I’m not a patient person– what can I say, it isn’t one of my virtues. (The ‘good things come to those who wait’ cliche has always made me nervous.) So this tends to be quite the struggle in both my work and love lives. How long should you wait to call? How long is ‘too long’ when waiting hear back?
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent the past year waiting for my life to start. Waiting for the bus; waiting for an interview; waiting to hear from a guy. Just waiting for the water to boil, so I can get cooking! [You should see me on a slow business day at my restaurant, the minutes seem to crawl slowly over my skin until I’m bouncing off the walls from boredom.] Apparently professionalism and romance have a lot in common. In a lot of ways, it’s the pursuit of who you aspire to be, either as a career or relationship. They’re both presenting your better self in hopes of getting the future you want. Whether in the dating world or job market, the game’s the same: you’re looking to score. You want to win, and only your persistence will earn you results. But how long should you wait to hear back from your thank-you note after an interview? Do you text the day after a first date, or the night-of? [For that matter, should it be the guy or the girl who contacts first?] There’s a fine line between perseverance and nagging, and you don’t ever want to come out on the wrong side.
One of my home-state’s Senators is currently in the market for a new Staff Assistant. Not only did I vote and volunteer for his election in college, but he’s on Foreign Relations and anything international is kind of my thing. Thankfully, I know one of his DC staffers, who kindly pulled my resume and got me into the top group to interview. After being told the Assistant to the Chief of Staff would probably be my first interview, I was understandably stoked when I got the call last week to meet with the Chief himself. The interview went exceedingly well, and ended with him asking how my writing skills are, and to expect an exercise soon from his assistant to gauge my style. Two days passed, and I still hadn’t heard back from my message to his assistant. I know that scheudles on the Hill are far busier than my lowly life in hospitality, but he asked for my writing sample as soon as possible, and I didn’t want someone else’s tardiness to reflect on me. I emailed my friend again, communicating my concern, and eventually got a response from the Chief’s assistant over a week after my interview. I’m now waiting again, after sending in my writing response. I expect I’ll hear back by the end of the week (though I’m not really optimistic about my chances…), but it definitely struck me as a similar struggle to what everyone deals with in dating:
“How long is ‘too’ long a wait?”
However long it takes for that thought to enter your head– then it’s been too long. It really is that simple. If it takes you a week to think, “huh, wonder why I haven’t heard from them,” then it’s likely past its expiration date. If only three days have passed in what felt like agonizing radio silence, then you’ve reached your limit. Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so it’s unreasonable to tout some number-specific rule of a ‘Three-Day Deadline’ or some such nonsense. You never know how busy or slow someone else’s life is, just as they don’t know yours, so it’s unfair to judge. But it’s equally unfair to make yourself wait.
Everyone I know– myself included– has wrestled with this issue. As women, we wonder if we should: a) be assertive as a femme moderne and make first contact; or b) wait for him to man-up and show some damn initiative. Guy friends similarly deal with brooding over just how many days should they wait until calling for a second date, and does their decision make them seem desperate/ stand-offish/ God knows what else. A work friend insists that the guy should call first; she says that too many guys have gotten lazy these days, and need to put in some more effort woo a girl. I can’t say I disagree. From personal experience, I sometimes feel like I’m too assertive. My insecurity isn’t in wondering if the guy knows I’m interested, but that he knows JUST how interested I am. I suppose it’s possible to be too open a book, especially when it’s an audio-book on the loudspeakers. Once that precedent is set, a lot of guys will sit back and let the girl do the chasing. [For the record, I prefer two dominant people in a relationship; I want someone who can match me.] But if I’m genuinely interested in a guy and I haven’t heard back within a few days, then my emotions start to sour. What could have been a period of eager anticipation has now turned into feeling like I’ve been stood up, and that’s a damn ugly feeling.
So once you know it’s been too long, the next obstacle to deal with: what do you do now? Should you man- (or woman-) up and call? Continue to twiddle your thumbs and practice patience? Or should you just move on?
