Tag Archives: Relationships

Ten Ways You Know You’ve Found the Right Guy

10.  He loves your cooking. Like… even if you think you’ve completely fucked up a dish, he’ll eat it anyway, and will genuinely like it.

(Granted, it probably STILL tastes better than anything he could possibly make for himself.)

9.  You feel like you won the fucking lottery every morning. Even if your bank account is on Empty, you have no viable job offers, and the only real plans you have for that day are making him a toasted turkey sandwich with bacon and maybe watching “Grace and Frankie” that night.

8.  The sex is so amazing that you’re still thinking about it hours later. In fact, it’s so amazing that thinking about it hours later got you both so turned on that you did it again. And the cycle continues…

(Also, you can do it every day, multiple times a day, and you still aren’t tired of him.)

7.  Conversations sometimes take the form of completely incoherent noises and you both still understand each other perfectly.

6.  When planning vacation budgets, he budgets for all your oddities… like Voodoo supplies and a new Tarot deck. Even if he has no idea what any of those things are for, and thinks you’re weird for using them.

5.  He makes your boobs grow. Not because you’re pregnant. Not because you’ve had work done.  But because you’re going through another puberty.  And neither of you has any legitimate explanation for that other than maybe once he thought to himself, “I wish these were just a tad bit bigger.”

4.  He tells you you’re sexy. Often. Even when you’ve just rolled out of bed wearing sweatpants, a baggy shirt, your hair is a royal mess, and you haven’t decided for sure whether or not you’re actually awake for good.

3.  The best part of your day is waking up with him… and going to bed with him… even if he smacks you in his sleep in the middle of the night.

2.  He’s worth breaking every single one of your dating rules for… and the only time you even think about them anymore is to wonder why you stuck to them so rigidly in the first place.

1.  Almost a year after your first date, the only real regret you have is that you didn’t get together sooner.

Baggage

When I think about “baggage,” I think about that “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ricky are moving out of their apartment in New York and, due to a delay, they are putting all of their furniture in Ethel and Fred’s apartment.  Most of the episode is set in Ethel and Fred’s apartment with just about everyone navigating through and around the piles of boxes, yelling over them, trying to find each other, find a place in the middle of the chaos just to sit down.

Relationships… or breakups, rather… are a lot like this.  You get settled into something for a month, six, or sometimes years, you build up a lot of memories, and when (or if) those relationships end, you pack up those memories, along with your physical shit, and you take it with you – back to your own house (using the term “house” to mean your living space, as well as your own mind) to recover, to sort, to unpack and to find a place for that baggage.  In terms of physical shit, you might keep photos, or small mementos, but the big shit often ends up in a dumpster or maybe at Goodwill.  The figurative, or mental, baggage, though, is more difficult to get rid of.  You store it away, in the recesses of your mind, where it sits there over the next few weeks, months, or years, gathering cobwebs.  You don’t revisit it, because revisiting it is just too painful, but it’s still there.

Inevitably, you end up in another relationship.  The more serious it gets, the more “moving in” and “settling” you do… you start sharing more than the occasional dinner and after-dinner bang.  Your stuff ends up at their house.  Emotionally you become more connected.  And whether you physically “move in” or not, some of that baggage from before, cobwebs and all, figuratively moves in, too.

Now, if you’re lucky, there isn’t much.  Maybe there’s only been one “bad” relationship, or just a couple of “bad” experiences that translate into one or two figurative boxes in the floor.  You trip over them now and again until you realize that maybe those boxes, if they have to stay around at all, would do better over by the wall or something so that they aren’t in the way.  If you’ve been more unlucky in love, or maybe there’s just been a lifetime of bad experiences, those box piles become much bigger. You quickly run out of wall space, more boxes find their way into the middle of the floor, until suddenly you’re yelling over the towers the way that the Ricardos do in that Lucy episode… and if those towers become tall enough, finding middle ground becomes almost impossible.

And that’s where a lot of people fuck up.  Because when the place becomes so full that you can’t see each other anymore, you’re presented with two options: get rid of shit, or move out.

I think that moving out is the easy option.  I mean, it’s easy to say, “Hey, this is mine, I’ve carried it around this long, I earned it, I moved it, I KNOW it, and I don’t want to get rid of it, so I’m just going to leave and take it with me.” It’s easy to declare that, pack it all up, and leave.  Sure it hurts… but that hurt, along with those memories, get packed into another box and get moved around with all the others.  It’s like the equivalent of emotional hoarding. No one, least of all a hoarder, LIKES the clutter.  But you KNOW the clutter, and going with something you KNOW is much, much easier than going through the boxes and doing without (because what if you find that there was something in that clutter you needed?) so you keep it.

The other option, the one where you realize you have to get rid of shit, and you start clearing out the shit, is harder.  For several reasons.  First, because doing a shit cleanout is difficult.  I mean all of those boxes, all of that stuff, is daunting.  Packing them up and not looking at the contents is easy… going through it all is time consuming.  It involves effort, it involves time that you’d rather spend doing other things – like going to dinner and fucking.  Second, because it involves remembering things that are really hard to remember, and looking at them, at least as best you can, from an unbiased perspective.  That unbiased perspective is the worst – because you have to be able to accept your own portion of the blame (where there was one), and decide whether the shit is worth holding on to or would be best added to a trash heap.  And if you’re an emotional hoarder (or a hoarder of any kind) that trash heap is hard to build.  Because it’s COMFORTABLE holding on to the shit you know, and much scarier to replace it with the shit you don’t.

Now, admittedly, that emotional purging process can take years.  Like, you start on it one day, and you do a couple of boxes, then you realize you just can’t do it anymore, and you back off, only to go back to it months and months later when you can stand it again.  There is no TLC show called “Hoarders” that can come clear out your mental, emotional shit.  That project?  That’s all you… and maybe the significant other that is brave enough to put up with you, maybe even help you while you’re doing it, maybe even clean out a little (or all) of their own shit at the same time so that you both end up in a new house, with little to nothing in the middle of the floor, ready to make new memories and establish a new furniture layout.  But it’s hard.  And it takes a lot of time.  And a butt-load of dedication.  And not many people are up to the task.

