And then…

…it works.

When you’re not looking or expecting or even believing in anything anymore.

You are aimlessly thumbing through Tinder in a jaded distant fashion and you see someone’s picture and you just know to check them out. You like them. And a few days later they like you back. You hesitantly start a conversation, not really hoping for anything anymore.

And you find connection. You make a plan for a date. It starts out shyly and then before you really know it, you’re spilling some of your deepest secrets and your deepest pain and your deepest desires. You’re still holding back so much but you realize this person…this person sees you. And you feel safe and like they are safe to share the rest of your deepest parts with. Something sparks in you and Pandora’s box opens up to release all of the bad inside you and hope flits out hesitantly.

Hope isn’t something you recognize at all anymore. Well…I guess that’s not true. You recognize it, but you are terrified of it. Terrified of hurting again. Terrified of trying again. Terrified of feeling again.

And yet. You let go.

Slowly at first. Shyly. Quietly. And something beautiful begins to unfold. You start to realize that all of these stories and bad dates were leading up to a release from someone who would hold your pain and be the aloe for all of those burns. The pain slowly fades as you discover that there really do exist people who let your past be your past and don’t judge all the bad and weird and exploratory decisions you made.

Slowly you realize that this person isn’t going to land in this blog as one of the eyeroll or laugh out loud crazy stories. You promise them early on that they won’t be one of those stories–because you know early on that they won’t be. You hope that one day you’ll be writing this very post.

The post to close the chapter on reliving past moments that, while hilarious, are tied up with pain and rejection.

This blog has been one of the most freeing things I have ever done. To publicly share intimate moments. To publicly share vulnerability. To publicly share loss and rejection.

To publicly share hope.

My friends, it’s time to hand the reins over. These stories are all out there. Well…ish. There are some stories that really cannot be made light of. They are just painful and should be walked away from. They don’t deserve the light of day. Because when other people put their pain on you and you make it yours, it just needs to be released. Bear that in mind:  if someone is putting accusations on you, it’s almost guaranteed to be them talking to themselves. Walk away from that sooner than I did. But if you don’t, I only hope you meet someone like I have who eases that burden and pain.

I wish you all the best in your ventures. I wish you all the best in finding your person. The unicorns along the way will light your path and keep your fire alive. Because, for me, it turns out that my person isn’t a unicorn at all. She’s ethereal, it’s true, but she’s also too real to be a unicorn. She is my present and she keeps me present. Look for that. Look for the person who you feel safe being seen by. Look for the person who you feel safe being the truest form of yourself in front of. Look for the person who makes you laugh, holds you when you cry, and is the person who flashes through your mind when you have a serious accident and think it may be the last breath you take. Because that person, when you survive that bad accident, will be the one who will hold you together and not let all of your pieces even think of falling apart. And they will make you feel, for the first time in your life, like you are beautiful and worthy of love.

You are worthy. You are all worthy.

And I pinky swear promise that if you can just claw onto that all and keep from spiraling and giving up and settling, you’ll find your person. You’ll find yourself not even caring or angsting over how long it’ll last–you’ll be present.

And it will all be as easy to move through as all of those jerks who have found their person say it is.

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Getting back out there

So as I have alluded to, I have had one very long term relationship. One that lasted from 17 – 25. It involved years of love, a deep friendship, a Canadian divorce, and a called-off American wedding. Needless to say, that took years to recover from, and may explain some of my bad attempts at a relationship.

That formula of it takes half the relationship to recover? I actually believe that’s pretty close.

Anywho. As you may imagine, getting back out there for the first time was rough. Like, really rough. I hadn’t dated since I was 17…and I wouldn’t exactly call what I was doing at 17 actual dating. When I took the plunge back into the crazy world of dating, I was am American living in Canada. Normally I think that’s pretty innocuous. But…this was during the Bush years, so Americans were pretty hated up there. Naturally, I tried to date a Canadian.

My first date came from Plenty of Fish. When I tried match.com, I literally had zero matches…and my standards were LAX. PoF it was! The guy was cute, outdoorsy, and seemed genuinely nice.

Turns out, two out of those three were true in real life. Guess which one was missing?

Nailed it: the cute part. Turns out his pics were about 10 years old. Kinda makes me think of the entry that started this whole blog venture!

Our date was to a movie. I can’t remember what it was, but it was supposed to be a comedy. We both laughed a lot.