Depending on how many days it’s been, I wouldn’t just write someone off– like I said, you never know what’s going on in their lives. But don’t let yourself get strung along by a complete flake, either. I’m a firm believer in the whole “if someone wants to see you, they will” concept. If the connection you thought you had was genuinely mutual, they’ll find a way to get ahold of you (both communicably and physically, hey-yo!) There sure as hell are enough communication options these days, so there’s just no excuse for radio silence. Either you want to see someone, or you don’t– be honest about it. But stop checking your phone. If they want you, they’ll get their shit together enough to dial seven numbers. When/ if they do eventually call, its up to you on whether you think they’re worth another shot. But if you pass the point of wondering where that call is, then stop checking your phone for their name; you’ll only wear your battery [and nerves] out. Instead, find something/someone else to amuse you.
It’s a tough habit to break. Even as a self-proclaimed Impatient, I find myself sliding into excusing away my waiting. I haven’t heard from interviewers? Well, they’re busy. A crush I finally made some butterfly-inducing headway with still confusingly hasn’t called? Well… it bums me out, but I was away for the weekend and work schedules are a bitch. I did my best with the Hill job process, and all I really can do is wait on that one. With the guy? Well, I’m actually proud of myself for waiting on that one; I’ve fought against my childhood shyness in order to be assertive for so long, I’ve forgotten how to let a guy do the chasing for once. If this one doesn’t have the guts [or interest] to rise to the challenge, then it is certainly time to move on. At the moment, this radio silence has left me significantly Not Impressed.
In the end, a job and a guy really are the same thing: if they want me, they will make their interest known. But I’m sure as hell not going to wait around forlornly watching the phone for their calls, either! I’d much rather go play laser-tag, or discover a new favorite local band. If he remembers himself in time to manage transforming that sick forgotten-feeling in my stomach back to butterflies, I’m open to the possibility. In the meantime, it’s a lot better to make your own future rather than waiting for it to happen.
So who wants to go cheer the Phillies as they crush the Nats this weekend? I bet you a Dogfish Head that Werth-less drags DC down to his level and my baller Phighters come out triumphant! My Big Bro will be visiting for the game, and Jules Junior and I look forward to showing him around our town.
Though I prefer more than one a week, Big D and the Kids Table have the right idea:
Ah, the promised details on an actual guy I’m seeing– yes, folks, step right up! See the guy-wonder that has survived more than three dates with yours truly! [Well, you can’t actually see him, since this is a nominally-anonymous blog. Sorry Charlie, no bananas.]
So here’s the scoop: boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-go-for-jazz-and-beer, boy-kisses-girl-good-night-and-therefore-misses-last-metro-home, girl-spends-next-5-out-of-7-days-on-various-exploits-with-boy. Textbook, right?
Ok, ok, I know it’s not. I rarely make it to a third date with a guy, let alone introduce him to friends and invest that much time. Half of my chalks it up to a slow work week and high boredom level, but the other half has to be honest– he’s a truly great guy. He’s sincere, he’s attractive, he’s intelligent and funny. Like I’ve said before: he’s the genuine article. Everything about him screams all kinds of wonderful, desirable things like ‘well-adjusted’, ‘stable’, and ‘STD/addiction-free’. The biggest aspiration woven into every fiber of his subconscious being, though: ‘boyfriend’.
Which has me promptly wanting to turn-tail in the opposite direction for my first run since grade school gym class. [Yes, I’m aware of the absurdity of my reactions.] No, I’m not actually writing him off, and I’m certainly not running away. For full disclosure, I thought to be honest and include this gut response. At this point in my life, someone as emotionally mature as myself apparently freaks me out a little bit.. Now I understand why I sometimes make other guys back-pedal.
Date one: drinks at my favorite blues spot, Madam’s Organ. There was an amazing soul band playing, one of my favorite, crass bartenders working, and plenty of space on a Sunday night to talk without having to shout over drunken morons. We talked well past the time I should have cut him off to catch the metro, and the conversation was amazing. Everything from general background and music/books/etc tastes to aspirations and past intense experiences [getting jumped, moving from home, etc]. The good-night kiss outside the metro was memorable, and resulted in him missing the last train out of the city [he had to take a bus that took an extra hour, it was very romantic-comedy-esque]. An all around impressive, relaxed, and exhilarating first date.
