Saturday, November 7, 2009 Single

Just recently, I received a "Save the Date" from my friend Maria. It was one of those mini CD things that when you popped into a computer was a photo montage of her and her fiance all over the world, with Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," playing in the background. I watched it a few times, smiling, a little nauseous, but also happy for them.

This is one example of the ongoing reality in my life -- more and more of my closest friends are finding long-term mates. For them, their planning now involves another person, essentially trading the "I" for an "Us."

Admittedly, I'm impressed and amazed at the commitment they're making. I've spent most of my life single, so I've been able to channel my energies into lots of things: an aggressive work schedule, socializing hard and being a little selfish in terms of only having to worry about me.

Now don't misunderstand -- I was once in a relationship where all I could dream about was our future... (That's another post) But a broken heart ensued, which took a while to recover from.

The truth is, I think being in a relationship requires a desire to want to share part of yourself with another person and accepting all that comes with it. It's reaching a new level a maturity and it's different than other types of growth because it involves making choices that affect the two of you. I see my friends taking their vows and essentially deciding that they want to keep growing together for the rest of their lives. Pretty heavy stuff.

One could also argue that people use a long-term relationship as a scapegoat -- needing to be with someone for the fear of being alone. In that case, it's much more about co-dependence than about actually being with someone.

While I am sure that I am capable of being in a relationship, I've become comfortable in the world I've created for myself where I worry about me and what makes me happy. And, because it's been a while since I've been in a relationship that looks like it had long-term potential... There's been no need to think about much more than that!

Some of my friends poke fun at me for multiple dating interests that I "squeeze" into my own life. I laugh because it IS true. But, until I meet the one that will make me think "we" I'm OK with thinking "I."

(Although, it would make weekends so much easier to plan... )

Friday, November 6, 2009

More on "After the Talk" (Or DTR)

So, my ever rockin' friend and colleague, Laurie, took some advice provided by HurricanesFan into further consideration, sending me the following note just last night:

...Hurricanes does make some good points, esp about communication. You miss a lot over the phone. Plus, I feel like you have to be in constant communication in order to maintain trust. Otherwise, your mind starts going to all these crazy places and you constantly question his intentions.

His post gave me good insight into what's likely going through his head. He is definitely a rational thinker too- he's an attorney after all. I remember when he called me the night we met and asked me if I would meet him for breakfast. He kept saying "I don't know what I'm doing. This is so not like me to be spontaneous...blah blah blah" My theory is he rode the spontaneity wave for a while because it was new and exciting. Then, the rational part of his brain took over and he realized this was going to be next to impossible.

In a way, Hurricane's post helped me distance myself from the possibility of "us" working out. Still talk to him but just as friends (with the occasional benefit). I just need to move on. Best way to get over a guy, another guy. Maybe that's your next post? :)

Thanks, Laurie. I respect your open mind, and I'm going to have to consider writing something very soon about getting over someone... There are many ways to slice that one.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

After "The Talk" (or DTR)

Imagine meeting a man that's cute, sweet, smart, has his life in order, and just lifts you off your feet from the first meeting. Soon, you're traveling together, spending time with each other's loved ones, and making plans that maybe -- just maybe -- means that you're in it for the long-term. But suddenly, the game changes and the thrilling ride just seems to level out, leaving you to wonder when and why things took such an unexpected turn.

It's that kind of situation that Laurie, a colleague and friend of mine, painted for me as we were on our way home from work tonight. She'd met him a couple of months ago while on a vacation with her girlfriends and what ensued was a love affair out of a chick lit book, no kidding. Even though he lived in a totally different time zone, they'd made a connection and soon he was flying in to see her, they were spending time meeting each other's friends and family and he even came to a work party to meet her colleagues! We all suspected it was going somewhere and were way too happy that she found a storybook relationship with a great guy without even trying.

Anyway, during one of their visits together, they'd had the "DTR" (or, "defining the relationship") talk, in which he mentioned that because of their extreme distance (an ocean, at least) that exclusivity may not have been the best option for them. Now at this point, she's clear that she likes where they're going and doesn't want to see anyone else, which she tells him. In spite of the heavy topic, they managed to have a great weekend, which put her concerns aside.

However, when things got weird during their extended vacation, she knew it was different - and just like that, he thought it was best they stay friends. They still communicate often and have maintained a friendship, but it leveled off from their budding romance.

