All posts by Serendipity

Late-thirties and passionate about, well, everything. Some get fooled by the vivacious demeanor and hilarious dating stories, but at the heart of it I'm a hopeless romantic, idealistic and optimistic if just a tad unconventional. I believe love is expressed physically, emotionally and spiritually, and The One is a clichéd marketing gimmick that prevents us from seeing the reality of our relationships in real-time. Dynamics between men and women fascinate me, and I must admit… I still enjoy the game and the chase. Years ago I married and divorced a "nice guy" now known as The Defendant. So it's Round 2 for me, and dating is significantly more challenging - and rewarding - than in my 20's. serendipity@datingthoughts.com

I Got Fluffed

Patience or denial? Um, that would be denial. I got fluffed. Played like a banjo.

I saved a low-level of optimism that that Sunday’s tentative wine-tasting date with Mr. Perfect would come together. After all, his efforts of pursuit had increased after Wednesday’s date, so there was hope he was “getting it”. On the flip side, I knew his company was firing a key executive on Friday, and that meant the likelihood that he’d have to work all weekend at about 99%. I didn’t care, this would be the test.

And of course, on Sunday, I was blown-off. I called in the morning to confirm plans, no return call. In the afternoon, I realized – ironically, before my blog was posted and Josh made his (psychic or experienced?) prediction – that eventually I would have to call his bluff. So I did.

The email I sent (after careful review by trusted friends), was simple and sincere. No drama, no psycho chick shit, just pointed, with a touch of warmth but clearly conveying – I was frustrated and ready to walk away. The essence was – you’re not being respectful of my time and interest, being busy is not a sufficient excuse, and it’s telling me that you’re just not that interested. In a different time and place I would have welcome a casual/whatever relationship, but now I was looking for something that has at least a chance of progressing forward. Even tentative plans deserve at least a “hey, can’t make it.” Period. So I left it in his court – if he thought we could work it out, I’d welcome the call. If not, best wishes, was nice to meet you.

It’s important to note that normally I would have ignored him and send him back to Doggy Training School, where silence says more than words. But I knew I had to test his oh-so-perfect words of Wed night about working things out instead of playing games. More than that, I keep getting advice to give men a chance and say how I feel, which is very, very, very hard for me to do. I sent the email to his personal address, and a note to his work email saying I had sent a message.

I got an immediate response – I mean, in seconds. He said he was slammed at work (surprise), but would check his personal email. Then, less than a minute later, a response: “Did we make plans for today??”

I laughed out loud. True, drink-induced date planning was probably not a great idea. Assuming we were on for Sunday instead on confirming, another mistake. Was he simply playing dumb? Or had I assumed friendly intoxicated banter meant a Sunday date? I wish I had posted my blogs in real-time, because then I would have known (based on the feedback) that he was playing dumb.

Can you hear the banjo music?

I didn’t mean to let him off the hook, but I think I sort of did. I communicate most things with humor, and in my reply (aka, “LOL, I guess drink induced date planning is not a good idea”), I inadvertently made it sound like it was no big deal.

It really doesn’t matter. A normal person with a functioning sensitivity chip would have at least called to say, “oops, sorry for the confusion.” The lack of a phone call told me everything I needed to know. This guy was a self-absorbed asshole or he just wasn’t that into me. Either way I lose. And more importantly, either way, I was a fool.

The realization should have been like a crisp and clear slap in the face, but honestly, it crept in slowly. I just couldn’t believe I got fluffed by this guy. I’m a reformed game player, skeptical, burned hard in the past, and as a result, slow to believe a single word that comes out of a man’s mouth. But somehow, I had allowed myself to believe – the connection, in every way, felt real. Conversation you can manipulate, but the unique physical chemistry too? Why invest in 4-6 hr dates with a woman you’re not really into? Why share embarrassing confessions or intimate details about the insecurities in your life with a woman you might toss away at any moment (that’s risky, we do crazy shit when we’re pissed and want revenge)? It just didn’t make sense.

But within a day or two, I realized none of it ever made sense. Again, props to our reader, Josh (who should start his own Relationship Crime Scene Investigation service) carefully picked out the inconsistencies from blog #1 on this. You know what the real mystery is? How the HELL did I fall for this BS? How did I let myself believe in anything this early? I KNOW better. Am I so desperate to believe in men and relationships again that I was willing to let it ride, even in the face of obvious and consistent red flags?

