The Universe Has My Back, Right?

 
Manifesting a soul mate and the role of the Universe in the process.

Today, I want to dive into a lesson the Universe delivered to me ever-so-kindly the past month.

Let’s step back in time to the end of June (and even before that). I’m mid-way through a massive two-week juice cleanse and have just stumbled into some serious emotional detox. Like, oh man, this fucking sucks type of emotional detox. Sitting on the couch at my therapist’s office, I take off my glasses (so they don’t get those dreaded speckles from tears that are hard as shit to get off).

“So, I guess during all of this cleanse, I realized I tuck away my fear of being single,” I confess. “Like, the only time it ever comes out is when I drink and that’s a big reason I don’t drink anymore. I’m happy 99 percent of the time, but then that little annoying one percent just hammers me when I let it.”

May and Dating

We dissect the past brief “relationship” I had. I put it in quotes, because I met a guy and we dated. And by date, we met on a Friday night, and then went out every night but one, our last date being the following Tuesday.

I realized he was nowhere near where he needed to be in his healing process with his ex, and I wasn’t interested in being the guinea pig for it, and also, we just weren’t a match.

But, I clung to it … because he liked me and I convinced myself to like him. Only, the convincing I did was courtesy of whisky, beer and wine, since that makes it easier to fake feelings … to feel how you think you’re supposed to feel and also to ignore those red flags (ex-wife he still lived with, not in tune with our goals, etc.) because damnitIwanttofindsomeoneamazingandwhileheisntitmaybehecouldbe … right?

Fucking wrong wrong wrong.

“Diana,” my therapist says, “fear makes us do things we normally wouldn’t do.”

I chortle.

“How do I ignore it then?”

“You have to be in tune with yourself. And, you have to know that the right man for you is on his way.”

In tune with myself. Isn’t that what I’ve been working on for the past year?

But, I know what she means. It’s those red flags. Because if those weren’t there, I would have worked to make that relationship blossom. Unlike in the past, when I would have kept on until my partner (no matter how ill-fitting) would walk, this time, I lasted four dates. And I acknowledged the red flags … and made excuses/justified them.

So, I was kinda sorta but not really there.

“You’ve got to make space for the right person,” she states. “Go home and clean out some space in your drawers. Buy an extra toothbrush. Open your house to love.”

I sigh.

“Imagine what it feels like to be with the right person,” she continues. “Repeat ‘I am ready for him.’ It will happen, you have to put it out there.”

“Alright, I’ll do it.”

After therapy, I head to Ikea to  shop for cool shit  make space for this man I am going to manifest. I buy organizers for my bathroom counter, red candles for my bath tub (she said to have red items in my house because that is the color of love). I go to the grocery store to buy a tooth brush and cleaning supplies.

That night, I clean my bathroom and make space on the counter, placing the unopened toothbrush in one of the organizers.

I go through my clothes, creating a giveaway pile and emptying areas in drawers. I adjust my closet so there is space for my future love’s hangers.

Once it’s all done, I light those red candles next to the tub and draw a bath. Sinking into the lavender-oiled water, I lean my head back against the rim of the tub, placing my feet on the faucet.

I close my eyes and imagine being in love. I feel the feelings. I walk through my day in behind closed eyes, letting myself envision what it feels like to be in love and to be in a real, caring relationship.

After my bath, I do a little dating app exploration, and nearly every man I swipe right on is a match and from Las Vegas (a rarity). The following day, I give my number to one of said matches. He’s cute and witty, but when I tell him I’m on a juice cleanse at the beginning of our text conversation, his response is “I’ve got some juice for you.”

Wait. What. Also, seriously?

Where Old Diana would have let that slide, Fear Aware Diana doesn’t.

“Pretty forward for someone you just messaged, eh?”

“LOL it was funny.”

Or, it wasn’t and it wasn’t the way I wanted to be flirted with by someone I didn’t know and doesn’t know me.

So, I took a deep breath. Blocked. Deleted. Next.

July and Dating

Right on call, the next day the Universe delivers someone to me.

He’s a “semi-local,” 45 years old, seemingly normal guy. We talk on the phone and hit it off, so despite being on a juice cleanse, I agree to meet him for “dinner” that night.

As I watch him clean his Cracker Barrel plate, he fires questions at me, and we learn about each other over a longer than normal dinner date.

I sit there, thinking of the space I’ve made as he tells me I’m beautiful and funny and all the things I want to hear.

When he takes me home that night and kisses me goodbye, I don’t fight it.

It feels right.

We make plans for two nights later, right before I’m due to head out of town. Again, we go to a long dinner where I drink water. This time, our conversation goes a little deeper.

“Why are you single?” He asks me, holding my hand.

Wouldn’t I fucking like to know.

“I think I’m a lot for most men my age,” I offer. “I have my shit together. I’m super independent. I’m driven. I’m me and I don’t make any apologies. I think that really intimidates a lot of potential matches.”

“You are a lot,” he says, rubbing his thumb on my hand. “But, then again, so am I. I think you’re incredible. Beautiful. I like holding your hand. Is it OK if I keep doing it?”

I sink. This man is saying all the right things, and he continues to do so.

We end the night at my place, where he endears himself to me even more by playing with my cats for a good 15 minutes. I keep the night PG because I’ve learned by now that I want something serious and getting too hot and heavy too quickly means those flames also burn out really fast.

Cuddled on the couch, he lazily traces his finger up and down my arm.

“You deserve to be loved. You deserve someone incredible. If it’s not me who gets you, the person who does is going to be so lucky.”

He spouts magic word after magic word, knowing exactly what to say to rope me in, praying on my desire to manifest my match. I’ve wanted someone to say that to me … forever. And, now, here we are. And, just wow.

You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. You’re perfect. I feel like I’ve known you forever. This is so wonderful. 

Even for a woman with confidence like I have, to hear those words come out of another’s mouth fills me up with hope, desire, an idea that despite initial thoughts (he’s super short and scrawny, and I always imagined I’d be with someone who’d make me feel secure and safe), I overlook them because no man has ever said those words to me and they make me feel so damn good.

