Friday, September 26, 2014

Adventures in Dating Part 2

As some of you mentioned in your FB comments (where the majority of my readers come from) one of the reasons you have not started online dating is because you have to write a profile.  Generally websites have basic questions and then a place where you talk about yourself.  Sorry folks you're not going to get to read mine.  I happen to be a writer so this wasn't a particularly intimidating part of the process for me but I understand that everyone's not made that way.  Maybe if you pay me 5 bucks and ask nicely I'll draft one for you too. ;-) 

However terrible you are at writing there are still some funny things you see in profiles and some things that make you say WHAT???  

Some of the standard questions you're asked that you have options to choose from are: 

married? divorced? never married? separated?

Have kids? (Everyone should know the answer to this one.  At least I really hope so.) From there they (the website) discreetly allow you to put whether they live with you some of the time or all of the time or none of the time.  This is all presuming you do in fact know whether or not you have children.  

Then you answer, drinking habits, smoking habits, religious affiliation.  (all of these have a 'right' answer for me).  Nothing more than a social drinker. None is the only right answer to smoking, bleck who wants to kiss that? You and Jesus gotta be cool.  

But the one that gets me every time and makes me shake my head is the question of 
wants kids?  You can answer this in a variety of ways but the options are generally chosen for you: definitely, definitely not, unsure, and someday (meaning probably yes but not right now in my estimation). 

I get people that say definitely, definitely not (clearly I'm not interested) and unsure.  In fact I'll give you a little secret my profile says unsure.  How I interpret this is these are the people that are aware that having children has an age range and perhaps we're nearing the end of it.  If they meet someone and decide that's right for them fantastic, if they don't that may or may not suck.  In my case it'll suck less because I already have three fantastic people.  

I don't get people who say they definitely don't want kids who message me but then again I just assume that they didn't read my profile and just saw a picture they liked and messaged.  

But the real kicker is always the 40+ year old man (or there abouts) who says he wants kids "someday".  Sweetheart, let me let you in on a little secret.  The clock is ticking, if you're still thinking some day you might want to have kids at 41 then you're probably not going to.  You should figure that shit out.  Because at some point the women you're dating aren't going to be able to easily have kids anymore.  It isn't rocket science people, it's actually biology.  It cracks me up every time.  Are they some superstar that thinks they're going to land a 24 year old girl to procreate with at 45?  (Kuddos to them if that happens) but really?  This is what I refer to as over grown frat boy status.  They still think it's their time to party and have fun without any commitment.  That's great, all fine well and good, but if you party for the entirety of your age bracket's years in which they can procreate you're going to be SOL for having biological children.  Just saying.  

Then there are the people who write absolutely nothing.  Not one word about themselves.  They leave it blank.  And then when they message you before you respond you go and look and it's blank there's nothing about them.  I don't respond, well except one guy but his pictures were super hot so I was pretty sure it was a fake profile and I wanted to exploit that.  

Which brings me to the topic of fake profiles.  If it looks like a stock photo, it is.  If there's only one picture of a man (or a woman) and they're super gorgeous and their profile talks about how they make a ridiculous amount of money and have a yacht and enjoy traveling to the Mediterranean regularly, it's fake. Too good to be true is always too good to be true. If they love puppies and kittens and their grandmother, just delete and keep scrolling.  

There are a couple of other gems you'll come across in the dating world.  One is being 'matched' with the ex of someone you care about.  If you're lucky it won't be your ex brother in law.  Sure, laugh at my expense.  Thanks guys.  

Another thing you'll come across that my guy friends and I have both experienced is cheating spouses.  It is super uncool when you come across a profile of someone who is married to someone you know.  Then you have a moral and ethical dilemma.  This isn't only a guy phenomena there have been plenty of wives on these websites as well.  You just have to decide what to do at that point.  

And by the way no one (except me and only because I'm training for my Tough Mudder right now) works out as often as they say they do.  The most popular lie of dating websites.  Well maybe not the most popular one.  The most popular one for guys is height.  I really hate it when they lie about this.  I'm not short and it matters!  Just own your height already.  Most popular thing women lie about?  I have no idea (other than the workout thing) but I'd love to know.  Tell me? 

Alright folks, like or comment and let me know if you want more.  I've got so many more stories. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Adventures in Dating (the second time around)

I have been toying with the idea for some time now to start another blog strictly tackling the wild, awkward world of dating.  We all have some crazy stories and I thought it might be funny.  So I'm doing a test run here and if y'all like it, I might go full fledged and do a whole other blog.  (disclaimer: no blog will be happening without stories from my single guy friends.  This is not a male bashing session, women do crazy shit too.)

I re-entered the dating world in my 30s, 31 to be exact and let's face it the first time around I didn't really date.  I had a series of boyfriends before I chose the absolute worst one of them all to marry (yay me!) By the time I divorced, the dating world had completely changed.  The Internet had taken over our lives and I had no idea how to approach it.  Although I knew I didn't want to be single forever, so I had to figure it out.  I did what everyone else seemed to be doing and set up a profile on a dating website.  For privacy's sake I won't disclose which one.  But I took a leap.  And I jumped right into the frying pan.  It's been a wild, crazy ride and I have learned a lot.  Here's a few nuggets for today. 