Oh, I talked to my guy friends and assured them this is EXACTLY why I don’t take men seriously and that I am going back to game-playing and using sexual appeal as a weapon. That I’m never going to tell men how I really feel because it’s always a big fucking waste of my time, and that the next time I sense an inkling, a sliver, a micron of taking me for granted I’m going MIA and that’s that. I told my girlfriends that I hope for his sake he never contacts me again or he’ll understand what it really means to be played, ‘cause I have all the time on my hands in the world to teach him what it feels like to feel stupid, that I’ll show him what being gamed really looks like.

That was just pain talking. Here’s the truth. My fear of being a bitter, man-hating woman is bigger than my fear of being duped or hurt. The truth is I realized through this that I am surrounded by a small army of wonderful friends who love me and are adamant I deserve better, cheering me on to keep trying and making plans to kick this guy in the balls if they ever see him. In all my stupidity and denial, I feel even more loved and valued by the people who know me.

So thank you friends, for keeping it real and not letting me wallow in self-pity. You’ve all convinced me I shouldn’t say no to the gamble, even if it doesn’t turn out the way it should.  It’s funny, I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite game in Vegas, Let It Ride. Even when you’re dealt shitty cards, you can pull back your bet a little but never fold entirely. And those of you who have played with me know I always put $1 on the side bet – sure, it’s against the odds, but when you win, you win big. So I’m staying at the dating table, putting a $1 on the side bet to boot, and when I have a hand I think might win, I’m not going to pull back my bet, I’m going to let it ride.

So screw you Mr. Perfect Date.  The pain of losing this round will fade fast as a new set of cards are dealt.

Patience or Denial?

After the Sunset I read Sara and Josh’s comments at least five times. “You can’t rush a relationship anymore than you can rush (flowers growing).” True that, my online friend.

I’ll admit though, patience is not my strong suit. I don’t have a timetable or agenda, but I also don’t want to waste my time. Sometimes it’s hard to give men the space they need – there is this underlying fear that you’ll become another pathetic story in He’s Just Not That Into You.

I also must confess that on the last date the intense physical chemistry was taken out on a little Test Drive – which brings another other layer of complications and expectations. I had no regrets in that regard, as I was starting to grow concerned there was nothing emotional there, just a lot of sexual tension. Let’s just say that concern was dispelled.

The plan for the following week was this: he was going to call and check-in early in the week, and I was to call him later in the week, on a day of my choosing, and we’d go to a private club in the South Bay, the idea to be as spontaneous as we could be (given he’s a workaholic and we’re separated by 50 miles). But he didn’t call. So I didn’t.

I had gone back to the advice on Waiting for the call. Again, Josh’s words of “it’s absolutely vital you do not take the initiative” rang true, and let’s not forget I told him last time – no calls, no Serendipity. You have to live what you say or you words are never taken seriously. I stayed chill for a week. There was no doubt in my mind he would reach out – but my guard was back up big time, and mentally, I put him back at square one.

By Sunday he was emailing, and by Monday – after a lukewarm response from me – he started pulling his head out of his ass. I was happy to see that patience had paid off, and he asked me out for last Wednesday night. He re-confirmed twice as if he was afraid I wouldn’t show, and his communication picked up significantly. I should have been happy, but I felt like I was playing games and it had worked.

The Wednesday date was incredible. He looked gorgeous and I was dressed to kill, the venue was romantic, the conversation, again effortless. He surprised me by calling me to the mat within 10 minutes of arriving.

“Serendipity, I know you were mad that I didn’t call last week, and that’s why you blew off our plans. I get it, ok? But please don’t play games. Please. I’m crazy about you. I missed you – even more than I thought I would. You’re convinced I didn’t care, but in fact, I thought of you every day. Even emailed my best friend with your pics, and bragged about how you used to be a rocket scientist. I just want to take things slowly, I think we have a real shot at something real here. Make me a promise, ok? If you are upset with me over something I did or didn’t do, please just tell me so I can fix it. No games.”

I was stunned. It was – again – the refreshing, direct and brutally honest dialogue that had me hooked on this guy from minute #1 on our first date. We talked openly and about everything – for hours. Once again, all the patrons left and it was just us tucked into the corner. We were smitten, like two complete dorks we couldn’t stop smiling and kissing. He extended more compliments than I could possibly digest, and if the guy could have eaten me alive with his eyes, he would have.