I’ve had a long history of relationships, some harder than others, that have created a fair degree of emotional luggage that, like it or not, I’ve carried with me.  And I won’t lie… I’m well aware of the possibility (and in some cases, the reality) that that emotional baggage has caused some of these to fail.  But they generally failed DUE to that baggage, in a situation where the person I was in a relationship with, had little to no, or at least, less baggage than I did.  It made finding common ground hard.  It made that person less patient with my need to sort through, and ultimately purge, the things that weren’t working.  And those relationships ended either due to their impatience or due to the fact that I was unable to purge quickly enough.  And, of course, that added to the baggage that I carried with me into the next one.

I often wonder, then, if it is easier, for those couples who met early, who stayed together through everything, had few to no relationships prior to the one they are currently in, and who had little to no baggage to sort through, except the stuff they’ve built up together over time.  I don’t have the answer to that.  I was not fortunate enough to be one of them.

I’ve found that my relationships are better when I find someone with baggage.  Or, at least, someone with baggage that is willing to purge or ultimately work toward purging that baggage.  Not because it’s a pleasant “moving in” experience – there are boxes all over the damned floor some days, and wading through the junk can be difficult.  But because even though the heavy baggage ones haven’t lasted in the past, at least there is the knowledge that there was some common ground… and when they end, I can chalk that ending up to the fact that there was just too  much clutter in the floor that both of us were stubbornly hanging onto.  It wasn’t, at least in most cases, because of new shit that popped up.

Of course the ultimate goal is to get rid of the baggage altogether – or at least make it so minimal that the old shit can be put in a closet somewhere and that the living room of the mind can be re-filled with more pleasant memories.  And part of reaching that goal is finding someone patient enough, and dedicated enough, to let me weed through that baggage – and brave enough to stay with me when I’m having bad days, and when purging becomes next to impossible.  The hardest part of that process is knowing that I won’t even know when I find that person until that process is complete – but I’m optimistic enough to believe (despite those boxes) that they exist.

Where am I now?

The box towers in my brain are getting a little shorter while I unpack things and find a place for the contents or throw them out the window.  The process is hard, and it leaves me raw sometimes, and while I’d like to say that I keep it under the surface and it doesn’t affect my current relationship, that isn’t always the case. There’s still a lot to go.  But I can see some floor space.  And that’s a start.

The Ramifications of “No.”

After the performance 1.0 gave me when I was sitting at the hospital with Metalhead, I started to change my mind.  Not that I’d ever really made it up to begin with.  Oh, sure, I understood what he thought he wanted when he suddenly (and inexplicably) started talking about getting married and having kids and how many he wanted to have.  I’d heard all of this before, many times, from many different people.  I hadn’t decided whether I was going to allow it… after all, I was still waiting for Botboy, and I felt funny about breaking that promise… but on the other hand, Botboy hadn’t said much for awhile, and here was 1.0, paying for plane tickets, and flying down almost immediately.

I had, for a little while at least, started to open my mind.  But that had changed.  I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I did not want to be with someone so selfish.  If he could not understand why I was doing what I needed to do for my friend as things were now, how could he be expected to understand it later?

And then there was his living situation.  1.0 was three years older than I am.  He lived in New York… I got that… but he had roommates.  He’d had roommates, in fact, ever since he’d started college in 1997.  And while part of me realized that that was a way of life when you lived in New York, I did not want to live that way.  His living space consisted of a single room… the rest of the house in Brooklyn was shared with others.  And I could not imagine doing that for any extended period of time.  Granted, I am an introvert.  I need a certain amount of “me” time in order to be functional.  And maybe the “me” time is a lot more than he needs, but still, I could not imagine coming home from work every day, having to socialize when I don’t feel like it… because that’s what he was doing.  It worked for him.

But for me?  It was a reminder of 3.0… it was a reminder of why 3.0 and I did not work.  Not so much that 3.0 was or was not social… but more because I was not allowed to be an introvert when I needed to be an introvert.  And I could see it going there.  Not now, not immediately, maybe not even for the first year.  But eventually…  And of course, also, I had no desire to move to New York, and he had no desire to move to Florida.  I’m fine with long distance.  I’ve done it a lot.  But not perpetually.

It was a lot to give up, all at once, and it was a lot to ponder.  All of those things had been in the back of my mind for awhile, but with his revelation of who he really was, well, things became clearer.  It’s funny how that happens, right?  If you wait long enough, people begin to show you their true colors.

It was decided, at least by me, then, that I did not want him to visit.  I wasn’t really comfortable with him being in my house.  I certainly was not comfortable, any longer, of going to Orlando to meet his friend (and spend time with him – extended time with him, possibly overnight with him) when I had never met him before.  I felt funny about kicking him out, though.  Call me old fashioned… call me southern (I’m a little bit of both), but I have manners.  They don’t dictate everything I do (the Internet Dating Escapades are living proof of that) but when I’m having company, or when I may have company, one of the first rules is that you don’t tell them that you just want them to go home.  Even if that’s how you feel.

So I began to hint… I began to drop clues… I tried everything.  Even to the point of asking if he’d mind to rent a car and drive himself to Orlando because the painting I was working on for my sister’s wedding was not done yet (this was true) and I needed to work on it and get it in the mail as soon as possible (also true).  He agreed to visit his friend alone, and I breathed a sigh of relief, but still, I wasn’t relieved enough.  Because he was still going to be here, with me, for a night… possibly two.

I asked myself whether I could do it… if I could host him for a night, if I could entertain him well enough for a night so that I would feel okay about it and he could go, and nothing would be disturbed, but if I were truthful with myself?  No matter how much I spun it, no matter how many ways I tried to make it doable, I just couldn’t.  I did not want him in my house.  I did not TRUST him to be in my house… especially not now that he was being quite pushy about how this was MY idea all along, and how it was MY fault that I was backing away…

You see, neither were true.  I hadn’t asked him to come, he’d invited himself.  And I’d told him, again and again, that I wasn’t really comfortable staying with his friend.  I’d told him about Botboy, I’d made it clear that I was waiting.  His answer?  “People ‘try’ things all the time.”

But not me.

I wasn’t in a relationship with Botboy.  I hadn’t been since May of 2013.  But still, I was waiting.  I don’t cheat.  I don’t lie.  And I don’t break my promises.  And 1.0 was, essentially, asking me to violate that.