As Laurie told me this, I was admittedly confused for her. It was clear his wall went up fast, probably when she told him how she felt. But for a guy that started the chase in the first place, it just makes no sense that he backed out, especially after all the effort.

In breaking it down in my own head, I found myself wondering if he was caught up in the magic or thrill of it all as opposed to wanting to commit to anything long-term. I mean, did the deeper feelings she had make the situation more "work" and less fun? Honestly, I'm not sure. But my theory is that you don't mind putting in the effort when you want your other half to stay in it for the long haul.

Ultimately, you can never predict what happens after you start seeing someone. Will they stick around? Will they fade? Will they still be in the picture in a year, a month, a week? Sometimes, you may just have to take your chances and hope that the vibe you share should be enough so that nothing -- not even the "defining the relationship" talk -- will weaken it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Marrying Kind

I was laying low late last night when one of my best childhood friends, Renee, asked me whether I knew if our mutual friend, Julian, was engaged to be married. I was immediately surprised, and took to hopping on the ever popular Facebook to find out. Immediately, I noticed there were tons of messages on his Wall from his frat brothers extending their well wishes... And then there was no mistaking he'd taken the plunge, which left me dumbfounded.

Don't misunderstand -- I'm totally happy for him. How can I not be? I've known him more than half our lives, and he deserves to have that kind of love in his life. But, I would be lying if I said I saw it coming, because I didn't. However, something must have clicked for him and the decision was made. Just like that.

Now that I've entered my late 20s, I've seen this happen with tons of my friends and especially the guys in my life who have met that one woman that makes them want to put their single ways aside. They start off perfectly content being footloose and fancy-free. Then there's that one woman that just does it and case closed -- he's sprung.

I'm getting tons of wedding invitations from various friends, all with interesting stories but all ending the same way: the guy decides he can't live without this woman. Even my brother, the ultimate playboy, managed to settle down and not give it a second thought when he found his wife.

The speed and certainty with which my friends are entering this stage of their lives leads me to understand one simple (and obvious) truth: when a man had found the one, he's willing to become the Marrying Kind. No games needed. How he gets to that point is on him, but when he wants to settle down, he will. He gets over his issues and hang-ups... He doesn't disappear... And, he grows up if it means it's going to keep that woman by his side.

This is actually kind of comforting -- it means the games need to stop sooner or later.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

When You're SO Not Into Him

On countless occasions, my friends and I have been out on the town encountering many a guy we're in no way interested in. He'll continue to talk, but seems immune to the fact that the feeling isn't mutual. Then, he'll ask for a phone number and you're stuck. Do you (a) let him down gently by telling him you have a boyfriend or (b) cut him a break and give him your number, but then ignore him when he calls or (c) tell him the brutal truth.

On Halloween night I was reminded of this issue when a very pretty "going out" friend, Caroline, was being hit on by a guy that was at least six inches shorter than her, which -- combined with a very weird costume and very average looks -- didn't exactly make him her first pick.

Anyway, she was coming back from the bathroom when this bold guy came up to her and chatted her up. It was clear to us from 15 feet away that she was dying to get away, but way too sweet to brush him off so abruptly.

In any event, when my friend Marisol suggested rescuing her, I did, coming up with excuses to gently pull her away from his conversational grasp. However, as I tried using some of the random stories I could muster in under a minute, it was clear as day that two things were going on: (1) He had no intention of being deterred by me the 'cockblock' and (2) After talking to him that long, she didn't know how to leave.

So, when a couple of my attempts failed to make any traction, I slowly went back to our table. She eventually escapes, but not before he pulls out his cell phone and prepares to take down her number. When she comes back she's embarrassed to tell us she complied, admitting that she didn't know how to blow him off.

At this point I smile, thinking that this guy, who hit on such a hottie in front of his friends must be on Cloud 9 -- but doesn't know that it will likely be the last time he'll probably ever talk to her again.

I am sure we can argue this any which way. Mixed signals, game playing, whatever. But my thought here... Maybe it's worth it to consider honesty. No one likes rejection, but dragging it out isn't fun. (This is universal, regardless of gender)

I'm not sure if there IS one definitive answer. Personally, I've been guilty of playing the chase game. Either way, I think cutting it loose as early as possible makes the most sense. No need to waste anyone's time. And you may be doing each other a favor.

All I know is that the dating landscape would be such a better place if we just didn't play the cat & mouse game. But then I guess it wouldn't be as interesting -- and I'd have a lot less to write about.