I could tell he was showing me a lot more of himself. He was insecure about the Test Drive, uncertain that he met my expectations. He confessed, I was his perfect type – physically, intellectually, emotionally – but unclear if I found him as attractive. At first I found this adorable and intimate, but soon, I felt something different creep into my mind.

In the book Blink, there is a story about experts examining an ancient statue. The statue has all the credentials and looks to be 100% legitimate, verified by multitudes before them. But a few in the group just had a gut feeling – what they were seeing wasn’t what it was supposed to be. They couldn’t pinpoint it exactly, it was just something – something wasn’t quite right. This guy was too good to be true. He says exactly what I want to hear, is exactly what I want in a man.

I felt this phenomenon from Blink. Under the soft lightening and perfect evening, the restaurant abandoned except for us in a dark corner, I flashed to The Defendant. My ex-husband, the master manipulator. He swept me off my feet like this. Oh God. That man has destroyed my life, my belief in everything.

But Mr. Perfect Date had slipped off my shoe and began kissing my feet. Surprised, I smiled coyly. “You have a foot fetish” I said. He said, “Is that too weird”? No. I found it adorable. I forgot my sinking feeling and surrendered to the moment.

The night ended demurely. There was no need to rush things, as we had made tentative plans to go wine-tasting on Sunday. I was back to being giddy and excited.

Perhaps he was, as his best friend described him, socially retarded, and thus I should give him a little leeway. Perhaps he’s just more himself in-person. Perhaps he’s just the insecure boy who got over-looked in high school, gorgeous and ridiculously successful later in life, but still unsure of himself.

But this date, like all the others – was too perfect, almost choreographed. Then nothing from him for over a week – not once, but twice. Odd. I couldn’t shake it. I had married and divorced a man just like this, these incongruent events, it was a warning sign. Shit, was it my old baggage coming into play and sabotaging something that was good? Or was I ignoring my gut instinct? I decided to let it ride. Whatever would happen, I would take him at his word – no more games. For me, I had to take the chance.

After the Sunset

He starts driving to the restaurant.  At the first stop sign, he turns to me, smiles, and says, “I forgot how beautiful you are.”  I smile.  He says, “I have to ask you, why did you think I had lost interest?  That comment really surprised me.”

“Are you kidding?  Normally, if over a week goes by without even a text or a voice mail, I assume a man is just not that interested and move on.”

He’s shocked.  I smile and say,  “I don’t need a call every day, but you need to let me know you’re thinking of me. Look, it’s all about effort.  My effort toward you will be in direct proportion to the effort you make toward me.  No calls, no texts, no nothing = no Serendipity.  I won’t pursue you.  Next time,  I’ll just disappear on you the way you did on me.  Fair?”

He laughs.  “Ok, fair.  But just to set the record straight, I never lost interest, quite the contrary.”

And so we headed to lunch by the ocean.  For 3 hours we dined, talked, laughed, and flirted.  Again, conversation was effortless.  Like last time, the chemistry was electric.  Yet, my guard was up.  I was happy to share his company again, but something had changed.  The synergy, compliments, honesty, mutual sassing and teasing  was not met with the giddiness of hope like before, but instead, replaced with wariness.  It still seemed too good to be true.

So I asked him, “Tell me 3 things you like about me, and at least one red flag that concerns you about me.”  He replied, “Three things?  You’re beautiful, intelligent, and I love your self-confidence.  Red flags?  None, I don’t see any at all.”  I pressed, c’mon, there has to be something.  He thought for a while and said, “Perhaps you just haven’t met the right guy yet (he’s smiling and winking), but I can tell you are emotionally disconnected.”

I smiled and paused for a long time.  Perhaps because I wanted to cry.  I have waited for so long for someone to really see me, I mean really, really, see me.   To not fall for the allure of mysteriousness, the act of confidence.

He had just summarized, in one sentence, what my friends and family have been saying for years.

He said, “Oh, I hope I didn’t offend you.”  I replied, “No, not at all.  You are quite perceptive, actually.”

