Just When You Think You Have Everything Figured Out…

I have very recently come to an interesting conclusion on how wrong I might potentially have been about… everything I thought I had figured out about dating. Do you have a type? Are you with someone who is that type? Or are you one of those people who I’ve never trusted who swear they don’t have a type at all? (REALLY?! There is no one look/personality that you gravitate towards?)

Because, let me tell you… my type comes with a T bigger than Texas. And I’m 33 and single (this bit is important). My ex was my type and it was great when it was great, and a nightmare when it wasn’t. When our relationship ended and I found myself back in the lineup of the dating game, I mentally made a list of the qualities and characteristics I was looking for (aka my Type). Tall, muscular, athletic/military, of Celtic heritage, slightly cocky, tattoos – but still clean cut, handy, etc.

I know, I know, I’m ridiculous – but if I was thrown into a room of eligible bachelors (hello boys!) this is the look I would gravitate towards, every single time. So when I decided to give online dating a shot, these were the profiles I sent messages to with fingers crossed that they’d respond back. This isn’t to say I didn’t give other guys a shot who fell outside of this Type as long as they had an interesting profile and looked like someone I might be attracted to.  But I most definitely had a focus when searching.

*Side note: someone really needs to help dudes out with teaching them how to select good photos to use in their dating profiles that accurately give the viewer and idea of what they could expect should they meet in person.

I’ve been on and off one dating site for about a year and a half now. I’ve gone on a decent number of first dates, a good amount of second dates, the rare third date…. and that’s it. Yes, I’m stuck in the 3 date curse loop of dating Hell. But out of all those first dates I’ve been on I would only classify one of them as truly horrible and I would say that even more of them were very successful so all in all, I’m not doing bad.

So what gives? If I’m going on successful dates, why have I not gone on a 4th date yet? Dating, especially online dating, is a numbers game. Go on enough first dates and you might find someone you’re compatible with, the more dates you go on, the better your odds.

This has caused me to do a lot of thinking lately, but what I find even more fascinating is that I started to reflect on the actual dates I went on and guess what? The first dates I would rate the highest were with guys I would classify as most definitely not my Type. Shocker! But is it really? You know WHY I think they were the best dates? Because they were with guys that the conversation wouldn’t stop, they were dates where we talked well past last call.

Was I physically attracted to them? Yup. Was it the immediate “I want to rip your clothes off” attraction that I usually experience with my Type? Not at all, it was an attraction that grew as the hours passed, as the conversation continued.

Recently I went on two different first dates. One was with a guy I had been exchanging great, well thought out messages with (Bachelor #1). Who looked like he could be cute, but who my friends who know me best said “doesn’t really look like your type”. The other was with a guy who embodied everything in my Type list (Bachelor #2). When Bachelor #2 walked up to me in the bar, my knees went weak. He was gorgeous, but as the minutes passed I found it harder and harder to get a conversation going with him. We definitely flirted, but we didn’t talk. (He also kept checking his phone while we played pool – HUGE turnoff). I found myself hoping he was just bad at first dates and that when we said goodnight he’d kiss me and things would sort themselves out. (He didn’t kiss me). Smoking good looks will only do so much, and when nothing physical happens it’s just a waste. Our date lasted an hour and while he did call me a few minutes after we parted ways to ask me to call him to let him know I got home ok, I haven’t heard from him since.

On the flip side was my date with Bachelor #1… that lasted over 10 hours. That was full of laughs but also of intellectual discussions. It was a date that 1/2 way through he asked me out on a second date. And ended with us unable to stop making out. When we first spotted each other my initial thought was “yeah definitely not the type I usually go for but I guess he’s kind of cute” and then I experienced the phenomenon of stimulating conversation increasing someone’s level of attractiveness to me. Our conversation flowed easily and didn’t stop, it wasn’t forced and it kept building. Since our date I’ve heard from him multiple times, we’ve confirmed that date #2 will be happening and he is the reason for this blog post because this experience has forced me to reevaluate everything.

Maybe this was obvious to all of you, but to me this was a new revelation. I recognized a long time ago that what gets me off physically doesn’t match up to what gets me off mentally. But I’ve stubbornly stuck to my guns with what I think I need to be happy and I’m quickly beginning to realize that I think I might have been going about this entirely backwards.

Perhaps THIS is why I’ve got a 3 date curse; I’ve been so focused on looks and swag rather than trying to find someone who is going about dating honestly, who is putting out there what he hopes to get back. If I’m not going on dates with guys who genuinely are hoping to find a woman to share their life with, it’s a no brainer why I have yet to have a 4th date (or anything more than that).