Date two: coffee on my work break the next afternoon. I know, the next day? Already? Went to another personal favorite, Tryst Coffeehouse, and talked for hours. Again, hopping from jokes and society to deep personal stories. Even the heaviest topics weren’t conversation downers, though, just examples of real-life experience. It was liberating sharing that part of me without someone cringing because they don’t understand and pull away from knowing how to handle it. I don’t think I’ve told most of my new friends in DC even half of those major life events I shared with him.
Date three: I attended an event at the White House halfway through the week, and we met up on the National Mall after to stretch out in the sun and enjoy the weather. My first sunburn of 2012 was soaked in showing him hidden spots around the memorials. He asked where my favorite place is, so I showed him: I call it the Duck Pond. [It’s technically called Constitution Gardens Pond, but I prefer my name.] It’s a gorgeous spot by the WWII memorial with an island jutting into the water with a few willow trees and cherry blossoms. We walked out there, sat under a willow tree, and watched the ducklings learn to swim. [After a bunch of them fell asleep, he charged in a very 5-year-old manner that I still smile to remember.] It was all quite sweet and idyllic. The romantic-comedy trend persists.
What he doesn’t know is that for years, this is the place I’ve thought to eventually have my wedding ceremony. Since middle school, I’ve told my family that I’m going to get married on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial– everyone wants to have some epic nuptial scene, and I’m pretty damn sure that tops the best of them. After deliberating more recently, I don’t want a bunch of dumbass tourons wandering through my ceremony. Then I fell more in love with my Duck Pond. The island is a perfectly picturesque spot to say our vows, and then go take legendary wedding party pics on the Lincoln steps. [If I find out ANY of you take this dream from me, I will hunt you down and ruin the rest of your life. DON’T FUCK WITH MY UNIQUE WEDDING.]
Date four: a movie night in. On a Friday. Just us at my house. Here’s the deal, my dear readers. Up until the past month or so, I had spent less than a dozen weekend nights at home since moving here nearly a year ago. Those few nights were mostly due to insane work weeks, low funds, or intense illness– and even THAT rarely stopped me from going out with friends. I don’t stay in on weekends, and I definitely don’t do it to play house with a guy. So this is new. And it was wonderful. We ordered Thai, ate it in bed, shared music, and watched an off-genre zombie spinoff that blew my mind. [Thank you, Canada, Pontypool is absolutely brilliant.] We cuddled, and kissed, and again kept him well past the last train home. Whoops! So he stayed over for a DETERMINEDLY shenanigans-less sleepover. Yes, it was tough, but I didn’t regret it.
Date five: drinks and games with my friends at the bar. Went to a frequented local bar, The Red Derby, for beer, Jenga, and Pictionary. They liked him, he liked them, and it was another successful night. This sleepover was decidedly less-determined than the previous one, but also not regretted. I refer you to my RADD update on intimacy and attention spans. Since then, I’ve spent a full week of Me Time, including less-accessible contact with my Genuine Article. [Date six: He did come with me to see Hunger Games with a friend and her guy last night, though.]
Yes, I consciously acknowledge that I was distancing myself over the past week. No, I’m not entirely sure why. I’m mildly concerned this is a (500) Days of Summer situation. We really like each other, we’re both attractive and have a lot in common, but I just don’t think I’m interested in the same romantic lifestyle that he’s looking for. He’s always holding my hand, and had his hand on my leg or knee the entire movie. [I’m watching the HUNGER GAMES, sweetheart, I don’t want to play fucking footsies while some of my all-time favorite literary characters slaughter each other on screen. I’d like to get lost in the story, thankyouverymuch.]
Like I said in Chemistry Class, there should be way more sparks flying in the first few weeks, and far less windows into the casually affectionate future of a long-term relationship. I have a sneaking suspicious that he’s a border-line Serial Dater. I know, I know– that’s no bueno, guys. Not just because they need a girlfriend to feel whole, but more-so because I simply cannot relate to it. I’ve mostly been a single girl my entire life, and can’t grasp the idea of only feeling whole when with someone else. I’m whole all by myself. He usually has a year between relationships, apparently, but he still acts like my Serial Dater friends. But who knows, maybe he’s acting like a boyfriend not because he doesn’t know how to act single, but because he wants to act like a boyfriend with me. Scary thought.
