Is it you or the rejection?

In the last month of 2016 I did this thing. Again. I created an online dating profile and threw my hat into the ring.

It had been close to a year since I conscientiously decided that my life had no room for dating. But then things started to feel different. I was…idk. Feeling more ready to have a regular someone? Or maybe I was just a little sadder and more lonely than usual. Maybe I was trying to distract myself from the lingering uncertainty and imminent disappointment of not having gotten a fall interview for dental school. Maybe I saw a few blank days on the calendar and, knowing how poorly I still handle more than three days in a row without my kids (especially when there’s no school to occupy my time), sought to fill them. Mostly I think I just wanted connection, positive human interaction to look forward to. And I found that. For a hot minute. Just.

A couple weeks into the process I had already been on three dates. One was fun but it was pretty clear the feelings were only platonic. One was a little awkward and almost boring. The other, though, that one had potential. It lead to a second then third date. There was the right amount of texting in between with banter, sarcasm, and regular conversation. He got my slightly sarcastic and jaded, dry sense of humor. It was great and on top of that he was local and had enough life stuff of his own going on to not be boring, desperate, or overly clingy. (In retrospect that’s a little ironic.) Both personally and logistically there was promise here. That is, until a few days ago. We had talked about “doing something” Monday or Tuesday. He said he was definitely interested. That was on Friday, I think, and regular texting continued for another day or so. And then… nothing. A-fucking-gain. Dude just stops responding to texts.

I’ve only sent two. One Sunday night asking Monday or Tuesday and one Monday afternoon saying “Welp, guess not today huh”. And, yes, it’s only Tuesday but given that there were tentative plans I’m taking this as a bad sign. This isn’t the first or, sadly, even the second time I’ve been “ghosted”. Maybe I’m wrong here but I highly doubt it.

So now I’ve been properly (re)disillusioned about dating. And it sucks. Again. It dredges up the same feelings as before. Frustration, anger, and some good ol’fashioned hurt. But did I really attach that fast? And if I did what the fuck is wrong with me??? It’s been maybe a month since the chatting and then texting began and only three dates. That’s not personal investment level time even if the guy seemed like a good fit. Which makes me wonder, is it him or just the rejection that’s got me all bent up inside?

Hell, maybe it’s the post holiday let down or the recent inability to sleep or the empty house and missing the kids. Or all of the above, along with the aforementioned looming dental school disappointment. Probably all of the above.

But, seriously, again?!?!

I think there’s some effed up homing mechanism in my head, like the thing that helps birds migrate back to the exact same spot every year except mine acts as a beacon to the guys who are going to disappear. Really I should start a service where I suss out the ghosters for other women. (I could be a Ghoster detector…a Ghoster Buster!) Because if I like them and there seems to be potential, well, chances are he’s going to disappear. Maybe it’ll be a few weeks, maybe a month or three, but one day he’ll just drop off the face of the earth. Figuratively speaking of course. Unless that’s what is literally happening. There could be a Bermuda triangle of guys I started sort of dating out there somewhere. That would explain a lot…

At any rate, I’m not sure how I want to let this affect my recent spate of online dating attempts. Is this the hot pan that I pull back from quickly, thankful the burn wasn’t worse, or the cold lake that I jump into and tolerate until I’ve adapted?

 

Landmines Everywhere

Is that your leg over there on the other side if the room?

You stepped in something, didn’t even see it coming but it all just blew up. Debris everywhere.
On the surface it was a harmless (though slightly rude) comment about the state of my tub. You said “Looks like your shower could use a little bleach.” It caught me off guard; I didn’t realize right away that you had hit a trigger.
Oh but you did! Boy did you ever.