Before I made my decision I thought long and hard about what I was doing.  If I told him no now, I knew that that would be the end of things.  I’d lose him forever… that link to the past, to 1997, to the mafia… it would be gone.  And it would be irretrievable.  I asked myself if I could do that… more importantly, was it worth losing?  The more I thought about it, the longer I pondered it, the more I looked back at the past, I realized that I could.  Because whoever that girl was in 1997, I wasn’t her anymore.  There were still pieces of her, sure.  We never quite lose everything we ever were as we grow.  But who she was, and what was important to her… it didn’t exist.  I had a different life now.  And, whether or not it pained me to say it, 1.0 wasn’t a part of it.  And I didn’t see how I could make him a part of it.

So I told him no.  He spent the weekend, the full weekend, in Orlando.  I spent the weekend painting on my patio, finishing the monogramed canvas for my sister’s wedding, getting it ready to mail to her the following week.  I didn’t hear from him at all.  I haven’t heard from him since.

I finally, seventeen years after it started, managed to put a piece of my past to bed.  And you know what?  It felt great.

Naked

Relationships are complicated.  Somewhere between elementary school and adulthood, we’ve gone from the silly notes in our lockers that say “I like you, do you like me, circle ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” to full blown mass “freak out” sessions where we obsess over whether that guy is ever going to call again, whether she’s going to be turned off by too much back hair (if it’s me?  Yes.), and we overanalyze every extended silence, every stupid Facebook post, and every text we DO get that isn’t to our liking.  We’ve gone from knowing that we’re a couple because we circled “Yes” on a piece of paper to wondering after a few dates, a couple of heavy makeout sessions, and a romp in bed whether we can start thinking of ourselves as a couple, or if we’ve just been used.

And I don’t know if it’s become standard for everyone, but I know that for me, this has gotten more and more complicated as I’ve gotten older.  People have gotten to be less apt to communicate, less likely to be reliable, more likely to “disappear” rather than to answer the “hard questions” or talk about the “hard issues.”  No one wants to WORK on problems anymore, everyone just wants to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence (regardless of whether it turns out to be the Garden of Eden or a yard full of volcanic ash).

I label my dating life as pre-divorce and post-divorce.  Pre-divorce, I dated a fair amount.  I’m not saying everyone was awesome (as a matter of fact, many of them were NOT awesome), but just about everyone was, at least, straightforward about what they were looking for.  Dating was a means to entering into a relationship – it was never, or at least usually not, a means to an endless string of interactions that resulted, finally, in an abrupt disappearance.  Most times it ended in commitment.  Or, at least, the expectation toward eventual commitment.  It was understood that things were going to go this way or, sooner than later, there would be a parting of ways.

The funny thing is, I used to think this was “complicated.”  Maybe in its way it was… Because in those days, it wasn’t so much the worry about whether or not I was actually “in” one, but it was the worry of what said significant other was doing when I was not around.  No stranger to the “cheating” boyfriends, I can’t say that I went into those relationships believing that people were going to cheat on me, but I’d say I was more hyper-vigilant about it than I would have been had I never been cheated on.  Still, it was easy to get a date, nothing was expected out of me except to be a good dinner companion.  If things went further eventually, it was “understood” that we’d do it again.  It was “understood” that we’d see each other again.  It was “understood” that the likelihood of becoming exclusive was imminent.  I learned, after a few months of this, that it was better to trust until I had a good reason NOT to trust.

But that was then.

Post-divorce, dating has gotten significantly harder.  And I’m not sure if it’s that the attitudes of the world have changed, or if I’ve just gotten worse at choosing men, but things are VERY, VERY different.  As I said earlier, people don’t communicate anymore.  Instead of phone calls, we text.  Instead of using complete sentences and punctuation, we use chatspeak.  Spelling, even, has fallen by the wayside – and smart people, like myself, who give a shit about such things are expected to just roll with it and lower our standards.

Because no one wants to communicate, we’re all afraid of each other.  Some of us prefer to keep our relationships completely text or chat based (and we have no idea how to interact face to face).  Others can’t be straightforward and upfront about things when we don’t expect them to work – we’ve been dumped (or have done the dumping) so many times that we’re afraid to do it again… we don’t want the shit show, we don’t want to deal with the fireworks, so, to avoid confrontation, we just walk away and expect the other person to just “get over it.”  It’s easier for us… we don’t have to see it.  Who the fuck cares what they have to go through?  We say it’s to “spare someone else’s feelings,” but that’s a cop-out.  It’s really to spare ourselves from the discomfort.

Further, and I think this has to do with my age, everyone who is still out there, and single, has been burned, by now, more than once.  It’s left us all jaded.  No one trusts anyone anymore… we’ve all been through the ringer so many times that we jump into our relationships EXPECTING to play games.  We go into these things BELIEVING that everyone we’re talking to will lie and cheat on us eventually.  And so, finding something solid, something dependable, something lasting has gotten really difficult.  I don’t lie, and I don’t cheat, but if I’m completely up front and I TELL someone these things, I don’t expect to be believed.  After all, why should I?  Everyone’s heard the same story again and again.  My predecessors got there before me, said the same shit I did, but did it all anyway.

And so, instead, we’ve become a culture that goes through life, pretending to attempt to find something solid (probably genuinely desiring something solid) but are too afraid to truly stick our necks out there to GET it.  We settle, instead, for superficial relationships… we text each other a lot, but don’t interact in person.  We get to know someone at a high level, perpetually hold them at arm’s length.  We use each other for sex, because the orgasms are nice.  We’ve become more and more accepting of being naked in front of each other, but we’re too afraid to REALLY be naked, to REALLY show someone else who we are, out of fear of being hurt again.  We’re protecting ourselves, but essentially, our inability to expose ourselves to pain, our unwillingness to put ourselves out there, is the same thing as punishing a complete stranger (or, at least, someone who has done nothing to us) for something that someone else (or several others) have done.