And there I was, on this beautiful, sunny day, at an incredible restaurant with a breathtaking ocean view.  Across from me was a man I enjoyed immensely, a man who clearly liked me, and all I had allowed myself to feel was wariness.  What a shame.  I had to break out of this cycle, my self-imposed prison of 5+ yrs, a prison built from hurt and disappointment, walls that were supposed to protect me were the very walls that kept me emotionally disconnected, and farther away from the happiness I so desired.

How can you fall in love if you never allow yourself to believe?  If you never take a chance? I promised myself at the moment that if I could believe, if only for one afternoon, it was a start.  A start to the New Year.

The date ended at sunset.  We kissed goodbye, with tentative plans for an evening together this week, and a weekend getaway at the end of January.

Who know what happens after the sunset, but for tonight, I choose an emotional connection, I choose to believe.

Waiting for the call

Thanks to everyone who posted a comment on The Perfect Date, I’m so relieved to know I’m not the only one who has felt anxiety (instead of just pure bliss) when things go well!

So although I knew it was unlikely to see him again before 2009, I have to say this waiting is making me insane.  No, worse than that, it’s making me over-analyze.  If there’s one thing I hate to be, it’s a typical woman over-analyzing a bunch of stupid stuff.  UGH!!!

Yes, I did hear from him after my first blog, a text that said he can’t wait to see me again (last Friday), which was after an earlier phone call where he re-iterated how much fun he had on our last date.  I knew end of quarter would mean work hell for him (and more so since he’s a self-confessed workaholic), and I also know that today, Jan 1st, is his sacred watch-football-all-day-I’ll-be-MIA.

It’s likely I’ll hear from him tomorrow or later this weekend, and once we talk, I’ll feel stupid for stressing out all week.  But let me tell ya, in all honesty – I have been absolutely sabotaging this inside my head for almost 7 days now.  I have never had to wait this long for a man to call, especially with so many fireworks from the get-go.  It’s odd, but then, he is kind of odd.  It’s why I like him so much – he’s not typical.   And yes, my eye surgery, the holidays, end of quarter, all calls and texts clear indicate he is very much still interested.  Blah blah blah. It’s been almost a week, and nothing.  I don’t like it.

Thankfully I have held strong and avoided the mistake of texting and calling him any further – as it is clearly his move now.  The thing is, I’be gone from being excited and optimistic to irritated and skeptical.  At first I was sure this was insecurity and let-downs from the past, but today I realized what’s bugging me.

My biggest complaint about dating in my late 30’s here in the Bay Area is what I call the Green Grass syndrome.  There are so many single people here, successful, fun, smart – and as such, I’ve found that people take their sweet ol’ time in courtship.  Even when there’s a phenomenal connection and mutal interest, it seems like there’s a feeling that perhaps there is something just as good, or even better, just around the corner.  No need to get this person off the market by securing next dates fast, or heaven forbid, make a commitment.  He/She will still be around.  If not, there are always others.  I’ve traveled extensively, and I’m absolutely convinced this phenomenon is unique to this area.  It is perhaps why we have one of the highest singles rates in the country, and one of the lowest in terms of relationship satisfaction.

In any case, what I liked about what was happening initially with this guy is it was busting my Green Grass theory.  Actually, probably moving waaaay to fast in terms of emotional and (very soon to be) physical intimacy.  But the pace was refreshing because it was so anti-Bay Area, and I had singulary attributed this to the fact that this guy was originally from the Midwest.  I lived in the Midwest for a few years and I can tell ya, when a guy meets a women that takes his breath away, he doesn’t tell her that over and over again and then wait a freakin’ week to even call or text or anything.

So, I don’t get it.  Yes, I’ll be patient.  Yes, I’ll wait him out.  And yes, I would love to see him again.  If he asks, I’m there.  But here’s what’s changed: my guard is back up.  I’m certainly not going to entertain any kind of physical relationship any time soon.  Because he was a man who seemed to know exactly what he wanted, found it, and was pursuing it quickly, I was likewise ready to throw caution to the wind, no games, and give this 100% effort.  Now I’m cautious, and emotionally have rolled all my enthusiasm back to the stage of Date #1.  I have to, or I can’t wait for a week to hear from you, it’s just too scary and unnerving.  Sorry.

If you wonder what happened, well, you waited too long to call.  I don’t need a check-in every day, or even every few days.  But a week?  It’s too long, it tells me you’re really not that interested despite what you say, actions always speak louder than words.

