myers-Briggs-esque. Not because I'm against the Myers-Briggs, or because it was poorly done, but because I was hoping for more straight up bird behavior comparisons. ("Peacocks look gorgeous but if you approach them too quickly at the zoo they'll go apeshit and make scary noises until you run away. Sound familiar?") I wasn't disappointed enough to stop reading the book though. I told you, I had to know my lovebird. 

The good news is that my prediction was wrong--I'm not a crow. (Loud, obnoxious, and who really wants them hanging around for very long?)

I'm an Owl/Dove. (Owl is my first one, but Dove was two points behind, in which case the author recommends reading both profiles. Here's a cool fun fact: I'm a rare bird. No, really. Apparently I'm not a common combination? LIKE YOU DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW THAT. 

So, I'm an Owl/Dove. I didn't even have to read the profiles to know that makes sense. Think about it. Owls are a symbol of wisdom and they have an outstanding Resting Bitch Face. Doves are symbols of peace who are forced to attend a lot of weddings and flee the scene as soon as they're allowed. Sound like anyone you know? 

(I actually thought the profiles for my types were pretty on point. Particularly the Owl part. In particular...
"Owls spend a lot of time talking to themselves." Accurate.
And the best possible analysis. "And then there's the foreign world of emotions." 
Additionally, Doves need puppies. "A lack of physical contact will leave them feeling lonely and they'll often have a pet to provide a source of affection." The author is telling me to adopt a pack of dogs. You're getting that vibe too, right? Trevor Silvester, I was a little skeptical, but it is clear that you get me.)

The cool part about reading this book if you're single is that a good portion of it is dedicated to how to handle relationships for every bird combination. Since I'm perpetually alone, I skipped this part and finished the book in like 45 minutes. New record! 

If you're curious, you can take the lovebirds quiz--let me know what you get! 




*Technical term. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Friends with Exes

You know that period after a breakup, where you fantasize about various situations where you run into your ex, and finally get to tell them off or get your revenge or whatever? (One of my more elaborate ones involved me actually suggesting a Kickstarter to friends to make it happen. I would tell you I'm not proud, but to this day I'm pretty sure it would be funded.) Those fantasies help you get through your breakup, because imagining your ex begging for forgiveness in front of all your coworkers until you tell him to stop, he's making a scene and then security escorts him out...I mean, that feels pretty good. In your head. Because in reality, if your ex showed up at work, it would be a total nightmare. 

And exes do show up. It's not usually at your parents' house during Sunday family dinner so he can apologize for ruining your life. It's usually accidental and messy. Oh yeah...and online. It'll happen online. We all know it's the worst. And yet...when we're on the other side...it's so tempting...

Well it's his birthday. I should tell him happy birthday. Just because I ended our relationship doesn't mean I want him to have a shitty birthday, right? It's harmless. 

Stop that. I'm saying this to you and to me. It's a tough decision, I know. But when do you let go of an ex? I'm not talking about avoiding them, because that's basically impossible. Given geography, mutual friends, and technology, you're probably going to run into an ex somehow. (Particularly technology. At least your mutual friends KNOW you broke up and don't want to see each other. Facebook is like, hey you have 37 mutual friends with this guy--maybe you should friend him! YES FACEBOOK I KNOW HIM. WE BROKE UP. YOU KNOW THAT, TOO. YOU KNOW EVERYTHING. You can keep track of what dresses I'm checking out on ModCloth but you can't remember who I digitally broke up with? I call bullshit.) 

Occasionally, an ex of mine will pop up somewhere on the internet I forgot about when I cleaned him out of my life. He recommended a book on Goodreads? He still uses Goodreads? Delete. Oh yeah, we WERE connected on LinkedIn...not anymore. I don't need to see that. 

There's no solid rule about contact with exes, and every relationship and subsequent breakup is a special little snowflake, blah blah blah, so you can't exactly go around making up hard and fast rules. So I don't have anything useful to tell you, as usual. But since this issue came up recently for a friend, I thought I'd tackle it just in case. 

Here are the few rules I use when it comes to getting in touch with exes. 

