Tag Archives: single

The Just Fine First Date Conversation Guide

12 Jun

Well, it’s official: Betty’s no longer an online dating virgin. I went on a date last week via Coffee Meets Bagel, a Stacie-endorsed online dating app, and I survived. Go me.

The date itself was okay. Really, there was nothing wrong with it – the guy looked like he did in his profile, he had all his teeth, he had a job, and conversation flowed fine.

But if I’ve learned anything from the professional schmoozers that run this city, it’s that making conversation isn’t that high of a bar. Indeed, anyone can make conversation in #thistown. It doesn’t mean there’s a spark, and it doesn’t mean the date was a home run.

In fact, it feels like conversation on these just-fine-but-that’s-it dates is sadly predictable. And if you’re not into it, it’s really easy to just converse at the lowest acceptable level – even if you’re the best of conversationalists. If your date is just fine and neither of you give a fuck, here’s what you’ll almost definitely talk about:

Whether you’ve been here before. It’s a great harmless opener. You look around appreciatively. “I’ve never been here before but my friend Jim loves it! Great suggestion!” [Alternative: “Oh wow I’ve only ever been here for brunch! I’m so excited to try it!]

How you got here. This is also another safe conversation starter. I am guilty of employing it as an awkward way to ease into the conversation. It’s literally the most boring thing you could bring up so no wonder I’m single.

Token metro complaint. 

You waited TWELVE MINUTES for the red line???

Where you live. This will allow you to make all of the conversation about your favorite bars and restaurants in that area, your coworker who lives there and you went to a party there once, on and on. The sky’s the limit. Just don’t make a face when you find out it’s Gaithersburg. Or do.

How you got here. Nope, not a repeat of above. I mean how you got to DC. How you made it big in #thistown, if you will. Note that you’ve gotten this far with only purely surface conversations. I bet you’re halfway done with your beer by now! You almost get to leave!

What you do. I mean obviously because #DC, but actually I have a lot of respect for people who don’t ask about this in the first five minutes. My recent date was one of those people, so props to him – although that was admittedly preempted by the fact that Coffee Meets Bagel profiles include your employer because they know that we’re all job snobs. Sigh.

College. Now I realize why no one shuts the fuck up about college. It’s because a) it’s the last time any of us was interesting and b) (relatedly) it’s the perfect safe conversation topic. You went to college? Oh thank god me too. Tell me about it! Tell me about your late night food adventures and all nighters in the library and your spring break trip. I’ll just listen. It’s easier that way. Keep talking!

Do we have to talk about it?

Running and/or fitness. Seriously, fuck this town for being so fucking fit and making me feel like I always need to be on an intense fitness regime or at least planning on starting one. The upside of that is that your date probably feels the same way so you can probably find some common ground talking about how you really want to run a half marathon but you just weren’t sure if you could do it and then sigh your knee got fucked up. NO WAY! ME TOO! [Side note: my Coffee Meets Bagel date was totally intense and was modestly talking about 50 mile runs or some shit. GOOD. BYE.]

 

There you have it. I hope to God at least one of those generated some conversational detours along the way, but I guarantee you you hit most or all of those between gulps of G&T as you attempt to figure out if you can see yourself ever sharing your life – or at least your bed – with this person.

DISCLAIMER: I am not advocating that these are things that should be discussed on a date. What I have provided is a literal recipe for a mediocre date. WE CAN DO BETTER! On the best first date I can recall, we talked about everything from celebrity crushes to favorite Mexican restaurants to stupid movies we liked. Be the change you wish to see in your dates, ladies. But just know that they can’t all be winners. And remember that at the end of even the most boring date, you always – always! – get to go home.

 

 

 

Welcome back, Harry!

30 Apr

Westminster’s church bells are tolling, Big Ben’s clock is ringing, the streets are filled with people clinking beer pints and singing “God Save the Queen”… And Prince Harry is Single Again!!!

Thank you, Great Britian. You gave us Harry Potter, The Theory of Gravity, The Tardis, and one Sexy royal family. Prince William married one of the most beautiful women ever – Princess Kate, my spirit animal. And little baby George already looks like a stud muffin.

