Dating

Is It Something In Our Water?

At thirty years old, I’ve done my fair share of dating. I don’t have a huge plethora of relationships under my belt [long-term ones, at least], but I’ve gone on plenty of dates and had several short-term relations with guys. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 17, and I didn’t have a serious boyfriend until I was 18 – so, my dating years have pretty much been crammed into a 12-year period of time.

It’s safe to say that the first 18 years of my life were very shy and sheltered [of my own doing – my parents constantly encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone]. While this hindered my dating and relationship experience, it did, on the flipside, allow me silently grow independently and to objectively observe how other people acted in their relationships. It gave me the opportunity to learn what I did and did not want in my own relationships.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed in my short thirty years on earth is that many women stay in relationships that they know are toxic – not only for them, but for the significant other as well. We waste years of our lives on boys [sorry, can’t refer to these individuals as “men” – they haven’t earned that title] who treat us horribly. When there’s a breakup, we take them back when they come groveling. When they abuse us, whether physically, verbally, or emotionally, we forgive them when they apologize and swear it’ll never happen again [and yet, it always does. and we know it will keep happening again and again and again].

My question is: why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we consistently stay with individuals who treat us so horribly? Who have absolutely no respect for us as women or as human beings? WHY? I know every single one of us has warning signals – there are always signs telling us to GET THE FUCK OUT, and yet none of us listen to them. And none of us get out when presented with opportunities. I mean, we literally allow these relationships to hit rock fucking bottom before the light bulb goes on and we think, Hmm, maybe this relationship SUCKS ASS.

And, going hand-in-hand with the self-degradation of staying in these relationships, is this feeling that we need somebody else in our lives to feel whole. This is a HUGE problem, especially for women who start dating so young – we become dependent on our significant other. Teenage and early twenties are crucial growing years in our lives. We’re all on this hormonal roller coaster, we’re experiencing all kinds of milestones, and instead of growing independently and learning who we are and how to deal with conflicts, speed bumps, and curve balls on our own, we end up leaning on somebody else for support through trying times. And someday, when these relationships inevitably end [because young love generally does], we come out so lost and disoriented that the only thing we know is to jump into another relationship. Instead of having our own identity, we become who we date. We define ourselves based on whose bed we happen to be sharing [okay, not the best reference, but you get the idea].

Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t feel like you can’t lean on somebody for help and support when times get rough. Of course you should! That is absolutely what friends, family and relationships are for [among other things]. The worst thing you can do is keep things to yourself when they’re causing you unmanageable stress and anxiety. BUT, first and foremost, it’s important to know who you are throughout the entire process. Don’t lose yourself in somebody else’s identity. Know that the people in your life are there to support you and to love you from beginning to end – and the people who aren’t need to be given the boot.

Ladies, we have worked TOO DAMN HARD in these first world countries to be reverting back to the Victorian era and beyond. We fought tooth-and-nail for a voice, for the right to vote, to be able to work alongside men, to be able to fight alongside men. We’ve come so far from the days of arranged marriages due to social status, being forced to stay in bad relationships due to guaranteed social ruin from divorce, no right to vote, have a voice or have a say in our finances or really our own lives. Why in the world would we ever want to willingly go back to that life? To stay in a relationship that’s unhealthy and degrading when we have a choice not to? Do we like feeling like shit? Feeling like we aren’t good enough? Is it something in our water?

I speak from experience. Despite all my years as a shy woman, growing independently and learning from other people’s mistakes, I still ended up dating a dude with no respect for women or himself. He was controlling, manipulative, insecure and just an all-around jerk. All of these things stemmed from family issues, and yet he took them out on me. I justified my relationship with him – I would be broke if I left him. We have fun together. He’s got a boat and nice cars. He’s got that bad boy thing going on. The list goes on. Nine out of ten of my friends have been in similar situations – guys who don’t respect them and treat them horribly. They’ve all done the same thing; made excuses about their boyfriend to people around them, which ultimately meant they were just trying to convince themselves. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to justify your relationship – it should just BE.

Just remember that it is NEVER TOO LATE to get out of a bad relationship. And regardless of how long you spend dating an idiot, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you any less of a woman. We all make mistakes, we all have to go through our own experiences and motions in life in order to learn lessons. Know that you are not alone out there. You are not the only or first woman to try pushing through a shit relationship. There are always other gals out there you can lean on and relate to when you’re feeling alone in the world. So don’t suffer through this sort of thing alone! Reach out to others – me if you’d like! Believe me, there are more of us out there than you think.

