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Posts Tagged ‘dating’

What is Love?

While talking to my mom Thursday morning, she sprung a doozy of a question on me. Seemingly out of the blue she asked if I am in love.

Background:
1. Yes, friends, family, people of the Internet, I have a boyfriend.
2. Apparently it was my dad who asked the question. This struck me as odd since we don’t talk about these things. Instead we shoot things or disagree on politics. I guess my mom is slowly filling him in. Interestingly, when I called him this afternoon, specifically to see if he’d mention anything, he only told me to drink in moderation (I was on my way to a wedding and I’m pretty sure my dad thinks I’m a lush, but that’s a post for another day.)
Anyway, I didn’t know how to answer this question. I’ve never been in love. Sure, I love my parents. I love my friends. I love my students and I love my dogs. But I’ve never experienced that totally different kind of love. Love with a capital L.
How do you know? My mom said you know when you know, which was entirely unhelpful.
After my mom posed the question, two songs* immediately came to mind. Haddaway’s “What is Love” and “That’s How You Know” from Disney’s Enchanted.
Haddaway **
The first song describes my fear of love (baby don’t hurt me…). I have a hard time getting too emotionally invested in just about anything because I fear the hurt that will come when things don’t work out. Even applying to colleges I was afraid to love one too much, in case I didn’t get accepted. Perhaps this is because I only applied to really good schools. I didn’t have a safety school. I had one good match school and several reach schools. As it turns out, I think I ended up much happier at the good match school than I ever would have been at the East Coast schools my heart was set one. But even in that situation I was determined to not set my heart one particular East Coast school. Whether or not that worked in practice is up for debate (I still hold a soft spot for Boston College).
If I get this afraid of rejection from a team of administrators, just think about how terrifying rejection from a boy is for me…
However, the Enchanted song reminds me (okay, maybe not remind since I’ve never been in this situation, but it reminds me of what the movies and books and my friends tell me) of the wonderfulness and excitement of love. I desperately want to feel this feeling but I’m afraid my fear will hold me back.
Perhaps it is the stoic Norwegian in me rearing its placid head. Maybe it’s a confidence issue. Who knows. I will say that I am, and probably always will be, a very even-keeled person, emotionally. My swim coach used to rag on me nonstop at swim meets to show emotion behind the block. I always wanted to tell him, I was excited and pumped about my race. I just didn’t show it by¬†jumping all over the place behind the blocks, or splashing myself with water (never understood the tradition). My calm stretching and weird little goggle traditions were my own displays of excitement.
I guess this post really has no purpose except to talk myself thorough my feelings. Oh, and to brag about my boyfriend. He’s sweet and romantic (he remembered on our first date that I complained about the lack of stars and told me, once we have the time he is going to take me somewhere we can see all the stars). Yet he’s “manly” and athletic (6’2″ hockey player!!!) while being intelligent (hello scientist!).
So yes, I am excited. I think he could be my first real love, but taking that emotional step is huge for me. And that is terrifying.
*I apologize. I forgot/wordpress changed and I don’t know how to embed videos anymore.
**If you watch/listen to all 10 hours of the Haddaway SNL skit I will simultaneously love you and judge you…
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We write a lot about history here, but no necessarily our personal history. I am a firm believer that if we pay attention to the lessons of history, we can learn from them. In that spirit, here is a portion of my history, and I hope it helps someone.
I once dated a real jerk, let’s call him Jerkface Root. Don’t get me wrong, he had good qualities, too. He was brave, good-looking, intelligent, and funny. Unfortunately, he was also a liar, inconsiderate, selfish, and had a temper. For a while our relationship was good. Yes, I saw the bad qualities he possessed, but I thought it had to do with his time in war. I thought those unpleasant tendencies would ease up after he spent more time stateside. After all, I’m not one to shirk from a challenge, and I have a pretty nasty temper myself. We fought occasionally. (Not physically, mind you. True, Root had some PTSD issues. However, I only ever felt he would actually hit me once, and to his credit he restrained himself.) We had a lot of good times, too. Most people really liked him. Most people thought we worked very well together.
We talked about our future, about getting married. As we talked a funny thing began to happen, I noticed that the more we talked about our future the more it seemed like his future. He had very specific ideas about his life and very little concern about what that meant for mine. We fought.
However, at this point, about two years in, I was convinced that we were meant to be together. I actually started thinking about different ways to change my plans to match his. He never budged.
Everything shifted when I spent a summer in a foreign land in which I did not know a soul. I was happy. I realized I didn’t actually need Root for my life to be fulfilling. I could be happy all by my onsie. Still, I wanted to make it work with Root. I did love him after all. When I returned to the US, I began to stop budging myself. I decided that if he wanted a life with me, he would have to work with me instead of me just giving in constantly. I really dug in my heels. We began to fight a lot more.
Right before a holiday celebration we had a doozy of a fight about his unwavering position, and how that would absolutely not be possible with what I wanted to do, and couldn’t he just move an inch to help me out. He didn’t. I gave him an ultimatum: he had to either change and compromise with me, or he would lose me. I gave him three weeks.
He did not change. We broke up.
For a while after breaking up we maintained a friendship. He saw other people. I saw other people. We remained on good terms and even went camping together. (Separate tents and all, no worries.)
Twice after we broke up, he asked me back. He said he had changed. He said he wanted a life with me. Twice I believed him. Twice he shattered my heart.
I was wrong. He was still the same inflexible, inconsiderate person he had always been, and probably always will be.
Do me a favor, if you find yourself in my position, get out when you first notice these inhospitable traits. Get out before you waste four years or more of your life on a man who does not deserve you. Because whoever he might be, he is not worth re-directing your life when he would not do the same.

This is just my side of the story. I shouldn’t have to point out that I’m no saint. I have not-so-good qualities in my own personality. However, in my defence, I have managed to remain on friendly speaking terms with all of my other ex-boyfriends, which I figure is a pretty good character reference.

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I recently dove back into the dating world. And by diving in, I mean reactivating my OKCupid account. I messaged two guys, maybe three, but for the most part, I wasn’t interested enough to put in a lot of effort. I figured, if it works, it works. If not, oh well. No big loss. I got a handful of interesting messages, and if the guy actually put some effort in and read my profile, I usually responded.

However, there are so many guys (and I use so many loosely here, because I think I’ve only received 10 messages) who feel “hey, you’re cute, I’d love to take you out some time” is a valid introductory message. What self-respecting girl agrees to that? I feel the same way about guys in bars using lines. So, a guy has never used a line on me, but I see it in movies and on TV all the time. Lines always felt insincere to me. Sure, I could give guys some slack, and assume they use lines because it takes pressure off themselves, or some other nonsense, but I can’t. Because, honestly, isn’t being yourself easier?

I wish we lived in a time where conversation, or at least flirtation, was an art. Granted, I’d have to learn that art as well, but it’d be better than this! For demonstration purposes, I copied and pasted some the “best of the worst” messages I received in the past few weeks. I wish now that I hadn’t deleted so many, because there were some doozies.

(this is a followup to his first message which I deleted and never responded to) “Hey! =) So, I guess you probably feel uncomfortable e-mailing for my photo, so I put it online (I took out the url in case it’s a naked pic or a virus) I have more I can send if you’re interested. Maybe you’ll let me take you out sometime? :)” Who sends a stranger their email address? And what makes you think I want to go to your sketchy website? Maybe if it was Flickr…but still, why be on an Internet dating site if “you’re shy about putting yourself out there”? I suppose he could have a legitimate fear of rejection in a world based solely on looks (major scars, one eye etc) but I doubt it.

My next favorite comes from a guy who messaged me and I’m fairly certain I ignored. Either way, I got a message from him the other day asking “are you still there?” Yes, I am still here and I am glad I ignored you, because clearly you are needy and a bit possessive.

The last message I will share with you actually made me laugh out loud. Again, I deleted it, but it had something to do with me being a nice Christian girl, strong in her faith. Sure, I filled in the religion part of the profile (Catholic, but not too serious about it), but where does he get “strong in my faith” from that? Out of curiosity I looked at the questions we both answered. Where he put, “absolutely not” to things like abortion, gay marriage, teaching evolution and sex before marriage (and these being very important to him) I answered opposite (also as being very important to me).**

I know I’m not painting a very pretty picture of the online dating world, and honestly, it’s not my favorite. However, it is surprisingly similar to meeting guys at bars, also not my favorite. Personally, I prefer getting to know the guy through friends, work, clubs, whatever, but since I don’t have those options available to me, I’ll take what I can!

Besides, online dating can work. A woman I work with is in a long-term, serious relationship with a guy she met online. I also have a promising date tonight with a guy I technically met online. When I discovered that he runs with a group I already planned on joining, we used it as an opportunity to meet in person. Meeting like that, surrounded by lots of other people, in a totally non-threatning (non-date) place, was really nice. It really took the pressure off, and he couldn’t pull any shenanigans* and if I didn’t like him I could leave, no hurt feelings. Okay, feelings could get hurt, but it’s not like leaving in the middle of a coffee date.