And I’m sorry Will… But your brother just wins.

I can’t say I would typically go for gingers… but in Harry’s case, come at me, bro.

I found out about Harry’s recent eligibility this morning on Good Morning America. To describe my feelings towards him, I believe pictures speak louder than words…

There’s an incredibly idiotic show that is coming out called “I Wanna Marry Harry” featuring American women who actually think the Hotness Prince is going on a dating show to find his future wife… Thank you, Fox, for once again proving how daft we all can be.

As sad as Harry must be, losing his girlfriend of over a year, I have a feeling he won’t be lonely for too long. Girls all over the world (obviously myself included) are simply thrilled that he is back on the market. And until the time comes that I have to crawl back into my sad mindset that he is unavailable again, I will continue to dream that we’ll casually bump into each other at some corner pub in London, share a plate of fish and chips, fall deeply in love, and have beautiful royal babies named Henry and Sophia that live happily ever after.

Clearly I’m just as delusional as everyone else.

B.

 

Lifecycle of a One Night Stand

4 Apr

The weather’s getting warm again. Which means, as SR’s Anne so eloquently put it: it’s Betty hook up season again. 

Loyal readers will recall that Betty recently swore off one-night stands. Whatever.

From someone who’s been there, here’s the modern one-night stand, broken down into its constituent parts. It’s a timeless classic.

1. The Realization: “Wait, this is real. I could totally go home with this guy. He, like, WANTS to sleep with me. I’m getting lucky tonight?!?!!?” Yeah gurl. That guy who’s been chatting you up – and you’ve totally been reciprocating – wants to go home with you. Remember how you looked at the mirror earlier tonight and vaguely thought “that shirt’s kinda low cut”? Well there it is. Actions have consequences. Great and sexual consequences.

2. Fake Coyness: This is where you realize that this is totally gratuitous at best, and irresponsible at worst. There is NO REASON to go home with a guy you’ve just met. What if he’s awful? W hat if he has a disease or lives in Crystal City? Home is ten minutes away, and all you have to do is walk away to make this into nothing more than a mildly funny brunch recollection. You smile apologetically and start to shake your head and make excuses…

And yet.

3. Resignation: But then, the voice in your head whispers, what do you really have to lose? Just the credibility of the blog post in which you said you weren’t doing this anymore. And he’s cute. And his friends already left him (poor guy). Why not?

#YOLO

4. Anticipation: You get in the cab. You make some small talk that makes you think maybe this person is actually a worthy human being. I mean, we like had a conversation, right? You pull up and go up the elevator/stairs/whatever. Maybe you pass some roommates getting high on the couch. This is actually kind of exciting. Who knows what awaits you on the other side of his door?

I know. A gross room with clothes everywhere, a few old Rolling Stones in the nasty bathroom, and some books he read in college that make you think, once again, that this person is a real human worth having a conversation with. Hey, a girl can dream.

5. Sexy and you know it: Ok, no matter who the person is, having someone rip your clothes off is ALWAYS going to make you feel amazing and turn you on like none other. It is a truth universally acknowledged.

You will feel like this.

6. The main event: This is where you have sex. It’s probably not that good because (with some important exceptions) foreplay during one-night stands is kind of not a thing. But with any luck, it won’t be actively bad. It will probably feel pretty decent. And hopefully you’re not actually thinking this many thoughts during the actual act, but keep in mind that it’s better than falling asleep alone with a half-eaten burrito bowl and Parks and Rec on Netflix.

7. Sleep. You’re drunk and so fucking tired.

6. The badass hangover: I don’t know about you guys, but I think there’s very little truth to the trope of waking up and being horrified at where you are and what you have done. For me, that comes later. At the moment I wake up, my head is pounding and my stomach’s churning, but other than that, I honestly feel triumphant. Good fucking JOB, Betty. This is going to make a great blog post – and besides, he’s not that unattractive.

