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Loving completely

16 Jun

I have a friend who (I think) loves deeply and completely: her family members including her children and especially her grandchildren, her pets, her significant other, her friends, and her students. She shares a lot about her life on social media, which I appreciate, and recently she wrote about being away from her beloved. Her post made me feel both a little bit jealous and a lot inspired.

If you’ve known me for more than a few days, you know that finding a partner has been and continues to be perhaps the deepest desire of my heart, second only to running a 4-hour marathon. Just kidding. Finding a partner really is my deepest desire. If you know this about me, you also know that I suck at it.

There are a number of reasons I have been largely unsuccessful in this endeavor. It doesn’t take an analyst (I heard a mental health professional referred to as an “analyst” in a 1960s movie I watched last night, and I think we should bring that term back) to identify my issues. One of my problems is that I’m afraid to actually meet people.

I know that’s utterly ridiculous. I mean, trust me, I know.

I get very nervous about first meetings because I’ve had so many of them where I can tell within the first 10 seconds that the person is not at all interested in me, and it just makes for an awkward and uncomfortable hour. Even when I try to squeeze the best out of the situation, it’s still weird when we get to the end and there has to be an acknowledgement that we will never see each other ever again in our lives unless we happen to run into each other at the grocery store, which can certainly happen in the small town where I live now. And then, again, awkward.

Because I’m afraid of rejection, I usually do something to sabotage my interactions with men on dating sites, like judge them harshly for their spelling or grammar or disqualify them because they hate coffee or cats. Then we never get to that “Would you like to meet for coffee or drinks?” stage. A lot of the guys on the dating sites lack written communication skills, so it’s kind of easy to be all judgey and cross them off my list for dumb, trivial reasons. 

I’m doing it wrong. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

After reading my friend’s Facebook post about missing her friend, I thought, What if I loved deeply, everyone in my life, all the time? What if I gave people a chance instead of finding reasons not to like them? What if I were more open and less afraid? I wonder what kind of a difference that would make in my interactions with others.

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So I’m going to try this. I’m going to try really hard to exude love, even to people who don’t know the difference between your and you’re. Let’s see what happens!

Getting picked last

23 May

Last week I had a junior high school flashback, and it was unpleasant. Does anyone have pleasant flashbacks to junior high? I’m sure some people have fond memories of their young teenage years, but for me it was all angst and embarrassment and trying impossibly to figure out how the hell to fit in with a bunch of people who were trying to figure out who the hell they were.

Out of the blue, my coworker said, “I should set you up with my buddy.” He texted his buddy, who replied immediately, “Send pics.” We snapped a picture. I tried to look cute. Since I have not received any follow-up from my coworker, I assume his buddy’s reaction was not favorable. In fact, I imagine he said, “Um, no thanks. She’s ugly.” I am positive he did not say, “Wow! She’s gorgeous! What is her number?” or I would have heard about it by now.

I had, and still have, no idea who this person is. I don’t know what he looks like or what he values. I don’t know what he does in his free time. I don’t know if he even wants to date anyone. While his rejection of me should not matter one tiny little bit, it does. It stings. Why? Because being picked last — or not being picked at all — hurts, no matter how old you are.

In junior high I had a terrible crush on a boy one grade above me. I wrote out the lyrics to Lionel Richie’s Hello and put them in his locker. If he told his pals about it, and I have completely blocked the memory if he did, I’m sure they all stood around and laughed at how gross and weird I was. Clearly, I still feel foolish and mortified by it, which is ridiculous because it happened 30 years ago.

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I also got picked last all the time in junior high. Last for kickball and softball and dodge ball and anything that required height or agility or speed. If we had smarts contests or spelling bees, I would be picked second (after the smartest girl in the class), but I don’t recall that we had a lot of smarts contests in my school. So that, combined with the fact that I wrote out song lyrics in an attempt to win the hearts of boys made me a bit of a loser. And I also loved Classical music more than 80s pop. 

So much of my life has been defined by the search for a partner and the rejection of hundreds (am I exaggerating?) of people. Of course I have had (a few successful) relationships! Of course there are seemingly well adjusted, normalish people who have liked me and wanted to kiss me! Lately, however, the people who are interested in going on a date with me are 1) married, 2) scammers who I assume live in a foreign country and are waiting for the right time to ask me to wire money, 3) sporting gold-capped teeth, or 4) located hundreds of miles away from my town.

I have a full, wonderful life. I am healthy and happy. I am surrounded by friends and family who love me and care about my well-being. But I really and truly want to be in love with a partner who loves me. Just one time, maybe for the only time, I want to be picked first. I want to pass that boy a note and have him return it with this message: Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?

Fuck junior high, man.

Believing I’m enough 

8 Apr

For most of my life, I’ve felt like I was too much — too fat, too loud, too crazy, too emotional — too much of the bad things and never enough of the good. In the last few months, that has changed. 

I’ve been focusing since October on wellness, which for me means making changes or improvements in several areas of my life. I began a running/training program designed to reduce stresses, increase the body’s use of fat as a fuel source, and strengthen the heart. It is much lower in intensity than the typical training program, and for the first several months I saw little improvement. But lately I’m making steady (and kind of huge!) improvements and it’s incredibly rewarding. 

I also made a goal to change my nutritional habits so that most, if not all, of my choices were supporting my training and helping me live my best life. In March I started the Whole30 and it really has changed my life. Every day I eat a lot of whole, real, delicious food! I’ve lost weight, I sleep better, and I have more energy than I ever have. 

I’ve made other changes to my thought processes, relationships, and in my approach to dealing with conflict and frustration. I don’t have everything figured out, and I don’t hope to. But I’m moving forward and it’s empowering.

Just this morning, I thought “I feel like I am enough, not too much or to little. Just right.” My wish is for you to feel like you’re just right, too. 

Identifying my mate

7 Mar

Single Woman’s 30-day Blog Challenge, Day 8: Five things that are most important to you in a future mate.

I’d like to put the same thing for all five, but that’s no fun.

  1. Honesty. Here’s the deal, you can’t always tell someone is dishonest. I’ve been burned so badly by a sociopath that I tend to distrust most men I meet online, especially the ones who use flowery language and who say they’re currently serving overseas but are willing to move to North Dakota. No one is willing to move to North Dakota. I’ve had more than my fair share of dishonest partners, so I’m way overdue to fall in love with an honest man.
  2. Time. When you get to be my age, you meet a lot of men who don’t have time to date but say they want to date. They don’t have time (I mean more than two times a month to spend with someone) because they either have legitimate and reasonable family and work obligations or because they’ve overscheduled themselves so they don’t have time to be lonely. So if every other weekend is the only time he has, and one of those weekends is a fishing trip, we should probably not meet.
  3. Alcohol and drugs. No, I do not want my future partner to supply alcohol and drugs. Rather, I want someone who does not use drugs at all and who drinks moderately to almost-never. If a guy often drinks to excess or feels like he can’t have a good time without alcohol or drugs, we are not a good match.
  4. Active lifestyle. When men find out I am a marathon runner and a personal trainer, they think one or more of the following: I will provide the motivation they need to get in shape (I will not), I want them to run with me (I do not), I am super toned and fit and I exercise all the time (I am not and do not). I’d like to find a partner who has an active lifestyle and will share some of the activities I enjoy as well as introduce me to activities I have not tried before.
  5. Snuggling. “Hate” is a strong word, but I am inclined to say that I hate the question, “Do you like snuggling?” Why do men ask that when they are interviewing you? Who would ever say no to that? I actually enjoy being close to someone I care about, but I very very very much dislike being asked if I like snuggling by a person who doesn’t even know my last name yet. So whoever asks me that is out.

You might think I’m too picky and I should lower my expectations. If you have been on as many first dates as I have, I’m willing to accept your counsel. If you have not, how about hooking me up with your honest, active friend who doesn’t drink and who dislikes the word “snuggle”?

Addressing misconecptions

4 Mar

Single Woman’s 30-day Blog Challenge, Day 5: the biggest misconception you think people have about single life

This post needs to be short because I just posted a 600-word rant about guys who ask stupid questions on dating sites.

I think the biggest misconception people have about single life is that we want a relationship because we don’t like/love ourselves and that we think having a relationship will somehow be perfect and will magically erase any problems we have in our lives.

To the latter, I say poppycock! We have all watched enough television to know relationships aren’t perfect and only lead to new problems that we didn’t have before.

To the former, I can only express frustration. The truth is, in the times when I have loved myself the least, the last thing I wanted was a relationship because I knew no one could possibly love me then. It is only when I love myself profoundly that I can open myself up to beginning a meaningful relationship with a partner. When I am feeling confident and glittery and full of energy, that’s when I can actually muster up the courage to meet people and face the possibility of rejection. If you know anything about online dating, you know it is not for the weak of heart.

Getting back at the creeps

4 Mar

There is something about the anonymity of meeting a person on a dating site that makes men think they can say anything they want to a woman. Maybe it isn’t just guys on sites. Maybe it isn’t just guys. Maybe the experience I had today — and this is but one example of comments and questions I get all the time — is indicative of an overall lack of respect for others that pervades our society.

Two days ago I met a young man (he’s 10 years younger than I am) on a dating site where I have a profile. He can spell, and he writes in complete sentences. That alone sets him apart from most of his competition.

We exchanged a few messages through the site, and then he asked if we could text each other. This is a normal (at least for me) progression. Yes, there are some risks involved in giving your phone number to a stranger, but I have learned to accept them as part of the process.

This morning we were engaged in polite, harmless chatting conversation, when he texted “Bra and panties?”

I did not reply. I went on with my day.

To be honest, I really didn’t know what he was asking. Did he want to know if I was wearing underwear? Because who doesn’t wear underwear in North Dakota in February? Or did he want to know what color they are? I am sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but most of us don’t wear matching underwear like the ladies in the magazines.

Later in the afternoon, he texted, “What’s up?” I said that I was having a busy day at work. After a few more innocuous texts, he asked again, “Bra and panties?”

I did not reply. I went on with my day.

Feeling supremely vexed, I took a moment to crowdsource ideas about 1) whether or not his question was appropriate and 2) how I should respond. I received the best advice, which I will share with you momentarily. Just wait, it’s good!

In the evening, he texted, “You’re quiet today.” I replied that I had been busy, which was in fact true. After a few more meaningless messages, he said, “You did not answer my question from earlier.” I replied, “What’s your mom’s number? I’ll tell her and she can tell you.”

“Not funny”
“It wasn’t funny when you asked me three times either.”
“It wasn’t supposed to be.”

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That guy’s mom, after I told her what he asked me.

Just this week I asked a guy what he doing, and he told me he was masturbating. Another man told me he wanted to lick my entire body. Recently a man told me he was tired of masturbating all the time and asked if I was, too.

When stuff like this happens, I never quite know what to say. Do I not say anything at all? Because comments and questions like those really don’t deserve a response. Or do I try to put them in their place only to have them call me a prude, a bitch, or the c-word? Because that will happen.

I can’t be sure, but I’m willing to bet strangers talk like this to your mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. That is a problem for two reasons: some women think we have to put up with it, and some men think it’s ok.

You might think I’m a prude for getting upset about this clod’s question. I know that the men I respect, and those who respect me, would never ask me something so stupid unless we had established, for reasons I can’t imagine at the moment, that it were acceptable to do so. And I also know that the women I respect (especially my mom and sisters and the kickass feminists in my life) think this whole thing is as ridiculous as I do.

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Stephanie, for giving me the ammunition to fight back against a dumb question. I can promise you this won’t be the last time I use it.

Answering the question

28 Feb

My youngest sister, Kari, is a blogger and a single lady like me. Our love lives or lack thereof are of great interest to our family members, and mine is especially important to my Great Uncle Duane. Every time he sees me, the first question he asks is, “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” Not, “How have you been, my darling great niece?” or “Have you run any interesting marathons lately?” I love my Great Uncle Duane.

Kari is doing The Single Woman’s 30-Day Blogging Challenge on her blog, Time to Grow, and I thought I’d join in. Today we answer every single woman’s favorite question: “And why are YOU still single?”

If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me that question, I’d have at least 10 dollars.

For years I hated that question because I thought the answer was, “I’m broken,” or fucked up or a mess or seriously ugly. When I look in the mirror on most days, I think I’m kind of pretty, but I used to wonder if maybe I was really, truly ugly to the vast majority of people and I just had no clue. Since that was probably not the case, I worried that in fact I was still single because no one would ever want a person as imperfect as I am.

At times I have been physically, spiritually, and emotionally unhealthy. I have suffered from debilitating depression, and I have been hospitalized several times for trying to kill myself. I also abused alcohol and did a lot of very stupid things when I was drinking. No one would ever want me because of that, right? As if that weren’t enough, I have unwanted facial hair, reggae music in the morning makes me feel homicidal, and I am technically, probably, agnostic.

After believing for most of my life that there was something seriously wrong with me, I slowly had two very important realizations. The first was that plenty of people who are arguably more messed up than I am (not that I’m keeping score) have romantic partnerships and are even married (hello, Kardashians). The second was that the right someone will love me in spite of, or perhaps because of, all of the experiences and idiosyncrasies that make me me.

Now I’m older and a bit more secure (after years of therapy and a 12-step program), and I’m also pickier than I used to be. I won’t go out with someone just because they are wearing cute socks or because they say, “Hey beautiful,” and I don’t care about a Harley or a pickup or 100 acres of land or how big a fish a guy can catch. Guys in North Dakota are all about the fish. I don’t get that. So it’s harder for me to meet men than it used to be.

Today I’ll answer the question a bit differently than I might have years ago. “Why are you still single?” people ask, as if it’s any of their business. “Because I haven’t met the right person yet.”