This doesn’t mean I’m settling… actually I think it’s the exact opposite. It means I’m reworking my standards and reorganizing my priorities in what qualities I’m hoping my match possesses. Which might mean I won’t be going on as many first dates, but at the end of the day, I’m not looking to date around, I’m looking for someONE to date…. exclusively.

Ingrid Michaelson posted a tweet earlier today that included this quote that really resonated with me: “All you need is the right kind of love.”

And that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it? That I have not found the RIGHT kind of love. It seems to me that one of the fastest changes I can make to open myself up to that right kind of love is to abandon my death grip on the idea that I will only be happy with a guy who is my Type. Because really, has my Type worked out so well for me so far? Not at all. How can I possibly think that history won’t just keep repeating itself if I continue to try and date the same type of guy?

Time to change things up, time to not focus so much on the immediate physical sexual appeal and time to focus more on that slower building mental sexual appeal. It’s time to open myself up for the right kind of love… and also prepare myself to eat crow if it turns out that all my friends were right when they’d tell me that it’s my Type that’s the problem and the only reason I’m still single.

So let’s do this! Lets get out of the rut I’m in, change tactics, and see what happens. It’s time to find the right kind of love for me!

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The Dark Truth

I have been single for a little over a year now, and since most of my friends have been coupled up for years I’m in the dead zone for trying to get a date. I don’t have the wingwomen to go hit the bar scene on the weekends – and honestly, I’m too old for it. Sure, it’s fun to go out and have a few drinks, but I’m not in my 20’s anymore. I have hobbies, but for the most part, they aren’t going to put me into situations where I’m going to run in to single men I might hit it off with.

Which means that I, like so many others, have turned to online dating to try to meet someone. If you haven’t gone that route yourself, let me let you in on a little secret. It sucks. Not only does it suck, but it’s the fastest way to convince yourself that you are obviously a hideous, uninteresting person who will never find a quality match to love you.

I stopped counting the messages I’ve sent to profiles that I’ve been attracted to (and that I clearly have enough in common with based on our profiles to warrant at least grabbing a drink) because 99.9% of the time I never get a response. Meanwhile my inbox has messages trickling in from guys who I could never be interested in, or attracted to (and it might be bitchy to say, but they shouldn’t be surprised when I don’t respond to them either).

Which makes me wonder if the reaction I have to the messages I receive is the same reaction the guys I send messages to have when they see MY message in their inbox? Say it ain’t so!!!! Even taking in to consideration that short redheads aren’t every guy’s “thing”;  I should be having better luck than I am.

So I tweak my profile, I change my photos. I try brevity, I try lots of details. Nothing. Is. Working. I’ve spent time thinking about the traits my ideal match has and just like adjusting my resume for the job I’m applying for, I adjust how and what I say on my profile to try to attract that type of man.

I’ve gone on dates, I’ve been stood up, I’ve had guys who have seemed interested who then just stop responding after a few messages. I’ve tried to let them come to me, I’ve tried to be bold and make the initial moves. And still I sit here typing this blog post, catching up on The Voice (helllooooo Blake and Adam!) on my DVR, and I’m still single.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a girl who needs to have a boyfriend to be happy, or feel like my life is fulfilled. I have had a couple men enter my life in the last year who were interested in being with me who I decided just weren’t right for my future so I parted ways with them. I’ve had some options, but overall I am crashing and burning with epic failure when it comes to attempting online dating and it’s getting harder and harder to not take it personality.

Because that’s the thing about online dating. Sure it’s easy to window shop, but it’s also a fast track way of testing just how strong your self-esteem really is… and mine is failing fast. I’d like to think that I’m moderately attractive, that I present myself as someone who leads an interesting life and is someone who you’d want to meet. But it’s not working for me. I’m at a loss on how to turn it around and make online dating work for me.

How do people successfully use online dating websites? Am I doing it wrong or do I just have unrealistic expectations for the type of guys I want to go on dates with? Or is the dark truth that I really am an unattractive loser that no one wants to date?

Can I pay someone to make a winning profile for me that will have the boys banging down my door? How do I convince these guys they will like me if they meet me in person?!