I’m just as bad about this as anyone else.  Communication has never been my problem.  If I want something, or if I like someone, I fucking say it.  I’m not shy about that.  I don’t mind being naked, literally, in front of someone either – I got over that when I started doing nude modeling a decade ago.  But I still have my hangups.  After the divorce, rather than finding boyfriends, or potential boyfriends, I realized that, I could easily find someone to go to bed with, but it became difficult to find someone to BE with.  And when I did find someone to BE with, well, if you’ve read the blog, you know what I’ve found… 3.0, who couldn’t get himself “sold”; Botboy who could fall in love with TransFormers, fall in love with me, even, but only say so when he was drunk and who ran the first chance he got when he came home.  I can go on dates with others and things will look as if they’re going well, but then, without any sort of explanation, the guy disappears.

And with every failure, with every disappointment, I myself have become more jaded.  I find myself going into relationships EXPECTING to be disappointed.  I find myself, essentially, punishing someone who has never had the chance to prove himself to be different for bullshit that others have given me in the past.  I wait for a screw up, and I use that screw up to further the conclusions I’ve drawn about everyone that’s already out there.  I don’t let people in because I’m too busy blaming total strangers for the failures of the douchebags I’ve already known.  I’m just as jaded as everyone else.

Back in 1998, a friend told me something once and it’s stayed with me through all this time (despite the fact that he turned out to be one of the ones that wanted to “fuck me” but not “be with me):  Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups.  Assumption is what we’re all doing these days – instead of giving people the benefit of the doubt, instead of letting them prove themselves to be different we’re assuming that they aren’t, and we’re sabotaging ourselves.

Life is about choices, life is about decisions.  In the end, I have to make a choice.  I can choose to remain alone because I’m too afraid to open myself up to potential failure.  I know that if I continue to choose to punish people for what their predecessors have done, then that is the same thing as choosing to be alone.  It’s like having a “self destruct” button that I can press whenever I feel like it.

But I can also choose to stop this.  I can choose to stop repeating old patterns that clearly have gotten me nowhere.  I can choose to stop assuming the worst.  Does that I mean I go into every situation wide-eyed, naïve and ready to throw it all out there (emotionally) to someone I barely know? No.  We learn what we learn for a reason.  But it does mean that I stop expecting the worst out of everyone… it means I give them a chance to prove that they really are different without judging them before they’ve ever had their say.  It means that I open up a little, give people the benefit of the doubt, and that I, at least, start looking at things more objectively.  It means that I let myself truly bare it all when I feel ready to do that, and I do it without expecting that I’ll immediately be steamrolled as a result.

It’s scary… but when have I ever been chickenshit?

 

(Also if you think for a minute I’m going to stop doing the Internet Dating Escapades, you’d be wrong… some people are just asking for it.  Or, well, I’ll keep doing this until I do find someone that lets me in… once I do that, the IDEs stop, because my profiles will come down.)

1.0 – Another Flashback, 1997-2002

In 1997, the internet was still in its infancy.  So was I… at least sort of… at the age of fourteen.  I’d grown up in a small town, had never contemplated leaving it for more than a minute, had been exposed only to what was there and what I’d seen so far.  I was, to put it bluntly, naïve.  In the summer of 1997, my father got a subscription to the dial-up internet service that was relatively new to the county.  We were one of the first families that I knew of that had access to it.  To this day, the sound of the dial-up connection still makes me smile (though I am still much happier with my high-speed cable connection than I was with dial-up… if I had to go back I don’t think I’d survive).  At any rate, because of all of this, that summer, I was introduced to HTML chat rooms that, very quickly (and in some cases cruelly) broadened my experience and rewarded my quick and painful education with the realization that not everyone in the world was kind, trustworthy, and without ulterior motives.  But despite that education, despite all the “baddies” that lurked behind their own internet connections and who, a few times, made themselves more real than I care to recall here, I did manage to meet some people who were decent.  It’s true, they were human also, and by human I mean they had their faults, the same as I did, but they weren’t trying to engage in sex talk every minute of every hour of the endless nights I’d spend chatting with them (and others). We talked about other things, day to day things, stuff you’d talk to your “real person” friends about.  And due to that, I was able to strike up as genuine a friendship as possible with them.

When the summer was over, after the drama that provided the education on just how cruel the world could really be, the internet was disconnected.  Because I could not fathom a world without my friends in it, I set up a system.  It wasn’t easy – it took a lot of hiding, a lot of lying, a lot of sneaking around.  It kept me very busy and it was questionable, during those days, whether I thought of much else beyond my next phone card, my next stamp, beyond the next letter that would find its way through the channels.  But, despite the difficulties, despite the amount of red tape I had to circumvent just to keep the system alive, to keep the communication flowing, it was worth it.  It kept me busy, and it gave me something to live for when I didn’t feel that there was much else.

Of the two I managed to keep in contact with during that time, the one I now call 1.0 was probably the most constant.  He was, for all practical purposes, in those days, my moral compass.  I went to him for everything – told him everything.  He was like an older brother to me.  Only three years older than myself, he had just started college and was, at least it seemed, trying to navigate his world as much as I was now trying to navigate mine.  We were close… We had emailed all summer long, once or twice a day, every day, and when we could, we’d chat.  We finally moved the conversations to phone, first exploiting the 800 number his mother had set up for business and, when that situation changed, he took advantage of 5 cent Sundays and called me as often as he could.  Once the internet had gotten disconnected, he was the first that tried to reach out, and once the system was instituted so that we could send mail back and forth, I truly lived for the days when I’d get his 4-6 page, handwritten letters.

But things changed, as all things do.  A couple of years passed, and I got involved in my own things – I started working at a camp, I made more friends, and the school year became less about managing mail and phone cards and more about just getting through the days so that I could get to camp in the summer, and the blessed freedom that promised.  We never had a falling out, exactly, but I got busy and he got busy and we just sort of lost contact.  It had gotten to be too difficult for me, I think, ultimately, to try balance everything.  And I became involved in my own love affairs that left little room for anything that involved long distance connections.

The goal, though, ultimately, had always been to get to college.  College promised a freedom that I didn’t have, even at camp – the freedom to come and go as I pleased, to talk to whomever I liked without having to worry about my phone conversations being monitored, without having to give the internet friends a cover to assume when they called (and having to worry about them forgetting to use it – as one did once, and the damage control was unbelievable).  Once I was at college, I could reassume responsibility for all of the communications.  I could have access to the internet, and to email again.  And once I got there, I immediately started trying to track them down – the two I’d kept in contact with.

