OkCupid. It’s a fine online-dating service. Free. Not sketchy, unless you’re meeting someone “normal” and then he tells you he can’t drive and “hey, can you pick me up?” and “sure” and then you find out he has gangrene in his leg that prevents him from driving. The gangrene is no problem – the sketchy lie and inability to think outside-the-box (Uber much?) are.
One of the questions on OKC – you answer a series of questions to determine how much of a match you are with other daters – has interested me of late.
“What makes for a better relationship: passion or dedication?”
I know enough about lasting relationships to believe dedication is the answer.
Could the issue be that people view passion as an all/nothing thing? Just like gender, passion operates on a sliding scale. Sometimes you will be attracted to your partner. Other times you won’t. It’s in those moments that dedication takes over – and you find the passion again.
Sometimes I wonder if other daters (men) think that “dedication” is an unsexy answer. I’ve never seen a guy answer “dedication.” I get it. It’s scary to think about getting stuck in a sexless relationship/marriage. Even girls don’t got time for dat. Maybe guys are answering based on girls’ perceptions. I guess if I saw a “dedication” answer I might think the guy was a bit feminine too.
If you believe recent studies – and Kate Hudson – monogamy is not a natural state for human beings. We can talk nation states, institutions and power vehicles that impose monogamy upon us, but that’s not the point. If you want to be in a monogamous relationship, know it will take work. Sometimes it’s ugly. If you’re looking for the happily-ever-after, you have to trudge through the unhappily-forabit-after. But did you know – men who help out around the house are found more desirable by their female mates? A prime example that demonstrates dedication can lead to passion, maybe a hotter passion than before.
Have you hard Moonlight Sonata? The one by Beethoven?
I’m sure you have, even if you don’t know it by name. It’s haunting. It’s slow. And it’s basically the best musical interpretation of what it must feel like to be incredibly, dramatically, emo-y depressed. I imagine young Werther might have used the song as the track he took his life to, only they didn’t have record players in the 1700s, the penetrating silence around him making his literary suicide that much more dramatic.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
And still, I’m sitting in my apartment on a Sunday afternoon, writing this as I listen to the sonata on repeat. I’ve come to know its twists and turns during emo periods of past. You think you can out-emo my emo? Go listen to your Linkin Park CD. I’ve got real problems Imma share with you.
As a 32-year-old single woman living in a society that wants me to get married and have a baby or eight, and living in the same type of headspace, I wonder when I’m going to get there. You see, I’m in the throes of heartbreak. Unrequited love. Again. You too? Let’s wallow together.
The perpetually single. I don’t know if I subscribe to the idea, but God knows there’s some kind of hamster-wheel situation going on in my dating world. In an attempt to make some sense of it all, this organized chaos that makes up life and relationships, I found my way back to the piano after having not played it with any regularity for 18 years. Naturally, I started with Moonlight Sonata. And so far my efforts have been finger-twistingly short-lived and frustration-riddled.
In fact, the whole dating cycle is pretty much the same cycle I’ve encountered practicing Beethoven’s joint. All those fucking sharps!! Each time you think you may have picked up a couple of extra measures of the piece (one with a four-page score), you find on the next play that, no, maybe you mastered a new note but you’re still not ready to move past any number of various points on page one. It’s murky really, and it’s a bumpy-ass road, navigating through those 88 weighted keys.
When do you cut your losses and run? On a song or a boy? My 34-year-old roommate recently broke up with her boyfriend of three years. She feels she wasted valuable baby-making time. She tells me I’m lucky to not be tied down to the wrong person. Oh, I’m not tied down. Just that I keep ripping my heart out and putting it on a platter for someone to continually, but politely, decline to take care of.
My crush? He’s been good to me. He’s been honest. And the journey is kind of the same with all these would-be relationships. Sometimes the playing is smooth, but messy – and damnit if you didn’t miss some of those fucking sharps (always the sharps!!). Sometimes it’s never smooth. Sometimes you sit down to play but get up and eat cereal and look unrecognizable lying upside-down on the couch watching any number of shows that make you feel like a little less of a human being.
The thing with trying out Moonlight Sonata – it wasn’t for nil. The very act made me realize learning to play it is something I need to work up to. Doesn’t matter why but I’m not ready for it now. I think it means I start learning a new song.
Dating Rule 1 – “The Moonlight Sonata”: Sharp objects in the path are signs it’s time to re-evaluate. Recalibrate. Shit literally and figuratively shouldn’t be this hard.
Associated Goal: Move on but remain open. Approach a new song. Have the courage to change course.