6a. [optional] Round 2: This one really depends. In many cases, there will be morning sex, and in some, people are just so tired/hung over/embarrassed/over it that this doesn’t happen. In my experience, morning sex is inferior to The Main Event, but hey, choose your own adventure.

7. Delusion: Okay, time for a moment of real talk. As much as we complain, as douchey as the guys we hook up with are, one thing remains true: with a few exceptions, we will almost always hold out hope that this could go somewhere. Even if ‘somewhere’ is just this grimy apartment, again, at 2 am next Saturday. Hence the awkward departure, pregnant (HAHA SORRY) with possibilities and awkwardness and ambiguity. From exchanging numbers to wondering whether to say “this was fun, let’s do it again” (is that too clingy??!?!) to the great question of our time – DO YOU KISS GOODBYE? – this is where it really becomes clear how weird it is that you don’t really know each other but you know each other. Biblically.

8. Departure. Get the fuck out. Extra awkwardness points if he has to get out of bed and come undo all the locks for you. Not that this has ever happened to me. Ever.

9. The shame shower. Some people talk about the walk of shame (or, let’s be real, the Uber of shame). I would posit that the trip home is for introspection on what just happened – and texting your friends. It is only once you get home and you get into the shower to wash off all the bodily fluids and irresponsibility (seriously, how did my hair get this bad in one night did that guy GREASE HIS SHEETS or something?) that you realize you’re an idiot and it’s probably time to stop being so damn single. But let’s face it, pretty soon you’ll be wasted at a bar unable to find your friends, and you’ll strike up a conversation with some guy and have The Realization. And so, you realize as you attempt to loofah your regrets away, it shall begin again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Give The Dweeb A Chance

27 Mar

by Stacie Smack

Last week Betty shared her internal battle of dating because it makes sense on paper or not.

She failed to mention a couple of [essential] aspects of the battle: mainly that he may or may not be a dweeb.

Funnily enough, her ongoing struggle (once you account for the missing mentioned piece) is EERILY similar to my current situation. From reading her post, it might not be obvious, but from talking endlessly about it with her, I know.

I would say that D-Bag (my charming pet name for the man I’m dating) is not perfect on paper or marriage material. He’s a well-educated, employed male with left-leaning tendencies. I suppose he fits the basic criteria. However, to quote & paraphrase Betty:

1) His automatic response to getting somewhere after hours is PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Everyone knows that any proper DC Yuppie exclusively Ubers after 11pm.

2a) He PRIORITIZES SLEEP OVER SEX! This has happened more than once. ALL I WANT is some freaking morning sex but he like constantly freaks out that he like isn’t going to have enough sleep or whatever and keeps shutting me down! Who are you?

2b) When I made a gently sarcastic comment about the above, he jokes (unfunnily) “i need my beauty rest.” you are not beautiful.

3a) He wears really dweeby boxers. You’re an adult. Invest in underwear that is pleasant to see. Unless this is your way of encouraging me to take them off? But see 2a. No.

3b) Actually he dresses kinda dweeby overall.

4) Despite being generally kind of a “nice nerdy boy” type, he occasionally dips into the usage of kinda vulgar terms that just do NOT work for him. For example, his roommate wasn’t there and he looked into the living room and kinda casually thought OUT LOUD “oh, we missed a chance to fuck on the couch” – like EW STOP.

5) We were just lying in bed and he goes “tell me a story” (what?) and I was like ummm what about? and he was like “I dunno, about something really embarrassing that happened to you when you were a little kid.” Why would you want to hear that??? That’s the least sexy thing to talk about in bed ever.

I hope that this paints a better understanding of who these men are. These are not necessarily make-or-break issues. But they are just constant reminders that they’re just a little bit dweeby 100% of the time! So why don’t you just end it? If you’re so caught up in the dweebness and you’re annoyed with his presence, and you’d rather not have your friends meet him due to the possibility of them becoming aware of the dweebity of the man. I mean he doesn’t even own a pair of boat shoes.

There’s a catch. A slightly important catch that went severely unmentioned.