 

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Relationship Timeline: What is “Socially Acceptable?”

Despite the fact that I spent about a year or so doing the online dating thing [match.com, dating apps, etc.], I always envisioned myself meeting somebody in a more organic way – like in the grocery store or in a bar or something along those lines. And even though online dating is more the norm these days, I was still never able to fully let my guard down to anybody that I’d met online.

I actually ended up meeting my boyfriend at a restaurant [his restaurant (I’d link the website, but it’s undergoing construction and not quite up and running yet)], through a mutual friend. It was natural, not online, and through a trusted mutual friend of both of ours. It was perfect, and exactly the way both of us had hoped meeting someone would go.

After our first date, neither of us could wait more than 24 hours before seeing each other again, and this progressed as the months went on. I had rented my own apartment a couple of weeks after we went out, but it essentially became a [very expensive] storage unit for all my crap, as I probably spent a total of 30 days there in the five months I had the spot.

Every relationship develops differently. I have friends who sleep with a guy on the first night, and a relationship stems from it [highly unusual and generally doesn’t last]. I have a girl friend who moves in with a boyfriend the minute they start dating [literally, you guys – I’m talking within the first week they are living together. and no, these relationships don’t last long, either]. I have another friend who makes a guy wait 90 days before she will be intimate with him [mad props, GF, maaaaad props]. And I will admit, I have judged all of these women because I personally would never make those choices in my own relationships.

But who am I to judge? Is there really a rulebook on how to have a relationship? And a good relationship, at that?

NO, there isn’t. Because if there were, I would own it. We all would.

The reason I bring this up is because I moved in with my boyfriend after we’d been dating for six months. I’m talking officially moved – as in, terminated my lease at my apartment and was no longer living out of four overnight bags and a single drawer in my boyfriend’s dresser. We had both wanted it to be sooner [if I remember correctly, I believe we started discussing it around the three month mark], but I held it off because I was worried about what my family would think. Which, in retrospect, shouldn’t have mattered – they knew [and know] how happy I am with this guy. But another part of me was like, “how much do you really know somebody after only a few months?”

My first boyfriend and I were together for about a year-and-a-half. So, not that long, but at the time it seemed like a huge milestone. We were very compatible from the get-go. He was three years older than me, so of course I was feeling pretty damn good that I’d landed an older guy for my first real relationship. But around the one year point, he did a 180 on me out of nowhere. He started getting really insecure and treating me like crap. This could have been because it was around that time that I started to come into my own – I had started shedding the layer of shy younger girl – and he no longer had a doe-eyed girl under his control. He tried to manipulate me, he tried many different ways to break me down in order to gain back control, but as I started to see his true colors I decided I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore, and I let him go.

I personally knew this person for A YEAR, and I thought I really knew him, before he showed me his true colors. It’s scary, really, that you can think you know somebody so well, and yet not know them at all.

I semi-recently had a friendship end – a friendship with a gal I thought was my soulmate and BFFL. We talked on the phone every day, texted constantly – at the beginning of our friendship, she was unemployed, and would come visit me at the coffee shop I worked at every single day for almost my entire eight hour shift. We were as close as any friends could be. So you can imagine the shock and hurt I felt when out of nowhere she stopped reciprocating the friendship. I knew this girl for five years – FIVE! And in every inch of my mind, I knew her. And, yet, at the end of it all, I didn’t know her – not at all.

This was my hesitation when deciding whether or not I should move in with my boyfriend after only six months. And I am not the type of person to carry baggage from one relationship to the next. At least, I try really hard not to. I know that no two people and relationships are the same.

In the end, my parents were totally okay with my decision to move in with my guy after only being together for six months. They were happy that I was happy – and they could see how comfortable and compatible he and I were.

I still pose this question to all of you, though: is there an appropriate dating timeline? Do you think that people should wait a certain amount of time before they sleep together? Move in together? Get a dog together? Have a baby together? Are there time gaps that society deems necessary before taking the next step in your relationship? I want to hear your thoughts!

Listen to your GUT.

I just wanted to take a second here to discuss something that frequently pops up in my news feed on Facebook.

As a writer [ha – or, you know, blogger], I like to follow other blogs.

One that I follow is called PuckerMob. Essentially I think it’s just a general blogger site where anybody can sign up and post whatever they feel. Not sure, to be honest.