What do you think?  Am I expecting too much too soon?  Or am I getting played a little, with the compliments and “you’re perfect, I don’t want to date anyone else” simply a ruse to get some action sooner rather than later?  Is a week to call a long time or a reasonable time to wait to talk?

The Perfect Date

I’m afraid to even write this blog, as this date was too perfect, and usually that’s a red flag.  Oh well, I think we can all use some good news, and quite frankly, this date was a breath of fresh air I needed desperately.

We met for drinks on a Sunday night – conversation was effortless, attraction was mutual, chemistry was off the charts.  He asked quickly for the 1st official date, and we met on a Tuesday night at a five-star French restaurant.

He sent me a text earlier in the day: “four hours and counting..”, but after 5 years of ho-hum dates and “kind of” relationships, I was skeptical this could go as well as our first meeting.

I arrived dressed to kill, he was waiting at the bar with our favorite wine poured.  His smile took my breath away, and to my surprise, I was actually nervous. Our laughter came quickly though, and in the 1/2 hr we talked before dinner began I knew we had potential – a lot of potential.

He ordered the tasting menu and wine pairings for us, and we dove into conversation that covered everything from love and life to politics and religion.  No subject was taboo, and our mutual honesty and directness was surprising even to me.  For six hours we couldn’t take our eyes off each other, and I’m sure the wait staff was wondering if we’d ever leave the restaurant.

The food and wine was exquisite, but the company was far better.  The night ended with a long passionate kiss in the rain, and plans to see each other soon.

The next day we talked, both giddy with excitement.  I was on cloud 9, but soon after racked with nerves and worry.  Would it last?  Were we moving too fast?  Did I open up to quickly?

He will never know how many times I stared at the phone, willing it to ring with a text or a voicemail.  Within 48 hours I was sure I could not do this, afraid of actually feeling something real for someone, after all these years, I just was not ready for the uncertainty.  Yet as we talked, I grew more secure, knowing he was as nervous and hopeful as I.

We had to postpone our next meeting until after January when he returned from Christmas – he had wanted to meet this weekend or early this week before he left, but I had scheduled eye surgery last Friday and could only offer up a tentative answer for maybe Tues or Wed.

Of course my eye surgery was a longer healing time than I had expected, even now I type this under a haze of blurred vision, knowing I will simply have to wait to see him again – literally and figuratively.

Until then, I am back to being frustrated – what seemed to be moving too fast is now at a complete standstill, and I am, again, staring at my phone like a ridiculous school girl.

I hate this part.  I don’t care how much he told me that he loved every moment with me, it doesn’t comfort me to remember his numerous compliments, or ardent pursuit.  All I can think about is, why hasn’t he called lately?  Did he already lose interest?  When can I see him again?  I fight myself when I want to reach for the phone – I remember our conversations, the “catch” with hin is he’s a workaholic and women get frustrated by his lack of constant communication.  I won’t be that woman, I won’t get clingy, and certainly not this soon.  But I hate this part, I really hate this feeling of hopefulness and insecurity.

However it turns out, it was the perfect date.  I have never – in my life – had such a picture perfect evening.  Whether this is the start of something meaningful, or just a great date that gives me hope that this kind of chemistry is even possible, I don’t know yet.  So I wait.  And stare at my phone.

Land of the Misfit Toys

My married friends ask, “Hey, how is the dating thing going?”

My reply is stolen from a remark at a cocktail party, but I love it, and use it: “Oh, it’s like living in the Land of the Misfit Toys!”  Everyone laughs, but I look for the few who have that knowing smile, for they are my comrades in a war for love.  That smile, it comes from singles in their late 30’s or early 40’s.

People are endearing, happy, accomplished, intriguing, hilarious…but also broken, weird, lost, and lonely.  The toys in this land are not the “latest and greatest”, young, hip, and must-have.  Yet they are tried and true, favorites of a past not too long ago, some damaged and re-built, yet with the sturdiness, reliability and love from age-old craftmanship you just can’t get with today’s new, cheap models.