One was easy to find.  He found me.  1.0, on the other hand, that was a gamble, as I knew he’d graduated from college at the same time that I’d graduated from high school, and as all I had was his college email address, I wasn’t sure that it would still work.  I took a chance.  And it worked.  And we started talking again – it was as if nothing had changed, as if we’d never missed a beat.  In October of 2001, he decided to come visit me for the first time.

I was excited up until the day he was due to arrive.  Then I was just nervous.  I didn’t for a minute think it would end up in the same way that it had in 1997 when one of the “baddies” from the internet ventured down.  But all the same, I was nervous.  And when I picked him up from the airport with a friend of mine, I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to do with him after that.  I think we checked him into the cheapest hotel we could find, since he had no money (seriously this place was gross), we took him back to campus, and he and I walked around awhile until I dropped him off back at the hotel.

The weekend was good, in its way.  Awkward for awhile.  We did not have sex… I think I was more experienced than he was, and that’s not saying much, though we did make out in that filthy hotel again.  Regardless, when he was due to leave the following Sunday, I did not want him to go, and we had an “understanding” at that point.  We were together.  No words needed.

We saw each other, when we could, for the next few months.  He sent me a HUGE box for my birthday, packed with all kinds of things I’d mentioned wanting over the years (and a lot of things I hadn’t, but which were equally awesome).  He came down again for finals and while I stayed in his hotel room with him this time (and while we fooled around), we didn’t have sex then either.  He’d brought condoms.  I guess, looking back on it, that was his intention.  But despite the fact that I was not a virgin, and had not been since I was sixteen, I didn’t know what to do about it.  He WAS still a virgin, and he knew even less than I did.  So the evenings were more about making out, fooling around, and talking – that was fine with me… I hadn’t learned the meaning of the word “orgasm” yet, and sex was, at that point, just a memory of something very awkward that seemed to end well for the man but was just “eh” for the woman (yes, I told you, I didn’t know what I was talking about).

I made plans to visit him in NYC that following January.  When I went home for Christmas, knowing that I wouldn’t have access to the internet from my parents’ house  – at least, not unmonitored access, I did what I could do to mitigate that circumstance.  We managed to get through the holidays, but at the beginning of my second semester, he broke up with me.

I was devastated.  Not just because I’d bought those tickets to go to NYC (which were nonrefundable), but because I’d truly loved him… at least to the best of my ability at that time.  I could not imagine going through a semester without his support, I could not imagine what my life would be like without him in it, and further, I could not imagine how awkward that trip to New York was going to be now that he and I were not “together.”  I did not want to cancel it, and I did not cancel it.  But when I left for the trip, there were many questions in my mind, none of which got solved, most of which were made more confusing by the fact that we were still fooling around, he was still holding my hand, and his uncle groped my ass when he was helping me get into a larger overcoat.

The trip was fantastic, in that I got to see the city (though I was too poor at that time to see it properly).  It did not help me get over 1.0.  It only served, once I got back into Louisville, to make me miss him even more… but I kept my distance, as much as I could.  I knew I needed to get over him, and while we still talked, the frequency of those conversations, and the content, were nothing like the way they had been the previous fall.  Still, I’d made the resolution to get over him.  Somehow getting over boyfriends back in those days was easier than it is now… I found someone else.  Someone who taught me the meaning of the word “orgasm” and I was satisfied.  1.0 was, if not a fading memory, at least, right then, not a dominating entity.

At least not until 2003.

Sage Shower Wisdom

No shit… this stuff comes to me in the shower.

That’s like the worst place for it to come to me… because I have no paper, no computer, and no place to write it down except for the bathtub wall, and I don’t have any of those soap crayons… haven’t had any since I was a kid.

Maybe this is an investment I need to make.

Anyway, the point is, by the time I get out of the shower to write it down, it never sounds quite as good as it did the first time around when it’s hitting my brain.

Regardless:

Relationships are not about autonomy.

Relationships are about two autonomous people, coming together, to make an institution work that is higher, and greater, than their autonomous selves.

Introverted Relationships

When I was in elementary school (and let’s not talk about how long ago that’s been), my teachers were required to grade us on how “socialized” we were – in other words, how often and how well we interacted with others.  While my other grades were mostly good (math was always a challenge), I never was one to receive great marks in that particular area.  Not because I was a mean kid.  I never started fights, I rarely outright argued with anyone, but I also rarely spoke with people.  I was, more often than not, the quiet girl at her desk reading a book, drawing a picture, or writing things down while the other girls formed their cliques.  I had friends, don’t get me wrong, but I just never felt the need to have large groups of them.   I was very close to the friends I did have and while I was (mostly) polite to everyone else, I wasn’t one to open up to people, to seek out new people, or, really, to let new people in.  It just wasn’t my way.

My mother is an extremely sociable lady (my father not as much).  She had a hard time understanding why I didn’t want to “join” clubs, why group piano lessons mortified me, why I did not particularly like the church youth group outings, and why I, in general, was not much for small talk – and given my preference, would rather sit in the car while she worked the room after church.

As I got older, I got better with it.  I’ve gotten good at small talk, I’ve gotten better at working rooms when I need to be, and I don’t have mild panic attacks every time I get ready to do a webinar at work (that’s a joke – I was never that extreme).  But the truth is, I am and have always been an introvert.  In a world full of extroverts – and where extroverts are the ones who truly succeed (politicians, businessmen, salespeople, etc – all of those are extroverts), though, introversion can be a bit of a problem.  Because extroverts, for all that they claim otherwise, do not understand introverts.

Extroverts spend most of their lives craving social interaction – they are energized by parties, by clubs, by the large group outings.  They don’t understand me when I decline solely on the basis that I simply want to go home, put on a pair of sweatpants, and write awhile.  3.0, probably the most extroverted person I have ever dated, didn’t really GET why I needed a hotel room of my own to crash in if we were going to be spending the entire weekend we were in Tennessee interacting with large groups of people (people I did not really know).  He didn’t GET why being alone sometimes was such a big deal to me.  It was simply unfathomable to him that I might want to go to a movie alone with him instead of with large groups of people, or that I might want to spend some time alone with him in the condo instead of inviting massive amounts of his friends over at the same time.  Sadly, this is something I run into a lot – not just in my relationships, but also at work, and even, sometimes, with family stuff.