I was recently involved with someone who deemed himself a gentleman, but arguably didn’t consistently act in that manner. The ambiguous feelings I had toward him have subsided. Time, and the recent horrific events in Santa Barbara, have brought some clarity. And more questions. I write this in the hope it invites further dialogue as it relates to the realm of male and female relationships, which mostly reflect on our relationships with ourselves.
My particular situation, which saw me ultimately acting without integrity (I comment-vomited on his new girl’s Instagram), had me questioning my own sanity, despite the hurt I felt at his hands. So what’s the tie between the “nice guy” and my “crazy girl” behavior?
The hidden gradations our society has for the roles of heterosexual men and women work against us and the gender-relations’ cause.
The alpha male. The slut. The girl-next-door. The stalker. The gentleman. The bachelor. These are the roles that limit our capacity to love in a whole way. These are the narratives we let ourselves believe in order to limit ourselves, to limit uncertainty and the discomfort of acknowledging our ever-changing identities.
Elliot Rodger’s mental state and his YouTube manifesto, describing his loneliness, his frustrations with being a virgin at 22 and at having never kissed a girl, are incredibly troubling. The mental-health issues aren’t things I’m going to get into, and in no way do I want to downplay their significance. It’s the idea that an entire community exists, one centered around picking up girls – frustrations with girls – “playing” girls, (not to mention the unspoken solidarity females can exhibit when complaining about men), that also troubles me. It’s an indication we may have lost our way.
An old roommate once summed it up nicely: We are all just looking for a profound love. The path to finding that love can make for bumps on the road, perhaps more for some than others. But these hiccups are simply leading us to a place where, not only do we love ourselves, we can be the best partner possible to someone else.
It reminds me of a favorite quote: God has put people in our lives so that we may be a blessing to them.
Binaries can help us make sense of our relationships, for a time, but they aren’t truths. If Elliot Rodger had been mentally able to take a leap of faith to look beyond the “narrative fallacy” of him being the nice guy, he may have found himself in another position. As a boyfriend. As a husband, and later as a father. Watching that video – I saw a boy who had decided something about himself years ago. The irony, of course, is that the girls he felt had rejected him are reconciling their own heteronormative relationship roles, and he used theirs (“sluts”) against them. And now there are six victims who won’t be able to love on this earth again.
We are more than these roles. In love, we take advantage of others and find ourselves taken advantage of. We act without integrity, and surprise ourselves with our restraint. We don’t need to pigeon-hole it, or why. If you’re stuck in a relationship-role box, I encourage you to question it. And never doubt how whole you were all along.
When I read about Tinder late last year, I sulked. (Admittedly dramatic.) Another app where the hook-up culture finds willing participants in its game. Tinder isn’t made for me, I thought. I projected how I felt about myself as a dater unto the reputation of the app and decided I was, once again, left out of the party.
But after downloading the app and using it for four months, it’s been the best dating tool I’ve used, even in looking for a long-term mate. Here’s why.
When I was 26 and on eHarmony, I put my geographical distance for matches at a solid 60 miles from my location. You start to re-think those decisions as you get older. I changed my eHarmony match parameters today – I am matching with anyone located in the 48 contiguous states (plus Hawaii and Alaska), who has also requested those parameters.
As I get older, I find that finding that important person has become, important. I’ve never told myself I wouldn’t relocate for love, but I haven’t been open to it. The thing is – taking a look at why we might not be open to relocating is important to figuring out where to go from there.
Deep, deep, deep (you have to dig really really deeply) down, I love Los Angeles. There is a busyness and hectic feeling to the city I don’t know if I could keep up with as I get older, and certainly money and the want for a house will become problems at some point, but my unwillingness to relocate does beg the question: do I truly believe I’m ready to meet my mate? If I knew 100% that I would meet the person I will eventually marry in a particular city in the next year, would I move? I *think* so.
I don’t see myself living in LA for the rest of my life. I can work in any city. I would prefer to live in a moderate climate, but I think I could acclimate to one not-so-moderate. So, why stay? Particularly when it feels like time is running out? Is a fairweather lover – in the form of a metropolis – a good enough reason to stay put during years that could become do-or-die?
On the one hand, wherever you go, there you are. Would Portland – a friendly utopia even for conservatives (I think?) – offer a better singles’ scene? Austin? Is it me I need to be working on? Isn’t the happiest version of me going to effortlessly fall into a relationship and maybe I just haven’t finished sculpting myself in that direction yet?
I don’t think we need to know the answers, and I think the answers change for us. A lot. Changing my parameters on eHarmony demonstrated a shift. It means I’m in a new spot, and I have new internal ground to excavate surrounding my perceptions and stigmas around relationships. I’m not the same dater I was at 26. Just looking at areas of improvement allows them to take hold in our minds; we can act/not act in accordance with them when we have further information that will allow us to move in the best direction for each of us.