Maybe he is saying them to me and he’s never said them to anyone else before. Maybe he really believes what he is saying. Or, maybe he says it to everyone. It doesn’t matter. I’m. In.

Before the night is over, it’s been established I’m going to meet him in LA in two weeks. We part ways and continue our “relationship” over text.

As I sit on the runway 36 hours later, I get a text from him saying: “Is it weird to kinda miss you?”

Butterflies.

Fast. Furious.

A few days later, I remember that he has a free ticket to Universal Studios, and I really want to see him and he makes it seem like he really wants to see me.

“What would you say if I came out for the day to go with you to Universal”? I write.

He responds enthusiastically, telling me it will be a blast.

Ultimately, I book the ticket and the days leading up to our reunion, I get countdown texts.

When I arrive to LAX, he greets me at the bottom of the escalator at baggage claim, my name written in Thai.

Jesus, how did I ever end up so lucky? I put it out into the Universe I was ready, I made space, and there this man landed on cue.

Then, the red flags start.

When I get in his car at the airport, he hands me a Visa gift card.

I hold it in my hand and look at it.

Was he helping to cover the cost of my adventure?

“Don’t get excited,” he says. “There’s nothing on it.”

“OK …”

“You’re on Southwest. You can use this and order whatever you like. They don’t run reports until after the flight is over, so by the time they run it, you’re gone.”

Oh mannnnnnn. My stomach sinks.

“Oh,” I say, at a loss for words. I blink and look outside as we drive through Hollywood. “I appreciate it, but I won’t use it. I think it’s bad karma.”

“Not for me, it’s not,” he says. “I don’t have any bad karma.”

He also confesses grabbing discarded airplane tickets and using the tickets to bulk up his frequent flier account.

“It’s OK because it doesn’t take away from anyone else,” he promises.

I ignore all of it and instead focus on his hand on my knee and how nice it feels to have someone make me feel so special.

We spend the day holding hands, hugging, kissing, going on rides and having a wonderful time. Even when I’m back at LAX after a super romantic theme park adventure and my best friend asks me how the date was, I tell her there were some things I wasn’t OK with, but not red flags. He’s really cheap, I joke. But, not really joking.

“Best dates 3-5 ever,” he writes that night. “Can’t wait to see you next week.”

Fear and Choices

Then, the next afternoon, he becomes cold and distant. I feel the shift in the pit of my stomach as his Xs and Os disappear and his response times go from a minute to a day.

Yet, I continue to gush, thinking of all of the wonderful things he has said to me to hook me, ignoring the things which bother me.

“They’re behaviors that can change,” my friend explains to me over dinner.

“Yeah,” I say, stirring my ramen, “I hope so, because I don’t know how I feel about some of that stuff he does. It makes my stomach sink.”

We go two days without talking and then on Monday, I go to look at our old conversation from the dating app, and he’s edited it since the day before when I showed someone his profile, changing his text about being in Las Vegas.

“He has a penis,” my friend justifies to me when I tell her what I saw.

“Yeah, but also, he was so all about me and telling me how wonderful I was and beautiful and perfect, and all of the sudden, that stopped and he hasn’t responded to my message today, but had time to change his dating profile? What the fuck?”

I feel betrayed. Like the words he spouted meant nothing. Did they mean anything? Haven’t we reached a point in our mid-to-late mid-life that we can simply be open and honest and not pussyfoot around important conversations like “hey, I liked you and now I don’t, maybe it’s not a match after all?”

I hear from him half a day later, right before I go to bed, and he apologizes, saying he fell asleep. For seven hours.

“I’m not going to LA this weekend,” I tell another friend. “He’s going to cancel.”

Never do I admit I should cancel, that is isn’t working, that I’m not ok with his sudden change in behavior because, man, I love the way I feel when I’m around him.

I book a session with my therapist the next day after prompting from my mom, who I call and tell her what’s happened.

“Literally, nothing changed. It was all ‘you’re amazing, I can’t wait to see you,’ and then it was silence,” I say, trying to make sense.

And then, she points out my red flags.

“Those aren’t things you liked,” she says, “But you ignored them.”

“Yeah, I did, because I like him and I want to give him a chance.”

“Or, because he liked you and you liked what he said to you.”

Fuck. Hello, Fear. You fucking asshole

“Well, tomorrow will be a good session,” I offer.

As I sit in the waiting room for my therapist the late afternoon of the next day, he calls me.

“I’ve had a shitty day,” he begins. I feel my stomach tense up. I know what’s coming. “I think I’m getting sick. I don’t know for sure, but I think there’s something coming.” Fake cough

“Yeah, ok,” I say because I already knew this was going to happen. I don’t feel sad, I feel angry. Furious that I’m being lied to and he thinks he is getting away with it. Thinks that I am an idiot.

“I’m really sorry, I mean, I don’t know if I am sick, maybe I’m not, but just in case, I don’t want to leave you hanging or have to cancel your plans or not have a Plan B.”

“Oh, I have no intention of canceling my plans, I’m going to be with friends, and I have a Plan B.”

“OK, good. I really want to see you, I just don’t know if I’m going to be sick or not, so let me see how I feel tonight and call you tomorrow and if I don’t have a fever, it’s cool.”

And, it’s Tuesday. LA is Friday. And, I’m in town until Monday. But, hey, when you’re lying, I suppose it can make sense.

“Yup, ok, I hope you feel better. Eat some garlic and drink some tea.”

“Oh yeah, right, I will,” and then, “I hope I can see you. Will talk to you later, cutie.”

I shudder, disgusted in the time and space I’ve given him.

Why? Just why?

So, over therapy, we dissect the relationship. I report to my therapist what I’ve learned about his life, who he is, what he’s said to me, how he has treated me. And, my feelings about his behaviors that don’t sit right with me i.e. the total lack of integrity.