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Disastrous Love

So I just finished Jamie McGuire’s novel, Beautiful Disaster and since there seems to be a lot of energy behind everyone talking about it, I thought I’d take my full review off of Goodreads and onto here. ** Consider this your spoiler alert if you don’t want to know what happens. ** I should also note that I listened to the audiobook and Emma Galvin in the bomb when it comes to audiobooks so she plays in to the level of enjoyment I had going through this novel.

Let’s dig in, shall we? A girl with a secret runs away from her past with her best friend to a college far far away to start over (until you find out WHAT the secret is about half way through, you’re left with vague references between Abby and America about Abby’s secret past). It’s cliche and slightly obnoxious and distracts from the story developing because you keep wondering WHAT could have possibly happened to her… did she kill someone? Was she raped? Nope. The secret is a decent one, but not good enough for how long it took to be revealed.

Immediately America meets a boy, who happens to be involved in the underground Fight Club ring at school and she drags Abby to a fight with her because they made a rule, they will never go to a party without each other. The winner of the fight is gorgeous and is the poster child of bad boys – he’s cocky, he’s got muscles, he’s covered in tattoos, he smokes, he likes to fight, and is the biggest womanizer on campus. Thus starts the “will they, or won’t they” dance. There are some great moments between the two characters, and don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with Travis Maddox along with Abby.

But just went I was thinking all the negative talk about this book was false… the mutual co-dependency of Abby and Travis kicked in to high gear and Travis’ possessiveness comes out shining like a f*cking rainbow.

Lets list the ways, shall we?

*Travis essentially tries to kill any and every guy that does show interest in Abby when she refuses to date him
*Travis refuses to let Abby leave the apartment because she’s dressed “too sexy” and forces her to change
*Travis insists that Abby go to his fights because if she’s NOT WITHIN EYE SIGHT HE CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT WONDERING WHERE SHE IS AND WHAT SHE’S DOING
*Parker (another suitor) buys her a tennis bracelet for her birthday (after like ONE date), fine, Travis buys her a PUPPY – for a freshman college student
*The amount of fights Travis gets in outside of Fight Club are ridiculous – dude has serious anger issues
*To prove his love, Travis gets Abby’s nickname tattooed onto his wrist

*Abby gives Travis her virginity (which isn’t really a bother to me, when I finally had sex for the first time in my early 20’s it wasn’t with a guy I was in love with, and he wasn’t my boyfriend, whatever) BECAUSE SHE’S ABOUT TO LEAVE HIM AND SHE WANTED TO GIVE HIM THAT
*Abby leaves in the middle of the night while Travis is sleeping and he goes ballistic when he finds out she’s gone

*Passive aggressive moves are made by both parties
*Guess WHAT they reunite and realize that they BELONG to each other
*At the end of the book they run off to Vegas to get married. She’s 19. She decides to get a tattoo post-wedding. What does she get? “Mrs. Maddox” on her stomach. REALLY?! This hurts my soul.

I really enjoyed a lot of parts of this novel, I did. And there are aspects to the characters that I liked. And the “good” parts to Travis’ personality totally have me hooked, but overall this novel is a walking billboard to young women about how it’s ok to be in an oppressive, co-dependent relationship… as long as he’s hot. And this is so not ok. Not ok at all.

There were parts of this novel that were really, really hard for me to get through. They triggered A LOT of memories and emotions about my last relationship…. with an abusive alcoholic. There were a few fights that Travis and Abby had that could have easily been us. The walking train wreck couple who practically are killing each other while in a relationship, but who cannot walk away from each other either and you know it’s only a matter of time before it destroys both of them.

McGuire could have taken the basic storyline in so many different ways that would have made for a great novel, instead she romanticizes abusive, controlling behavior and this makes me sad.

Girls believe me, it’s NOT romantic, and it won’t make your relationship stronger to be with someone who treats you like this. Broken doesn’t equal sexy. People have issues and bad pasts, that’s fine, but someone who forces you do change your clothes/who man handles you (outside of the fun bedroom way), who dictates your life, who cannot be away from you (who WATCH YOU SLEEP ALL THE TIME), this is NOT a good person, or someone you should be with.

Please, please, please know you deserve to be treated better. Demand a partner who treats you with respect, who cares for you, ok?

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Journey vs. Destination

Let’s try this again, shall we? 

I’ve had a few friends suggest that I take the time to blog about my recent foray back in to the single life since I keep winding up in interesting situations as I start dating again. 

From the guy from my past who has resurfaced, who spent months checking in on me making sure I was ok, but who still all these years later doesn’t seem to want to date me – as much as I think he’s just scared to admit he does, indeed, like me. 

