What a question!
Oh buddy, am I in trouble.
It has now been six months since I last wrote [refresher: Luck of the Irish]– eep! Yes, I’m still alive, kicking ass, and taking names [i.e. job applications]. Sorry about that. I could blame work, friends, job hunting, or Martian invasions, but we all know the reason: a boy. [Man?] Isn’t that always the reason! But I had half-finished this article, and it stays true. So let’s jump back to the end of the summer, and roughly two months into our relationship.
Two months: my most common expiration date. I’ve only ever dated someone for longer once before, my only titled ‘boyfriend’. But just that week, my Mick was goofing with my hand, gave me a look, and told me my claddagh was facing the wrong way.
Side note: the claddagh, commonly called the Irish Love ring, is our symbol for true love. I prefer not to call it the Wedding ring, because my grandma told me all good Irish girls wear one; I have since age 16. It is fashioned of a pure heart clasped in the hands of friendship and crowned with loyalty. There are four ways to wear the ring, each with its own meaning. On your right hand, the heart facing out [so others can see the shape properly] tells others you are unattached; facing in means your heart is taken in a committed relationship. The left hand out says engaged, and in is married. Only supposed to be worn on the ring finger. [Duh.] The choice of metal and stone used mean anything from sterling strength, heart of gold, or diamond in the rough. Personally, I go for silver with a heart of green. The color of passion, strength, and Ireland. A perfect claddagh.
Which is now turned in. I’d said it only turns for monogamous relationships, and I’m clearly dating a dozen other guys. Right? [Circle: false.] I later turned it in, quietly beaming. Last night, he noticed again, “It looks like a much better fit this way.”
So that’s that. A subtle answer from a simple man.
When I say ‘simple’, it is meant as the most genuine admiration possible. It is difficult to finish this description of Mick from that earlier perspective, with six months more experience now. But I’ll tell you, I was absolutely starred. He is the kind of strong, good person you don’t meet often. He is a five-year Army veteran of both wars, medically discharged and half-homesick for his military life. We initially met only six months after he got out, he was still adjusting to civilian life when he started working at my Bar. He deserves a medal for being the first coworker I’ve dated; should I have said for ‘War Hero’? Well, the valiant effort succeeded. Mission Accomplished.
The effort was mine. True to form, I do believe I seduced him. He was new, an unusual novelty. Tall, broad, attractive in that solid Irish way. A real man. Maybe a bit withdrawn, a little quiet. I don’t hear it often anymore, but when he did speak up, it was with a slight lisp. Being me, I’d call him out in the kitchen for his silence. Finally, he joked that he was quiet to start, but won’t shut up once he gets going. Nearly a year later, I can vouch for that.
So I always had this running Hangman game with the sous chef during slow times at the Bar. It helped keep me from sticking my hand in boiling oil out of boredom. Trying to be inclusive, I pulled Mick into the game, only to find out he is seriously dyslexic. I haven’t figured out if the lisp is from the dyslexia, his severe war injuries, or a combination of all three. All I know is that from a cute, withdrawn veteran… it was rather endearing. So I’d invite him out with the Teambuilders to find trouble. Sometimes it worked; it was hard for him, living out in the boonies without a car. Then one night, I offered the couch instead of his trek home.
I have never been so caught up in a whirlwind. Though we kept it professional at work, all I wanted to do was grab him. After a month, everyone knew. After two, we were exclusive. He called me his best friend, the best thing to hear from your boyfriend. After three, we met the families. A bit early for the judgment, but still another first for me. The first night I met one of his best friends, he told me he had never seen Mick like this. The teasing over him loving me was received with mixed emotions, and made me blush to my Irish roots. After that, we essentially lived together. He bought me a new claddagh for Christmas.
Word-for-word what I wrote six months ago:
“So in the weirdest progression possible, I’m pretty sure I’m falling in love with him. Which is terrifying. I’ve never said that about anyone before. And definitely haven’t said it to anyone. He’s so uninhibited and honest, it makes me shy sometimes. But I’m working on the nerve to say it first. I think. Oh, lordy.”
Though it was rough, I did say it first. And it scared him. A little [lot] tipsy [drunk], it sort of slipped out. He said to not say that word; everything goes to shit after it happens. I was in shock; it was jumping off a cliff and not knowing if I’d be caught when the fall ended. I had never said ‘I love you’ to anyone before. I told him so. It was important for me to say it, even if he couldn’t. I only speak what I mean, so I couldn’t fault him for not saying something he didn’t feel.
The first time he did, a week later, drunk and still scared, I almost cried.
So here I am, ten months later, and I love him. In the immortal words of one of my favorite artists, in my absolute favorite song…. he’s got a hold on me.
It has been a full year since I moved here to the day, and this is now officially the longest relationship I’ve been in– way to break my record! Honestly, if anyone could do it, it would be Washington. This city has stamina.
And it seems like, for anniversary presents, DC is sending a bunch of changes and exciting things my way. Hooray! I love surprises!