By the time you left a few hours later I was feeling slightly off about this whole thing but couldn’t pinpoint why. I thought it was because we’d seen each other three times in barely over a week. That’s kind of a lot for me, maybe I just needed some space. The next morning though I was restless, edgy & anxious. I went for a run, trying to avoid the panic that was setting in. I ran until I was out of time but it was my fastest five miles maybe ever. It’s good to know I can still out run the demons. I hadn’t realized they were still giving chase; they’ve been quiet for some time now.
It was something but not quite enough. After work I didn’t go home. I didn’t want to be alone in my head. It was still a little messy in there. Not quite okay, feeling a little off, but I couldn’t put my finger on the source of this sudden angst. So I hit the Self-destruct button. Hard. Drinks. Flirting with strangers. 3 am drunk texts to the wrong person and all that implies. It wasn’t smart. Sometimes I’m not smart. I panicked. After a slap on the ass and a “thanks for the good time..no,no don’t get up I’ll just see myself out” I walked home, tired but at least able to breath.

Why? Did I just need to prove to myself that I wasn’t cornered? Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks, like Wylie Coyote’s anvil falling from the sky: that comment, the one about the grime in my bathtub, it was all a little too familiar. You said That needs to be cleaned (and maybe it does). It might have been a simple observation but I heard “You’re not enough. You need to be better.” the same way I’d heard it for years back in another life. In the subtle digs and little bits of criticism slipped in an otherwise innocent conversation, in the undermining of everything positive that had transpired, in the blatant accusations that I was always doing something wrong and falling short just by being who I am because, well, it was never enough.

I knew there would be some murky waters and hidden dangers getting back into this whole dating with the prospect of a relationship thing. I thought I was ready for that. I’d done some scouting and prepared myself, stayed vigilant but still this one caught me off guard. Even as the body parts were flying as the explosion ripped through the ambiance I couldn’t tell what it was. Now, though, that one’s been found. It’s marked and identified. Forewarned is forearmed.

The Unavailability Clause

About a month ago I wrote a post about dating. Really, there had not been much dating going on here since January when This Guy dropped off the face of the earth (which was sort of what I was writing about then), but I had (and have) been thinking a lot about dating.

It’s almost the same thing, right? (Okay, it’s not quite the same. I know this. )

I haven’t just been thinking about dating like “Gee, I’d like to do more of that sometime soon”, I’ve been self analyzing my dating tendencies and my (albeit limited) past dating successes and failures. While there hasn’t been much of either, there is something to be learned from the experiences I’ve had. One thing I’ve noticed, as I mentioned before, is that there are certain similarities in the men I’ve gone out with. This is no surprise BUT I’m not talking about things like having dark hair and at least borderline nerdy interests. I’m talking more about similar behavioral things and interpersonal dynamics that have emerged…My pattern.

Everyone has a pattern but you’re more likely to notice other people’s patterns than your own. For example, this single friend of a friend, I look at (what I know of) her dating habits and the guys she dates. It seems like she does the same thing over and over. And, guess what, she gets the same results…over and over. She chooses these alpha male types, police officers or military guys, that type. They’re manly men with strong protective instincts who like to be in charge. This is her type, her pattern. Even though it doesn’t really go the way she wants it to she picks the same guy over and over again.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

This girl, she’s not unique. It’s a human thing. So when she would come up in conversation and some of her dating woes were mentioned I began to wonder Do I have a pattern? I definitely don’t want to repeat the relationship dynamic of my marriage. Not at all! And I’ve only just begun dating.  So far the guys I’ve chosen to date varied quite a bit in professions and personal interests and a lot of things like that but the almost-relationships that I’ve had (all two of them) followed the same pattern. Super interested, fun back and forth texting or messaging, meet, go on a few fun dates & getting to know each other, start liking, then…fade out. Or just straight up drop off into the abyss. Seriously, this has happened a few times now. So what was the similarity? What’s my pattern? Clearly you can’t make or discern a pattern with two data points so I can’t just include the guys I’ve actually been on dates with but when you look at Almost guys or Interest guys the pattern becomes clear…

My type, my repeating folly, is the unavailable asshole. I was originally going to use that as the title of this post buuut my previous post had asshole in the title too and I didn’t want to overdue it. I probably use the term asshole more liberally than your average girl (or guy). Not that I run around assholing all the time, it’s just that I really do think everyone has at least a little bit of asshole in them, some more than others. Way more. Or in different ways. So I pretty much call almost everyone and asshole but in a general way, not an angry, trying-to-insult-them way.