“OK, so, let’s go back to the other guy,” she says, referencing the man with the ex who still lived with him. “You knew it wasn’t right but you didn’t walk away immediately. But, you did walk away.”

I nod.

“This stuff with this guy, it’s the same. You know it isn’t right, but you didn’t walk away. It’s never going to sit right with you. Why didn’t you walk away.”

“Because he made me feel really good about myself,” I say. And, then I get really mad. I start to feel like prey. Like, there’s this piece of me that he knew wanted to be loved and cherished and he saw it when others haven’t, and dangled words and affection in my face until he found his next person. And, that there was something in me that still needed that fucking validation that I thought had vanished ages ago.

“Oh, and yeah, fear.” I finally admit. “I knew and I ignored it because I wanted it to work.”

“But, you see he’s not right for you and you ignore it, even now, when he is pulling this with you, you see it, you acknowledge it and instead of walking away, you wait for him to make a decision about what happens next.”

I hug the pillow. “Yeah,” I mumble. “So, how do I change that?”

“Choose you.”

“I don’t know how to say that.”

“Yes, you do. Tell him you choose you. Take control of your life and make a decision for the two of you.”

“I did all this work, I put it out into the Universe, he came along. I thought it was him,” I say, frustrated.

“The Universe gave you him, and you know why? Because you need to learn how to choose you. How to listen to your gut instinct and not ignore it. How to acknowledge when something isn’t right and walk away. That you don’t need someone else to tell you how wonderful you are, that you need to believe it yourself. You’ve got to learn these lessons because they will bring you to the right person, and that’s what the Universe is telling you.”

Well, damn. She’s right.

I get in my car and call him. I can feel the tension pulse through my body as I take a deep breath before diving in.

“I know you’re sick and I’m sorry,” I begin. “But, it made me think a lot about us and I choose to be with someone who has space in their life for me, who wants to spend time with me, and I don’t think that’s you.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same thing,” he says. “It sucks because I like you and I’d like it to turn into something, but yeah, the distance isn’t going to work.”

I leave out the original statements he had made to me when he told me that he isn’t really semi-local and is only here on occasion, but it’s ok because he’s dated women here before and it can totally work.

The conversation continues for a minute or two as he over explains why it won’t work.

Then, he says: “Well, I mean, we can still hang out Friday, just maybe you don’t spend the night because that might be a little uncomfortable.”

Oh, but you’re sick.

“No, I don’t want to see you, this isn’t going to work.”

The words come out of my mouth and suddenly, I feel empowered. In control. I choose to walk away, even from a fleeting feeling of good.  I’m not overlooking the things I was willing to overlook so you can play on my fears.

It’s something I haven’t really done before but holy shit, I just did.

“Well, I guess I will talk to you soon,” he offers.

“I hope you don’t get too sick this week,” I say sweetly, then it’s over.

Tomorrow, I’m going to LA because why would I not go to LA? As the Universe would have it, there’s actually a vegan market in town this weekend. Which I’m going to because obviously there’s a reason I moved my schedule around in the first place.

And, as the Universe would have it, this week has made me hyper aware of my boundaries and truly listening to my gut. This fear vs. gut is a new thing for me, and it’s going to take some getting used to listening my gut, truly listening, but it’s all part of the process.

Because, as Gabby Bernstein promises, the Universe does indeed have my back.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Kevin Dooley
Diary The Dating Life
What guys should -- and should not do -- on online dating apps.

The Not So Definitive Guide for Men to Creating Dating App Profiles

What guys should -- and should not do -- on online dating apps.
Oh, dating in the app age. Remember a few short years ago — you know — the good ol’ early 2010s when you’d plunk down cash/card and go through the exhausting getting to know you questions on eHarmony? Or, the mindless browsing of profiles on Match?

Gone are those days.

Er, well, not gone, but definitely not as prevalent as the new kids on the block like Tinder and Bumble.

After a year of swiping, I’ve noticed a few things I’d like to share with the male population: some tips to make me actually want to swipe right. And, once you’re there, how not to blow it. And, I don’t mean the sexual way. I mean the you-have-nothing-to-say-way or the pen-pals-for-life way.

So, let’s start at the start.

Your Profile

Gentlemen, first, you need to establish why you are on the app and what you are looking for. There tend to be three types of men on the dating apps:

  • Those looking to get laid
  • Those not specifically looking for an actual relationship for any number of reason (i.e. they’re picky, just got out of a relationship, etc) but won’t be opposed to it if they meet a great girl, but will also likely to be looking to get laid initially as well
  • Those looking for an honest-to-goodness longterm relationship

Men. If you’re the latter, let’s examine your profile.

(Note: There’s also a fourth kind of man on the apps, those looking for a plus-one in their romantic relationship. But since that is a less mainstream and more specific polyamorous type, we’ll stick with one-on-one dating lessons.)

What Photos Not to Post on Dating Apps

Now, as a 37-year-old woman who has dated my fair share since moving back from the dating wasteland of Thailand, when I look at your profile, I will swipe left 99 percent of the time if you have any of the following photos:

  • Shirtless  (if you’re not at a beach or pool and, you know, being casual, not flexing your guns for the camera) – personally, I’d rather wait to take off your shirt myself than see in a profile. Also, it makes me wonder why you feel that your shirtless selfie (or shirtless bathroom selfie — even worse.) is necessary when someone is deciding whether or not to drop you a line initially. If you’re proud of your body, awesome. Love it. Confidence is rad. Write about how you like to workout. Or, even better, don’t because it seems every. single. man. writes about how he likes to workout and stay fit.
  • Petting a tiger/riding an elephant – first off, I’m super against both of those things, as are many other women. And also, again, every. single. man. posts photos of himself with a drugged tiger or cub or exploiting animals. Let’s leave ethics out of this convo and ask some simple questions: Do you want to be cliché? Do you want to fall in line with every other guy, or stand out? It’s awesome that you like to travel. Write about it. Or, again, don’t because – I’m not exaggerating – all the men like to travel. I’ve never read a blurb from a guy that says “traveling sucks. I never want to leave my backyard.”
  • Holding a fish. Or dead animal. Again, you’re looking for a female right? Most girls do not want to see that shit, not now, not if they’re married to you 20 years. As someone who loves all the living things, nope. Swipe. We get that you are outdoorsy, but I don’t want to see some dead fish in your hands or you proudly holding up the a deer you killed by the antlers. Unless the woman likes fishing or hunting, it’s more cliche than anything else.
  • Triathlon/marathon/scaling the world’s tallest peak. One of these is fine. Your entire portfolio of images composed of your athletic feats is 1. overkill; 2. intimidating. I love someone who is athletic, and I’m sure other women do, too. But, just pick your best shot. One. Photo. And if you only prefer women on a similar athletic plane, make that known in your bio.
  • Selfies in a bathroom mirror. (FYI — 99 percent of my single girlfriends report this gets an immediate left swipe.) Come on. Someone can take a photo of you at some point in your life when you look good. Let them take it. Also, we judge the cleanliness of your bathroom.
  • Pics of you with kids. If you have a kid, I’m going to go with the opinion of don’t share it (or at least blur out the little one’s face). There are creepers on the internets and apps. You never know who is looking. Also, I get posting pics of you with your niece/nephew/friend’s kid to show you like kids. But, you can always tell us you like kids versus stealing one for a photo shoot and then adding a disclaimer: child is not mine.
  • Filtered pics. If you are going to filter or photoshop your photos, do it so we don’t know. I’ve seen so many photos where the filtering/tweaking is just bananas. Also, snapchat filters for your profile pics? Nope. Ladies – if you’re reading this – same goes for you.
  • You partying excessively. One pic with a beer is fine. Six photos where you are downing shots, beer, wine, whatever … it starts to look like the only thing you are serious about is partying. And, if that’s the case, I hope your profile states that versus looking to settle down. I’m 37. I like to go out and drink. On occasion. But, every photo of boozing makes those warning bells go off.
  • You with a bunch of hot women (hey, it’s a thing on these Vegas profiles). We are women. If we see you surrounded by a bevy of beauties, it leads us to draw a few unsavory conclusions: 1. You are a player. 2. You expect to date a super model. 3. You’re a player. 4. You want lots of easy sex with lots of “10s” and probably have no soul.
  • You in bed. Immediately, I wonder who you sent that photo to before you were on a dating app. Also, it looks creepy and lazy. Two things which shouldn’t go together for a first impression.
  • You 10 years ago. Um, catfish anyone?

What Photos to Post on a Dating App

And now for what photos will get women to swipe right:

  • Smiling photos that aren’t selfies in a car while you’re driving
  • Smiling photos that aren’t selfies of you doing something you love (that isn’t showing off your deadliest catch or latest kill or exploiting an animal)
  • Photos of you with cats or dogs. Because cats, dogs and men together are so cute.
  • Photos of you with friends (but not every photo. We want to see you on your own, too. And know who you are in the group.)
  • A full-length photo
  • If you like to travel, a photo of you traveling
  • Photos that are recent. Like, really recent. If you have to write that you no longer have a beard, etc. how about just uploading a photo with you sans beard?
  • Photos that really show your personality. You’ve got 100 or so words and a handful of pics. Choose wisely.

What Not to Put on Your Profile

The worst thing you can do is leave you profile blank. To me all women, it shows that you’re not serious in meeting someone. It also shows that you’re maybe a little bit lazy. Swipe. Left.

Typical profiles I see go like this:

I like adventure, work out and stay fit, love to travel, work hard, play harder, whisky, dogs, 6’2. We can tell everyone we met at a Whole Foods. (Note: what women request height? I’m sure some do, but I don’t know any who claim height is a deal breaker. I’ve never asked. In fact, some of the greatest men I have dated have been shorter than I expected, but it didn’t matter because they were so rad, it was all good.)

Stand out and skip mentioning things in your bio that everyone loves. These include: “having fun, traveling, hanging out with friends, my pet, good food, good drinks, good conversation, loving life,” etc., etc. So you like fun and traveling and friends? Groundbreaking? Nope. Does it make you blend in with 1,000 other swipes? Yep.

Or just:

Vegas local.

Simply writing where you are from gives us ladies nothing to go on. I automatically assume if you write that, then you’re looking for a little fling and that’s it.

Or:

“Best guy ever.” — New York Times

“Hot and funny.” — LA Times

“A keeper.” My mom.

 

The quotes? The first time I saw it, I thought it was cute and original. The. First. Time.

What to Put on Your Dating App Profile

First off — what do you want out to get out of the dating app? A relationship? A hookup? A new friend?

Save us time and spell it out. There’s nothing worse than getting into a convo with someone who seems awesome and then having them bust out with peaches and eggplants.

The guys who are honest and disclose they only want hook-ups — thank you. Really. Thank you. Because I know you’re not for me. You’re for someone. Just not me.

I know there are only 100 or so words on Bumble and you can do a bit more on Tinder, so break it down to this:

  • Where do you live? In Vegas, we get so many tourists, I never know who is here full-time or just breezing through
  • What do you want?
  • What makes you cool?
  • What do you like to do?

An example of a dope profile I’d swipe right on:

Las Vegas local who gives a shit about animals, seeing new places and hitting lesser known locales. Digs whisky, foreign cities with character, and good vibes. Loves veggies, wine and looking for a long-term partner-in-crime. Not allergic to cats.

I mean, that’s the guy I’m looking for (so, if it’s you, holler).

Communicating in App

Now, for the communicating. With Bumble, it’s ladies who take the lead. So, depending on how creative we get, it’s up to you to continue the convo. Responding and not leading to another question likely results in the end of the chat. I assume that if we match on one of these apps, you actually want to talk to me. Therefore, let’s talk.

On Tinder or other swiping apps, if you message first, please please please don’t start with any of the following:

“You’re hot.”

“Hi sexy.”

“Hey/Hi/Yo.”