I could blog about the wonderful people in this land.  But you already know them, they are the friends you can’t believe are still single, the ones you try to set up.  Instead, I’m going highlight three misfit toy reflections from the past 30 days:

1. Online classic: The camera phone bathroom shot

Can someone please tell me why men think it’s a great idea to take a picture of themselves shirtless in their bathroom with a camera phone?  I don’t know if it’s the grainy photo or misc. abs missing a head, but it’s all wrong, just all wrong.  If you have a great body, bravo!  Put up a normal social picture like swimming by the pool, or hanging out on the deck with your friends.

2. The Reburn

I know with the Green movement it’s all about recycling.  But honestly, there was a reason you walked away in the first place, so why do we go back?   No matter how intriguing it may seem, there’s no reason to revisit old news.  My reunion with the man from Let’s Dance went from enticement to boredom inside of 15 minutes.  It lacked the spontaneity of a 20-something hook-up, and had the baggage of 30-somethings lost and looking for some kind of emotional connection.

3. Damaged Package

At this age it’s unlikely you’ll meet someone who hasn’t gone through significant heartbreak, and for some, the wounds heal slowly.  It’s amazing how much of this shows through even on the first date, and many times I think to myself, “Man, I can’t fix this for you, I can’t carry us both through the uncertainty of love, rejection, or failed relationships.”  What’s interesting though, is if I take the time to look past the damaged package, many times I see that in fact, the contents are still solid, and with a few loving repairs, what seems like a throwaway can be new again.

I am starting to embrace the Land of the Misfit Toys, yes, even the oddities of online dating, misguided reburns, and damaged packages.  It reminds me that we are all looking to be cherished by someone who will not only appreciate, but uniquely love, our misfit attributes.

The Temporary Girlfriend

As it should happen, the day after I posted a comment on busting the BUDDY system, one of my closest guy friends gave me a call – or more like, called me to the mat  Apparently it had not gone unnoticed that I had started distancing myself from him and other mutual friends, and he said ‘”Enough of this nonsense, I’m coming to pick you up in an hour, no excuses, and I want the whole day with you.  We need to talk.”  Fine.  Shit. I owed him at least an explanation.

So at brunch, I told him that I was tired of being the temporary girlfriend, that as much as I loved him (and my other platonic male friends), it was taking time away from pursuing men that were interested in me more than a friend.  I also explained my frustration with the inconsistency, ranting about how he (and the others) want my company all day and night until the next hot chick arrives, and then I’m on the back burner.  What kind of friendship was that anyway?  I told him, look, you’ll always be special to me, we’ll always be there for each other, but really, I need to focus more of my time and energy on finding romantic love, not playing procrastination with my guy friends.

He listened patiently and said, simply, “No.”

“I know you, (Serendipity), you are running away because you’re afraid of being taken for granted – especially by men.  You don’t want to get hurt or disappointed, and I’ve done that.  I’ve let you down many times and I admit that.  But girl, you don’t know me at all if you think I’m letting you run away, turn away, or diminish what we share.  Nope, you and I, we are going to work this out.  I want you in my life, you are very special to me.  I think what we have is worth fighting for, and I’m mad at you for taking it for granted.”

And there it was – the simple truth.  However right I was in logic, I was in fact, taking his friendship for granted.  I really was.  This guy takes me hiking, surfing, cooks me gourmet meals, calls and emails all the time, has been there for me though thick and thin, asking for nothing in return except my time.  And now, I was saying, sorry, my time is not yours, it belongs to some unknown man I am to meet who will love me more than you.

Right at that moment he adds: “I’m so confused, (Serendipity), you want love, and there’s love all around you.  We feel like you don’t think our love and attention matters, like somehow it’s just not good enough because it’s not “the love” and that really hurts.  It’s more in so many ways than we even give to our girlfriends, our wives.  All I know is, you’re not walking away, I’m sick of you putting distance between us, I just won’t have it.”  He smiled, knowing that he had delivered the one argument I could not fight.

I said simply: “You’re right.  When I look at it, I guess I am being selfish.  I’m sorry.”

He smiled.  “Wanna get out of here and spend the day with me?”

“Yes”, I said.

We shopped on Haight street, laughed our asses off, caught up on the latest in each other’s lives and went to a fabulous dinner.  When I came back from the restroom, there was a little piece of cake with a candle on it.

“Happy Birthday (Serendipity).  Because you wouldn’t celebrate it with me before, we celebrate now.  I love ya girl, don’t ever push me away like that again, ok?”

