Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Timing is Everything

Since the week of clearing my relationship clutter by breaking up with every fellow I’d ever spoken to and being unceremoniously left at my make-believe alter by the heretofor object of my affection, I’ve been on a romantic rollercoaster with my hetero lifemate and our two new fellows. No, we didn’t double date to a theme park! Though I advised against it, I watched her make some crucial mistakes in jumping into love head first and have seen her come up with a nosebleed. I may still be diving into my new relationship, but I’m trying a different form – not quite feet first but cannonball style.

Anyone who has ever told a joke can attest to the rule that “Timing is Everything." With jokes and with relationships, timing is of the essence. Last week after the string of break ups (See: Breaking Up is Hard to Do and Friend or Boyfriend?), I thought I would never fall in love again – my theme song was that Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach tune. This was made all the more painful by my hetero lifemate telling me how she’d found her match and how apparently great it was going.

If there really is a finite amount of pain and pleasure in the universe, we were definitely trading off, because the same night that things turned around for me was the night when her ivory tower of love came crashing down around her. She got stood up on the same night that I realized that I might have found someone pretty special and greater than that, that I can and will fall in love again and again and again… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, timing is everything. Either that or I’m just able to convince myself to obey the words of my new theme song: Always Look at the Bright Side of Life.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Friend or Boyfriend? When it Ends Before it Began

So yesterday was my day for breaking up and today was my day for getting broken up with, albeit from a very non-relationship and in a very indirect way. I met this fellow about two months ago at the same time as the Stand Up Guy and have been seeing both of them throughout this time. Things technically hadn’t progressed to more than friendship, but I was definitely interested and hoping for more. The interest seemed mutual until all of the sudden, my “friend" was unavailable and spending all of his time with a new girl on the scene. Now our friendship is awkward, my hopes for he and I are dashed, and having broken up with my other beaus, I’m left with only one date for next week! What’s the best way to handle it when a friend is more than a friend but less than a boyfriend?

A wise man I know identifies the three parts of relationship as friendship, intimacy and sex. I like this trilogy as it easily applies to the object of my unrequited affection – we have friendship down, verbal intimacy is checked off the list, but no physical intimacy yet. Seemed like we were just heading through the stages towards the latter. Maybe things don’t actually progress that linearly or maybe he just got sidetracked when another friendship moved along its parallel track. Regardless of the why’s and what’s of it, this happened and it seems, from my current experience, that there are some things that could make a return to normalcy less strange and painful.

1. Acknowledge that something was going on! It’s crazy making that we - by that I mean, myself, him and the mutual group of friends I share with this fickle fellow – are just pretending that everything should just be the way that it was. We’re all acting as though nothing was going on when I’m pretty sure we’re all in on the score. If we just allowed that “yeah, that was nice, but I’m with her now," we could part ways for a time or just slow down and let our friendship redevelop along this new path.

2. Be clear about the new relationship!While on the subject of being up front, maybe he could just tell me that they’re together now – while I already know this to be the case, he has studiously avoided all references to it in our conversations and since I want it not to be true (it is true), I don’t want to bring it up.

3. Don’t ask me out on your dates!This shouldn’t require much explanation – I never want to be a third wheel, but I especially don’t want to watch someone I dig snogging another person! (Yes, “THEY" asked me to dinner tonight and yes, I declined with regrets due to the need to re-organize the severe disarray in my sock drawer.)

Being a responsible and introspective person, I also want to take responsibility for my own actions. I should probably also just accept the fact that he’s found love elsewhere and move on. Or maybe I should just deck the bitch and steal him back?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Today it was my unpleasant task to “break up" with three suitors. As breaking up hard to do, I was not looking forward to it and decided to use the ripping the band aid off approach. Being that one fellow was the Stand Up Guy (See: On Getting Stood Up) who I’ve been seeing for 2 months, another was Cheeky Guy (See: Las Vegas on a Second Date?) with whom I had had one coffee date and the last was someone I had not yet met, but had exchanged emails with and one phone call, you might imagine that I would have used different methods to end each of these “relationships," but no, I dumped them all over email.

Okay, admittedly, I wasn’t really breaking up with Cheeky Guy or the other fellow, but in this day and age of Internet dating, there often is a need to end a relationship before it really begins. Sometimes these things just fizzle and while that might leave one party wondering, if they aren’t interested enough to continue the pursuit, it’s probably better off that way. When my new crush breaks up with me more directly though, it may sting momentarily, but it also allows me to move on. I’ve tried to emulate this method of breaking up.

So, more specifically, my two-monther got a very heartfelt letter about how much I enjoy him and how we’re just looking for different things out of a relationship. Cheeky Guy, who I already technically broke up with, got a curt note asking him to never call me again. And finally, we’re on to my best break up of the day. Neither too gushy nor too bitchy – this could be the Goldilocks perfect of all break ups.