Engage. It’s the best way to get a woman interested. If someone messages me that without anything else, I don’t respond. Because, why? Dating is a dance. And that first impression via messaging is important.

Take a minute and read her profile. Determine a question that shows you read her profile and ask. Then, start the convo. The best convos span a little, dig a little and then lead to asking for a number and, ultimately, asking the woman out.

What guys should -- and should not do -- on online dating apps.

Also, if it’s clear from a profile that you aren’t what the woman is looking for, stop right there. For reals.

Pen pals are fun. If we are actually getting letters in the mail that are handwritten. Pen pals on dating apps are a waste of time. If you have no interest in asking a woman out, then there’s no point in continuing a conversation. Let it go.

Not interested? Get back together with your ex? Meet someone else? Please don’t ghost. It’s so damn rude if you are mid-convo. Instead, a simple: “Hey, you’re rad and all, but I think right now isn’t the best time for us to continue getting to know each other.”

End. Of. Story.

If you reach out to a woman and she doesn’t respond immediately, don’t follow-up to check on her. Give it a day or two or three. And, if she still doesn’t respond, definitely don’t message her and be all “hey, are you not interested or what?” Starting to send numerous unanswered messages is your kiss of death. Promise. Chill out. Let it be. If she’s into you, or interested, she will respond.

Sometimes, we get a little swipe happy and may swipe on someone we didn’t think was a match. It’s not a rule to respond to every person who messages, just like you don’t have to respond to every message you get. I get the hint. You get the hint. Hopefully, others get the hint, too.

Go forth, into the wild west of dating apps where no rules apply, but really, they should. And men, please let us know what you like/don’t like on dating apps, too!

Title photo via Flickr Creative Commons: NASA GSFC

Featured Perspectives The Dating Life

A penis does not equal desire

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Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Christina

Tonight, I would like to write a PSA of sorts to the men. Actually, not men. If I actually had a desired audience for this evening’s rant (and it sure is a fucking rant), me thinks the actual audience would be boys, because only boys would have this juvenile thinking of “penis = girls want me.”

Take a step back in time with me, if you will. To about two hours ago. Beth — my American friend who is hot, awesome and takes shit from no one — and I are sitting at my new favorite pizza place in London, Franco Manca (trust me, sour dough crust, numerous locations across town, it’s the best and cheap!!!) as we finish off our bottle of red wine.

“You want to go out for a bit?” I ask, feeling like at 7 p.m., with an upcoming trip to Madrid, it is far too early to call it a night and head back home.

“Sure,” she agrees, polishing off the glass. We pay our check and then begin to walk out of Brixton Village (my favorite spot for cheap eats and awesomeness).

Wandering along the main road in the cold, we finally pop into Prince Albert (don’t laugh) and place ourselves in front of the taps in the dimly lit — nearly empty — bar.

“Look at those guys,” she says, gesturing to a table of four just outside of the bar. The table — all men — are clad in animal onesies.

We both look and giggle. I mean … why on earth does anyone go to the bar clad in a onesie unless they want attention in the first place? You certainly don’t go wearing a lemur costume to blend in.

“I’m going to ask them why they’re in costume,” I say, grabbing my cider, because why the fuck not? “You cool with that?”

She agrees and we walk up to the guys.

“Onesies?” I ask. “Why?”

Guy 1  — the only one not wearing an outfit — launches into it being Australia Day tomorrow and his friends — all Irish and in town from Dublin — wanting to celebrate.

For a few minutes, we laugh about their costumes and then he invites us to sit.

I feel like at this point I need to better set the stage. Beth and I are out randomly. I’m wearing a plaid shirt, ripped jeans, my hair in a ponytail and no makeup. She’s wearing a camo sweatshirt and makeup-free face and hair back, too. We are most certainly not out to get laid. Or even meet men. Shit, we just stuffed our faces with pizza and wine.

“You want to sit?” Non-Dressed-Up-Guy asks.

Why not?

So, we scoot into the wooden booth and start chatting with the guys. They are from Dublin, flew here on super cheap flights, and were out and about tonight with others. They play guessing games as to where she and I are from. We chat about random bullshit.

Then, when a few of the guys get up and it is just Beth, myself and a physicist, he breaks it down for me:

“We are all engaged or otherwise taken,” he informs us, solemnly, hands wrapped around his beer and looking me dead in the eyes.

Wait. What?

I look at him, completely shocked by this information.

“And you are telling me this because …”

I look over to Beth who blinks and glares at him.

“Well, because you should know. In case you’re trying to pull one of us …” (ohmygod, so British.)

I look back to the guy, with thinning red hair and a thin beard.

“Wait,” I say, formulating my thoughts. “Did you think either of us were trying to hit on you?”

He smiles.

“What?” I ask again, taking in this information he has decided is pertinent information in our lives.  I look back over our conversation. There is nothing that would have ever even given him the slightest hint we would have been even trying to hit on him or his onesie-wearing friends.

“Was it my foot that rubbed up against your leg and into your crotch that gave it away?” I ask (note: I did nothing of the sort. In fact, I had not even touched him, batted my eyelashes or undone the top button of my button down shirt), disgusted that by us simply accepting his friend’s invite to sit with them that it automatically means the following:

1. We find them attractive.

2. We are interested in them.

3. We have done anything, other than be friendly, that would justify his statement.

He stares. Clearly caught off guard, knowing there was nothing blatant at all about our interactions that would have led him to make any sort of statement about his relationship status.

Meanwhile, his friend, dressed as Red Riding Hood laughs. “Ooh, I like her,” she giggles.

“Really?” I ask again. “What made you think we would be hitting on you? You are wearing costumes to a bar, we asked you about it, you all invited us to sit down. At what point did we ever give you the idea that we were interested in you?”

He laughs it off and then begins to droll on about this Web site (because at this point he knows both Beth and I have sites) and asks for advice.

But, Beth and I are done.

Since when does sitting with someone mean we want to fuck them? Since when does friendly equal attraction? Since when does simply sharing a conversation mean we want to have illicit relations? And since when do men feel it is vital to tell women they are otherwise occupied without the slightest hint of interest?