First and foremost, my sister has come to stay for the summer! The lucky little genius is interning at one of those extra-important buildings downtown, which security measures prevent me from naming at this time [though I’m told I’ll be allowed to divulge this after her program is over]. So this means we’re time-travelling back to the good ol’ days when we shared a room way back in the 90’s. [She will hereafter be known as Jules Jr., Junior, JJ, or any other inanity that strikes my fancy. Especially Ducky, her character from Land Before Time when we were kids.] Yessirree, it’s going to be a summer-long slumber party, backyard potluck, and city life sisterhood– with the added big-kid-bonus of [mostly-] legally-obtained adult beverages.
Everyone’s response to the news seems to be a cautiously probing, “So… is this a good thing?” And my answer is always an ecstatic “YES!” Junior and I are perfectly alike and wonderfully different in all those fun, symbiotic ways that make sisters awesome. I’d say it’s worth giving up some privacy [and yes, certain adult uses of the bedroom] to share an epic summer with my Second in Command. Call it the honeymoon phase, but it’s been a week, and we’re having a blast. We will be hosting our first shared soiree this Saturday, and it’s sure to be full of memorable, wodkamelon-induced shenanigans.
That’s right, there have been some moves on the job-front. Last week, I found a wonderfully enthusiastic staffing agency that’s excited to help, and within 24 hours, secured me an interview. I ran over to the development firm interested in meeting me and had a fantastic interview; unfortunately, they went with someone more qualified.
In an effort for full honesty, I was a bit broken-hearted after the news yesterday. I called my mom, reached out to some friends, had a therapeutic cry, then went to the restaurant for work. At work, everyone seemed to pick up on the mood and were extra-adorable in playing around with me. It turned into a pretty zen night, despite the chaos of a surprisingly hectic turnout for a Monday night. I think I find my inner balance way easier when surrounded by chaos– my place in hospitality and politics should be no surprise.
C’est la vie, right? At least they wanted to meet me in the first place! Now waiting for the next interview to be lined up, so fingers crossed that big changes come my way.
Heatin’ Up for the Summer
And I’m not just talking about the weather… That’s right, I’m rather taken with a guy. Next post will cough up the dirt, I promise, but I’ll just say this: the Classicist is absolutely fascinating. It was out of nowhere, and is still surprising me, but I’m loving it. No, I’m still stuck in my monoga-me lifestyle, so no domestication is in sight. But now I can explore the new concept of ‘affair’ I’ve been toying with. More to come [pun intended?].
I’m recommitting to writing here. After recent advice [of both the maternal and friendly varieties], I’ve accepted that I can only keep truckin’ to fight the job market. But until then… I should try to figure out what it is I genuinely enjoy doing, and maybe find a way to make a living with it. I know I deeply love growing this site and expanding its possibilities, so that’s my mission for the summer. Take Dating the District to a new level, and see where it in turn takes me– are you ready, DC?
And the ultimate summer feel-good tunes:
In the past month, I have had friends tell me they’re breaking up, changing jobs, moving houses, or switching cities in general– there is clearly something in the air.
To me, spring cleaning is intensely cathartic. Out with the old, in with the new! It’s all about brushing off the cobwebs, sweeping away the dust, and reestablishing a sense of order and rightness to your life. [Clearly Snow White is more than a simple doppelgänger for me; have I mentioned my apple crisp is legendary?] With this sort of meditation, you’re cleansing yourself both physically and mentally. Gotta love multi-tasking!
So we all switch out our clothes for the colorful and carefree, call friends more often to picnic or happy hour together, and suddenly the entire world seem more appealing and fun. In order to help everyone else de-clutter their lives as squeaky-clean as I have the past week, I’ve made a nifty list of what I’m getting myself into. The first are more expected suggestions; the latter ones, a few extra amusing ideas from yours truly.
–The Kitchen: In my world, a home starts in the kitchen. It’s where you cook and bake and people come together, and ours was falling woefully behind any generally-accepted condition of ‘home-y’ this past winter. So I’ve attacked the entire fridge for a [mildly disturbing] clean, scrubbed our stove, scoured the cabinets, and washed the windows. All that’s needed now is a thorough [read: violent] mopping and fresh coat of paint on the walls. [Just got the okay from our landlords– who likes red kitchens?]
–Yardwork: no one wants to party with untrimmed hedges– so get to work! I’ll admit, I’ve only cleaned up the front porch and walkway, but this weekend will be dedicated to tackling the backyard. A jungle seems to grow at a frightening speed at our little bungalow here, but I’m determined to take advantage of having backyard space and hosting people here more often. This means clean patio furniture, pruned veggie plants, and sparkly garden lights, people, so get to Target! [And if you ever want me to grace your potlucks with my presence, please include Citronella candles; DC mosquitos are frighteningly prehistoric!]
– Phone contacts: I went through a deleted all the old college classmates I’ll never hit up, ex-flings I’ll definitely never hit up again, and all those mystery numbers that find their way into your phone after a late-night partying; not sure where they come from (okay, I lied; it’s all the club’s fault, they always appear after going out in Dupont).