Things you learn while dating:

Gentlemen are in short supply.  As woman you will be inundated with requests for pictures of you, which is all fine and good until those requests become a little more specific and now you're uncomfortable.  Keeping in mind, that you've never met any of these people you're purely communicating via email or text message.  If you're really unlucky you'll get pictures shared with you of a more 'private' nature.  Which is (not) awesome and scarring.  I'm totally unaware of the logic behind doing this.  I guess some women respond positively, I'm not one of them.  My only advice for combating this?  Get off the website that allows picture messages to be sent and try a different one. 

Many, many, many people don't know how to hold a basic conversation.  Sure you have the same conversations over and over again (a completely exhausting part of dating).  But it's not that hard people: where do you work, what do you do for a living, what's your family like or if you're me eventually you get to questions that are thought provoking or the ones that matter like: what is the one thing you want to accomplish while you're here on this planet or what is your number one pet peeve?  If the person you're talking can't bounce a conversation back and forth then chances are their conversation skills suck more in person.  And if they have no idea what they want to do while here on the earth then I'm disinterested.  Get some drive jack and then message me.  However, if their number one pet peeve is when people are late, I know we'll get along. 

Lots and lots and lots of people don't have jobs.  I don't know what they're doing with their lives but it's not meaningful nor is it earning money.  I have absolutely no explanation for this.  Moving on. Delete delete delete. <<<<you will do a lot of that.

Bad grammar is the norm.  For example I got a message recently, I kid you not "Hey there herd you were looking for me I'm Mr. Right BTW LOL"  Do you have any idea how much restraint was required of me not to respond with one word: "Heard"  I still want to.  Can I?  Someone please tell me that's not a total bitch move and that I can do it.  Sigh. I guess not. 

There are some really awesome people out there.  I know this is supposed to be a sarcastic humorous post but there are.  I have met at least two guys who were worthy of my time via the online dating world.  Which gives me hope, which also sucks because then you will get stuff like this...

As you progress through the online dating world there is a dance (some people don't figure this out so I'll tell you).  You read each other's profiles, someone messages.  At first it's maybe a message or two a day and then you end up talking back and forth many times throughout the day.  Because you're communicating through a website that becomes cumbersome so eventually someone suggests texting.  (if you're me) You reread the content of your conversations thus far and double check their profile before saying sure and giving them your number.  At this point you've taken a step forward, most likely there will eventually be a date.  But also now, they have your number, which is private information and therefore they're harder to get rid of.  Hopefully you've weeded out all the bastards and assholes at this point.  If not it's going to suck.  Occasionally a true gem slips through that process unnoticed and things shift rather rapidly from texting about your day to blatant sexting.  Not: "Hey I think it would be awesome to kiss you" or "You're so beautiful I'd love to wrap you in my arms."  Nope, that's sweet and endearing and acceptable communication.  It's more along the lines of how do you feel about bondage or I'd like to have you helpless in my grasp.  Ummmmm WHAT THE HELL???!!!!! No, just no. 

Sometimes it truly sucks to be a woman.  That is one of those moments.  Thankfully cell phone companies let you block numbers.  It's a wonder I don't quit completely.  I have experienced love and I believe it's worth finding again.  I actually have a few friends now that I met through this experience and I enjoy having them in my life.  But it's a jungle out there.  Keep your head down and watch out!

And if you want more stories (perhaps even ones about the crazy crap women do) let me know and I'll write more.  Comment or like this post. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Is it safe?

It's no secret that I was an unhappy married person.  One of my best friends during that time in my life used to say "Marriage just doesn't agree with Shannon."  She told me that later after I was out and she confessed that I just wasn't the person she knew me to be.  She didn't know the backstory of abuse and my ex's addiction was fueling the personality change until after the fact.  Regardless, she was right it didn't agree with me, for excellent reasons.  Partly because of this when I left Jonathan I made some very deliberate choices about who I was going to be.  I wasn't going to "lose myself" in a relationship again and become an angry, bitter person.  But this commitment morphed into something else.  It morphed into the inability to tell anyone I'm in an intimate relationship with (friend or partner) that I'm pissed off, or angry or upset.

Because I don't want to be an angry person; I have shut off my ability to express any genuine emotion that resembles that.  Because I remember the futility of yelling and screaming at someone who didn't give shit about me, I refuse to tell those who may care when they offend or hurt me.  Because I remember the pain of feeling so unheard for so long, I refuse to speak about certain negative emotions.  I hold tightly to my ability to clean that shit up and package my emotions in a more palatable fashion before I share them.  The messy, dirty, imperfect parts of me aren't welcome at the table.  I literally have told at least one guy I dated that "I don't get angry."  His response?  "Bullshit, everyone gets angry."  And in my head I responded with "And if I do you won't see it, I will handle it."  I'm very good at handling things.  (eye roll)

There are relationships I feel safe enough in to express my anger.  My kids know when they've screwed up, not in a way that's unhealthy for them but they get to see when Mommy is displeased.  My family sees my annoyances although I'm past yelling and screaming at them about anything.  Thankfully my mother and I have moved beyond that for sometime now.  The fam and I disagree about things and we're all passionate people but for the most part we express that in a calm(er) fashion than we have in the past.

