Friday, June 25, 2010

Where did The Relationship Diva Go?

Hi there!

So where have I been? In the midst of travels and well, just life -- The Relationship Diva has been going through some very wonderful things. And, one of those very exciting things: It's got a new home  on ChicagoNow, a great online community in Chicago. To learn more about them, click here.

This in no way means that The Relationship Diva is over! On the contrary -- it just means that it's got a great new home with a new look! So, to continue reading about The RD's dating highs, lows and learnings along the way, just head over to http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/the-relationship-diva/ or chicagonow.com/therelationshipdiva!

And, if you ever need to reference past stories, don't worry -- this page is staying right here. So you can always come back  to visit the archives before catching up on The RD's current events at ChicagoNow! 

So, please show some love to The Relationship Diva at its new home.

Thanks for reading and I can't wait to connect with you soon...

Signed,
The RD

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Flipside to Unfriending

It blows my mind how many ways there are to stay connected to someone: calling, texting, e-mail... And now with the advent of social media tools like Twitter and Facebook which you can usually do ALL off of your mobile phone, it's virtually impossible NOT to know what someone is doing by just moving through a few clicks. Really it's genius. Log in for 10 minutes and you know who's getting married, what parties are happening all across the U.S., what people are feeding their imaginary pets, and when they've decided to "Like" that random movie or a new phone they want to buy. Basically, TMI with a crazy busy interface.

Anyway, acknowledging all this, I kind of dig the fact that there is some choice in who you follow, whose updates you get and so forth. And in extreme cases, enter the "unfriend" function (how cool is it that it was the Word of 2009?). Someone you barely know driving you nuts? Have a rough break-up? That's the ticket -- removing them from your friends automatically makes them vanish and creates a filter for you.

Another way I've discovered this really works? When it comes to dealing with old flames and/or exes. I discovered this the hard way not too long ago with Jason. While things are simmering between us, it comes and goes, and I've allowed myself to bob and weave against my better judgment.

I also found that as he started to surface again in my life, I let myself keep up with him through things like Facebook. I mean, it's normal to check on your friend's profiles, write  messages on their Walls, comment on photos... But maybe not as much when you've got a wacky romantic history like he and I do.

Now this next part's hard to admit, but I have to in order to make sense of what I learned...

Soon, I found myself going to his page more than even I liked. And when I spotted several pictures of him and a cutesy brunette, I froze up a bit. Suddenly, I found myself dealing with a pang of jealousy thinking of a girl that seemed quite close to him... In a way that I hoped he'd see me. And that's when I felt like someone that gave too much of a damn -- more than I certainly like. So last night, after bobbing back and forth, I used the unfriend function. (Only the third time since I've been on the networking site)

Granted, it was bugging me to do... And I am wondering whether that brunette was the one he was with during one of our separation spells. But, what I realized here is that I like my sanity more. So, checking his page will not help matters any nor will it undo what's happened before me. 

If we do figure things out with us, then with a little time, I'm OK with being friends on the page again.  Besides, there are several ways to stay in touch. For now, I'm just giving myself one less avenue in which to do it... And if he wants to be friends again on any level... Well, I'll just cross that bridge when I get to it.

Photo Credit: Adam Borkowski/PhotoXpress

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Liquor Made Me Do It!

Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial gateway to summer, is known for the warm weather, great cookouts, crazy bar scenes and if you're lucky, cute guys or girls to help you kick off a fun new season.

It's this very feeling I had this weekend while my cousin, Josie, came into the Windy City. My mind was set on having a good time, keeping my thoughts off of Jason (while I let that one unfold on its own), enjoy a possible flirtation or two at best and just enjoying my 20s while I still have them. Sounds like a formula for success, right?

Yes, well, what happened instead was a story I can only say is a prime example reinforcing the drama alcohol can cause. 

Towards the end of the night, Josie and I stopped at a bar just a couple of blocks away from my apartment, simply to have a few beers and wind down from the roaming around we'd done. Anyway, not too long after getting our drinks, a very cute guy with a nice build and somewhat scruffy beard wanders over to us and immediately chatted us up. He told us he was from the Midwest and a former military boy, having come in town with his girlfriend for the holiday. However, that night he was rebelling because he got into a fight with his other half, leaving her in the hotel room alone. Listening to him talk, we figured he was a little drunk, which amused Josie and me --- for a moment.