I will keep all y’all posted on the date. But for now, I’ve got to get ready! I feel a bit like Bridget Jones

—————————————————————–

* I met up with a guy in Boston that I met on OkCupid and half way through the date he reached over and started holding my hand. Awkward!

* In order for the OK Cupid algorithms and what not to work you have to answer so many questions–the more questions you answer, the better your possible matches. An example of a question is as follows:

“Is Love Overrated”

-Yes, absolutely

-Yes, a bit

-No, it’s fine

-No, it’s underrated

Answers I’ll Accept

-Yes, absolutely

-Yes, a bit

-No, it’s fine

-No, it’s underrated

This Question is:

-Irrelavent

-A little important

-Somewhat important

-Very important

-Mandatory

If you click all the bubbles in the “I’ll accept” portion, the website automatically categorizes it as irrelevant.

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Friends and Lovers

As you all know, from my Dixie Land post, I recently moved to the south, from the Midwest. While there are a few cultural differences (see the post), generally we’re all the same. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Yet, I’m still finding it difficult to make friends. Mostly because the majority of people I work with are from France, Belgium, Spain or some other Spanish-speaking country. I don’t fit into this group because a) I don’t speak French or Spanish and b) I’m from the United States and therefore not an outsider like they are and, finally, c) I started in January and all the other new teachers know each other already and everyone knows, bringing new friends into the group is hard. Especially when they don’t share a similar background.

To counteract my lack of friendship in the workplace (I’m also one of the only unmarried American staff members (can’t break into the international or local cliques) and considerably younger than the other unmarrieds which makes it that much harder to connect) I started using Meetup.com. A place to meet people of similar interests, etc. I went to a board game meetup, because it’s held at the coffee shop with the best Beignets in town and because I like board games. Surprise, surprise, I was expecting “party games” (think Last Word, Balderdash, Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit etc) when in actuality, most group members play strategy games like Settlers of Catan (and this is the only one I was familiar with and therefore remember). Luckily, all was not lost. There was a new-to-town couple there as well, and the wife and I bonded over our newness.

Saturday night we met up for a drink near my apartment. I was so nervous going into our dinner engagement, I felt like I was going on a date! And honestly, I’ve never had a “date” go so well. Maybe I should become a lesbian (I’m sorry, I realize that was probably very offensive). I’m sure this sounds very weird. We all know what it’s like to meet guys and to have to put yourself out there, and make yourself vulnerable, but you’ve always had your girlfriends to fall back on. Imagine trying to find that support system and making yourself vulnerable, with no one to fall back upon. That is what I am going through now. Sure I have my girls (Cornflower and Sapphire included) but they don’t know exactly what I’m dealing with, nor the people I’m talking about, so it’s not the same.

On a different, but related note, I’ve recently reactivated my OK Cupid account. I figure, I’m putting myself out there to meet platonic friends via the Internet, why not romantic friends? It’s not like I can go out to the bars with my friends or meet my friend’s friends. Yet, every guy I find physically attractive is a “60% or less match.” I know I shouldn’t but I take their little algorithms seriously, but I don’t understand why the cute ones have some sort of fatal character flaw (homophobia, over sexualization*, too religious etc). Sometimes I message them anyway (if they’re cute enough) whereas I get messages from perfectly normal men and ignore them because their pictures just don’t do it for me. This is the problem with meeting people virtually. In person, their personalities can make up for lack of physical attributes, but I’m sorry, that doesn’t happen over the Internet.

So, basically, I’m a at a standstill. Either the cuties that I emailed need to email me back (since heaven knows I’m not going to put myself out there more than once!) or I need to meet guys and girls (friends of all kinds) through work and maybe my new game friend.

* Seriously, the questions they ask… I understand the reasoning behind some of them. If you’re waiting until marriage but the guy who just messaged you thinks 3 dates=sex, well you might have a problem. But so many of the questions are sexual in nature. I just don’t get it. Aren’t these the kind of things you’re suppose to slowly learn? I have learned, however, that OK Cupid users are very concerned about sex (many of the questions are user generated). Also, a shockingly large percentage of the male users only brush their teeth once a day. I have no idea who came up with that question, but I like it.

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Intra-Office Romance

Why hello there! Long time no see. I sincerely apologize to both our readers and my fellow Bluestockings for my prolonged absence of posts. I know I shouldn’t make excuses, but really, I have good news that is both exciting and relevant to this post’s topic.

First off, I must announce that after over 10 months of unemployment, I have obtained gainful, full-time employment at an awesome company as a “Media Custodian.” For the sake of anonymity, I will hereafter refer to my workplace as Company Tykhe1. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy with new employee paperwork, adjusting to a 9-6 work day, and settling into a new environment at the office.