At totally different parts.

Hmm. I was a bit wary of this situation. Were our senses of humor THAT different?

Also. He laughed like a fucking hyena and I wished for no more funny scenes after about 20 minutes in.

Afterwards, we decided to go to dinner. Back in the day, I actually ate meat, so we went to a BBQ joint. We awkwardly talked until dinner arrived and I dove in. And by dove in, I mean it—I soon had sauce running down my chin. I was a bit embarrassed so asked him to hand me a napkin while I kept my chin covered with my hands. He teased me with the napkin, saying that he wouldn’t give it over until I showed him how messy I was. At first I thought he was joking so I laughed and said no, please just give me the napkin. Then I realized he really wasn’t going to hand it over until I moved my hands. This really annoyed me but I kept the outward annoyance to a minimum and just scarfed my food so we could get out of there faster.

The ending was abysmal. He asked for a hug (after, I kid you not, making several anti-American jokes in a row and hyena-laughing his ass off while I just did small smiles). My response to the hug request was to say ‘that’s all you’re getting.’

But he didn’t get the hint (or I guess blatant spelling out of we aren’t going anywhere).

I realized I would indeed have to spell this all out. So I typed up a message over PoF saying that I was too recently out of my relationship and that it’s not you it’s me and blah blah blah good luck with life. My bestie then walked over to my apartment and we headed to Dairy Queen to commiserate on how much dating sucks.

On the way over, I got a phone call. From the guy.

Dude. SERIOUSLY?

My friend looked at me and said ‘so you know you’re letting that go to voicemail…and then we are going to listen to that on speaker, right?’

Duh.

She then got her ab workout for the week listening to his high pitched voice squeak out that he couldn’t believe our relationship was over and he would do anything to make it work and can we pretty please with a cherry on top at least be friends?

Facepalm.

Facepalm.

Facepalm.

The kicker?

I came home to a desperate email that echoed the voicemail.

Here’s some free advice: after one date, if you’re not both on the same page by a lot…let it go. Do you really want to spend the rest of the relationship chasing?

Does rejection suck? Hell yes. I should know. If even my dog looks at someone else for attention, I feel rejected. So believe me, I get rejection and being sensitive. But sometimes you just need to let things slide, especially that early on.

Because when it works, it’s easy and it’s the most perfect thing you can imagine.

And we will all get to where we need to be with that feeling.

Cockblocked.

We’ve all been there. Of, if you’re into chicks, you call it pussyblocked. Or is it a beaver dam? Your choice. I’m sure you know what I mean. 

It’s that moment when you’re steaming straight ahead to Funkytown and there’s a fatal error.

And you find yourself (insert appropriate genitals)-blocked.

Take for instance this moment in my life. I was out bar hopping with my favorite month-long fling from last year and we were having a grand time trading raunchy stories and sending inappropriate drunk texts to various friends (if you’re reading this and were a recipient, sorry/ not sorry/ you’re welcome). We started to end the night and found ourselves making out while leaning on my car wishing we had a more convenient hook-up location. He pulled back slightly and with a sly grin said that he worked around the corner and he has a dream of sex on the conference table.

I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

We hurried to his building, giggling like idiot teenagers the whole way. We stumbled up the dimly lit stairwell and into the open-space office design…only to find…his loser co-worker pulling an all-nighter.

Cockblock of all cockblocks.

With the open office design, there was nowhere to get any privacy, and the co-worker was looking pretty suspicious of my date’s fake rifling through papers and mumbling of “uh I forgot to grab…uh…something.”

We looked at each other and realized this would be the end of the evening.

On the way out, I heard my date mutter “well I’ve never liked that guy, so at least now I have an actual reason to hate that guy…so…bright side?”

Yes?

When they say:

“Why is your dog so weird?”

You say:  “Check please!”

Yep. True story.

So I have a wonderful dog. She’s a bit wonky, but she’s also a Lab, so it comes with the territory. She just super duper wants attention, wants people to be happy, and most of all wants belly rubs. If I’m in public with her, she attracts attention from pretty much anyone because she’s pretty dang cute and she loves everyone and everything (no joke:  she gets super butt hurt if another living being doesn’t immediately want to be her best friend).

This particular date taught me to bring with her on all first dates because if you don’t like my dog, we aren’t going any farther. She’s the constant in my life and comes first…and was there waaaaay before anyone else.