Anyway, he soon starts getting too friendly as he abruptly proceeds to tell me how attractive he finds me, that he finds my brown skin attractive, that I could pull down his pants to check him out because I wouldn't be disappointed by what he had to "offer"... And that's when he put his arm around my shoulder and tries to reached for my breast. 


At this point Josie immediately shoves him off of me and he proceeds to embrace me again. This time I shrug him off, obviously turned off but wanting to be careful in case he got more aggressive. And, it was when I got him off of me that his phone went off -- with a text message from his girlfriend telling him to come back to the hotel room because all she wanted to do was be with him. He kept saying he didn't want to be with her, that he wanted to be with me and proceeds once again to grope me before I once again gently shrug him off.


Soon, the bar closes and Josie and I manage to slip out of the bar without him catching us. Whew!

Creepy, I know... But, in thinking about it after the fact, two things became even clearer than ever to remind me why dating and extreme drinking just don't mix:

(a) There are things you just can't take back: I wouldn't be surprised if later that night, the guy headed back into his hotel room and either passed out or had sex with his girlfriend. And, I wouldn't be surprised if in the morning he had no recollection of the night before. But, what would or could have happened if he met a woman that was receptive to his advances and had taken him home? Would the sex or a make-out session with a random stranger be worth damaging what he has with his girlfriend?

(b) The Scary Factor: Sure, the guy was cute. But, as the night progressed and his hands started to roam free, he quickly became that creepy guy (you know -- the ones you see on Law & Order: SVU). Which means he was a little less than predictable, making even a potential hook-up run for the hills.

The point? A nice glass of wine or a cold beer can definitely round out a nice night and I am all for that (and could add a nice touch when you're home with someone special, too). But over the top drinking? Well, that can be a buzz kill -- real quick.


See, now that's a case to stay sober on a Friday night... Or at least be out with a group of people that can help make sure you behave when you're kicking 'em back.


Photo Credit: Bram Meijer/PhotoXpress


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's YOUR Number? (Or Discussing Body Count)

"What's Your Number?"

What a loaded question! I mean, consider it in the case of a cutie you've been spying across the bar comes over to ask you for your digits before the night's done. That's good.

But, how about when you're dating someone for a while and the relationship is escalating into physical territory? Then it means that it's time for the talk about sexual history, number of partners... Which makes the question "what's-your-number" not so sexy. 

 While this topic is not a new, it's one that still matters, especially in this day and age which means that there's always room to break it down. Shall we?

Pro for admitting your true number: On one hand, you clear the air and get to keep it real and honest, especially when taking a situation to that physical level.  

Things to think about when admitting your number:
  • Does a number too high or too low create some type of stigma (slut or inexperienced)?
  • Moreover, would too much risky behavior such as pregnancy scares or past STIs make a person look less desirable? 
  • Can a woman and a man get away with having the same body count? Not necessarily -- that may cause insecurity. (Seriously, do you want your partner to flat out tell you they wished you did something someone else used to do to them in bed?)
But, don't be fooled by all of this because it's about more than a number. The truth is, it's not quite that black and white. In reflecting on the conversations I've had with friends, I was surprised to learn how many of them hadn't had that talk with past boyfriends, instead choosing to just jump into the sex which didn't always fare out too well.  I mean, the first time I was in an ongoing sexual relationship, I actually had a pretty long sit-down with the guy, even going so far as to ask all sorts of questions that in hindsight may have been overkill.

Admittedly, the conversation is a hard one and not easy to have.  And, for situations or people with whom the acts will be isolated incidents, maybe a whole formal conversation isn't worth the drama. But, asking the Test question is always smart (Have they had a test? When? What were the results?). And, of course, in cases where there is no monogamous relationship, making sure there's protection and birth control can help protect from unwanted pregnancies and STIs. 