To the former co-worker who caught me off-guard in the Spring and who is someone I can sit down with for one drink and have hours pass without noticing. 

To the guy who I met through my ex because they were friends who I reached out to in a pathetic attempt to get him to convince my ex to get back in to AA… who then told me he was interested (and who also a year later has started to reach out again). I’m NOT interested.

And then there are the ones I’ve been meeting (and not meeting) off of OkCupid…. like the 36 year old who took me back to his place after a night of drinking… only for me to figure out he was living in his parent’s basement. I did not sleep with him for the record. 

So sit back, relax, and enjoy this crazy journey with me!

To be continued…

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Business Trips = Blind Dates?

I’ve got a fancy title, but I essentially pay my bills working in customer service. But my gig is 100% phones and emails, not face-to-face. I have an account I’m assigned to and it took me a long time to win my customer contacts over. And I don’t blame them, because to them, I’m just a young sounding voice on the phone.

But every once in awhile I get the opportunity to travel for my job and do site visits and they never cease to blow my mind on how much they are like blind dates. Or maybe rather they’re like the first time meeting someone you’ve been talking to from an online dating website. You know their name, you’ve heard their voice, you’ve written to them, but you’ve got a picture of them in your head (and they’ve got one of you) that you know isn’t accurate at all.

So then you finally get a chance to meet them in person and it’s nerve wracking! What if they don’t like you?! What are THEY going to be like?! What if you don’t like them?! What if they’re HOT? (Ok, maybe not so much on that last one).

And these meetings always wind up playing out much like a first date where you’re feeling each other out while trying to put your best assets forward (WORK appropriate assets… which means I keep the girls under wraps unlike an actual first date).

My luck I generally also end up being the only female out to dinner and drinks with a group of (usually older) men. This time around I brought it and at one point after we had been talking hockey for a bit, one of the gentlemen turned to me with a look of awe on his face saying he was shocked that I was actually a hockey fan. Which is a statement that I always feel like it’s a backhanded compliment. Because I’m a female I’m not allowed to actually be a fan of a sport? Or because I’m a female I’m not supposed to know about a sport outside of “ooh his butt looks cute in his uniform!”?

Business trips are also f*cking exhausting. Sure, you get put up in a hopefully nice hotel, your meals are paid for by someone else, but you wind up being “on” for 12+ hours in a day, you’re stuck on cramped flights, in cars for hours, and around people all the time. And then you get to go back to work and try to catch up; even though you’ve been working more hours than you normally do. Fun times.

Now if only my blind dates were as successful as my first meetings with clients…

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Please Rate Your Satisfaction

Perhaps I’m the only one, but I can’t help but ponder after a relationship ends and you start stumbling through dating again trying to find a new partner, that it would be helpful to be able to poll your past dalliances to discover your strengths and weaknesses, much like a customer satisfaction survey consumers are sent after making a purchase.

Sure on some level the outcome will be negative, after all, you are no longer with them so it obviously didn’t work out for one reason or another. But as long as you aren’t quizzing your last failed relationship while the wounds are still tender, wouldn’t you be gathering some good data by asking?

It’s something I wish I had the opportunity to have those kinds of conversations with some of the men I’ve spent time with in the past. Because in the moment(s) I never asked them what initially caught their eye, what caused them to want to make a move on me, and then what they liked/didn’t like about me once they got me.

But is this a version of Pandora’s Box? Maybe. I’m sure some of the honest feedback would hurt my feelings, but wouldn’t it also potentially boost my ego as well? When I look in the mirror I see my flaws, but wouldn’t it be nice to know what someone who was attracted to you saw when they looked at you? What it was about you physically that made them look at you more closely. What it was about your personality that caused them to want to know more about you. What flipped the switch in their mind that made them have to move in for the first kiss?

And since my history has a higher ratio of casual affairs than it does serious relationships, what it was about me that didn’t make them want to “claim” me and be in a relationship with me. Yes, yes, I know if I had made them work harder at it that some of those stories might have played out differently but I’m a firm believer in that if it’s meant to happen it will, regardless of if some milestones are hit earlier than is “proper”.

This also extends to my friends, those who know me casually and those who know most of my dark secrets. How do THEY see me, what do they think of me? Is this information something that would be helpful, as I at 32 and freshly single, work on figuring out who *I* am as a person again now that I am solidly an “I/me” and not part of a “we/us” anymore?