Apparently, based on past male interactions of interest, I like a particular brand of asshole. It’s not something I was really even aware of until recently when I was talking to my co-blogger. She asked about a guy I was involved with awhile back, as I was describing his personality, she started laughing. She said that I just described the guy I was currently having a flirtation with. That gave me pause. My perceptive friend, co-worker, and co-blogger had hinted at such a thing but I didn’t recognize it until that moment.

Turns out I like assholes….nice ones though. The ones who can be, and always are for a while, overwhelmingly nice, especially nice to me even while they’re being assholes to the other people in their lives. Funny, sarcastic, assholes. The type that will tell you straight off and with a charming smile that they are an asshole. If they have some baggage that makes them somewhat unavailable it’s a bonus. A double whammy of attraction for me. (hence my pattern guy being the Unavailable Asshole) One guy, the disappearing concert ticket guy, told me he was probably too nice for me…turns out not so much. But he read me right; I know I can be a jerk so having someone who gives it back to me a bit might be a good thing. It’s the whole Scarlett O’Hara principle: Like Marries like. Actually her father said it first. and she didn’t believe him but over the course of the story she realizes it’s true. About the same time Scarlett finally figures out that she & Rhett are alike and that’s why they belong together, he decides he’s done with her. Timing is everything.

At any rate, unavailable assholes, it’s a thing.

The unavailability clause, now that has been a little more apparent. There’s the emotionally unavailable guy with baggage that prevents him from really investing and the logistically unavailable guy…or sometimes they’re both. The first guy I went out with more than a couple times (I think it was like five, maybe six altogether) was a bit like me in his level of busyness. His days were packed and his free time was limited. Sounds familiar right? He told me on the first date that he was very into his career, worked a lot, and it had been a problem in past relationships. His work was his main interest, almost his obsession. I can understand that and it was quite an interesting career (he’s a detective and did stuff with data patterns and linking people…it really was pretty cool). And that obsessive level of involvement made him more attractive to me and…well, unavailable. Then there was the younger guy (who it never would’ve worked with anyhow…part of his appeal). We went on two & a half dates and then he dropped off. Turns out he was seeing another girl too and that took a turn for the more serious. I learned this when they were in Splitsville for a bit and he contacted me again. Hey buddy, your asshole is showing!

It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to see the appeal of the unavailable. It’s safe and I don’t have to worry about things actually working or getting serious and what I would do with that. I have some pretty strong self-preservation mechanisms, the unavailability clause is just the first layer.

So what now? After realizing this and acknowledging my pattern, what do I do with it? If I keep doing the same thing I will keep getting the same results. If nothing changes, well, nothing changes.

Even though I probably shouldn’t, I got back on an online dating site. I wasn’t really planning on it but then saw someone interesting and unhid my profile. The momentum built from there.  I’m trying to take a different approach this time though and date people I might not normally date. Nice guys. Normal guys. Available guys. So far I’ve been on one date and it was…okay. We had decent conversation but a spark was missing. I’ve been cautioned that that might be the asshole spark and, keeping that in mind, I’m giving it some time to see what happens. A second date and maybe third…well, as soon as we find a time that works for both of us; it’s looking like that might be a challenge but not because of him. Looks like I may be a bit of an unavailable asshole myself.

This is Why I Don’t Get Dates

It was a Saturday late morning or maybe right around noon, well past the time for pajamas at any rate, and I was at the grocery store. I had to run out to pick up a kid from a friend’s house in the midst of my Saturday morning homework binge for the second time that day and realized I needed milk and a couple key ingredients for a cake I was supposed to make that afternoon so I swung by the store. No big deal. As I was walking in I noticed my reflection in the store doors before they slid open and I thought to myself “Yup, this is why I don’t get dates.”