Survey says: However, regardless of this obvious stuff, there are some things that may be fair assessments to make when it comes to the Number question in a dating relationship:
  • Body Count has nothing to do with the two of you at that moment: Regardless of the number of partners each of you had before entering the relationship, that should have no bearing on how the two of you feel about each other at that moment. The two aren't related.
  • Numbers aren't experience: The number of people a person has slept with isn't necessarily related to the amount of experience.
  • Having the talk is a smart thing to do: Sure, it's not fun. But having this unfun talk now is definitely a mature thing to do and if handled properly can avoid a lot of pain later.
  • Feelings Count: Each time you choose to escalate a dating situation into physical territory, it's an indicator that things are real. Truth is, a sexual milestone in a relationship is an important one -- it's a way to grow the bond you have. I mean, that may be old school, but the whole sex with feelings thing? Yeah, that's still in.
Choosing to reveal your number is all up to you. Ultimately, think about what you BOTH will be comfortable with and take it from there. Or, to sum up? Play it smart for you! That's always the best move, wouldn't you think?


Photo Credit: PhotoXpress

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Heart Lockdown

It may be pretty safe to assume that at one point or another, most of us have formed snap judgments on someone based on how they're dressed, how they carry themselves or even who they're with. Whatever it is, we immediately allow ourselves to run with all sorts of theories and speculations, which seem much more appealing over the realities.

It's this "ability"-- the one of making abrupt assessments -- that I constantly work on, especially in dating. While I've gotten tons better in the last couple of years, it does have its moments when it rears its head. In those cases, I find myself quickly cutting something off early, if only to protect myself and my heart. To do this, I find a reason that it can't work so I'm not disappointed when/if things do fail. I guess I see it as a way of keeping tough.

Anyway, I find myself coping with these feelings specifically with an old flame, Jason, with whom things just...Faded. Not "ended," not "broken up," not "bad" -- but just faded. In all honesty, I was bummed when that happened and for a while even believed that he could have meant quite a bit to me. We met after I'd gotten out of a relationship, then dated for a short while before taking a long hiatus while we both took up with other people... Then, when we got back on track, we had a great time for a little while, but it just never seemed like the right time for either one of us. And things genuinely felt real between us. Back then, anyway. Now we're taking about seeing each other again and even though I hadn't taken him seriously before, he keeps reaching via e-mails and texts in the hopes of winning me over.

There is a part of me that's been nursing some serious wounds from past situations and protecting my heart by conjuring up theories for his motives: He's gotten out of something, that's why he's free to pursue me again... Or, he'll be like the last couple of non-relationships and disappear with time.... Or, he's putting all this effort simply to get me into bed. But the rational side of me is balancing out the negative by trying to not make him responsible for any experiences before him -- at least, not before I've had a chance to really assess his motives.

What it boils down to? It's about telling the difference between a relationship that went sour and a relationship that didn't have a chance to happen. And, it's about being careful with how tightly we keep the padlock on our hearts so that we can let the ones with potential through.Essentially, put the baggage away. You can't make everyone pay for the mistakes of one.

The jury is out on this situation with Jason. Truth is, I'm still ruled by thinking about the dark side before the positive and learning how to balance my extreme fear with ideas on what my perfect match should look like. But as I talk to him, I'm trying something a little different: giving it a little more time before I make the call of which side of the fence he falls on. After all, there's no way of being loved without surrendering yourself to it, now is there? That much I know.

In the meantime, I'll keep the lock fastened on my heart, with the key not too far away -- just in case. After all, he's still got a lot of work to do if he expects to get anywhere. (smile)

Photo Credit: PhotoXpress

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sexy or Scary: The Aggressive Factor

Just a few nights ago, I had the pleasure of being out after work to grab a quick drink with a good friend, Tasha. It was a really impromptu thing so we were both less than polished -- and ended up at one of the trendiest spots in the city, filled with gorgeous men and very attractive pro-athletes. In short, a dream scenario for most women... Except for the fact that we weren't quite prepared for the scene. 