Do you ever wish that you could step outside of your body and see yourself how others do? I know I’d like to. Is it bad that some of the first questions I’d ask are related to my… skills? Where do I fall on the kissing scale of 1 (worst kiss of my life) to 10 (I never want to stop kissing her)?

These are my thoughts on a rainy Thursday afternoon.

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Sometimes You Have to Break Your Own Heart

This story starts back in August; I have a group of Twitter friends who have grown in to family. They are some of the most kickass women I know… and some of the best friends a girl could ask for. Without my knowing they put together a care package for me to give me a break-up survival kit. This blew me away for the act alone (I’ve had good friends throughout my life but none that have been this thoughtful); but it helped to keep me going knowing that there were people out there rooting for me to just get out of bed and shower every day when I didn’t feel like I could go on. “Shower Bitch!” was a text I got on more than one occasion.

In that kit was the book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. When I moved into my new apartment I stuck it in one of my bookcases and didn’t think anything of it again. Not that I didn’t want to read it, but that it just didn’t sound like it was really up my alley. I’m not a big “self help” book gal and at the time that’s what I thought it was.

Fast forward to February and Cheryl’s novel Wild; about her early 20’s and her decision to hike part of the Pacific Coast Trail (solo and not having much hiking experience) – if you have not read this go out and pick up a copy tomorrow. Trust me.

A couple books completed later and while sitting in front of my bookshelf looking at my options one night (and talking myself into how I cannot just go to Barnes & Noble and purchase another book when I have plenty I already own that I have not read yet), my eyes land on Tiny Beautiful Things and now the author’s name meant something to me. So naturally I realized that this was the next book I needed to read.

To tell you that this book has changed my life seems so cliche and simplistic, but it’s true. There are snippets throughout it that I was so overwhelmed with the feeling that I HAD to share with everyone I knew so I started grabbing my phone and posting snapshots of pages onto Instagram. There was advice/commentary on all types of personal issues that people wrote in with. But it wasn’t until page 351, the last letter Cheryl answers in the book about now that she’s in her 40’s what she wished she could tell her 20’s self… and it is this reply that made the floor drop out from under me; made me sob huge, wracking sobs. Made me put the book down, then pick it back up and reread that last response again, and again, and again.

Part of it is a message Cheryl mentioned multiple times throughout the book… that in any relationship (romantic or friendship), you don’t need a reason to leave it, the desire to leave is all you need. But then Cheryl writes the following and page 351 makes the plates of my life shift into a different arrangement:

“Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

Be brave enough to break your own heart…. And yet. And yet maybe that’s it. It took me 351 pages (and too many months between my decision to leave and reading that page) to realize that’s what it is/was. That *I* had to break my own heart. 8 simple words that brought me to my knees.

But that’s what I did, even though it didn’t (and still doesn’t) feel like it. Sure I can boil down the destruction of my relationship with B to his addictions and his turn from a sweet, amazing boyfriend, to one who broke me with his constant verbal abuse. And that all kept escalating until I was forced to end things because I had no other option. And yet. And yet, it was still my decision in the end to walk away. It was because I was brave enough to dig my heels in and fight for him (and us) when all hope seemed to be lost. And it was because I was brave enough that I finally moved out, even if it felt like weakness at the time.

I WAS brave enough to break my own heart, to change the terms of that relationship. I don’t think that it makes the pain any easier to deal with, but it makes me feel better about my actions. About who I am as a person. I am not weak, I am not a failure, or broken, or demented. I am compassionate and strong… and brave.

Another gem of wisdom on this all important page 351 is:

“You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.”

This is a lesson I still can’t accept even though I know it’s true. Because I want to be loved so f*cking badly. I look back at my relationship with B and I still beat myself up over “WHY couldn’t he love me enough to get sober, to not ruin everything.” But his addictions have nothing to do with me what so ever, even if my ego wants them to. Again, I’m not someone who isn’t worthy of being loved, I’m not crazy, or a lost cause. B just wasn’t able to love me because of his addictions but that doesn’t mean someone else won’t love me down the road.

It’s been a very rough 7 months where I have been forced to face and reevaluate my entire life. I have been forced to work through my own demons and hangups, and to ask myself what I REALLY need for a happy life vs. what I’d like.

I’m not even close to where I need to be (physically or mentally) to be really happy with myself and my life now… but I’m getting there.

And now I know that my heart is broken because I was brave and changed a relationship that needed to be changed. Sugar says so.

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