Excuses for my lax writing behavior aside, I also have been thinking a lot about the dating scene and the workplace. Is it wise to date a co-worker? How many people do it and what are the pros and cons of intra-office romances?

Working in the IT industry, I am one of about ten women in an office of no more than 100 employees. It is the nature of the field and normally, I’d be excited to be surrounded by men eight hours a day, five days a week. I am conflicted about this circumstance, however, and inclined to hold off on any celebration of falling into a pool of men at my job for several reasons.

One: Like the “real world,” there is a mix of sexual preference and marital status within the office. Many men are married, many are old enough to be my father, many are my age but dating someone, and a few are gay. Hence, the dating pool of eligible men shrinks with realistic consideration of quality, not quantity of the men in my office.

Two: Of the pool of eligible men, I’m not attracted to half of them. Many are just not my type. Considering that I work at what is basically an IT company, many of the employees are stereotypical computer nerds. This isn’t really a bad thing; after all, my cousin says nerds make the best husbands. Yet, with much of the nerd group, there really isn’t much we have in common. I am a self professed nerd, but of a different variety. Like French and German speaking persons, tech nerds and book nerds don’t really speak the same language.

Three: Of the handful of possible dating candidates at my office, do I really want to go there? Is it wise to date someone you work with? What are the pros and cons of office relationships?

Office Romance

What light through yonder cubicle breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!

The pros would mostly revolve around convenience. You could see your significant other every day, have lunch together, leave together after work hours end, and be able to commiserate with each other about office politics and stresses. No more excuses that you don’t have time for each other!

The pros can also be negative though, considering that you will literally see you’re boyfriend every day of the week. Absence makes the heart grow fonder after all, and 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, is hardly a schedule conducive to time apart. There would be less variety in you’re conversations since professional chit-chat would be a common talking point. Finally, everyone would know you’re business. If you had a disagreement with your boyfriend in or outside of the office, everyone you work with will know. “Why are Sapphire and Joe not speaking to each other and why is she glaring at him? Oooo, they must have had a fight!”

Unfortunately, the cubicle riddled office world is still much like high school. The cool employees sit together at lunch and everyone wants to know the gossip of the day. I’m not sure I would want my private life so close to my professional one.

Worse, what happens if things go sour with your boyfriend and for the rest of your career at your company, you have to look at, talk to, and work with the man who broke your heart or have awkward interactions with your ex. I’d never leave a great job because of a breakup and I wouldn’t expect my ex to either, but I sure wouldn’t feel comfortable every morning.

I’d say for now, I’m going to focus on my career and stick to office romance celibacy. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize my first grown-up job with a potentially disastrous relationship, no matter how much I’m attracted to the programmer four cubicles down (wink). At least I’ll have some eye candy and daydreaming fodder for the workweek!

Have you ever had an office romance? How did things work out? What would you do?


1 In her incarnation as Eutykhia, Tykhe (pronounced too-kay) was worshipped as the goddess of good fortune, luck, success, and prosperity. Since I feel exceptionally fortunate to have the job I quite honestly fell into, I thought this name was appropriate. And if you know me, you’ll see my ancient Greek obsession rearing its head yet again.

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Do you ever feel like the internet knows too much? You sign into your Gmail account, Facebook, et cetera, and bam! Ads for movies, television, jobs, restaurants, and clothing that interest you are floating on your screen. How did Facebook know that I’d be interested in a 1950’s vintage inspired dress from ModCloth or want to see the trailer for next week’s episode of The Borgias? Well, the idea is simple enough. Companies pay good money to have their ads seen by the right people and, thus, websites simply scan your profile for hot words that stick out and match subject tags on ads or remember clicks and navigation moves you make to other groups and websites on or from their website. Of course, the algorithms behind the IT magic is more complicated than my simplification here, but that is the general gist of how it works.

Sometimes it seems like the computer knows me or can read my mind, which frankly is a bit frightening. I know that a lot of the ads and spam I get are based on my net-surfing behaviors and appear because I have things listed in my profiles on social networking sites that are common knowledge for the website marketers. Sometimes even the way these things work is predictive. I like The Borgias, so therefore I might reasonably enjoy other period dramas such as Camelot or Spartacus (which I do).

These cases usually don’t bother me because they are innocuous, if slightly unnerving, knowing that I have enough information out there about myself that a machine can predict my behavior. It is only recently, with my Gmail account, that I’ve begun to get quite peeved.

Over the past year or more, I have persistently received at least one e-mail of the spam variety pertaining to online dating per day. I decided, for the sake of very informal research, to see how many of these kinds of e-mails I get in about a month and to share with you all my ire.