THE SEX. IS FANTASTIC.

Better and unlike anything experienced before. So you’d understand the hesitation when talking about ending things. Sometimes it’s hard to turn down multiple orgasms. Between having to go sexless while finding men to date and having a sure thing that’s also an AMAZING thing, I think the choice is clear right? Right?

There’s a second catch, that complicates things even more.

THE DWEEB LOVES YOU.

Ok, so maybe they haven’t literally used those words. But there are only like a billion signs that make this clear. They’re always willing to go to your place. They always text first. In fact, sometimes I won’t text on purpose, even if I have a free evening, only to see how long it takes him to say something. And that something will probably be dweeby (“Stayed up until 2am playing bananagrams on a weeknight 🙂 how was your day?”). But he will always text. He’ll change his plans to end up where you are because you’re not about to change your plans for him. He’ll come and meet you at a bar full of YOUR friends by himself, because he literally kisses the ground you walk on.

We spend so much time asking “where are all the nice guys in this city?” after yet another guy from Policy never calls you back. It’s kind of refreshing to date a guy who will reliably be there when you wake up on a Saturday morning.

So I’m giving the dweeb a chance. After two years of crazy hook ups, bad online dates, and being strung along by the love of my life (HA), I decided to take a break. It’s almost like a vacation from my preferred lifestyle. I’m temporarily hitting pause, and allowing DB to show me the wonders of monogamy (SOMEONE SAVE ME). Rather than staying up until 2am every other Saturday waiting for Chuck Bass to come over for two hours, I’m letting DB come over, do me, cuddle me, AND take me out to breakfast the next morning.

I haven’t really dated anyone ever for longer than a couple of months, and I’ve never really been exclusive, and I’m sick of sleeping with assholes. So, I’m letting a guy actually treat me nicely.

Because why do we have to put up with being treated like dirt?

1) Why do we silently comply with the guy that only calls us at 12:30am every third Saturday of the month who promises to get drinks and never does?

2) Why do we let the guy we dated for three months just stop texting without demanding an explanation or at least a formal “we’re done” conversation?

3) Why do we only find guys attractive if they ignore us at the bar, flirt with our friend, and manage to give back-handed compliments that still make us swoon?

4) Why is the guy wearing the sexy black David Beckham underwear always the one who never calls back?

So, here I am. And all I can say is:

GIVE THE DWEEB A CHANCE.

 

 

Boys, Sometimes a Girl Just Needs One (But Sometimes Not).

11 Mar

by Stacie Smack

It’s always been a common known fact that I am going to be the 60 year old in the leopard leggings, sequin top, and a 27 year old boy toy. My friends love to joke about how I will be the one who’s always up to take a ladies trip somewhere fun, who’ll have the ultimate bachelorette* apartment fully stocked with wine, chips, and hummus, so that they can come and take a load off from their presumably married family lives.

Honestly, I’m just flattered that they think that I’ll be rich enough to afford wine and a penthouse, that I’ll still have my fabulous looks and oh-so great curves, and that I’ll still have my amazing flirtation and seduction skills (and humility?) that will lead me to have a solid rotation of 2 or 3 men that will obviously be eternally devoted and in love with me, without expecting me to love them in return.

Right?

Despite the pride I take in my reputation, I spend an awful lot of time whining about how much I hate single life. I mean, just look at every single blog post I’ve ever written (hint: they’re all about boys and dating).

And let’s be real, it is definitely not just me. I actually have this terrible tendency of eavesdropping on conversations whenever I see two or three 20-something women walking by me (and no, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll adjust my pace so that I can listen for longer). And my rigorous statistical analysis has shown that approximately 89.4% of the time, the conversations that these women are having are about boys.

So why do we let this subject matter take up 76.8% of our mental space? What if instead of spending the last 2 hours looking at my phone to see if “he” texted me back, I had read another chapter of Lean In? What if I had worked on my blog post ahead of time?

Why is the subject of relationships such a time suck?