But here’s the thing… being an introvert is not so bad.  And being WITH an introvert, in a relationship, isn’t so bad either.

  1.  Introverts are quiet.  We aren’t going to talk your leg off all the time.  We do talk.  When we like you, we do talk.  But we spend most of our time thinking about things before we say them.  And we are careful about our delivery methods.  When we have something to say, we say it.  That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree with us, but we’ll be sure to say it (as best we can) in a way that will not push your buttons and that will best meet the needs of both parties involved (when possible).
  2. Introverts need alone time.  Some of us need more than others.  Which means that you get alone time too.  This does not mean that we want to have an affair.  It means that we want to watch a movie, or read a book, or do our laundry.  We do not always require, nor desire, nights out on the town.  And although sometimes that alone time really means we want to be alone, if you’re lucky enough to be in our “circle”, then that means that we’re also happy to be alone with you, too.
  3. Introverts are really good at being close to people we care about.  Let’s face it.  We suck at small talk.  Day to day interactions can be difficult, because we just don’t know what to DO when we have to “schmooze” with people we barely know… talking about the weather and traffic and mundane things simply doesn’t interest us – we like deeper, more involved conversations.  But once you’re in, you’re “in”.  We like to listen, and we want to listen, to what you have to say if you’re being real with us.  We ask questions when we don’t understand something, and we take the stuff you’re saying and we really THINK about it.  Sometimes to the point of distraction (which, Botboy, is why I nearly ran off the damn road on the way back to Tampa the night we went out before you left).  We are, sometimes, also guilty of overthinking.  But… at least you know we’re never looking at things from a one-layered perspective.
  4.  Most of us are extremely loyal.  I’m not saying there aren’t introverts out there that cheat.  Because there are.  I’ve known a few.  But most of us really value our relationships (friendships and otherwise).  Our social time uses valuable amounts of our energy.  We are selective about who we spend our time with.  If someone doesn’t suit us, we don’t hesitate about cutting ties when we need to.  But when we find someone deserving of that energy, we don’t go looking elsewhere.  And if you’re that designated person?  You should feel flattered… it takes a lot to get to where you are.
  5. Introverts are generally never bored.  We are exceptionally good at entertaining ourselves.  You want to watch the game on TV?  No problem.  You want time to work on a project of your own?  That’s not a big deal either.  Because introverts thrive on “quiet time,” we’ve developed skills that extroverts haven’t… we know how to be alone without desperately needing external stimulation for entertainment.  Most of us are creative in one way or another.  We write.  We paint.  We build things.  We read.  We go in the other room and watch TV.  (I do all of these things, and also learn languages in my spare time.)  In other words… we don’t need you, or someone else, to amuse us all day, every day.  We’re very good at entertaining ourselves when we need to be.

Some of the best relationships I’ve ever had in my life were with people who were like this.  Not couch potatoes, per se (I do not like couch potatoes), but people who, like me, just preferred to be quiet and low key.  Who didn’t need to be in the “thick” of things all the time.  Who took things slowly, with intent, and, particularly, who understood that this was just the way that I was (usually because they were, to some degree, that way also) and didn’t challenge me to change.

Because there is nothing worse in a relationship than someone who regularly attempts to turn you into something that you biologically cannot be.

How To Turn A Woman Off

Insult her friends, family, upbringing, or all of the above.  Especially when you’ve never met them or been anywhere near where she has grown up.  I know, I know, she talks about them all the time.  But that’s the point… they’re HERS to talk about.  If you aren’t even dating yet, your input (if it’s negative) is not required, desired, or appreciated.

Insult her other candidates.  Or tell her that she doesn’t know what she’s doing by considering her other candidates.  This just makes you look petty.  And if you were the top dog before, you will immediately become her least-favorite choice.  If you are lucky enough to remain a candidate at all.

Turn everything into a debate.  Or try to edge perfectly normal conversations into hot-button issues.  You’ll find out eventually whether you agree on things or not.  There’s no reason to start arguments right off the bat for whatever motives you have.  If debates are how you normally interact with your friends, then don’t treat her the same way that you treat your friends – she doesn’t want to spend every second of her day on eggshells, hoping she doesn’t have to argue with you about politics, religion, or what kind of chicken is the best.  Women don’t want men who are argumentative.

Be a know-it-all.  You don’t know everything about everything.  It isn’t possible.  Pretending otherwise, especially when she proves you wrong, or when she knows you’re wrong but doesn’t feel like debating it (see above) makes you look arrogant.  And ridiculous.  And unattractive.

Move too quickly.  So you think she likes you.  Awesome.  She probably does.  But that doesn’t mean you jump in with both feet, start inviting her to meet your family, all your friends, and start talking about what you want to name your kids.  Slow it down, buddy.  We get it.  You’re excited.  But if you move too quickly, you’ll look pushy, you’ll scare the shit out of her, and she’ll stop.  Or, at best, she’ll slow it down for you and you’ll wonder wtf happened.

Don’t listen.  Or, listen and then don’t remember what she said.  Or, listen, don’t remember what she said, and then blame your failure to remember what she said on the fact that you’re a man.  Your gender is not an excuse.  You’ve essentially just told her you are not interested enough to give a shit about what she says.  That’s about the stupidest thing you could do.

Tell her you aren’t sold.  She won’t know what you’re talking about.  And it’ll make her feel like a car salesman on top of being stupidly confused.

Bring your kid to the first date (or second date).  I don’t care how well behaved your kid is.  I don’t care how old your kid is.  She doesn’t need to meet your kid right away.

Openly compare her to all of the other women you are currently seeing.  It’s nice to be open and transparent.  It’s nice to be honest.  We like that.  But comparing her to the others is not making her feel any better and it’s making you look like an inconsiderate man-whore.