Maybe, darnit, I’m really not ready.
I recently received the following message from an individual interested in me based on my profile on the popular online-dating vehicle okcupid. While I typically let such inquiries go, I felt it necessary to respond to this individual, as based on his message he seemed quite eager to hit the ground running.
I remember the first time I came across Penelope Trunk’s blog about making marriage a priority. It scared the bejesus out of me. I was (and am) 31. I had never really considered that I was a ticking time bomb. I started dating 5 years ago. I learned how to hold down a job two years ago. In fact, I haven’t known enough about relationships and how they could feel until recently, and I still don’t know if that information is accurate. Each time I run into another article about choosing career over kids it kind of feels like society has pulled a gun on me but hasn’t given me the tools or enough warning to prepare accordingly.
The problem – as I see it – is that there are no answers. There is the typical advice: troll Ok Cupid, lose weight, work with a therapist, freeze your eggs. Be the person you want to meet! All good things, but not necessarily things that calm you down when you’re sitting at your desk blogging, when you should be working, and thinking about your barren life and the sad moments you will spend sitting on park benches in the future watching as children who look like their parents giggle and run by.
I’ve dated a lot of people. I’ve put in some work.
But what can we do that makes us feel like we’re making a difference in our search for a mate, without efforting?
Here’s my list.
Having been on 60-70 dates as result of online-dating hijinks, I consider myself somewhat of a craftsman of the online-dating game. I’ve done the “serious” sites – eHarmony – and the not-so-serious (Plenty of Fish, now endearingly abbreviated as PoF). I’ve met some awesome people and learned a lot, and I even met someone on PoF I have dated on-and-off for 5 years. (Let’s ignore the fact that this could be deemed “dysfunctional.”)
I definitely think the positives outweigh the negatives in online dating, but that’s not to say there isn’t weird, weird stuff that goes on. In celebration of my recent foray back into the online-dating world, here are a few tips for the men on the “less serious” sites who are wondering why girls aren’t responding to their messages.
Boy contacts girl online, compliments her excessively. She is hesitant. They talk on the phone for 3.5 hours, girl largely silent. They continue to talk over the course of the week. They meet up the next weekend, take a long drive, drink genuine Cypriot coffee and bond. Boy says, “I can’t promise you this, but…” Girl hears that he will never be all-in but believes boy would be open to relationship developing organically. Boy’s timeline doesn’t match girl’s. Girl gets anxious; boy gets scared. Girl cuts it off after not hearing from boy and spends next hundred hours figuring out why he didn’t care enough to say goodbye. The end.
I am that girl, and I’m heartbroken. It hurts.
“You’re a borderline compulsive liar.”
The words I heard last night whilst texting with the person I have been thinking of for months. The first words I thought of when I woke up this morning.
Somewhat out of the blue, the guy I dated over the summer – the one I thought I was in love with, texted me last night, willing to engage in more than the pleasantries we had awkwardly exchanged over the past few months. Somehow (doesn’t this always happen?), we got on the subject of singlehood. And loneliness. I mentioned that married couples could be lonely and bored too.
His response: “You’re married now, eh?”
“Yes! 15 days!” I responded, and I followed-up with a pic of my unadorned left hand indicating I was, in fact, not married.
What I got from his subsequent texts: this, among other similar behavior, makes me somewhat of a liar. It’s not intentional lying – and I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but I am exhausting. He has to decipher everything I say, figuring out if it’s a trick or a joke. Ultimately, he said I operate with “too much sarcasm/opposite/dry humor.”
I was floored. The texts were so jarring I felt like I was talking with a completely different human being. An all-out angry one. This was not the charming, kind person I had met in May. This was not the guy who brought me flowers and a Bluetooth, because he was concerned about me driving without one. What IN THE HECK happened?
I have an index card with an affirmation/inspirational quote on my wall. In my faded handwriting, it reads: “We find what we expect to find, and we receive what we ask for.”
There really is no ultimate answer as to “why” he and I expected what we expected from the other, but we did have expectations, and because of them, we conjured up two completely different people from the ones we actually are. Perhaps because of his past and nature, he expected that I would let him down. That I would act erratically. He reacted accordingly, viewing my texts through those filtered glasses. I did the same – putting on my he-is-charming glasses, assuming I did something wrong when he said things contrary to his always-charming nature. And I assumed or even expected that I wasn’t enough.
I don’t believe I am a compulsive liar, and I’m not sure there is anything I can say or do that will change his mind. I don’t think he is a bad person – he’s an individual, like the rest of us, doing the best with what he has. But I am too, and what I do with the knowledge of how I expect I am (wrong, good, bad, doing my best) and how I treat myself from here on out, is up to me.