Friday, October 28, 2011

Interweb Dating, Part 2: Lightening the Mood

for the record, these are not my fish.
The other day I read that as of October 31st there will be 7 billion people on the planet. Being in full-on prowl mode, I calculated that approximately half a billion of those people are men. I don't know how many of those half a billion men fall within my dateable age range of 26 to 33, but I reckon that's still a whole lot of dudes.

This has been the beautiful revelation of my online dating experiment: there are just so many men to choose from in the world! The majority of the men I'm coming across aren't interesting to me, but several of them are and as I am not patient and tactful enough to pull off polyamory, I'm not looking for many men- just one, really great guy. Out of all the possibilities on the planet, there absolutely must be someone out there who's a good match for me. How could there not be? In terms of probability, I might have a better chance of winning the lottery than of not finding a partner.

Being a passionate woman of extremes, in the past I know that I have put a lot of pressure on men I meet. They have tended to either people I would never be with or people I AM GOING TO MAKE BABIES WITH!!! I'm not crazy enough to say this aloud, but I'm definitely thinking it and even I can see that it's sooo scary and unattractive.

Realizing how many potential partners are out there has completely relieved this pressure. If it doesn't work out with one guy, no worries! There are pages and pages of profiles to browse. I'm afraid I sound a bit flippant but it's been extremely healthy and important for me to learn how to interact with someone without immediately mentally marrying him. This is what happens to people who never date casually. If a guy looks at me the right way across a crowded train I begin picking out an outfit to meet his mother. There's no middle ground.

Well, not anymore! I'm learning to keep it light and ease into devotion and commitment. Thank you, internet machine, for opening up the world and showing me just how unnecessary it is to act all crazy and desperate. As my Sassy Gay Friend would say, "You love him? You met him Sunday, it's barely Thursday morning. Slow down, Crazy, slow down." Word.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meditations on Interweb Dating

In the throes of talks about guys on the return leg of a little road trip last week, a friend of mine recommended that I try online dating. I had a brief, bored-and-sick-at-home foray into this scene over a year ago that scared me off. It just felt so artificial, with all the guys who contacted me all but sending me a copy of their bank statement. For the record, I genuinely don't care what a guy does for a living or how much money he makes so long as he's happy and doesn't complain about his situation without doing anything about it. Really. I think it's unfair that guys have to pay for everything all the time, unless they really want to- then, please, by all means. I won't object to being treated but I am just as happy going dutch. It's just my style.

This makes me sound cooler and nicer than I think I might actually be. See, I took my friend's advice and opened an account on a dating website. Not to brag, but in the past five days I've been contacted by over a dozen guys and only been interested in one of them. It turns out that I am just as discriminating of dudes as I am of clothes. When I shop, I will try on a ton of items and usually leave with nothing. I look at fabric and construction quality, fit and versatility. I am incredibly picky...because I sew and I know what quality work looks like. And because I know what I like, I know what looks good and I don't want to waste my money on something I'm not fully in love with. If I'm not sure about something, I'll wait for a week to see if I'm still thinking about it later. I usually am not (except for this blue sweater from Crossroads that wasn't there when I went back, waah! White person problem!).

When I'm sifting through the racks, there are many items that I pass over with barely a glance. This is how I feel on this dating website. I don't even bother reading a guy's profile unless he's got a great profile photo. Other possible deal breakers include: spirituality, astrological sign and drinking habits. To be fair, God and alcoholism are important considerations, but astrological sign? Really? Yes, really! Do you have any idea how many super sexy but crazy Pisces men have come and gone through my life? I've lost count. I don't even seek them out- they swim their way into my heart before I know what hit me. They should be equipped with some kind of early warning system. Pisces Tsunami approaching! Ahhh!

But seriously. I am concerned about my seemingly judgmental, superficial attitude around meeting men. At least when it comes to this, I don't seem to be as open minded as I've always prided myself on being. The internet venue doesn't always allow people's personalities to shine (and personality goes a long way...) but I definitely have a type and am not interested in giving the time of day to a guy who doesn't immediately excite me...apparently few men do (if you and I have ever gotten down or I've made a pass at you, congratulations! You are extremely attractive).