Make us wear the pants all the time.  In the day-to-day world, most of us are forced to take care of ourselves.  We have good jobs, we have our own housing, we make our own money.  Not all of us, though, want to wear the pants in our relationships – at least not all the time.  We like input, but if we’re more of a badass than you are, if we are constantly the ones pulling out the weapons when the security alarm goes off, if we’re constantly saving your ass, or if you’re the one crying at chick flicks while we sit there and laugh at you, you’re not doing a very good job of selling yourself.

 

**Bonus:

If we’re in shape, if we exercise regularly, if we go to a lot of trouble to make ourselves presentable, you should do the same.  You don’t have to be built like Superman (though it helps), but don’t be a fat-ass.  Take care of yourself.  Go to the gym.  Exercise.  Make an effort.

The opposite end of the spectrum applies, too.  If you’re so scrawny that we could kick your ass in a fight easily, that’s not attractive either.  It just reminds us that you’re probably too effeminate to ever be taken seriously.

The 10 Spot

This guy I know apparently has a list of all of the people he’s ever slept with.  I’m told it’s fairly long, though I have never seen it.  I don’t know how common this is – I know that (based on stuff I’ve read) women tend to like to keep their numbers “low” and if they think they’re too high, will lie to make them “lower” to make them appear more virtuous.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  I can tell you there are nine in the list – I am thirty-one.  I don’t know how that stacks up with anyone else’s numbers, but that’s mine.  A list as follows (rapist not included):

  1. Jake
  2. Professor
  3. This dude whose kid I was babysitting – we got into a relationship for a little while, he has no nickname.
  4. GI Joe – dude who was convinced that he was going to be an astronaut by being in the KY National Guard and reading Physics for Dummies.  He was also cheating on his wife – hence why I ended it (after I found out).  FYI – he is not an astronaut now… per my Internet Data, he’s just another (now divorced) loser who probably sits around and wonders where he went wrong.
  5. Mr. Ex
  6. Buttface
  7. 3.0
  8. Metalhead
  9. Interim Guy – the one I dated for a small period of time between Metalhead and October.

That leaves us at the 10 spot.  I offered it, once, to Botboy who said he was not “just looking to get laid”.  Neither am I – I never was.  I misjudged him.  I’ve apologized for that.  Moving on.

Since I wrote “Let the Games Begin”, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  I promised Botboy, back in January, that I would wait for him.  I meant that then.  I feel strange about breaking that promise now – but I’ve opened the door.  I can always shut it again, I realize that.  But, considering I have no guarantees that he’ll want me when he is home again, I don’t want to do that.  However, by the same token, a promise is a promise.  It seems, in a way, unfair to him for me to open the door and start seeing a lot of other people when he does not have the option to get his chance, or his say.  The playing field is not even.

Further, it’s not like I’ve ever had gratuitous sex.  I fool around, sure, but it never leads to intercourse.  Think mostly makeout sessions with heavy petting – a blow job or two on a rare occasion when I’m feeling generous.  Though never a blow job without a makeout session.  Protocol must be followed.  At any rate, I’ve dated far more men than I’ve made out with.  I’ve made out with far more men than I’ve been in a relationship with.  And I’ve been in relationships with far more men than I’ve fucked.  I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone except me… I guess it doesn’t have to.  The point is, there are rules that I have for these things – they make sense to me, and I don’t often break them.

So, while I’m not “waiting” per se – while my profiles are still up, and while I’m leaving the door open for any who would like to try to come through, I’m still being inordinately picky.  The truth is, like it or not, I have serious doubt whether anyone could ever, ever compete with Botboy.  It’s funny I say that, since he and I have shared nothing more illicit than a couple of hugs in a parking lot.  And he bit me.  On the arm.  While I was driving.  Left teeth marks.  I have photos.  But it’s gotten no further than that, despite the fact that he and I were once in a relationship and despite the fact that I did, and do, love him.  I guess maybe that’s why I still, despite everything, feel that I need to be fair.

I’ve left the door open, yes.  I’m keeping an open mind (or as open as I can, considering how I feel). I think of it as a challenge); if someone can come in here and make me forget, which would be an inordinately difficult thing to do, then they deserve to stay on the table.  But because I feel that I need to be fair, while I’m willing to entertain the possibility, I’m not being exclusive with anyone.  No relationships.  I’ll date, but I won’t be exclusive.  At least, not right away.  That thing about taking things “turtle-slowly” that I said to Bot – I think that needs to apply to everyone else, too.  Because ultimately, I need to be sure.

And since there will be no exclusivity, there will be no sex either.  Inherently you see the problem with this, right… I love sex.  I love everything about sex.  The lead-up, the foreplay, the teasing, the wrestling (yes, wrestling), the reveal of taking off the clothing and the smell of arousal.  I love the penetration and the thrusting, the positioning, the varying speed and depth as positions change and as things grow more passionate.  I love the sounds.  And, of course, the orgasms.  The many, many, most times unstopping orgasms that leave me on the ceiling afterward while my body finally rests, exhausted, between the sheets – disoriented and not even caring until I pull myself together long enough for a post-coital shower, emerging either ready for bed or ready to start the day (or ready to do it all again).

Now, granted, I could go out there right now, I could find a reasonably acceptable substitute.  I could make him fall fairly quickly, I could get into something exclusive, and I could have all this sex.  I could find one of the nine and go to bed with them as well, thereby keeping the number the same and staying well within the limitations of my agreement to “wait”.  But I’m not doing that.  One would be a violation of the earlier agreement.  The other would be cheating (cheating as in cheating at the game, not cheating in a relationship, because I am not in one).

And so, here are the new rules:

The 10 spot is reserved for the one I am exclusive with next.  No one gets it, period, condom or no condom (and there will be a condom) without an actual, exclusive, profiles down, (possibly even Facebook official – as much as I hate that site) relationship.

Until Bot is back, I will entertain the possibility of seeing others – if I find someone I want to see, I may go out with them, however I will refrain from becoming exclusive with them (taking it “turtle-slowly,” because that is what is necessary to be sure in the short term, and because it leaves the playing field more even in the long term).  At thirty-one, I realize that my window is getting smaller.  I can’t keep playing this “one at a time” hoping the one at a time will get me something steady.  If dating is a numbers game, and really it is, then I have to play the numbers, knowing that if I do that, there’s a better chance of ONE of them becoming exclusive eventually.  Anyway…

In the interim, there will be no sex with any of the nine.  Thank god I have a vibrator – a weak substitute, but acceptable in the short term.  (Nemesis, please don’t fail me now.)