However, the story here isn't about either one of us. Instead, it was about a woman seated two tables over, who, while appropriately dressed, was loud in personality and exuded an overwhelming confidence to the point of arrogance. Don't misunderstand -- I appreciate a little swagger as I've mentioned before... But never have I been impressed with over the top behavior, and this woman, with her exaggerated walk, hair, make-up and laugh was trying HARD to capture the attention of the people around us. 

In any event, when one star athlete walks outside to begin taking publicity photos, this woman gets up from her rather large group, runs over to where the athlete and the photographer are, and puts her arm around his waist. She tells him she's photogenic and would love a couple of images with him that she thinks will add a nice touch. Soon, she's being snapped left and right with this guy holding her tight and clearly appreciating just how hard she was flirting with him. 

At the end of the session, she pretty much hovers over him, hands on his chest and arms, and then strolls back to the table only to tell the people she's with that she's got a date lined up with him. 


Her: So I have a date, I have a date!

Her Friend: Oh, that's great! When?

Her: Well he's going to call me to figure it out. 

Now, whether or not he's called her? Couldn't tell you. How attractive she was? Also irrelevant.  However, here what I did ask myself is whether that worked enough to prompt him to call her. In turn, this raises the question of whether aggressiveness really does land the guy.

There are a couple of ways to think about this. For example, not too long ago I engaged in the discussion of the lengths a guy goes through to get a woman into bed, concluding that from one angle, it's about the thrill of the game. And it could have been for her, too. However, when the woman is aggressive and strikes because of the superficial... Is it about a thrill? Is that confidence? Does that get her noticed? Moreover, does a man respond to that?

As a woman, I know for a fact that I don't respond to pushy men. Confidence, yes, but not pushy. That's one fine line, but distinguishable. 


Overall: Essentially it's OK to be assertive when you want something. All for it. However -- and this is just a shot in the dark -- I would think playing it cool while holding your own would go a lot further. It just seems to show control. And maybe it's me, but I would think a guy would find it hot to pursue a woman who just knows she's fly...

To illustrate the point, might I recommend a song? Check out "Miss Independent", Ne-Yo

Photo Credit: PhotoXpress/Lev Dolgatshjov

Monday, May 10, 2010

Let's Get Physical (But No Attachments, Please)

In playing the dating game, conventional wisdom has dictated that it isn't possible for women to have sex without forming an emotional attachment to their partner -- unlike men who can do it freely, separating the act from the emotion. And generally, even for myself, I'll admit that I more or less accepted this as a reality in dating. Not to say that I assume love is the next step after intimacy. However, I'd be lying if I said that in one or two specific cases when I started actively dating, I wasn't a bit disappointed with how things turned out -- it being not much more than a good time. I was late to the lesson that sex doesn't equal relationship. But once I learned it, I kind of nailed it down into my brain never to be forgotten again.


Anyway, I bring this up because just this weekend, I spent a bit of time catching up with Laurie, a friend and old colleague of mine. I hadn't seen her in a while and she was giving me the download on the latest in her life: a guy she'd met with whom she felt there would be no promise of long-term... But with whom she'd decided to just sleep with instead. "Since I know he's not the one for me," she'd said, "I don't see why I just can't have fun with it."

Now this one made me think a bit. Truth is, that while both men and women engage in sex without running down the altar all the time, does it mean we should? 

That depends. If you can be realistic about what sex is, have a clear understanding of the feelings you and other person do and don't have on each other AND not impose meanings on it other than those of the moment, then I don't see why not. That requires being in tune with your partner and the situation to avoid any possible disappointments.

But really, should we?  

What I've Learned: Sex has the importance you impose upon it. So, if the feelings are real, then sex will undoubtedly be more than just a physical act. However, that said... When you're doing the dating thing, I don't think there's anything wrong with just enjoying the act itself if you have the chemistry and enjoy the other person's company.

No doubt that sex is complicated enough without all physical and emotional things that come into play. Personally, I like to take the approach of selective fun. That is, getting to know a guy a bit, consider the head space I'm in (relationship mode, fun, etc.) and act that way. I guess it gives me a chance to examine my own feelings and make every effort I can to check myself. And, it's something I work on whenever I start dating someone new.

But, either way, what matters most is weighing the pros and cons -- then, make the final call yourself.