I’m not a bad looking person but my over-sized, ratty hoodie & semi-pajama pants tucked into the tops of my clunky winter boots were not doing me any favors nor was my total lack of grooming (maybe not total, I did brush my teeth before going out). It’s not that I don’t care about myself or how I look, I do (really, I do!), but I have a very low level of caring about what other people think of me. Add that to never having enough time, running (late) in five different directions regularly, and often being sleep deprived…And, yup, I’m pretty sure this is exactly why I don’t get dates.

Truthfully I do get dates when I try. The two separate times I attempted online dating I got lots of attention. Some of it was even the kind I wanted and resulted in conversations and even a few dates. For a hot minute there back in January I actually thought I had a thing going with a guy I met online, like a dating-almost-relationship thing. It was pretty cool. Even though I didn’t go into online dating looking for a relationship I liked This Guy and we hit it off really well right from the start (I’m pretty sure he liked me quite a bit too). There were a lot of regular back & forth text messaging and phone conversations, and some good dates with only funny-awkward moments  not bad-awkward moments. At one point I remember telling a friend that I was a little worried about how much I liked This Guy because surely he had a harmatia (basically a fatal flaw) and it was going to become apparent sooner or later and then I’d just be disappointed. This was the first time I saw possible future potential in a person I was interested in who was also interested in me. By long term potential I just mean the possibility of dating on the reg for an extended period of time. I’m not planning weddings or naming babies here, people. Been there, done that, got the  t-shirt   divorce to prove it. No need to go back there any time soon if ever.

But then…dating This Guy fell off into the abyss. I’m not real sure what actually happened but I’m going to go with it was him not me. I think the craziness of my life freaked him out a little.

I have five kids and a lot of responsibility. I keep myself going 90 mph until I crash…then I pick myself up and do it all over again. That’s just the way my life goes right now. Yes, I realize some of this is my choice but I’ve got a lot to get done and this is just the way I do it.

So, even though the dude said he understood that I wasn’t looking for someone to jump in and really participate in my life, I think he got overwhelmed. I say I think because he kind of just got weird after having to cancel a couple dates (due to kid issues, which I totally get and was okay with)…

and then suddenly stopped. Yup, just stopped. But only (right) after he bought concert tickets a month in advance and then invited me to go. Seriously, the last conversation I had with him was via text when he asked if I wanted to and was able to go to a concert we had been talking about. He even sent me a picture of the tickets after he bought them.

Mixed messages much?

I was a little confused for a while. Clearly This Guy didn’t want to see or even talk to me anymore, but what about the concert tickets? Was he just going to pop back up in a couple weeks and be like “Hey, babe, how about that concert?” I didn’t think so but why buy them if he was already on the way out? Also, I really did want to go to the concert with or without him. I even texted after not hearing from him for a couple weeks and asked if he wanted me to buy the tickets off him. I got nothing.

After a bit of angry & confused ranting I realized this was a good thing.

It gave me a moment to really think about why I don’t get dates. Or, rather, why I get dates but then get The Fade out Why it seems like it’s good and then it just ends. It’s happened a few times to different degrees in the oh-so-short time that I’ve been dating and I can’t help but ask What am I doing wrong here?

Here’s what I came up with:

1) My initial enthusiasm is misleading.

When I meet someone new that I’m interested in and enjoy talking to I tend to “talk” to them a lot whether that be actual conversations or back-and-forth text sessions. I’m all like “Ohhh look, New and shiny!” and I get kind of caught up in that. Also, I don’t interact with many adults on a regular basis so this person becomes my new social outlet. Maybe that’s overwhelming to people…or makes them think I’m more needy than I am. Really I just want someone to play with.

2) I lose sight of what I’m looking for.