1. If I did the dumping, I let him come to me. He gets to set the terms of our post-breakup "friendship." Sure, maybe I said let's just be friends, but after that I'm letting him take the lead on it. If and when he's ready to be friendly, he can let me know. (And you're sitting there like, well what if he never calls? Then you really, really broke him and he never calls. Get over it.)

2. If I was dumped, then I cut off contact. No drunk texts, no sad voicemails, no tweets, and for god's sake no poking on Facebook. None. Shut it down. When (if) the time comes that I am no longer still in love with him and can really, honestly be just friends with him, I'll test the waters. (TEST the waters, not dive in headfirst.) You'll notice the emphasis on honesty here. You've got to be genuinely over him in order to forge a new post-relationship friendship. Sorry.

3. If I work with him, in any way, including volunteer stuff or him coming in to my place of work as a patron/customer, then it's polite civility. He's not worth having to chat with my boss about casually calling a customer a dickhead. 

Sometimes you can be friends with an ex. And sometimes you really, really can't. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday

A few years ago, I met my mom at work for some retirement party or holiday party or some other event. Whatever, it was a social function after work and I worked in the neighboring building and was tight with a lot of her coworkers. During this party of questionable origin, one of her coworkers I wasn't particularly approached me and naturally asked if I was single. (And I won't leave you in suspense, dear readers. Yes, I was single.) So she starts going on and on about her single son and she shows me his picture and I say yes, he's very handsome and cool he has a career that's great and she fumbles with a cell phone she doesn't know how to use and snaps what I'm certain was a mediocre photo of me to show him. 

A couple weeks go by and I get this facebook friend request from the guy so I accept him. I immediately stalk him an appropriate amount: enough to get a sense of who he is (what I'm saying here is does the guy have a million profile pictures with his arm around a woman, you know that's the first thing you look for) and he seemed normal. I figured him friending me was the equivalent of asking for my phone number and so when I accepted the request, that was me saying, here you go call me sometime

Apparently not. I waited like three days and heard nothing so I figured, ok fine I'll like his profile picture or something to get the ball rolling. Only when I searched for him he showed up NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE. That guy unfriended me within three days without saying a word. 

New record. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alone at a Wedding

I've never planned a wedding. Well...actually I have. What I mean to say is that I've never paid for a wedding. But even without that hands on experience, I am certain that getting married is expensive.

For this reason, and for the sake of not having a bunch of randoms at "the most special day" of your life, I'm not offended when I don't get to bring a date to your wedding. (I'm assuming you don't give me a +1 because you're trying to save money, right? It's not because you don't think I could find a date? Because trust me, I could find a date if I had to. I totally could. I could find like ten dates.)

Wait, what were we talking about--oh right. I totally don't mind being invited by myself to a wedding.

But...

You knew there was a "but..." right?

But sometimes a date would be awesome. For example, at a family wedding. Unless you're really close to your cousins who will also be attending, family weddings can get really boring, really fast. It's not like you can flirt with anyone there, either, unless you're 100% positive you're not related to them. 
Or a wedding where you don't know a lot of people. Sure, you and the groom are really good friends,but you guys don't hang out with anyone else from the office fantasy football league where you met. It's not like you'll know anyone else at the wedding. Who will you talk to and judge people with? 
Or, you know, the most common one lately, weddings without many single people. This keeps happening. It's simple, really. The more weddings we attend, the more of our friends are married. People couple up. They don't need to find a date. They have a date. Permanently. Legally. But not everyone! Some of us are in this for the long haul, vying to win Survivor: Forever Alone. (AND I. WILL. WIN.) Now I'm not saying I want your wedding to be a speed dating event, but let's be real--the DJ will play slow music and all the couples will dance. At weddings back when lots of us were single, this was a good opportunity to find a cute boy and flirt with him on the dance floor. But as the crowd slowly evolves into a more married, coupled sort of group...who the hell do I dance with? The answer is I don't. I either sit at the table and hope your weird uncle doesn't come ask why I'm not dancing, or I escape to the bar and make poor choices, or I go to the bathroom just for something to do, or I sit there and send rude snapchats of happy couples dancing and snark on them on twitter. And while some of those are fun, it's a little...boring. A low point at your wedding. If you're not going to invite some other singles (preferably handsome, eligible men...just saying) you're kind of making me the 101st wheel. And it's kind of a bummer.