She’s also kind of me in dog form. So if you don’t like her, we won’t work. As a result, she’s my litmus test. This particular date taught me to bring her on the first or second date to make sure everyone gets along and to screen people out early on.

But the biggest thing this particular moment taught me was to just be yourself right from the start, be open about your priorities, and when someone hits a deal breaker to walk away. So often we ignore red flags and don’t act on our needs or set healthy boundaries from the start. As a result, we enter into relationships from a false standpoint and can’t understand why they crash and burn so badly. It may sound weird to compare my dog to other red flags, but it’s true:  if we are as ruthless with our boundaries and needs as we should be, it may take longer to find that awesome person, but it may save a LOT of pain.

Although…if I was always good about red flags, I wouldn’t have this blog or the boatload of other over the top stories. So maybe (safely) ignoring your red flags can make for some good stories 😀

How to lose a girl in 5 sentences

So as I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been pretty much over the cis male dating scene, and recently discovered a dating app for women called Her.

So THAT’S where y’all have been!

One of the really good things about it is that the app will start a conversation if you match with someone and you are both too introverted to start it. It asks some pretty good conversation starting questions, like,

“Snuggle hard or party late?”
“Should glitter be banned or put EVERYWHERE?”
“What’s the worst mistake you ever made with your hair?”
“Gelato or fro yo?”
etc.

Recently, the app stepped in and started a conversation between a woman and myself with this question:  “Have you ever met someone famous?”

Me:  “Yep! I met Dave Matthews a few years ago and I meet some famous people through my retail job. But the people I am usually most excited to meet are the big names in my field of study (I’m a marine scientist). Those are the ones who I forget my name around. (Yep, kind of a nerd here!)

Her:  “Hi! Interesting! Bye!”

Sigh. Shoulda waited a minute before being SUCH A DORK.

But then…at least I was able to dodge a deal breaker immediately?

I’ve been a little torn about this actually. On the one hand, I thought I was being kinda funny and up front that I’m a professional nerd. But then I have to remember the stigma around being a nerd, and the picture people get in their head of a typical scientist. I have struggled my entire life to break that stigma, but society, TV, movies, and books haven’t really done me any favors. Usually when I meet people in person, it takes them a while before they actually get that I’m a scientist. By then, my charm has totally won them over (or not, but at least they have the real me to go by).

So I guess that is the downfall of this whole online dating thing…it’s soooo easy to flit to the next attractive photo. It’s a good reminder to not judge a bio by its cover…and to be open minded that your perception about someone could be based totally on society’s take on them…and maybe not them.

Job interview (j/k. lol.)

So a few years ago, I was awarded a fellowship for the year following grad school. In this position, I was able to do a lot of networking. At one particular networking event, I met a woman who was a consultant in a field I was very interested in pursuing a job in once my fellowship ended. We chatted for a while and really got along, so she invited me to come into the office for an interview. I jumped at the chance.

A week or so later, I took a day off of my fellowship (which was a difficult maneuver given that it was a limited duration to begin with) and went downtown to meet with this woman. We chatted for a few minutes about her firm…and then she asked me if I was single.

I’m sorry…what?!

I had, in fact, very recently (like, 5 days ago) become single during a painful breakup over a difficult health situation on my partner’s end of things.

I tried to hide that I just wanted to cry over that thought she triggered and instead just said ‘uh…yeah? WHY?!’

“Oh perfect! I have JUST the guy for you!!”

“WHAT?!”

I shit you not. I literally gave up a day of work for what I thought was a job interview…to be interviewed to see if I was fit to date her friend. I regained a vague sense of composure over the next few minutes and diplomatically left.

It took me a few days to get over the shock, and it was also humiliating to tell my mentor for my fellowship the following day what had happened. He was appalled and didn’t blame me at all for that experience, and just commiserated with me about how inappropriate that was.

 

A few days went by, and I slowly got over that incident.

Until.

An email introduction appeared.

This chick actually thought it was ok to send an email intro between me and her dude friend.

WHAT?!

And he emailed me immediately asking to meet up.

I was furious. I calmly emailed him back and informed him of the entire situation and thanked him for his interest, but told him I was in no place to date. He was unaware of the whole story, and responded with an emphatic apology and agreed to never contact me again.

 

Fast forward to a few months later. I was hiking with my favorite hiking buddy up to a remote alpine lake. We were having a great time chatting and pushing our limits on a tough hike. At one point about a mile from the top, we paused to try to remember how to breathe and have a normal heartbeat again, and let a group pass. As they trickled by, a woman stopped and excitedly said my name. I jerked my head up to be met face to face with the woman who ‘interviewed’ me.

She was soooo excited to run into me. And she was with the guy she wanted me to date.

Dear life: seriously?!

I put on the fakest smile and immediately deflected. My hiking buddy, seeing that I needed rescuing, did me a solid and took over and got the woman back to passing us by on the hike.

Bitch didn’t even offer us the tequila she was chugging at the lake when we arrived.

 

Fast forward to a few months later. A friend was getting married in a few weeks and she set up a fun bachelorette party evening. She wasn’t someone I knew super well, but I wanted to support her for her big day—and I am not one to turn down a bachelorette party! I excitedly met her and her crew at the first destination…and stopped short the minute I walked into the bar.

Job interview girl was there. And sitting next to my friend.

Dear life: just fuck yourself.

I decided to ignore the situation and just focus on the bride to be. Because…that’s how a grown-up and a friend handles things. There was no way I was going to divert attention away from my friend for her big fun night. So I acknowledged the job interview girl and said ‘oh hi! Good to see you again! I’m so excited we can support our mutual friend on her big night!’

Instead of taking the hint, she immediately started blaring out the entire story at the top of her lungs, taking ALL attention onto herself (and by default, me).

Facepalm. And sigh.

Our poor mutual friend then felt awkward AF about us being in the same room, and started trying to patch things up. I covered for all of us and diverted attention back to her as soon as I possibly could, but I felt awful for having her night start out with such a downer of a moment. In the end, she had a fabulous night that she will remember (through all of our pictures…because we showed her a GOOD night) for the rest of her life. Also, turns out job interview girl has an early bedtime, so that helped divert awkwardness early on.

 

That was the last time I have run into her, but I am still wary of another possible time and the awkward possibilities it could hold.

Tho…as usual, at least it will be memorable (and I’ll be sure to update this entry).

Family Meetings

I SUCK at meeting families. And at getting along with families. I don’t get along with many girls, so sisters terrify me. And brothers have typically hit on me. I’m also not typically what parents want their kiddo dating.

As a result, I dread these meetings…and one time I decided that showing up tipsy would be the best way to handle it.

Spoilers, it was not the way to handle it.

This blog is about the early dates and all that, but this kinda fits because I met this person’s brother and (female) best friend (who is basically family to him) fairly early on. And let’s face it:  I get to make the rules for this blog :).

So. Meeting this person’s family. We decided to make it low key and meet up at my favorite dive bar. I was coming from a Hawaiian themed party, so was already looking ridiculous in my sarong and tank top in the middle of the winter. And I was a little buzzed.

It started off ok enough, and we started going through pitchers of beer. I may have a tendency to get a tad loud when I drink…and lose what little filter I have. So by my big moment of the evening, I was not exactly in an endearing state. Also at one point in the evening, there was a dude who was being a bit annoying, so I deflected and embarrassed the shit out of him. Not that I think my night would have gone much smoother had I not done that…but it may have been slightly less mortifying.

At some point in the evening, I had to pee. I had never been to the restroom at this place before, and was told it was ‘around the corner.’ So I blindly went around the corner and right into the bathroom.

There was a long trough along the floor, which should have been my first clue…but alas it wasn’t. My first clue was when a guy, the guy I had made fun of earlier, looked down at me and we asked each other what we were both doing in there.

It was then I realized I was in the men’s room. Popping a squat. In a skirt.

I prayed to all the gods out there that no one would notice. But then karma bitch slapped me. The dude who I called out earlier for being an ass came out behind me, saw my group, and yelled “I just saw your girlfriend’s cooter!!”

Definitely not my finest moment.

The guy I was seeing received the recommendation of dumping me later that evening.

A recommendation that was pretty well deserved.

So, here’s some friendly advice:  when you’re on a date, be sure to check the bathroom you’re going in. I may be gender fluid and be fine with using a men’s room for those moments when I’m in that energy…but I don’t recommend doing that when it’s a trough and you’re in a skirt.

(as a follow up, in case you care, he did not, in fact, end things. in that moment. they ended later, but for real reasons versus this particular evening’s reasons.)