I got married when I was 20. I was married for technically 13 years and logistically over 11. I don’t really know how to date. Yes, I’ve heard you just do it and make the rules up as you go along, but I seem to fall into something exclusive and more serious minded way faster than I mean to. Maybe it’s habit. I know married dynamics, I don’t know what casually dating looks like from the inside. I really don’t want a relationship right now, I want someone to go do fun stuff with and spend time with on a semi-regular basis but the way I act when I start seeing someone might not be saying this. I’m not sure exactly how to make that different. It takes time to re-learn long term learned behavior I guess.

3) I really don’t have time. 

On maybe the second date I went on with This Guy we were having a casual conversation about our respective limited post-divorce dating experiences. I mentioned that my lack time and availability was an issue in my previous attempts at dating. he immediately assured me that it wouldn’t be with him. Like me, he had gotten used to being alone, had other stuff (parenting, work, etc) going on, and enjoyed a certain amount of personal space so not being able to spend copious amounts of time together wasn’t a problem. A few more dates into it when things were starting to get a little more physical he made the comment that he didn’t want this to become just a physical thing and could see that happening due to the time thing. I think not having as much time or flexibility with my time made it weirdly intense way too soon which then makes it seem more serious than it should.

4) I date the wrong guy…over and over.
Every person dating, whether just casually or with hopes of finding “the one”, has a pattern that they tend to repeat. I’ve just realized what mine might be and can see how I really have been perpetuating it.
I’m not going to go into more detail than that right now because this is deserving of it’s own blog post methinks. Suffice it to say, I date the wrong guy…on purpose. It’s safe and familiar. But obviously it doesn’t work. I may need to convince myself that I do want something that can work.

So now that I see some of the things that might be standing in the way of dating success (whatever that means), what am I going to do about it?
Well, I’m going to take the lessons I’ve learned and try again armed with a little more self-awareness this time. …once this semester is done. I really am way too busy for any dating right now!

Oh and, in case you were wondering, I ended up getting my own concert tickets and going with my co-blogger (She blogged about it too). And I didn’t see This Guy there. Not that I was really looking. I just scanned,really, and it was a smaller venue. Pretty sure I would’ve seen him if he was there. Who wastes perfectly good concert tickets like that? Jeez!


The Downside of Hope

My dad used to say “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
He’s a retired dentist, my dad, and he used that saying a lot with his patients. When there was a filling that was deeper than it looked on the x-ray to the point that it might need a crown, he would sit the patient up and explain the situation showing them the x-ray and pointing out the cavity and what made doing a filling iffy.
“We can do the filling today but it might end up needing a crown. I have to tell you about the possibility but we can hope for the best. Let’s hope for the best and be prepared for the worst…just in case.”
He was willing to give the filling, a much cheaper and less extensive procedure, a chance to work before doing a crown unless ,of course, they just wanted to go ahead and do the crown. Most dentists would just do the crown. My dad hoped. It’s one of the reasons so many of his patients loved him.
We had this one guy who was terrified of coming to the dentist even just for a cleaning. One time he fled the office right before his appointment, just bolted. After a bit the guy got to the point where he’d stay but he was always pretty nervous. He used to say that when people asked him what dentist he went to he would lie because he didn’t want my dad getting so busy that it’d be difficult to get in to see him.

When I was nineteen I went to work for my dad. I had just had a baby and he needed open heart surgery which meant I had to keep the same insurance through that whole process. Pre-existing conditions were an issue with changing insurances fifteen years ago. I was paying for the insurance since I had stopped working at the job I had when my son was born that provided it. I didn’t really know about things like Medicaid and Government assistance so I moved back “home” and started working in my dad’s office. This was a less than ideal situation for both me and my parents; there was a bit of resentment about the whole teenage pregnancy thing.
Up until that point I didn’t like my dad very much. I was the classic stubborn, rebellious, independent teenage and he the very strict, conservative father.
That never goes very smoothly.
It wasn’t until I begrudgingly went to work for my dad that I saw him as a person and not just a parent.
Working with my dad and seeing how much his patients valued and appreciated him made me respect my dad as a person. It was an unexpected benefit of the job. Many of the lessons I learned through working with my dad have stayed with me over the years. The whole “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” philosophy is just one of them.
But the point of this isn’t to brag up my dad or tell tales of my teenage years, really it’s about dating.
Maybe it’s a little weird that I started a post about dating with a story about my dad but I promise this is not going to be about “Daddy issues”.
I repeat, there are no Daddy Issues here.
Just wanted to make that clear.