Anyway.. It’s one that I follow. And the posts constantly pop up in my newsfeed on Facebook. And every once in a while one will catch my eye because I feel like it’s something that I can relate to.

Lately, though, I’ve been having a hard time with the posts popping up. And maybe it’s because I’m in such a good, happy place in my life right now that I just literally can no longer relate to how these people are feeling.. BUT, regardless, some of the things people have been writing about are just SO depressing and self mutilating, in a sense.

For example, about two months ago, a post popped up that I was 100% on board with and, in fact, wrote a relatable post about but didn’t end up going public with. The premise of this woman’s post was that she felt she had met “The One” and that he also ended up being “The One That Got Away.” She wrote that she was so afraid to be herself with him in fear that she’d lose him, and so therefore she was so calculated about what she said and how she acted around him. And, in the end, she lost him anyway.

Around the time I came across this post, I was feeling a similar feeling about a guy I had dated several months back. A month-and-a-half post break up and I still couldn’t get him out of my head – I constantly felt like I had lost “my person.” We had this instant connection and I was drawn to him like a moth to a flame – and yet I could never let my guard down around him, could never truly and fully reveal myself to him. Looking back on it now, I was never actually comfortable around him. He exuded this “perfect” persona and consistently had this judgmental air about him that kept me from warming up and opening up to him. I am the first to admit that I’m a bit of a weirdo. Having spent the better part of my life as shy and introverted I’ve definitely just become accustomed to accepting myself for who I am. And when I didn’t feel like I could be that person around this guy, I should have known that something wasn’t quite right.

And now I’ve met somebody who, from the get-go, I’ve been able to completely be myself with. He knows everything about me [and vice-versa] and I’ve never felt ashamed about my past choices nor have I ever felt uncomfortable around him. Suffice it to say that he actually likes and matches my weirdness with his own. And, BONUS, he makes me want to be a better person.

My point? WHY do we do this to ourselves? Why do we get so lost in these emotions and let them dictate our lives? And why do we hold onto these feelings for so long? If we constantly think that somebody got away or allow ourselves to miss somebody who, in the grand scheme of things, really didn’t impact our lives for that long of a time, we will lose out on so many other BETTER opportunities.

Case in point: the minute I gave up on this guy, and the second I let go of the grudge I’d been holding against another ex, I met somebody. Karma? Heck yes.

Don’t waste valuable time, emotions and energy on people and things that you know deep down in your gut are not worth it. There are always warning signals in these situations. ALWAYS. Every time I’ve gone been heading into a black hole there have been signs warning me against the plunge.. And I’ve ignored them. Every time. And I’ve had to suffer the consequences.

This new guy? No bad signs. No warning signals. No negativity.

The lesson here? Karma spits out what you feed it. So give good to karma and it will give good to you. And listen to your gut and your soul. They are never wrong!

Exposed

For most of my life I’ve been shy. It’s no secret – anybody who knew me growing up definitely knew this about me. Being the center of attention has never been at the top of my list of favorite things. Especially around people I don’t know or when it comes to public speaking.

The last year or two I’ve definitely grown as an individual. It’s pretty amazing how life experiences can make you a different person [if you let them – and you should].

Often times we make the same mistakes over and over again. We never learn from them or allow ourselves to learn from them. And we sit around and wonder why we do these things to ourselves. Why the self destruction?

Let’s be honest for a minute here. Isn’t it really because deep down some of us love the drama? Is it because we’re afraid that if we find a sense of normalcy that life will just be plain boring?

My adult life [let’s assume 18 is “adult” in this situation] has been a series of bad boyfriends intermixed with spells of singledom and wildness. And for what? What has it brought me? What has it helped me to accomplish?

A lot, actually. And maybe not right away – in fact, it’s taken me ten years to really realize my self-worth. But it’s the experiences I’ve had that have brought me to this point today.

Two weeks ago I went on a date with a new guy. A guy from the internet, yes. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it because this is the way we are now. First world dating, that is.

Anyway, we spent five hours in sweat pants eating sandwiches and talking. Hands down one of the best dates I’ve been on so far [not that I’ve been on too many, mind you, but regardless]. Over the course of the five hours, one of the things he asked me that really resonated in my mind was, “What are your biggest fears?” Having spent ten years with boyfriends who preferred partying, drinking and drugs to, you know, speaking, I wasn’t accustomed to having an actual real conversation with a guy. Or, really, having somebody take an interest in anything except for my physical appearance, like, oh – I don’t know – my BRAIN.

Let me tell you – it was seriously refreshing.