Well, duh Stacie. Because there are all sorts of pressures all around us! Family, friends, TV shows. BIOLOGY! All of these things are like little voices inside of our womanly heads  saying “find a man before you shrivel up all alone!”

Scenario 1: Some of your closest friends are in relationships. Obviously you crave one too! They’re doing all the gross couple-y stuff you want to be doing that you used to do with your friend before she got herself a date. You become hyper aware of how alone you are because not only do you see your friend enjoying her relationship, you also mourn the loss of the 24/7 hour friend. And this may be a tad dramatic (not at all), but I don’t care (I love it). Not all women ditch their friends once in a relationship, but they now have a new person to make time for and yet, the amount of available time in a day hasn’t changed! Something’s gotta give.

Scenario 2: Your older sister was married when she was your age now! And you’re still single trying to make assholes in law school fall in love with you. Something must be wrong with you. Except it’s not, and please don’t ask me that question again. Your sister (or cousin, or mom) was just different. It’s not that she got lucky, or that she’s the exception. Her life just happened in a different order.

So yeah, this is all easier said than done. These pressures are not going away. And let’s face it, we LOVE talking about “BOYZ”. Otherwise, why would we do it so much? So I say, let’s embrace the boy-talk. Let’s over-analyze every text. Relieve every minute of that first hook up outside the AdMo McDonald’s. Stay in bed a little longer after he lives because you can still smell his shirt on your bed. Spend 5 hours at brunch recounting last night’s shenanigans and planning your future wedding with “Rando #2”. Let’s open our arms and accept the boy psychosis.

But let’s be aware that it is a bit of a psychosis – it’s an exaggerated hyper reality. Let’s be constantly aware that we are definitely over analyzing a text,a word, a gesture. Let’s enjoy the emotional ride for a bit, but let’s remember that it shouldn’t define our state of being. Yes, a partner can make you “happy”, but so can best friends, professional satisfaction, family, or tequila. More importantly, you can make you happy! Don’t let the male gender control you. We already have a gigantic glass ceiling to break through, let’s not also create glass walls.

Say yes to love, dates, romance, hook ups, adventures!

But say yes to moving on, being young, having opportunities, appreciating your independence!

*Google Chrome doesn’t recognize the word bachelorette and wants me to correct it to bachelor. GOOD BYE.

Excuse Me… What?

4 Mar

I think I’ve written about it before, but to refresh your memory: I, Stacie Smack, am dating a man [mostly] monogamously. And no, his name is not Chuck Bass. It’s been an interesting process, the whole having someone still in your apartment after 7am on any given day.

One thing I’ve been less than successful at is figuring out when, why, and how to incorporate him into group activities, such as a happy hour or a Saturday night at the Brixton. My current MO is to just have him show up places without giving my friends advance notice. In theory, it makes sense. In practice, not the most successful strategy.

This is all a whole bunch of lead up to something only marginally related. By now, several of my friends have met him and interacted with him, if at all briefly. I was pretty nervous of all of this happening because I live in fear of people judging my choices (of people judging the guy I’ve allowed to keep me from sleeping with other men). Generally speaking, the interactions were fine. Except for a tiny point:

“He’s SO not your type!”

That is what some of my friends choose to tell me every time the topic comes up. They say it with smiles plastered on, but I can’t help but be offended at the comments. What does it mean? Who fits your expectation of the type of man that Stacie dates? Why is he not my type? Why do you think that’s an appropriate thing to say to someone who obviously has insecurity issues when it comes to men?

So please, don’t describe people that way. It’s really not helping anyone. It only heightens the insecurity I feel. It’s judgmental and not helpful. It comes off as condescending, and can you really not come up with anything better to say? Because it’s not even honest. I’d prefer you tell me that you don’t like him, or that he’s rude or that he’s too pushy rather than tell me that he’s not my type…

I see it as one of two things. One, he doesn’t meet the expectations that I’ve set for the men I date. Meaning he’s not a 6’2” UVA graduate that works in finance. He stands below the expectations. The alternative, two, is that he exceeds your expectations. In which case why don’t you say that? Why don’t you say that he is so much better than other guys I’ve dated? That he seems like a good guy? What’s that you say?