I told him how I enjoyed our conversation, but didn’t think we were a good fit and wished him the best. I didn’t go into detail about how his quoting the Bible and denigrating the Muslims bothered me, but I did site our religious differences as one reason we might not be a match. His response was less than Christian: “Hopefully the Bible is wrong about who “fits" into Heaven. " Does this mean I’m going to Hell or that he hopes I make to Heaven? Frankly, m’darling…

Thursday, March 9, 2006

On Getting Shot Down

In my survey of men on Passive Man Syndrome (PMS), one answer came up again and again: Men don’t pursue women or ask them out because they are afraid of being shot down. Some men even said that women, as a group, are mean. Women’s signals are apparently too obscure for some men. It was suggested more than once that women should be the assertive force, take advantage of being in the “driver’s seat," flirt better, send clearer signals and ask men out! It’s a fact that dating takes some level of risk – someone has to put their heart on their sleeve or their neck on the line at some point. If men aren’t doing it, should women? Apparently some men think so.

Not being a sociologist, a geneticist or a sexologist, I have no idea if either sex is wired or evolved to be better at asking out the other sex. Apparently, the demise of male self-esteem with changing roles in our society contributes to the change from a male-dominated dating ritual to a female-dominant pattern. Issues of women’s safety and wanting to avoid being considered a “stalker" were also sited.

Regarding your low self esteem, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - cry me a river, guys! Expectations are exceedingly high on women, too! It occurred to me some time ago that everyone I meet is insecure about something – maybe it’s their ears, their big feet, their wide hips or their spelling or bad jokes. When I realized this, I ceased to be intimidated. It doesn’t mean I didn’t get shot down sometimes – there was an especially embarrassing incident trying to get someone to light a cigarette – but I moved on and I’m having fun now with people I might not have started up with otherwise. Just be compassionate to yourself and the other person.

Regarding stalking – just don’t do it. No means no – if I ask you not to call, don’t call. If I give you my number or email address, you aren’t stalking if you contact me. You aren’t even stalking if you write or call more than once before I get back to you. You are, however, perceived as creepy or desperate if you fill my inbox or voicemail before I get back to you. I would also not use the word “giddy"…ever.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Las Vegas on a Second Date?

I was wondering when I would have a chance to share with the world, or at least the world wide web, my graded system of romantic gestures. I got a phone call tonight that has inspired me to share my theories about what I call Grade 4 and what Brigit Jones calls a "mini-holiday." That's right, I'm talking about going out of town on vacation together. So this must be a serious beau if he’s taking it up a level to Grade 4, you’re thinking – oh no, he’s a one dater that I broke it off with after he too overtly admired my … well, let me just say it’s not the body part you’re thinking of!

Going somewhere together really takes a relationship to the next level. A weekend at the shore or a week in the Caymans, it’s really all the same to me. If you make it happen, my heart is open. I think it's a really big deal to go out of town for the first time with a new partner.

So, this fellow who admired my … let’s just say, cheeks … we’d had one date which was okay – I knew we weren’t going to work out for more than another date and really wasn’t interested even in that much more. So I decided not to waste our time and broke it off, explaining that I really wasn’t into the whole…cheek…thing. After referring to me as cold and berating me for not opening up to him on his time schedule, he apparently decided I wasn’t so bad as he’s now inviting me to join him in an all expenses paid vacation to Las Vegas or Disneyworld.

Having done the whole Disneyland as second date thing, I can honestly report that a change of venue doesn’t change the outcome. In fact, it can make a bad situation worse. Grade 4 gestures should be reserved for relationships in a healthy state of bliss.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Passive Man Syndrome: PMS in the New Centure

At a recent social function, I jokingly hollered across the room “Hey, Smiley*, why don’t you fix me up?" The man next to Smiley craned his neck to look at me and hollered back “Why do you need to get fixed up? What are you doing Friday?" Wow! I had a live one – not afraid to put himself out there in the same loud and socially outgoing way that I often do. Though we tried to speak to one another throughout the night, we ended up separated several times in the normal ebb and flow of the evening. At the end of the night, he gave me his number and suggested I call if I wanted to get together. I rang him up a few days later – we had a nice chat and then he suggested I call him next week. In sharing this experience with a male friend, I wondered, is he “just not that into me?" but my friend said that I was really suffering from Passive Man Syndrome, yes, I’ve got a bad case of PMS.

In exploring this idea, it does account for many of my recent dating experiences. Regardless of my behavior, from wantonly throwing myself at my date to coyly following “The Rules," it seems that there are few men who will take the lead in our relationship. I asked some men what is going on and got some interesting responses:

1. Offer sex on the first date – that’ll make them take action.[Yeah, that sounds like the right way to get a guy to call!]

2. Men are afraid of being shot down or thought of as a stalker. [When I kiss a fellow on a date, that’s my way of saying, “hey, I like you, I’d like to go out again." If I don’t want to go out after that, it’s my responsibility to say so. If you keep asking and she keeps evading or saying no (shame on you, girls – we need to be more direct too!), then stop – she’s probably not interested.]

3. Modern culture has emasculated men and they are generally having a hard time.[Whatever, cry me a river, guys! I’m supposed to be financially independent, smart, funny, beautiful with a model thin body with a great front end and booty for miles but still not intimidating. We’re all trying to strike the balance and we all have challenges!]

4. You’re a bitch.[Maybe, but anyone who responded to my inquiry really doesn’t know me well enough to make that call.]

5. Wanna go out?[Yes! I’ve gotten asked out by a few of the guys who gave me opinions – hopefully they’ll be able to keep up this up!]