And with that, I smiled and made my wish…to never take love for granted, even platonic love.

So I re-engaged my platonic male friends with a newfound sense of appreciation and gratefulness.  Shortly after, I met someone that knocked me off my feet…

Trying Something New

I’m trying online dating again, and somewhere between reading emails like, “Hey Kitten, ur sooo cute” and the next one, “I’m into erotic sex acts, so let me cut to the chase…”  I thought, man, there has GOT to be a better way out of the single blues.  In the same email queue, thankfully, was a meeting notice for our group’s next surf session, so I clicked to read that instead.  This time, though, I took a closer look at the service we use called Meetup.

It’s not a dating site, it’s a network of social user groups.  People meet up to explore common interests – whether it’s specific outdoor activities, intellectual debates, or regular meetings around a particular hobby, there seems to be something for everyone.  Even better, you can start your own Meetup group, and you’d be surprised how fast new members join.  If there’s one thing that’s glaringly obvious here in the Bay Area, it’s that there’s a lot of single folks who are craving companionship just like us, and sometimes it takes just a little initiative to bring us together.  The service is extremely user friendly, and I’m a big fan of Meetup’s RSVP feature, it gives you a good idea of who’s coming to any particular event.

I feel like their marketing is for those of us hiding behind our computers at night, and I love their internet tab tag line – “Use the Internet to get off the Internet”.  Their home page tag line, though, is the one that really hits home:

Maybe it’s time to for a little less face-to-screen and a little more face-to-face.

Good point.  Although I’m always up for different activities, I must admit, I’ve been so discouraged lately that I find random internet reading is more rewarding than dating.  I’ve also been indulging way too much in DVR recordings of Dancing With the Stars.  The thing is, it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, and honestly, I hate when people tell me to “just do activities you love, then love will find you”.   Pfffttt!  I already am the world’s biggest flake with my own friend network, now I’m going to go “meet up” with a bunch of strangers?

Yet, my next door neighbor is a good example of why I should try something new like Meetup.  She’s a walking social user group experiment, trying new activities and meeting new people every week.  What’s interesting about her is how she incorporates her attitude toward trying new social connections/events into her choices in dating.  She has the same optimism and openeness in choosing who to date that she does in trying new activities.  Some of the guys she dates I would have never picked out for her, but I have to admit, they all bring something very unique to the table.  She’s outside her comfort zone in daily activities, so she has no problem going outside her comfort zone for dating, and as a reward, she’s getting enriched by the diversity of experiences – I’m being called Kitten.   Sure, she has a lot of the same disappointments I do, but it’s been interesting to see how many of these dates turn into meaningful friendships because she looked beyond the traditional short list.  Right now, I don’t just have a short list of attributes I’m looking for in a partner, I have a short list of things I’m willing to try outside of my comfort zone to potentially meet my future soulmate.  I think it’s time to try something new.

Let’s Dance

Damn it.  Now I’m curious.  Interested…in that way.  I did NOT expect that.  You queued up the music, and started the dance.  And there I was, stepping on the dance floor as Chatty Cathy, thinking all we were doing was catching up, pleasantly surprised at how much we still had in common now in our late 30’s.  And like any good male dancer, you took the lead, starting a subtle, liquid tango.  Now I am forced to improvise, clumsy as I catch up to the beat of the music, keenly aware that the dance has already started and I’m late to the game.

I’ll admit – at first, I was more concerned that I would hurt you again, somehow lead you on, repeating the same mistakes I made so long ago.  After all, when you reached out to me on Facebook and asked if I remembered you, I almost fell out of my chair.  It was the same day I posted an apology written with 3 very specific men in mind – and, as irony would have it, you were one of them.  Your timing was surreal.

You were surprised to hear that I remembered every detail of our little high school romance 20 yrs ago…you were flattered by my memories of the past, encouraged by my compliments now.  Yet, I still saw you as the boy in high school…and you had become a man.  An experienced man.  Looking back on the past few weeks, I am laughing at my own naivety.  The opportunity was there to show me the man you had become, to dangle it out there like a shining fishing lure, just to see if would I bite.  In my own arrogance I let my guard down immediately – I mean really, 20 yrs have passed, and a high school fling?  At best, maybe a new friendship.  At best.