– Personal projects: You know there’s a mountain of things you want to do, but sweep under the rug in the back of your mind. For me, it’s finishing paintings like the world map I’ve been working on for over a year, and the pile of presents I’ve been making for a certain sister of mine. I’ve wanted to paint my room since I moved in [also a year ago], and have half a dozen articles of clothing that need mending in my sewing bag. I want to de-clutter my closet/life, and donate a bundle of things to the local charity store, Martha’s Table, since I can’t afford monetary support right now.
My Spring-Forward Resolutions
I want to get a pet goldfish, because taking care of something else always helps remind me to take care of myself. (Though I’m not sure what it inevitably dying will remind me of…) I never seem to really get into the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, and gave up Lent along with going to church back in the day– but every spring, I always seem to dedicate [or re-dedicate] myself to little self-improvements. This year, I’m going to stop biting my nails. Regardless of the increasing severity of my finances, I’m going to get involved in local volunteering and charities more. I’m going to drink less (which will help with my finances as well as health!) and exercise more. I’ve gotta get back to practicing/ expanding my Arabic and French skills. And I really need to keep up with keeping my room clean.
And what it always comes back to, here at Dating the District: ROMANCE.
Reorganized and reenergized, you are in a much better position to get back out there. No, I’m still not personally looking for a monogamous relationship, but I’m definitely open for some adventure. More to come on the concept, but I’ve realized what I want is a passionate affair. Something fun, exciting, and maybe a little bit daring– but not committed and certainly socially no one else’s business. So my next move is to keep an eye out for an exceptionally awesome guy that might fit the bill. I know he’s out there somewhere, in such a hot-blooded city. We’ll find each other.
I’d ask you if anyone comes to mind, but it would ruin the whole point if you knew about it. It’s going to be our little secret.
Good luck with your spring cleaning and summer secrets, readers. I sure as hell know I’m going to enjoy mine, just as much as I enjoy the delicious intensity of Andrew Bird’s song, How Indiscreet.
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.
It’s just one of those ubiquitous childhood lessons, no matter where, when, and how you’re born. Sure, Sesame Street had a heavy hand in the wording for my generation, but it’s taught everywhere. And it doesn’t get old—no matter what age you are, the truth stays strong, in every type of relationship. Especially romantic ones.
It takes many forms in relationships, though I’m not talking about sharing partners for the most part [polyamory is seeing a rationalized comeback, but not a part of my personal lifestyle]. No, I’m talking more about sharing yourself. Being open and receptive. It’s tough to be an open book; it takes a lot of trust in the reader, and this is just a harsh world to trust new people sometimes.
When I look at the people around me, and hear about their romantic woes and failures, it all comes down to trusting yourself and another. It’s a damn vulnerable feeling, laying yourself bare to another’s scrutiny, but it’s also one of the most liberating phenomena in the human experience.
Some people only want to share parts of themselves with others—they are serial daters. Not monogamists, but daters. They hop from person to person like a bee bouncing around the wallflowers, content to enjoy the activity for a time before going back to their hive without keeping anyone special in mind. There’s nothing wrong with the lifestyle [and for the most part is my own life of choice, for now], because these bees are perfectly happy on their adventures, knowing their home is sweet enough without needing anyone else there. I have a blast going on dates with new people all the time, even if several aren’t repeated, because I am happy with myself. I don’t date to fill a void, I date to meet new and exciting people, and share my life with others. I don’t have any one special person in particular because I haven’t met the right person yet, but that’s peachy keen with me. I’d rather be awesome and single than settling for someone that doesn’t quite fit—we’re still young, this is the time to explore.
What I’ve noticed, between my friends and these various suitors, is that a lot of people don’t trust the dating game. We’ve grown to become quite the cynical generation. Raised on Disney fairy tales, fed the belief in love-at-first-sight and dreams-come-true, but experiencing the reality of an ever-increasing divorce rate and the nightmare of nasty break-ups. It’s tough to trust your dreams when it seems like they’re only real in cartoons—even MTV only airs the failed romances. If beautiful, awesome people like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore can’t make it, how can we expect to?
We all have our preconceived notions and ‘ideal mate’ daydreams, but are too protective of it and ourselves to share with potential realities. It’s almost as if we’re hoarding our dreams, because admitting them to someone risks the chance of it happening. Like a birthday wish—you can’t TELL anyone what you wish when you blow out your birthday candles, because then it won’t happen!
So we make lists. Get clinical, and you feel less absurd. Come up with dealbreakers to explain the breakup before it happens, rather than admit the relationships fail because you were too terrified to commit and give it your all. Cobble together all the attractive qualities from various celebrities you fantasize about, and convince yourself the result is out there somewhere. It’s a twisted arts’n’crafts collage setting us all up for disaster. And when the end comes, we tell ourselves ‘I told you so’ as if that takes the sting out of loneliness.
Love is an all-or-nothing bet. You can’t ask everything of someone else if you refuse to open up. We’ve all heard it, the ‘two-way street’ bit, and all. You know the sayings—your mama told you them often enough as a kid. They’re clichés for a reason, you know.
So take a leap—sharing is caring. If you want someone to care about you, then you have to SHARE you. Sometimes it really is just that easy.