Look for example, below, at exhibit A: August-September. This is a snapshot of my very own Gmail account, in the spam section. Look at all of that dating service junk mail, literally from everywhere! I am neither Indian nor Black, but at least it’s nice to know that these websites don’t discriminate. We have a representative sampling from eHarmony, Match, BlackPeopleMeet, and a generic Indian dating directory site. Really, over 20 e-mails in about a month!

Google Mail

My Gmail spam folder. Click me for the readable image in all its spamalicious glory!

What about me or my online presence says that I am desperate? I realize that online dating is a common arena in which to meet new people and to find a future spouse, but I get the impression that the internet “cloud” is trying to tell me something. Maybe I have visited too many Romance authors’ websites or SmartBitches one too many times and the big ol’ machine thinks I am obsessed with romance and need help finding a date. Who knows?

All I’m saying is that although I believe people can find meaningful relationships online (my cousin and her husband met via one of these harassing sites), it is totally not for me. And furthermore, I don’t need my computer telling me how and who to date. It’s like he knows how poor my dating skills are and, like a nosy family member, has to butt in, give his advice, and set me up with a less-than-desirable candidate.

Thank you spam, I really feel the love you’re trying to throw at me, laced with your judgment and know-it-all opinions. Please stop sending me e-mails about my love-life. I’ll do things my way and on my own time. I get the hint.

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The other weekend, I was sitting on a friend’s couch, listening to her romantic woes and about the two biggest relationships she has had to date. Like any good friend, I payed attention to the details and on a personal level, I was fascinated by what were at times unbelievable actions and conversations between my friend and her significant others. You see, I find what some would call gossip enthralling. Since gossip isn’t gossip unless you pass it along or use it for nefarious purposes, I like to think that my interest has more of a psychological or sociological bent. I like to know what is going on in other people’s lives, why they do what they do, and hear about stories that are almost always crazier than anything I could hope to imagine in my own life; I even have a friend who is known for such stories. When asked by a mutual acquaintance if this friend embellishes some of the events she retells, my words were that “this shit is so bizarre, it has to be real!”

So, it is established that I have the predisposition to listen to friends’ problems, out-there stories, and relationship disasters, but apparently, I also give amazing and thoughtful advice. I’m not sure what kind of advice I’ve given to friends in the past that has been useful, but maybe just lending a shoulder and pep-talk goes a long way. I’ve been told many times these exact words: “You’re such a good listener and you give such good advice.”

Ok, I’m flattered. Were I to do college and my career choice over, I might consider becoming a psychologist, so these compliments actually mean a lot to me, besides boosting my sense of what kind of a friend I am to people. Everyone wants to know that they are there for their friends and that they can be trusted to be dumped on by the heaviest burdens and to share them. That’s what friendship is all about.

Sigmund Freud

"And how does that make you feel?"

So, where am I going with all of this? Well, ever since that conversation on my friend’s couch, I’ve been thinking a lot about experience and the capacity to understand events one hasn’t participated in. Maybe distance gives me an objective view of things friends are too emotionally involved in to process. Whatever the explanation, the conversation about my friend’s past loves ended and was finished with the appropriate request for me to reciprocate by sharing my romantic follies.

When I was obviously caught in a situation where I had nothing to say, I did what I always try to do, which is to tell the truth. I told this friend that I didn’t have anything to share and was given a kind, but puzzled look in return. The dialogue that followed was along the lines of “you’re better off” and “men are too much trouble anyway,” but I couldn’t help but wonder what she thought of me. I felt the need to justify what she might have thought was a tight-lipped attitude with an explanation of my dateless existence, just so that she didn’t think I was being rude or one-sided in the swapping of personal details.

So, if I’ve had no real experience of my own, what makes me such an insightful sage that many of my friends seem to feel comfortable talking to? I’m not really sure, but I’m positive that my whole situation is proof positive of the saying “those who can’t do, teach.”

Tooting my own horn for a minute, I have to say that I’m pretty good at the friend-cum-therapist shtick. I listen attentively, ask the right questions, and give the right amount of sympathy and well-meant advice. I can see the path of a friend’s relationship for what it really is before even they can and I’ve predicted the death of numerous relationships and flirtations with a 90% accuracy.

Why then can I not figure myself out? I have no freaking idea!

For now, I guess I’ll just indulge in my hobby and be an ear to friends in crisis. I may not be able to help myself, but apparently, I understand what it’s all about. So let me know what’s troubling you, or give me some explanation for this phenomenon. The doctor’s in!

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