Mind. Boggled.

We excuse ourselves from the table and sit on our own, free from judgement because we are friendly. Is it just an American thing to talk to people? Or does going up to the opposite sex in a public place automatically mean we are interested?

And, what on earth makes any guy think we are interested in them unless we actually make it a point to communicate that (read: “Hey, you, cutie, I dig you. Let’s have a beer, flirt, be all touchy and then go home together? Okkkk?”)?

I think back to the past month I’ve had in London and my interactions with men. Is that how it is here? Being friendly = “I want to fuck you”? Engaging in fun conversation and hanging out means “I am in love with you and want to be in a serious relationship”?

I shudder at even the thought.

Boys, get over yourselves. This is 2015. And last I checked, not every girl wants to fuck every boy. Some of us are actually capable of just being friendly gals. If you so happen to be so caught up in your own bullshit and can’t see that, shame.

By the way, have I mentioned lately how much I don’t like dating??? Man.

(And, to you Mr. Physicist, no, we were not interested in you. Sorry.)

(And, Comfort Zone is back.)

Diary The Dating Life

A change

d-travels-round-elephant-nature-park

Breathless with life and Chiang Mai, my friend and I walk to lunch.

I’m fresh from London, fresh from attending World Travel Market, being around like-minded people, people I genuinely like, in a world that isn’t fueled by plastic-chair-sitting and cheap beer guzzling.

I’m invigorated. I’m inspired. And, I’m done.

Done with Chiang Mai.

Not because it isn’t special to me. Not because I stopped caring about the elephants, the animals … but I’m done with feeling like I’m walking on eggshells with people. With a culture I have strived to assimilate into, but never quite did.

“D, you have to leave Chiang Mai,” my friend advises me under the late fall sunshine. “Leave now. Leave while you don’t hate it.”

I ponder this.

Leave while you don’t hate it.

I quickly sum up the history of my past moves: Vegas to Atlanta (hated Vegas and hated myself), Atlanta to Europe (hated Atlanta and hated myself), Europe to Vegas (out of money and needed a job), Vegas to Thailand (loved Thailand).

The fond cities — Vegas (the second time, but only by a hair) and Europe — stand out far more than Atlanta in terms of pleasing memories.

I look at where I am: in the heart of northern Thailand in an exotic place, in love (ok, like) with my life and definitely loving who I am.

It’s a far cry from the running away I’ve done in the past.

Leave while you like it.

Originally, I had planned to stay out my visa and then head over to Europe, but those words. Those damn words my friend has said roll around in my head. Bounce around. And sink deep into me.

“I guess I could …” I begin.

“You should,” he corrects me.

That night, before he heads back to Spain, he pulls up Skyscanner and looks at flights.

“Look,” he says, turning his screen to me. “A flight from Chiang Mai to London on Christmas Day. For 450 euro.”

Glowing in front of me is my future. A chance to talk about responsible elephant tourism more freely. A chance to boost my writing career. A chance to explore more of the world.

So, I do what any wanderlust-filled person who is (almost) ready for a change. I look at the possibilities of a future not in SE Asia. A future where I feel like a woman again. Where I don’t get tangled in cultural issues. Where I can speak and help without danger.

I book the flight.

Diary The Dating Life

Why I’m still single (also known as the top first-date no-no’s for men)

d-travels-round-lucky-cat

I get asked a lot why I am still single at 35. Other than waving my arms in the air pointing to a sign lit-up above my head with flashing lights that practically screams “I live in Thailand,” sometimes it leaves me befuddled. (Heh. I like that word.)

In other words: I am funny (or so I think). I am compassionate. I am passionate. I am kind. I am warm. I have my shit together. I know what I want. I love myself. I love other people. I’m pretty. So … what. the. fuck? RIGHT?

WELL.

The thing is this. I go out on dates. Even in Thailand, I go out. Despite swearing dating in Thailand off a couple of months ago due to one too many horrid experiences. I still go out, mostly because I have entirely removed the pressure of it being a date in my mind from the table. I only even communicate these days with people who seem to have their ducks in a row and have something in common with me (normally they are here long term and embrace a life of travel). The best laid plans.

And yet, dates never go past the first round. Now, I’m not saying I am the bee’s knees (OK, I am), but really, what is going on here is these first dates are so fucking god awful there is no way I would ever go on a second one. I have been on a string of really terrible first dates for years now. Perhaps I just have the world’s shittiest taste in men, but jesus. I mean, at some point there is supposed to be a second date, right?

I’m not saying I am perfect, or God’s gift to men, but also know a shitty date when I see one.

What makes these first dates stab-your-eyes-out terrible? The men’s antics.

In no order, these are some of the worst experiences I have had on dates, and the what-not-to-ever-do tips for you men if you EVER WANT A SECOND DATE.

1. Push back the date so you can continue drinking with your buddies. If you can’t curtail the booze for a night, why on earth would your date think you value her enough to go on a second one?

2. Show up to the date drunk.

3. Tell your date you would have looked nicer — and you normally do look nicer for first dates — but you got invited out before you had a chance to change. Or comb your hair. Or shower. Or brush your teeth.

4. Show up to your date 30 minutes late because the cab you took long-hauled your ass — even though you live in town — and then, when it comes time to pay the bill, inform your date that because you had to pay so much for the cab, you won’t be treating her to dinner or drinks.

5. Show up in a dirty white suit that reeks of stale cigarettes and BO.

6. Chain smoke in front of your date who just quit smoking.

7. Talk about all the weird first dates you have online.

8. Talk about anything do with jerking off, erections or weird boy things.

9. Stare at your date’s boobs.

10. Talk about your date’s boobs.

11. Get super drunk on the date. Unless both are getting super drunk, then it is ok.

12. Leer at the hot server.

13. At the end of the date, and your date doesn’t want to kiss you, trying to convince her to do so.

14. After the date, messaging her and asking on a scale of 1 – 10, how the date would be rated. And then telling her it was a 9. Then, the next day, when she says maybe the second date won’t work, you tell her you didn’t feel it anyway.