I'm not saying giving me a date is mandatory. But if you're dooming a wedding guest to an evening of solo activity, consider throwing them a bone and putting +1 on their invitation. Or, you know, make sure at least one of your groomsmen is single and handsome. I'll personally settle for that.




**I KNOW I KNOW you have to worry about how many people the church will seat and the reception hall capacity and the cost per plate of food and I GET IT OK you don't have to remind me. It's just a thought. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

How NOT to Internet Date...

...part 45 of 1,000,000 I guess. 

Twin got a message on OkCupid the other night, the first she'd gotten from this particular guy.

"What's your availability tomorrow night?"

This has been bothering me ever since she told me and I've been trying to figure out why. It's not obscene or rude and on top of that, it's not even my message! So why has it been silently pissing me off?

My first thought was that I disliked his abrupt introduction. Or rather, a lack of introduction and jumping right into the next phase. This guy skipped a greeting, a half-hearted compliment, a common interest, and a witty remark that you're wrong in your opinion of the best Back to the Future. He went all in. You busy tomorrow? He wants to do all that Dating 101 stuff in person. Screw typing. 

It's true that I find his approach to be a bit clumsy. It lacks finesse. This is not a guy with a lot of game. And it's sketchy. A lot of my friends are nervous about internet dating because the person you meet could be anybody at all. (And all of my female friends are nervous that your internet stranger might kill you. Yup.) He could be exactly who he says he is. Or the complete opposite. Or some great combination of lies and creep. It's a gamble! The first conversation(s) at least start the elimination process. My girls will still likely meet internet dates in a public place and have friends on standby ready to break you out of a terrible date. But at least they know that person made it through round one of cuts. 

I brought this up to some guys at the bar, a couple guys I've met before and a random guy I've never met and hopefully can avoid for the rest of my days--who invited himself into the conversation. They didn't see a problem with asking someone to meet up before you really chat. They made a decent point.

But I was STILL bothered by this guy--until today, when I realized why I hated his message so much. He does it all wrong. Sure, you know why he's asking if you're available, but he's also making it really hard for you to say no. (Or so he might think.) He asks about your availability tomorrow and you say yeah, I've got no plans. Then he asks if you want to get a drink. Well now you're screwed. You've painted yourself into a corner. If you don't want to see this guy, it just became really tricky. No thanks, you tell him. Well you just said you were free tomorrow! Why don't you want to see him?!** Because it must be him. You said you didn't have plans. What, did you make plans in the last 30 seconds??


Public Service Announcement for anyone throwing out date invites: We don't WANT to hurt your feelings, you know. Not all the time. We might like to give you an out! GIVE US A CHANCE TO REJECT YOU GENTLY. This guy took away any possibility of a graceful exit strategy.

Sure, I might turn a guy down because he's a disgusting ass. But I also might turn down a guy who seems perfectly nice but isn't a guy I want to date. Maybe he misread the situation and thought I was interested. In these cases, I'm not looking to be a bitch. 

Here's my tip for the day: if you're going to ask someone out, don't trick them into saying yes. "Do you want to get a drink tomorrow?" is perfectly acceptable. It leaves the other person a lot of options. They can say yes, or I would love that but tomorrow doesn't work, or no thanks I'm not interested, or no thanks I'm really busy, or fuck off you're a weirdo, or hey I'm in a relationship but thanks for asking, or any number of other responses. And they have the option of letting you down gently--and you'll both feel less awkward. "Are you available tomorrow?" should only be used as a follow-up question. 

I know you don't usually take my advice but please, try and remember this bit. Try really hard. 




**This might seem harsh but I had a guy demand why I didn't want to go out with him one time. Um, maybs because you're super aggressive and childish about rejection??