“He’s quite likable”

Thanks, pal.

Watch What Happens.

25 Feb

by Stacie Smack

My friend Kate recently broke up with her boyfriend and also my friend Matt. They are both very much part of my tight-knit friend group. Their relationship had been shaky for about a month now, so the break-up was not devastating for either of them. Kate, being the proactive woman that she is, didn’t hesitate, reactivated her Okcupid profile, and started scheduling dates. Of course, she told me and a couple of our other girlfriends, including Jenna.

I’ve talked about Jenna before (love you, gurl…). So it should come as no surprise that the first thing she did was tell her current boyfriend that Kate was already online dating, after they only broke up on Sunday. He, being the tactful man that I once made out with and also part of our friend group, immediately g-chatted Kate about it. When I found about this breach in privacy, I was IRATE. Mostly because we are trying to spare poor Matt’s feelings by keeping him from finding out that her ex of three days is already dating. Already, too many people know about this.

The point of all of this is that why did Jenna have to tell her boyfriend about it right away? Why do significant others trump girlfriends in the secret-keeping hierarchy?

Relationships are built on trust and honesty and blah blah blah. I get it. We shouldn’t keep secrets from the people we love, but please someone, agree with me. This was not a secret. It was sheer gossip. And let’s be honest. We all gossip like our lives depend on it. We don’t intend to – we think we’re being concerned friends by discussing other people’s lives. And sometimes that is genuine. You try and find ways to be helpful by talking it out with other people – people who also already know about the situation.

But what’s the advantage of telling someone who’s closer to the ex-boyfriend? Kate didn’t tell him – she chose not to tell him. And now, he’s going to tell his friends, and eventually, the ex is going to hear about it too. And it’s because Jenna likes drama. She wants to watch the ball start rolling, she wants to watch it get bigger and bigger and she wants it to explode in front of her while coming out of it unscathed.

If you want drama, go watch Bravo instead, honey.

After the Fade Away

18 Feb

by Stacie Smack

Some friends and I were recently enjoying some delish food at Ted’s Bulletin on 14. In the midst of my enjoyment, I noticed that seating at the bar directly in my line of vision was a guy I briefly dated last summer, Jason, having dinner with a [male] friend. As soon as I noticed, I started uncontrollably laughing, I tried to hide under the table, and my friends proceeded to discretely turn around [in a very obvious way] to look at him. Similarly, Jason’s friend did a little 360 head spin that lingered too long in my direction. I am confident that it was evident that we were both aware of each other’s presence.

The back story:
We met at Policy not by sucking on each other’s faces. We went on a couple dates before he tried to kiss me – amateur move. He seemed interested and interesting enough – we went on some dates, had some sleepovers, and texted every once in a while. I went abroad for a week, came back, and after some pleasantries about my trip, he blew me off a week later with the classic “I’m really busy and my sister is staying with me” excuse. My response (in classic Stacie fashion) was “well good luck. You know where to find me ;)”, followed by a contact deletion. I never heard from him again. It was a classic case of The Fade Away*.

There’s enough on the topic to know that this is just a way of saying “I’m just not that into you”, but I was still left wondering, in this situation if perhaps I should have gone up to say hi? Or if he should have come over to say hi? I didn’t want to say hi, because my strongest emotion upon seeing him was anger and sadness from feeling rejected. He probably didn’t want to say hi, because we all know that the first thing we think when someone fades us out is that they probably had to go into witness protection and that’s why they stopped texting us. This leads to the question of the post fade away spontaneous run-in: for whom is it more awkward after a fade away? The one who did the fading? Or the one who got faded?

The one who did the fading –
My first instinct is that the one who does the fading has all the power. He/she is the one who gets to make the shot “I’m not interested” under the assumption that the other involved party probably is interested. Power overcomes awkward – Jason should feel good that here’s this girl that HE got to dump.
But upon further over analyzing, it’s perhaps incredibly awkward for him. I mean he now has to face the fact that he can’t go on pretending that I think he moved to Iowa, or that he got hit by a bus. Now, he has to come up with actual believable non-awkward excuses for why he never texted back, “I was really busy” for the last 6 months would not cut it.