So a month or so ago, I’d thought that I was open to finding a boyfriend [or letting him find me]. But maybe I’m not. Attribute it to the uneasiness of still being on the job-hunt, but I think being single suits my current life much better. It’s nice to have the consistency of this Genuine Article, and I like practicing my girlfriendly arts– but I doubt this will lead down any monogamous paths. Maybe it’s because he isn’t the right guy for that job; maybe it’s my the point in my life; maybe it’s just who I am. Who knows?
When I first watched (500) Days of Summer and this totally damn adorable montage from it, I gushed to myself that I wanted a guy that felt that way about me. But that’s only half of it, right? I want a guy that is tapping his toes in anticipation to see me, sure– but I want to act this way about a guy, too. Because it ends the way it does because the love in their relationship was one-sided, and no one wants that. I think I identified with the movie way more than I thought. This blog about my life isn’t a love story– it’s a story about love. And it isn’t over ’till it’s over.
I love it when I get to the point in dating when the guy asks “So what, are you looking for a boyfriend or something?” My response is an easy one.
“No, I’m looking for consistency, not monogamy.”
I love getting that question, though. Most of the time, it’s asked in a tone of voice that implies anything in the affirmative is a deal-breaker. Which, to me, means the guy is immature, has serious/recent baggage, or both. And THAT is a deal-breaker for me, so just move along until you grow up, Peter Pan.
It’s especially amusing when it’s in response to putting on the breaks. I’m not judging the One-Night Stand practice. It can be fantastic, fun, and just what someone needs for their emotional and social state. But at this point in my life, I’m not really interested in raising my number for that set-up. I don’t think your number is what matters in the end, per se, but the experiences it represents. Falling into bed within 24 hours of meeting doesn’t make the standards cut.
“But if the number doesn’t matter, I don’t understand why we can’t…” Well, you don’t have to understand, now do you? No, you don’t. You just have to respect that my clothes are staying on, and we can both deal with the frustration of PG-13 activities. Deal with it. If you stick around, then we’ll both find the other person actually worth the wait, now won’t we?
So no, I’m not looking for a relationship to disrupt my current routine or dedicate all my social time to. Then again, that’s probably because I haven’t met someone that piqued my interest long enough. I have to WANT to spend that time with someone; once you’re intrigued enough, the time seems to magically rearrange itself.
First, I have no problem with monogamy. I think it’s a beautiful thing, and in our deepest nature to crave someone to spend our lives with. Mankind doesn’t generally like to be left alone. We are social creatures, and are too dynamic to be able to amuse ourselves forever.
What I DO take issue with is the abuse of the institution. Serial Daters drive me nuts, and have society wound so tight that we all carry anti-commitment baggage that probably isn’t even ours. Guys are convinced every girl wants to settle down and tie the knot, even though the thought hasn’t even crossed some of our minds. Girls are defensive when asked if they’re looking for a relationship, scared it will spook whichever guy is asking.
A friend and I had an interesting conversation on polyamory vs. monogamy the other night, and he had some interesting additions to my general philosophy. He said that humans are meant to be monogamous in the end, but what if polyamory is just the time until then? I like that way of putting it.
I am not a polyamorous personality, but I am living the lifestyle for now. That’s the difference between people like me, and Serial Daters. I have no problem being on my own, until I find someone worth giving much of my time to, and getting to know multiple people until I do meet someone special. These guys I’m dating, they aren’t the only ones and I don’t expect to be the only one for them either. I like to multi-task, and social stimulation makes me happy.
If I get into a monogamous relationship, it doesn’t mean I want to marry that person. I think your youth should be spent experimenting, with both freedom and commitment. You learn a lot about yourself in both social states, and that’s necessary before you meet the rest of your life. I also think it’s important to try dating different types of people. You might be surprised by what turns you on, and which personalities mesh right with yours. This is the time to explore.
Life is pretty amazing when you practice monoga-me.
For myself, I’m enough. My beau, DC, has given me plenty of fascinating guys to spend time with and explore myself. I carpe diem when- and whatever I want. I’d rather take advantage of that rather than get hung up on searching for The One. People miss out on life, rushing about the way they do. I’d rather mosey on about and enjoy whatever comes my way.
In the words of one of my favorite philosophers: