Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Destination Unknown

Final Destination: Unknown

It has been just about a year since I started this dating adventure and accompanying blog. What is the final outcome and what do I have to show for it? As I stated in the beginning, I had hoped that this would be an educational experience. So, what have I learned from it all? Here are some discoveries I dug up from the mines:

1. When a guy asks if you want to come back to his place, he is really asking if you want to have sex with him. Similarly, if you invite a guy back to your place, he will think you are asking to have sex with him. This is not always the case, but a good rule of thumb. Far better to be prepared for this than to naively walk into a situation you were not really up for.

2. Dating guys who have kids is much more complicated than dating guys who don’t have kids.

3. By the time we have reached thirty years of living, we will all have some baggage.

4. Dating someone who doesn’t have a clue about romantic relationships (at this age) freaks me out way more than dating someone who is still dealing with The Baggage.

5. If a guy does not like you, he will let you know through his silence and inaction.

6. If a guy is interested in you, he will let you know by making contact, straight-out telling you, or very actively making an effort to plan time with you. It may be cliché, but it is pretty much exactly like they tell it in the book, “He’s Just Not That into You”.

7. If he is just not that into you, it has to do with him, not you. It could be the baggage and past history he’s dealing with or it could be that his preferences do not match what he’s seen in you. Either way, the point is that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It is beyond your control.

8. Sometimes guys do really confusing things like tell you how amazing they think you are and then never contact you again. Heck, you could take this as a compliment-maybe he was scared to get hurt by someone as amazing as you. Whatever it is, if he’s gotten to the Total Silence stage, or even the Half-Hearted Response stage, you won’t get any answers out of him. He probably doesn’t even know the answers and would rather thread a needle through his forehead than contemplate on his feelings, his fears, or anything else similarly non-concrete and uncomfortable.

9. If he doesn’t think you’re amazing and is just not interested in you, he would rather drop a 32-ounce jar of tomato sauce on is foot than tell you about it. Guys don’t want to be jerks. Their way of ameliorating things tends to be to fly away rather than deal with a conflict. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to confusion when the guy says or does things (or the gal sees what she wants to see) that contradict how he’s really feeling. In this case, the guy is probably torn. He wants to like you but he just doesn’t. Nothing to be done about this, but as a female I would suggest really paying attention to the clues that he’s not into you.

10. Guys have periods of low confidence too. It’s not just us ladies. Plus, guys have the added burden of having to make the first move (much of the time). Internet Dating is a fantastic remedy for all this. It puts us on an even playing field and gives guys an easy way to approach women (as well as giving women a way to approach men).

11. For me, internet dating has been great for getting a wide range of experiences-one or two dates with one or two guys a month (or week depending on the timing). But, when it comes to bonding with one guy towards a long-term relationship, internet dating has only made me question more than ever whether this is possible for me to ever have again.

12. As much as I would like to find someone, I would rather be single than be with someone and wish I wasn’t. That would be a far worse confinement than simply wandering around single and a little aimless. Of course, it would be even better if I find someone to be happily involved with, but it’s good to keep the perspective that things could be worse as well as better.

The list of lessons could go on and on, but these are the ones that cross my mind at this moment. Now that it has been a full year of trying this out, I sense it is a good mile-marker, a good stopping point. I don’t plan on giving up on my dream of finding an awesome guy to settle into an awesome relationship with. But, I see that internet dating has really not gotten me any closer to that goal.

It’s not going to be easy, but life can be like that. I know there will be days when I’ll feel really lonely and even hopeless about the situation, wondering if it could ever change. But, I hope to use that energy as a springboard for jumping out into the world a little more, opening myself up to it and to the people that I meet.

I can focus on the things that I want to do rather than on the situations I want to be in. For example, building community and bonding with the people that I find connections with is a good start. Exploring ways to be social and creative and strive for more justice in the world as well as outlets for appreciating the beauty of this earth and developing my spirit, taking care of my body, and filling up my brain with exciting new information. I want to cultivate my garden, and I think sometimes the fact that I am single can be an excuse for not doing more (i.e., “I’ll do such-and-such after I meet that special someone”). No, I don’t have time to wait any longer. It is time to do all the such-and-such things on my list and not give into the inertia of excuse-making.

Above all else, I want to develop my faith-my connection with the higher power that pulses through the veins of all life and that I personally believe takes care of us. It doesn’t mean things will be perfect, but it means that however things turn out, I will be able to find meaning in it no matter what. Letting go of Internet Dating means letting go of my sense of control because I have been taking comfort in the idea that just by contacting enough people and going on enough dates, I am causing myself to get closer to reaching my goal. That is all an illusion and it is time to be more real-with myself and with the world. Life is just too short to do anything otherwise.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Dove and the Dragon

So, I want to tell you about two guys I recently dated. Their occupations were not a dove and a dragon, of course. I remember hearing something one time about how it is best to balance the submissive energy of the dove with the courageous fire of the dragon. While I was dating these two men, one brought out the dove in me while the other summoned the dragon.

First Date: I went out with the general contractor first. We met at a local coffee shop. I didn’t know much about him yet and we’d barely spoken over the phone before meeting up, but he seemed fun-loving and I thought I could use a healthy dose of laughter after the last dude I dated.

Before I even get to the coffee shop, we’ve already sent several text messages back and forth because he’s having trouble locating it. He calls to say he’s arrived just as I am coming in on my bike. I notice he’s a pretty big guy, not super tall but more wide than most of the guys I have dated recently. He has dark sunglasses on and I can’t see his eyes.

We go inside and order and then head back out to a table on the patio. I’ve brought my art supplies and plan to do some artwork and maybe hang out with my friend who lives next door to this coffee place after our date.
We begin The Interview (i.e. the typical conversation that happens on a first blind date). He speaks at length about how he was as a child and teenager, the times he got in trouble at school and how he weaseled his way out of it. I don’t know if he’s hoping to impress me with these tales or doesn’t know what else to say. Just as a side-note, I recently read an article about the most annoying first date conversations that one should avoid. Reliving glory days from the past was third on the list. I myself wasn’t annoyed by this, but it didn’t help me feel like I knew him or could connect to him any better either.

He talks a lot and very loudly. He asks some questions of me so it’s not just a one-way conversation which I appreciate. I get the sense he’s not really listening to me though and this is annoying. Also, after about 10 minutes into our “interview”, I have to ask him to remove his sunglasses because it is really disconcerting to be talking to a faceless stranger. (The eyes tell a lot, at least in my book).

After about an hour or two, I’m getting tired and want some time and space to myself. Also, my friend from next door has already walked past us once and I’d like to catch her before night falls. I let my date know that I would like to start working on some art now and he asks if he can watch. I let him know that I wouldn’t be comfortable with that and offer to walk him to his car. He gives me a nice kiss and tells me I’m hot. I appreciate this. I also have the feeling we’re not right for each other and have too many differences.

Fast forward to the second date with the General Contractor: we meet at the Museum of Nature and Science. My mom had two free tickets and I was the lucky one to get to use them. The date is one-third fun and two-thirds exhausting. The man talks too much and too loudly. I appreciate that he seems to appreciate me, and I think I got a little too caught up in the idea that it was nice to have some attention. Eventually, I realized that I also need to be honest and considerate of his feelings, so I let him know that I didn’t think we had enough in common. He did not respond to this in any way. I can’t say that I blame him or that this approach was wrong, but it was also hard for me to settle into the sudden silence left behind.

In the middle of the General Contractor dates, I was also getting to know another man. We too had just two dates. For the first date with the Software Developer, we meet at a Rockies game. This is quite a long time to spend together on a first date. We didn’t know each other at all yet, so what if we really didn’t like each other? Lucky for me, he turns out to be totally cute and very laid-back. We never run out of things to talk about and I feel really comfortable around him. He has a 9-year-old son, so a good bit of the conversation revolves around that which is OK by me. I appreciate that he’s such a proud papa and good father.

I feel better about this guy than I have about anyone else I’ve dated so far. But, I also realize that after just one date it is easy to overlook a lot of things that might jump up and bite me on the butt later on down the road. I’m cautiously optimistic.

We meet up for another date about two weeks later. It’s been difficult to connect our schedules, and several times I’ve contacted him he hasn’t responded at all and I’ve had to send another message before getting a reply. Still, I’m a little hopeful that he’s just not good with managing his time and actually does like me. We meet up for sushi in his neighborhood. Again, the conversation and the food and everything about the evening is wonderful as far as I’m concerned. We make tentative plans for the weekend-just a couple of days later.

I contact him, don’t hear from him, contact him again to say that I’m wondering if he’s interested or not, and never hear from him again. I won’t lie and say that I’m not at all hurt or disappointed by this. I realize that he’s a stranger still and that I would much rather be with someone who really wants to be with me, but it was nice to think that I might have found someone I could really easily get along with. It was conversely a little crushing to see that once again that dream got squashed right under my nose and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

I am reading a book at the moment (Tales of the City) wherein every person wants what they don’t have and has what they don’t want. There’s the married couples who have affairs hoping to gain what they’ve lost in the marriage; there’s the single lady who picks up on the gay guy in the supermarket; the straight guy who just wants to get laid and is thwarted from every direction. The book was written in the ’70s but the concept seems to ring as true today as ever before.

I myself wonder if I’m ever going to find someone to date long term ever again. The more times I try and fail, the more doomed I feel my love life has become. I wonder if it will just get worse and harder the older I get. Lastly, I wonder if it’s worth continuing to try. Maybe I am fated to be alone. I wish I knew for sure if that were the case. Then I could stop fighting against it, trying so hard, and spending precious time and money on what very well might be a lost cause.

When should I throw in the towel, and what dream can take the place of this one? I feel I must have something, otherwise I could get very depressed. For now, I will live with these questions and hope for some answers to come to me one day.