The one who gets faded-
As implied above, I felt extremely awkward. I felt powerless. I didn’t have a good explanation as to why he stopped calling, and so the default (as it is with A LOT of women, don’t lie to yourself) is to focus on my insecurities and blame every single one of the things I’ve decided is “wrong” with me. I felt awkward because the first thing I thought he thought when he saw me was “oh there’s that girl, still looking/acting/being the same exact way she was when I decided to end things”.
But, let’s be real. That was probably not his first thought. He probably also turned beet red and felt awkward! Because, here was this perfectly fine girl who he never called again. He hopefully realized that he came off as a coward who was too afraid to tell a girl it’s over so instead went for the disappearing act, not thinking that [YUPie NW + gentrified NE] DC is actually small, and the chances of running into someone you’ve met are pretty high.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s awkward for both people, unless you’re a fairly confident person, in which case very few things are awkward for you. I would like to think that when I become a grown-up, I’ll be able to say hi to people I’ve dated regardless of how things ended. Maybe. Or, I’ll continue to giggle, twirl my hair, fix my make-up and completely ignore him, while trying to make him regret all decisions that led to him never calling me again. Maturity.

If nothing else, listen to my favorite singers and nod your head in agreement:

*Also called sometimes the Fade Out and I’m sure like a trillion other things.

Bars are just Tinder without an easy Swipe Left Option

11 Feb

by Stacie Smack

Recently, I’ve noticed a surge in online/media commentary about online dating. This may have to do with the fact that I have a Google alert on the topic and exclusively follow online dating-related Tweeters. But it may also have to do with the fact that online dating is here to stay, and we’re starting to accept it as a “mainstream” way of meeting people.

I was discussing online vs. offline dating with my therapist (a 75 year old man). His first question was “who uses online dating?” Oh boy, was this going to be fun. There are just about a billion answers, but in classic Stacie fashion, I’ll stereotype and simplify and indirectly not answer the question but pretend to answer it.

I think online dating allows us to meet people in a protected environment. I use the word “protected” with some caveats. Obviously connecting with a total stranger whose physical existence you can’t confirm does not imply protection (I’m not going to scare you with stories, but contact me and I will direct you to some fun reads).

What I mean by protected is that online dating allows you, the user, to present your best self or the self you wish you were. More importantly, an online dating site/app gives you time to think. The prime example being at a bar: if someone asks you “so, what do you do?”, you can’t take a minute or two to craft a response. That would be weird. Online however, you can take all the time in the world to properly describe your job without sounding boring, or too passionate, or whatever it is that usually happens, because the appropriate response window is slower than the “conversational” rate.

None of this answers the who question. But at least it contextualizes the conversation. Maybe?

The next question was “why do you need that kind of protection?” To me the answer seemed fairly obvious. It’s because we have no idea who the person in front of us (at a bar) is. We know nothing about this person. We approach a total and complete stranger, and somehow we have to create natural flowing interesting conversation with someone who may or may not have things in common with us or potential for “compatibility”.

He concluded that nowadays, our generation is constantly surrounded by complete strangers. My therapist is a Latin man probably in his late 70’s who’s been married for a while. He spent most of his life in the same town. He knew his neighbors, he knew the people at his synagogue, everyone knew someone in common WE (you and I) don’t necessarily have that.

We kind of form communities at work, or at kickball, or at book club, or at whatever extracurricular activity you partake in. But there’s a limited number of people we meet at these places, and it’s kind of hard to just go up to one of these people and say “introduce me to your friends since it’s probably easier to successfully date someone who knows you”. So instead we go to bars and try to say hi to strangers.