Men of character are the kind of men you want to marry and let's be honest, I am looking for a life partner of some variety. Thus far I have not succeeded in finding a man of character on the street or the bus or in bars, so the interweb seems to be a reasonable search area. Perhaps the solution here is to date the hot guys first and see if any of them are also men of character. If that doesn't pan out, then I can work on opening up to the witty guys that don't fit my usual type...or astrological preference. Maybe someday I'll even date a Leo guy...maaaaaybe. Baby steps.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

21

crazy sweetpea.
My 21 year old self used the word "hella" non-ironically.
She worked three jobs, went to school full time and went out dancing 3-4 nights a week.
Unsurprisingly, she regularly slept in until 2:00pm on the weekends.
She made a lot of lists and schedules.
She loved school.
She cursed like a trucker.
She lost her dear friend and cousin to leukemia, and handled the news with tears and a bottle of champagne in the bathtub.
She was a great record keeper.
She was unabashedly, brutally honest in private, incredibly passive and non-confrontational in public.
She lived in her head and could be really hard on herself.
She was a wild, spontaneous party girl.
She fell absolutely head over heels in love with New York City.
She was an expert in turmoil creation.

Recently I dug through my livejournal in search of the name of a sweet sailor I met years ago in a Hawaiian bar when I was barely old enough to be there. In looking for the gentleman's name, I ended up sifting through a year's worth of drama and trauma, joys and triumphs, lists and unsent letters. I laughed and cried along with the detailed, raw reality of my 21 year old self and found myself filled with gratitude for the way I used to document my life. My memory tends to be spotty and it's lovely to be reminded.

For all her havoc, my 21 year old self was pretty wise. She had smart, safe rules and boundaries around intimacy that limited her experience, but prevented the kind of damage that can leave young people prematurely jaded. If she looked at the last year of our life she would wag a finger and wonder at the ability we've seemingly developed to totally ignore our own truth, despite all this consciousness work. As much as I've learned over the last six years, there were lessons already learned that my 21 year old self would like me to remember:
1. Just show up. She wasn't always perfect, but this woman was committed. She would go to class or work even if she was exhausted or hung over. She had figured out the power and importance of consistently showing up to her life, and she did so fiercely.
2. Use discrimination when letting people close. As much as her prudence might've been fear motivated, it kept her body and mind safe and sacred.
3. Tell the truth. She could be timid about speaking honestly to others, but she was very much in touch with her own truth privately. Because she was so honest with herself, it almost always kept her out of sticky situations.
4. Push yourself. You are so capable. This woman worked so much, so hard in so many ways. Her ability to do so could be attributed to her springy youth, but she was also very self-motivated and hungry. And it's that kind of youthful zeal that accomplishes great things.

The only thing I think I could really teach my 21 year old self is something I'm still working on everyday: Relax. Drop the drama. Loosen your jaw. Be renewed in play. Get out of your head! Life is so important and serious, and also not. You can't be serious about everything, dear 21 (27) year old self. Choose your serious battles wisely and wage them flexibly. Breathe. Everything is and will be okay.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Conquering That Which is Unconscious.

Say you have a bad habit. Perhaps it's a habit that is so deeply ingrained that even once you're aware of it, you cannot stop. Specifically speaking, I have a talent for attracting damaged men. As damaged as they may be, the one, real common factor amongst them is me, so the truly damaged thing is how attractive I find them. I've identified and admitted my problem, and yet, even with all this consciousness, my damagedar is just as keen as my gaydar. The one emotionally fucked man in the room and I will inevitably find each other, make a powerful connection, I will reach out and he will never respond.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

As I grow in self-love, this cycle becomes less satisfying with each heartache. I am unhappy and for the first time actually think that this is a problem to be solved. My big question is, how in the hell do you stop doing something that's so unconscious? When the people you are instantly attracted to always end up being the same type of person, I suppose you can just assume that your taste is bad and have someone else pick for you. Anyone know a good yenta?

That's the thing about breaking habits. You have to make a new choice enough times to form an entirely new, healthy habit. I am attracted to damaged men for a litany of boringly cliche reasons that I won't get into. On some level I know that if I were to work out all my internal garbage, I would be able to make new choices, even unconsciously. However, I've done this type of internal work before and I resist it every time because I never forget how hard it was the last time. It takes a whole lot of courage and self-discipline to push yourself into honestly looking at all your shit, and I am often short in self-discipline. Aside from the fact that the damaged, unreliable men I love are awfully exciting. It's hard to come down off of that. I need to start skydiving or swimming with sharks.

Maybe someday I'll work out this part of my crazy and it'll be exciting when a man is respectful, adoring and healthy. After all, chasing after people who hurt us is sooo early 20's. We're growing older and wiser, right? Yes, right...