I have seen firsthand what anger does when it festers in a relationship.  I was not unjustified in my anger in my marriage but instead of remaining angry I should have gotten out sooner.  I don't like to "should" on myself and I know why I didn't in hindsight (fear) but that anger produced a change in me I didn't like.  But I have also seen what it does in my friends' marriages when it festers even over small things.  It comes out in morphed ways against people that it is not meant for and it destroys everything in it's path.  I know all these things about anger.  I know how destructive it can be so it makes sense that I avoid it as much as possible.  But just because I avoid it doesn't mean it doesn't happen for me.  I get angry and admitting that feels dangerous.

I still share things in relationships.  I talk about things that are uncomfortable.  I can and do tell my partner when I feel hurt or misunderstood (safe acceptable things to talk about).  I can ask for more sensitivity or greater understanding or more affection or affirmation.  These are all acceptable things to talk about in my opinion.

But "Hey I'm pissed off, you said you were coming over and you didn't and I was looking forward to that and now I'm angry, I feel slighted and unimportant."  Nope.  That's a no fly zone.  I don't go there.   The question "Are you upset with me?" will always result in resounding "No" from me, because even if I am I have worked through it before I even come back to the table.  Don't ask me what worked through it means.  I don't really know.  I just know that it's quiet before I reengage.

I know why I don't go there.  It doesn't feel safe.  The consequences I have paid in my former life were not pleasant and I don't want to repeat them.  So my head yells at my heart to shut up about that slighted feeling because it's not okay, it's not safe to talk about that.  If you talk about that bad things might happened, or you might get into a fight and you really hate fighting, it's not who you are, or this could happen, or that, or this.  But all of this happens in the nanosecond that I decide not to share my pain. And I remember and embrace my old comfortable frienemy silence.

To express anger or frustration feels really intimate, like the level of security in a relationship would need to be a lot higher before I did that.  But because I have never reached that level of security, that freedom of speech, I'm not even sure it exists for me.  What would I need to know about someone in order to be safe to say I'm mad.  How well would I need to know them?

The bullshit of it all is that I regularly ask my closest friends if they are pissed at me.  I ask my partner.  And they all freely tell me; I wonder if they have ever noticed that I never say the same in return?  I can know people for a decade or more without telling them even once that I'm angry with them.  So maybe the level of security just doesn't exist?  Maybe I'd prefer to go without the relationship then to go there in a relationship.

I was in a relationship a while back for nearly a year.  I thought it would last forever.  Thought I would marry that person (which should indicate the trust level I had for this person since for the most part getting remarried is one GIANT question mark for me).  For various reasons that didn't happen.  But there were several times when he pissed me the fuck off.  Once for saying something horrible about my kids' father in front of them (not something I do, not something anyone else is allowed to do around them).  Once for putting me in a very uncomfortable position at his family's holiday gathering.  I felt safer in this relationship than I thought possible at the time and yet I didn't get tell him.  I didn't tell him calmly how angry I was or in a more intense fashion.  I didn't express my displeasure in any palpable way.  I just ignored it and didn't talk about it.

I went home and found my journal or a computer screen and God and I told them how upset I was.  How not okay those things were.  I sorted through my emotions solo before I reengaged in the relationship.  Because I know that I can sort through my emotions in private and be safe.  I have learned that I am the ONLY one who can 'take' the full gamut of my personality.  I have embraced that belief system.

The problem with embracing that is that it's not true.  Well it could be true but if it is than I am wasting time dating and looking for a partner because there is absolutely no point whatsoever in being with someone that can not embraced the full depth of your personality.  And my unwillingness to share the fullness of my personality makes it impossible for anyone to make that decision.

But it's not only knowing them (well enough) that keeps me from sharing my unpleasant emotions.  It's also about trusting me to keep me safe.  It's about telling myself that it's okay to share this and if the response the other person has is not okay I will leave, I will be okay.

I have learned that I can take care of myself and my people in an excellent fashion.  We may not have extra, but we have enough.  I know how to emotionally care for them and prioritize that.  I prioritize my own emotional health, I work out to work things out and I talk when I need to.  But believing that I am safe in a relationship whether friend or partner is elusive to me.  This reality has smacked me in the face and it's not going to work out for me long term.  Either I need to pick "safer" people to relate with or I need to loosen the reigns on what I share and be more open.  Trusting myself to care for me in a relationship has been an evolving process, I'm getting there.  But trusting other people not to be giant self-centered assholes is taking a little longer.  

This is a process, I haven't figured it out.  But I have figured out enough to know that what I'm doing isn't working.  The first step is acknowledging the problem, so there I did that.  Now what?