When Botboy returns, if he wants to date me, I’ll date him.  We will take things “turtle-slowly” as I’ve said – I want to be sure he is here for the long haul, that we can give each other what we need, and I want him to be sure that he is sure.  In other words, I do not want my heart broken again.  Or, at least, not without giving an actual relationship a “fair” shot.  In person.  When we can see each other regularly.  Therefore, until he is sure, then we will be unexclusive. And there will be no sex.

I know I’ve said that rules were made to be broken in the past.  I believe that in most cases.  But not in this one.  The rules are in place to preserve my sanity, my honor (whatever there is left of it).  And despite what my friends say, they are in place to ensure that Botboy gets a chance if he wants one – a fair one… once he is local again and not busy saving the world.

Anniversary

In a couple of weeks it will have been exactly a year since Botboy returned from Afghanistan, took all his toys out of my closet, and left.  It sounds funny when I say it that way, and I mean for it to sound funny – because if you can’t find some humor in a situation, no matter how badly it made you feel at the time, then you never do quite manage to heal from it.

I’d be lying if I said I was ready to face that anniversary on my own.  I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in my house, alone, on that day with nothing to do but remember how I felt after I’d came home a year ago and found my closet empty, his note on my end table, and his energy bouncing off the walls of my apartment.  Or how confused and completely bereft I felt for a couple of months after that.  It’s quite something when you realize that someone who had made the first half of a year spectacular has the same power to make the first couple of months of the second half of a year absolutely horrible.  I have no other way to describe it except to say that it truly felt as if someone had died.  Because here was this man who had been a constant (virtual) companion for the first five months out of the year and then who, within the course of a few hours, was suddenly, and inexplicably, gone.

But, what was done was done.  Time moved on, as it tends to do. And when it does, we have the choice to linger behind while the world moves on without us, or to pick ourselves up as best we can and move along with it.

And, regardless of how I did it, I chose to move along with it.  I healed.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t carry with me some very real scars from the earlier damage, but I became stronger for it.  I’d spent the first half of 2013 getting ready for his arrival – moving things around, rearranging the house, revamping the bedroom and the bathroom.  I’d made space in my closet for his things, given him the two lower drawers, and lived in constant anticipation of his arrival.

I’ve since spread back out into the rest of my house (I needed the room).  Although he is away again (and not due to return home until later in the summer), I am not living in constant anticipation of his arrival – I can only hope that when he returns, I will see him.  But otherwise, it is out of my control.  I do not want to be alone on the anniversary day, but, then, likely I won’t be.  Metalhead is a fairly constant fixture here during the week due to those anxiety attacks and I’m sure we’ll be sitting around, as always, watching television.

True to my word, though, in an attempt to make something potentially irksome into something more tolerable, I’ve been building May into something better. I’m attempting to give myself something to look forward to despite all of the mental garbage that I could potentially fall victim to.

There is that wedding of course.  I’m not looking forward to the wedding.  But I am looking forward to my Louisville trip.  I’ll find myself zip lining through some underground caverns under the city of Louisville on the very day I get there.  I’ll get to spend time with my friends.  I may find myself at Kentucky Kingdom (the amusement park in Louisville) one of the days that weekend – this is the first year it’s been open since a ride cut a teenager’s feet off several years ago.  I’ll be so busy there that there won’t be time to feel sorry for myself.

But, as they say on the TV infomercials, “Wait, there’s more!!”

I’ve had a surprise!!

I reconnected, recently, with a very old friend (like a friend I’ve had since I was fourteen) that I call 1.0.  Or, as he described it, when he heard his own nickname for the first time, “DOS before Windows” (that’s about the measure of it).

1.0 has decided to make plans to visit Tampa, citing a need to get out of the city.  He asked which weekend in May would be good for him to do that.  My social calendar is not brimming of late, so I told him any (even that weekend for the wedding – since he could come to Kentucky instead if he was really that desperate).

A little back story on him.  After August 1997 – as in after I got raped, escaped the rapist, and found my internet connection disconnected, I needed to set up a system that would allow me to keep in touch with the people I needed to keep in touch with.  Very long story short, with the help of my friends in high school (who still have my undying gratitude), I managed to keep in touch with two:  Buttface and 1.0.  1.0 and I talked through most of my high school years (he was in college) and finally met in person during my Freshman year of college.  We dated for a few months (we never had sex) and then broke up.  I saw him two other times after that – once when I made my own pilgrimage up to New York for the first time, and the second time after I had met and was living with Mr. Ex (who was very jealous of him).  I haven’t seen 1.0 since.  And twelve years have passed.

And so, once he found out that I was okay with it, he bought the tickets.  Sent me the itinerary (I didn’t ask him to, but I appreciated it – after last year, the proof of all of this was awesome).  It was a very welcome surprise – I was so excited I almost couldn’t get through the webinars that day.  We’ll have fun.  Because we’ve always had fun when we’ve been around each other.  There are so many things I want to show him – my Alice bathroom, photos of my mother which most people never get to see, downtown Tampa and some of my favorite places, the beach at night (we’re going to smuggle some wine).

It’ll be good to catch up now that the divorce is well behind me and now that I am truly settled (or as settled as I care to be for the moment) for the first time, really, since we started talking in 1997.  We’re taking a short road trip up to Orlando to visit one of his friends as well.  And it should, really, be quite a good weekend.  It won’t be exactly the anniversary of the Botboy fiasco last year… but it’s close enough so that it gives me something to look forward to during that week instead of letting the demons get the best of me.

And so, despite the fact that May is the first anniversary of that very horrible experience, intentionally or otherwise, it’s wrapping up to be very different this year.  I’m busy taking care of my friend who needs me at the moment.  I’m hosting another one of my friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  And then I’ll wrap it up by going to Kentucky for this wedding – and seeing even more friends there.

The past is resonating… it always does… and it’s doing so especially right now in ways I won’t disclose, because I’m still sort of watching to see where all of this eventually goes without any interference from me.  But just because it resonates doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.