History Class

serial daters

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Inside Scoop: The Genuine Article

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.]

Adorably awkward, right?

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.

How classically romantic, right?

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.]

Why is the beginning always the best?

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.

Monoga-Me

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:

Sharing Is Caring

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.

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