In his time apparently, you knew who were the good and bad apples, generally speaking. Today at a bar, we don’t know if the guy we’re going to say hi is a pump-and-dump sort of guy or a long-term sort of guy, or if he’s going to make you pay for expensive dinners and never call you again. But we’re not deterred by this uncertainty. It’s part of the gamble of dating and meeting people, and it’s a risk we’re willing to take if it means not becoming a cat lady. Wouldn’t it be nice if every guy just wore a shirt with basic facts about him printed? Single, Non-smoker, bacon-lover, owns a dog, favorite movie is 300. At a glance, we would make some judgements and assumptions and the stranger would become just a little less… strange?

Enter, online dating. Even the newer, less labor intensive sites like Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, and Tinder require some basic information about the user. They also link to the user’s facebook and take advantage of what it means to have “friends in common” nowadays. The mere fact of having a facebook is today seen as proof of existence – we are more likely to trust an online profile that’s associated with a facebook profile. How many fake facebook profiles do we come across normally? No that many I would think. Beyond that, we get a handful of facts that are likely to spark interest (or flag for removal…) Yeah, people like to focus on the shallowness of some of these apps, as our decision making process is primarily based on photos. But how different is that from how you decide to approach someone at a bar? Neither is a perfect system, but both are available choices.

Not Tonight or Not Ever?

28 Jan

By now it’s evident that I have strong thoughts about sex and the role it plays in relationships. I can’t speak confidently on the role of sex as part of the fem-lib movement or other similar movements, as I don’t want to speak with such a lack of education (book recs being accepted though!). But we’re more liberal about sex, we’re more adventurous and carefree. I don’t intend to comment on the sanctity of sex (as I don’t particularly feel strongly about it) but it should be noted that the socially accepted norm has shifted from waiting until marriage to the three date rule.

Anyways, the point of this preamble is to discuss a very important topic that relates to us. Us who? We’re in our 20s, living in an urban environment with active social lives and even more active professional lives. We are probably dating and not thinking about moving in with someone, yet.

My friend Mackenzie has been dating this guy, James, for a few months now. She’s introduced him to her friends and is attempting to incorporate him into our bigger social circle. They live within the district, not too far away from each other and both work really hard. I asked her how often they see each other. She says they spend on average three nights together a week.

They haven’t had sex in a couple of weeks. He’s just too tired, she got back too late, they fell asleep watching a movie. There are plenty of reasons. And I get it; sexual drive is certainly not constant across individuals. But what happens when there’s ZERO desire to just get on top of someone and fool around, given that precedent was set differently? There’s a dynamic shift in the relationship.

I guess the thought is that there are a couple of primary components to the relationship I’m stereotyping: the friendship and the romance (by the way google defines romance as “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love” – I’ll be ignoring the definition of love at this point). Traditionally, we look (though perhaps without realizing it) for a friend in a partner but who makes us excited “in the biblical sense” or whatever. These components are not always or usually balanced: one will dominate the other. Personally, I let the romantic component play the primary role, and usually don’t let the friendship ever develop.

Like my friend Mackenzie, I’ve now been seeing a guy for a few months. I’ve kept him much more in the fringe of my social circle than Mackenzie did with James, mostly because I don’t know how to incorporate the two, but also because I am not particularly keen on the idea of him being everywhere my friends and I are.

I’ve started to notice that a couple of times, I’ve thought consciously “ugh” when making sleepover plans. I have a theory. Because of the time we’ve been spending together and because we’ve been getting to know each other better, the friendship component is starting to develop and compete with the romantic component. It’s also becoming apparent that if we were just friends, we wouldn’t be friends.

But I refuse to have a sexless sleepover. One: because I like sex. But two: because it keeps the sex from taking a backseat to friendship. I mean, in the end, the sex is still good, once we get around to it. I like to think that I have fabulous, strong, lasting relationships with my friends and therefore, I don’t want or need another friend. I want a lover that can provide what my friends can’t: intimacy, romance, and sex.

And so, as long as I have my 20-something stamina and my family pack of rubbers, I’ll be making it work every. single. time. Because if I’m going to end up with another friendship and occasional sex, I’d rather not have to also share a bed with that person.

Cold-hearted? Yes. Do I care? No.