And attractive. Really attractive.

And at first I didn’t know how to answer the question.

What are my biggest fears? Immediately, I thought, “death.” But with my grandmother passing away earlier this year, I realized that it was no longer a fear of mine. Having a loved one pass on made me strangely at peace with the idea of someday inevitably losing my own life as well.

So what else, then? I hate the actual feeling of fear. I don’t like to be scared. Scary movies, haunted houses, creepy situations – those are things that are “fears.” But they aren’t life altering. They aren’t things that linger in the back of my mind every day and keep me from living my life.

It took me two weeks, and today it finally dawned on me.

I fear feelings. I fear letting my guard down. I fear letting my walls down. I fear letting somebody into my heart because he might have the potential to really hurt me. I fear emotional pain.

I’m generally a pretty hard-hearted individual. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I hate crying. When it comes to dating, if I’m not into you, you’ll know it. I’m not going to waste my time. I’m not going to reveal too much of myself because I don’t see the point and I don’t like you enough to give you more than my surface. Some people may see that as a game. But it’s not a game – I’m not playing hard to get – I just don’t like you.

But, in the extremely rare circumstance that I actually do like somebody, I’m all in. I love hard. Because if you’re going to expose somebody to all of your inner workings and the things that make you tick, you might as well give them your all, right? What’s the point of holding back? What do you have to lose? This could be why I’ve only had a few boyfriends in my day. I don’t ever trust my heart enough to let a man in.

YES – sometimes we get hurt by the people we care about. I’ve been hurt by many guys I’ve dated as well as girl friends, and vice-versa of course. But I can’t let the fear of feeling that pain again keep me from potentially wonderful experiences. Because it won’t kill me. Yes, it’s cliche – but it won’t kill me, it will make me stronger.

I constantly have to remind myself not to let past relationships set the precedent for future ones. The beauty of this planet is that no two people are the same. And while I often times forget this, it is ever evident as I am exposed to more and more new people every single day.

I will leave you with this – don’t let your fears stand in your way. Because at the end of the day that’s all they are: fears. A single word. An idea. A mental block. They aren’t tangible. You can’t hold them. They aren’t a physical wall stopping you from living your life [although sometimes that would be easier because we could just take a mallet to it and knock it down]. Only you are keeping yourself from living your life to the fullest. It’s taken me a long time to realize this and to even begin to start to understand this about myself, but I’m learning. Every single day.

The [Computer] Key To My Heart?

It should be abundantly clear by now that I am extremely forward thinking when it comes to feminism and the importance of being an independent woman [or man, for that matter].

That said, I am very old fashioned when it comes to dating. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll meet my prince charming the traditional way [aka – not the internet].

In this day and age, however, the importance of cocktails and a one-night-stand seems to be at the forefront of every twenty-something’s mind, and, call me crazy, but I highly highly doubt that Mr. Right is lurking in some dark corner of a divey bar. Not impossible, but definitely not probable.

Despite my best efforts to meet a guy the normal way, I decided I couldn’t very well write off internet dating without actually having tried it. So I did. Well, sort of.

I chose Match.com as my dating platform. While I’m sure a small handful of you have had success stories via Tinder or POF, I was never brave enough to ever meet anybody face-to-face. I figured with a site that required payment to proceed, the creepfest would be more diminished.

That was a false hope.

Okay well kind of. There were actually probably a lot of great guys on the site, but seriously.. I have never had so much trouble navigating a website. Here’s a little tip, Match.. SIMPLIFY.

FOH REALZ.

Within thirty minutes I had, like, 95 emails in my inbox telling me that people viewed my profile, they liked my profile, they winked at me [da fuq is that? Like a Facebook poke?], they sent me a message, they favorited me, they’re interested in me, they want to instant message.

I was so overwhelmed with the sudden onslaught of activity that I almost deleted my profile right then. To hell with that $40 for 30 days, right?

Okay not quite. I don’t think Match gives refunds if you only sign up for an hour..

I stuck it out for 21 days [ish]. I took my time, filled out my profile, answered all the questions, added some pictures. And after all that, I gave my number to two guys who, as it turns out, don’t even live in Sac. Super awesome. $40 dollars and some wasted time later..

Okay, okay, okay.. I can’t get too opinionated about this because, to be completely honest, I just did not have the time or energy to devote to trying to meet somebody online. I know a lot of people that have had a lot of success with it, but, alas, I am not one.

Hmm, but I haven’t tried kissing frogs yet..