It’s been about three months since my first real, actual, bona fide post divorce date. This is my first foray into the world of adult dating. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it all wrong. Is there even a right way to do this? But I am learning a lot, about people and about myself.
I don’t really consider myself a cynic, though I’m pretty sure things come out sounding a little cynical once in a while. (At this point my co-blogger is probably thinking A little?? Once in a while?? )
I prefer to call myself a realist, especially when it comes to people. You have to deal with people as they are, not as you think they should be or as you really, really want them to be.
People are who they are (I wrote a whole post about this a while back) and they are going to be who they are. No matter how much you hope for a person or a situation to change it’s not going to. It’s just not…unless something about it changes. People don’t change unless they want to change and even then it’s hard. Being realistic about this makes for less disappointment in life.
I know this.
But sometimes I act like I don’t and think and behave like people will be different.
Dating has been one of those situations.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not deluding myself into thinking that I’ll find my “soul mate” (I think the concept of a soul mate is pretty much bullshit) or that some knight in shining armor is going to come sweep me off my feet and take care of all my problems so we can gallop off into a rosy sunset and live “happily ever after” (another concept that I think is bullshit…happily ever after sounds pretty boring anyhow).
No, I know that that’s just not reality; it’s a common misconception based on the lies that Hollywood and Disney have conspired to sell us in a mostly successful attempt to keep us unhappy with our “normal” lives so we’ll buy the shit they’re selling.

I recently found myself getting upset because people behaved exactly how they told me they would. People will show you or even tell you who they are. Believe them. I know, I know you think they’ll be different because the situation is different. Because you are different.
They won’t and it’s probably not even if you are which, face it, chances are you’re not. We all have a tendency to recreate the same situation over and over again. I’m trying really hard to be aware of this and avoid some of the situations I’ve been in as far as relationships go.
There have been some not so fun ones and I don’t want to do that again…ever.

Originally I was going to title this post “But What if he Doesn’t Call?”
See there was this guy I had (have? I’m not really sure at this point) been seeing. It was a fun little thing; I liked him (thus far) and was pretty sure he liked me (since he said so) and we were enjoying each others company. Of course, I’ve got a lot of demands on my time and so did he so we weren’t actually seeing that much of each other but, really, that was okay.
This guy, he did this weird thing though.
He called me…regularly… like on the phone.
Yeah, apparently that little text machine I carry around in my pocket is good for talking on too.
Who knew?
At first I thought “Huh. This is interesting.” but then I got used to it and kind of liked talking to someone who actually wanted to have a conversation with me on a regular basis. It was pretty cool.
And then it stopped.
Okay, maybe not stopped but became significantly less frequent. We played phone tag for a few days which was followed by a couple real short conversations. There were a few “I’ll call you later”s that didn’t happen. That’s just irritating.
There was a little bit of a shift in the dynamic somewhere in there. I was calling him (or texting things like “Call me when you get a chance.”) more and more. It seemed like he was “getting the chance” less and less.
I started to wonder if I was pestering him. Wait, isn’t the guy I’m seeing supposed to be interested in talking to me too? What’s going on here?
So I decided it was time to give it a rest and let him come to me so to speak.

This is where hope comes in.
I really hoped that he would call me. It was constantly on my mind, obnoxiously so.
I am NOT one of those girls who obsesses over whether a boy will call or not. I’m not! As I let time pass and waited for this guy to call me I realized I had to prepare myself for the possibility that he wouldn’t.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. It’s pretty difficult, even for a realist like me, to be mentally prepared to essentially be rejected.

And there it is, the downside of hope.
Disappointment. Rejection. Possible pain.
Is it worth it if that’s the possible outcome?
That is the question.