GUYS: we want to be treated like we are valuable. Like you actually WANT TO BE ON A DATE WITH US. And, we respect ourselves enough to not put up with bullshit when we feel like you don’t.

“Hey, this was nice. Want to go out again?”

Fuck. No.

|| End rant ||

Diary The Dating Life Uncategorized

Cut nose. Spite face.

fork in the road

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Andre Chinn

“So, let me get this straight,” my new friend begins as we walk down Moonmueang on a balmy Saturday night. “You won’t go on a date with someone who is only here for two nights?”

“Correct,” I say, resolute in this decision.

“But, what if that person is the one you are meant to be with and you decide not to go because he is only in town for two nights? What if he’s the one?” he asks.

“I guess I would kind of know if he was the one,” I reason, “and what would happen if he was the one for me? He’s here for two nights and then off on some other adventure. I don’t want that.”

“If it was me, I would stay, I would stop traveling, if I met someone I thought was the one,” he says.

“Yeah, I guess there is that,” and then in the back of my mind, I think this guy is the exception to the rule. He’s not the typical traveler coming through here. He’s on his own. He’s 40. He’s mature. The guys who hit me up on OK Cupid, on Tinder, are not looking for the “one,” they are looking for a good time. Then, they’re off to Laos. Or Vietnam. Or down south to the beaches and bars.

And, then I announce, “You know, I’m really not looking for a relationship right now. I’m really not looking for anything. The idea of taking the time, the effort, to go out on a date with someone here for only two nights just does not appeal to me in the least. I’d rather spend that time on me and be selfish.”

I’d rather go to the gym, go to dinner with friends and go home and write, than make that effort, have that strained conversation and think that maybe, just maybe this random guy who has hit me up on the flavor-of-the-day dating site could possibly  be someone long term. I’m really happy just being with myself.”

For the first time in my life, I actually want to be by myself.

It took me until a few months ago to really realize that. I’d always just assumed that if I met the right guy, I would drop everything and balls-to-the-wall it with that man and embark on said relationship with gusto. Then, when I started that long distance Tinder relationship in June, things got serious really quick. Sure, we hadn’t met each other yet, but the conversations, the deep, deep conversations, the realizations that we had about each other,  the awe that we clicked that well, the sheer idea that this was like a little fairytale between us, made me start thinking about relationships more.

About what I was willing to give up in exchange for that partner in crime.

He was planning on coming here. We were going to see if it would work. And if it did, then we would figure out those all-important next steps. Those major steps that move one from their single life into that life of compromise.

Turns out, I’m not ready to give up anything. Yet.

I remember so clearly, sitting in the back of the songthaew, coming home from a rather intense workout. I looked out the window and just gushed love for my city, the moat, everything that makes this place my place (annoyances and all).

Was I ready to drop it for someone? Did I want to re-start my life in a foreign city? Did I really want to sacrifice the things I was working on (a book, a new project, travel, focusing on my health and well-being) because of a relationship? Was I willing to succumb to the pressure of being under relationship pressure?

Far too often in my life, I have made decisions based on others lives and my conforming to them. Was this a case where I would need to conform?

Ultimately, that was not what ended the could-belong-distance relationship, but I knew that instant, as we puttered along the Old City, that I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to focus on me. To not get distracted. I was not willing to sacrifice the point I am at in my life, the things I am doing for me, for anyone else or anything else.

And, that still stands.

But then, with my friend the other night, and that conversation, I began to second guess myself. I’m nearly 35. I’m nearly 40. I’m nearly out of that range where if I wanted to have kids of my own, I could. Am I setting myself up for a never having this by turning my nose up at potential dates? Potential opportunities? Or am I giving myself a chance to fall deeper in love with me, and perhaps meet someone in the future who can love me as much as I love myself?

Am I regularly coming to forks in the road and choosing the wrong path? I feel like before I can be in a relationship with someone else I keep focusing on me and let the chips fall as they may because at the end of the day, it is ultimately up to me to find happiness within myself. The rest is just extra.

Thoughts?

Diary The Dating Life

Dating in Thailand: you’re f#%^ed. Definitely not literally.

dating in thailand

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: ngmmemuda

I used to joke with my married best friend here in Chiang Mai about dating. Wouldn’t it be great to write an anonymous blog about dating in Thailand as a western woman? I mean, the possibilities (ha)! That’s when she uttered this gem of a title: “You’re fucked. Definitely not literally.”

We had a good laugh about it that ended with that heavy sigh on my end. The sigh that means, “that’s funny as shit, but dammit, you are so right.”

So, with TCZP, I decided I would put myself out there, see what could happen. Even though I am perfectly content being single and not in a relationship. In fact, I don’t really have any desire to date. BUT, a part of this project is dating and meeting men on different online sites since meeting them here in my free time is pretty much not an option since when I’m not working, I’m working out. Or sleeping. Or spending time with people I care about.

A brief examination of the dating options in Thailand for western women seeking a western man:

OK Cupid

Since March, I’ve been fielding requests on OK Cupid for dates. Although I specifically state that I am interested more in learning about what men are looking for living here than a relationship, and that the date must be with someone who either lives here or is visiting longer term, it hasn’t stopped people from all over the world messaging me with ridiculousness.

Like these gems.

Some of which are just arrogant drivel that simply attempts to tell me I am wrong and can be better XX ways:

“I don’t know what’s worse: You writing about yourself in third person or you writing about being fat although obviously you aren’t. Well who am I to judge. Maybe you just master the angles. In that case I am sorry that you feel bad. And for me making fun of that. So I’ve read your post almost completely now. Never really hard from anyone that thai people would talking like that. Anyway. It shouldn’t be too hard to meet western men. A lot of them are actually no sexpats who would enjoy spending time with caucasian gal. So, enjoy your stay! And the best of luck. Maybe cut down a little on that ‘I am a writer and I am living my dream in thailand” crap and write some interesting stuff about ya. Just saying. Well anyway, I just came here because the pictures were cute. So there you have it.” [SIC] [SIC] [SIC]

Mind you, I responded to not one of those messages. And each sentence was an instant message.

One guy offered to fly up to see me from Bangkok, which just made me uncomfortable, particularly since we had exchanged maybe two lines of communication before the ask.

Then, there are the ones from somewhere far away, largely from India, that tell me they would like to get to know me better.

And, of course, the pervs who want me to read their erotica and tell them what I think.

So, delete. Delete. Delete. And delete some more.

After deciding that I don’t really give a shit knowing what men are looking for here because I see the men here and they are not men I want to date  … EVER … I decided to move on over to the dark side: Tinder.

Tinder

Tinder, as most of you may know, is  basically an App that lets you pick and choose potential “dates” based pretty much entirely on appearance and a super brief description. That’s it. And, in the not nice terms, it is largely used for people to go and have random sex and maybe, just maybe meet a suitable match.

Of course, the men I meet on Tinder here are in town for a quick jaunt mostly, and either the convo goes downhill quickly or I lose interest and have no desire to take a night off from the gym or my quiet days to go and have conversation with a passerby.

Things changed when I went to Europe though. The guys on Tinder there are locals. They stay put, and — joy of joys — they want to date a western woman. I was the one passing through, I held the intrigue and for the first time, guys were messaging me and asking me out, versus just engaging in mundane conversation of “how long you in town?” blah blah filler.

But, even those men living in Europe seemed to only want one thing: sex.

I mean, I started getting messages without even so much as small talk telling me they were staying at such-and-such location and did I want to come over because they are good kissers?

What? The? Fuck?

And, no. Just … no.

Then, I met someone on there who was engaging. Seemed cute. Seemed to have his shit together. The only downside was we never got to meet when I was in Europe, which meant the conversation continued with 5,000 miles between us.

Let me tell you this — 5,000 miles between a potential match kind of opens one up to being more up front. Because what’s the worst that can happen? You stop e-mailing? So, I let loose. I opened up like I had never opened up before. It was a whirlwind and soon he was planning to come here to meet me.

But, there were warning bells going off in my head. Friends waving red flags to me. (I’m not going to get into it because it is all personal, and while I am fine opening up about me, I am not fine with talking about someone else on here and their personal life confided to me.) At the end of the day, I decided it wasn’t a relationship I wanted to be in so I ended it.

JDate

As someone who would like to end up with someone of my own religious upbringing, although I am not really practicing, my best friend suggested I check out JDate. In Thailand. Which kind of made me scratch my head a little, because really? JDate exists in Thailand?

Guess what?

It doesn’t.

Sure, there is a drop down menu that lets the user click on “Thailand” but then nothing comes up with the actual listing for cities.

JDate fail.

Expat Dating Sites

I also looked at the expat dating sites on the fabulous inter webs. After doing some inputting, my results were handed to me. About one page of men my dads age. So, nope on those. Apparently, the expat dating sites in Chiang Mai are not utilized by the eligible bachelors my age.

Match.com

Match.com, back in the States, was my go-to. It was less annoying than e-Harmony and the quality of men was far better than OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and others. So, I decided to take a little swim through Match the other week. Similar to the expat dating sites, Match.com is definitely not utilized by many foreigners here looking for a western girlfriend. There were about 10 results for Chiang Mai within my age group. I didn’t even narrow it down to any deal breakers or anything. I just entered in the ages. And, yeah …

The friend of a friend

This. This is where I made the ultimate mistake. I met a friend of a friend. A friend of a friend who was in town for only a short while. This FOF, however, was super cute. Super polite. And wanted to spend time with me. For a long weekend, we spent a lot of time together, going out, eating, drinking, canoodling.

One night, laying together, I asked him if he had a wife or a girlfriend. He said “no” and then kissed me.

Cue melting.

I mean, a nice guy. Single. Handsome. Heaps of vacation time at the ready. There were no wedding bells dinging in my mind or anything serious, but someone who comes to town and can hold a conversation and is nice and nice to spend time with? Yes, please. Even if it is not often. It’s … comforting.

This shit doesn’t exist in Thailand for me. I barely get a hug, let alone a kiss. So, this was big. Temporary, but big.

And then, the shit hits the fan.

If you don’t know a lot about Thailand’s tourism industry, please, let me enlighten you for a brief moment. There are the beaches. There are the elephants. There are the treks. And then, there is the sex tourism. I cannot name more than one or two men I have ever met here who have not had sex with a prostitute while in Thailand. (Unless they are traveling with their significant other, but that’s a different breed of tourist.)

Turns out, not only was this great (!) guy down in the seedy sex tourism city of the south, but also married. Of course, I didn’t know that until after we had promised to keep in touch and perhaps see him on his side of the world, and when he comes back here to visit.

The shock when I read that was mind-boggling. The fact that he lied. It felt like I had been slapped in the face over. And. Over. And. Over.

Not to mention the sheer disgust when I learned from my friend that this FOF planned this trip to be top-secret. I wanted to scrub my entire body raw and vomit glass, that’s how furious I was. I am not that girl

So, moral of this long story? FOFs are now out. Unless they come highly recommended, but most men I know here would rather their buddies get laid than ruin the chances. And, I’ve never met a FOF through a female here and don’t really even know any females here.

Yes, it is a sweeping generalization, but I am keenly aware that Thailand gives men –either in or not in relationships — permission to act like sex crazed teens and while they can do whatever they choose, I’m not going to take sloppy seconds after some hooker in Patong.

In conclusion

Dating in Thailand: you’re fucked. Definitely not literally. Except for very special occasions. This little portion of my project is officially over. And, I am oh-so glad to just be done with even trying to figure the shit out. I much rather just go back to working on me and making myself happy.

Single life for this girl is just fine. Fine. And far easier. And sparing my feelings. And pain-free.

 

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