Meanwhile you put the chess pieces in place, confident with your ripped body, many accomplishments, humor and wit.  You were careful to balance these things with humility, honesty, and the kind of genuine demeanor that I loved in you so long ago.  You weaved together what you remembered of me in the past together with the woman I have become, and patiently fostered a “no pressure” pursuit.  I ate it up – hook, line and sinker.

I did not even see it coming…my curiosity.  I know you would smile if you read this, knowing your intentions were exacting the desired results.  You got me, and I am very curious.  Nervous, even, about seeing you this weekend.  Yes, I have imagined kissing you – deeply.  There is something very intriguing about resurrecting innocence of the past to experience it as adults…dangerous, delectable.

But…

Do you really believe I’m not paying attention to your innuendos and allusions?  That even, after so much time, I don’t already anticipate your hidden desire to even the score a little?  That the end game is to have me fall for you, so this time decision making power on what happens next belongs to you, not me?   You know what gave you away in our conversation last night?  How purposely you controlled the tempo, how fast you took back the lead the second I started to direct the discussion, but mostly, the way in which you laughed when I called you on it.  You knew I had started to figure it out – and took delight in it.  No fear.  No corrections.  Just that “knowing” laughter.  Impressively ballsy.  Not surprising though – after all, the advantage is all yours  – you, supremely confident…me, less so, my self-esteem haven taken a consistent beating the past few yrs.  Yet I’m too curious now to turn back now, and you know it.

There’s only one catch.

You have awakened a sleeping tiger, and the dance you have chosen…I have practiced.  More times than you.  More passionately.  More intensely.  I have compensated for the imperfections I have today but honing my skills in all other areas of the game.  I’ve tailored my weaknesses into a wild card you can’t begin to anticipate.   No doubt we will have a blast when we get together – conversation is effortless, laughter and fun is a foregone conclusion.  Perhaps it will ultimately lead to a new and treasured friendship.  I wonder, though, how you will feel when my steps sync up with yours…when the dance becomes suddenly, imperceptibly, more fluid and untamed?  I’m ready.  Let’s dance.

The Singles Blues

I try to live life in vivid color, but my palette is missing red: “make your heart jump” red, “excited to see you” red, “huge smile across the room” red.   The colors I live life in are blue (serenity, cool, calm) and yellow (happiness, joy, laughter).  Nice colors.  But without red, the portrait lacks true warmth.  I’m not just singing the Singles Blues, I’m living in that color most of the time.

I hang out with couples where you can tell there is genuine love, a lifelong commitment, raw honesty, and a unique emotional bond.  I bask in the warmth of red their relationship radiates, and for a while, being the third wheel is enjoyable, and I feel hope and optimism…right until I walk into my empty apartment right across from the ocean.  The moonlight reflects off the water in an impossibly romantic scene, and my heart aches for someone to share it with.  I sigh, get ready for bed, and tell myself: someday.  I feel blue.

I worry my heart is dying a slow death from lack of expression – because here’s no one to express the love I have to give, I fear it’s killing the best part of me.  The inability to express my love toward someone else didn’t just create a void – over time, like a sick cosmic joke, the void has collapsed on itself creating a black hole that just sucks the joy right out of my soul.  Ok, ok, so I’m being a tad melodramatic.  I’m actually very happy most days, and there are certainly benefits to being single.  Still…you get my point.

This thing these couples have – that unsaid, but powerful bond – I haven’t felt it for anyone in a long, long time.  My dates are mostly entertaining news stories to tell my married friends.  My relationships in the past few years have been – at best – mediocre.  I don’t crave companionship (I am blessed with fabulous friends, both men and women).  I crave love.  Romantic love.  Passionate love.  Intimate love.

I thought I’d miss passion the most.  I don’t.  I miss the moments of emotional love – you know, when your partner reaches their hand out to you to touch your face, saying nothing, all emotional content conveyed in that one gesture?   When you had a crappy day and the mere appearance of them at your door erases the stress instantly?  Someone to just hold you – not like a friend hug – I mean, really hold you, whispering in your ear that you are loved, and will always be loved?

When I think about these moments, I realize that I don’t miss receiving this kind of love it half as much as I miss giving it.

Any advice for jump-starting the “expressing love”?  Do you do special things for friends and family?  Volunteer work?  Or, do you think this is a self-love issue?  How do I paint some red into these Singles Blues?