Photo Credit: PhotoXpress/DXphoto.com

Friday, April 30, 2010

An Open Letter: I Don't Want to Play This Anymore (Peace Out)

Note: A short while ago, I wrote a post about unfinished business with an old flame of sorts, Juan. We always seemed to play a game: we would be hot and heavy, cool off and then ice cold. We repeated this cycle twice before we went flat, likely due to the fact that he found someone else to strike his fancy. However, it seems like I went back down memory lane last night when he sent me a text message  asking me to swing by his housewarming party this weekend. 

Now, given all of the drama and the little communication we've had over the last two years, I'd say that all he was looking for was a good time. So, this is an obvious NO for me. However, in honor of Honesty Day, I'll be truthful with my feelings by writing what I would say if I felt it was important to tell him how I feel. Besides, I'm overdue for one of these and they seem to do the trick... Here goes...


Dear Juan,

I received your text invite which came as a total surprise. I'm sure your first party in your new condo will be a lot of fun this weekend with great food, drinks and people because you know how to have a good time. So that's why it shouldn't be too big of a deal when I tell you I won't be there.

Now, I'm sure you're groaning, because let's face it -- with an invite sent via text just 48 hours before the big event, you were hoping to have your "after party" fun in the bag. And, it was sweet that you apologized over being MIA (well, not really but thanks for acknowledging it). I mean, heck. A text? Geez! We do have a couple of years to make up for! And, I'm willing to guess that whichever "Lady Friend" you wanted to have there declined. So now you contact me as a back-up because you're so sure I'll be thrilled at the chance to just see the condo you've been living in for at least four months, even if I will be with a bunch of people I don't know in a part of town I know less about.

And this is about more than a simple party. Give me a little credit! I just think we should just be real with ourselves and each other and simply call this game between us "over." Were either one of us really getting anything out of it besides the very random and occasional good time? Not really. So, why should we pretend?

Truth is, I just don't want to play anymore. The chase has gotten pretty dry and to be really honest, if I can't get anything out of it (not even a little more playtime), then it's pointless.

But of course, no big deal. You'll forget all about this and the weekend will be a breeze for you because it always is.

So, Happy Housewarming! And, if we ever have the strange opportunity to run into each other (like that'll happen), feel free to wave. I mean, we DID have our moments, too -- when we did happen to be in the same room. I'll give you that much. But that's all you're getting now. :-) 

Signed,
Me

Photo Credit: TribalStar/PhotoXpress

Saturday, April 24, 2010

To Call You Mine: Commitment vs. Exclusivity

The last time I officially used the "boyfriend" title, I was in high school. It was my senior year and we were as opposite as opposite gets. But, he asked me out in front of the entire school, performing "If I Ever Fall in Love" with the school's acapella group and like any high school girl, I swooned. After he was done, he'd came down off the stage to tell me how much he was ready to put everything else aside and have us only be with each other. "I want you to be my one and only," he said. 


Well, at 17, what's a girl to say to that? Of course, this kind of declaration of love isn't common. But, at that age, it's easier to "make a commitment", with hormones pulsing at lightening speeds. What is the next step once you like someone? You make it official, of course.


These days, when you're seeing someone, dating, of course, is always the first step. But what happens next? Well, it's easy if both parties feel the same way. But if they don't?


In the one and only long-term "relationship" I had, during the height of it all, we were spending most of our free time together and we were only being intimate with each other. Essentially we were going through all the motions of being a couple. But, when I finally told him how I felt (that I loved him) and that I wanted to be able to call him my boyfriend, that didn't work for him. He was comfortable with us being "exclusive" but adding the title meant too much responsibility...


And that's when I ended things. If he didn't want me to call him boyfriend, I couldn't act like nothing was wrong. We tried again when he said he missed me and wanted us to make another go. But, we broke up again over pretty much the same reason. And it was that second time when I learned that the reason we broke up is because he was still holding on to his old flame. So as long as we were "exclusive" but not "committed" then he could play it safe until he could be with someone with whom he wanted to commit.


Either way, since then, I've made a mental note to have the conversation as soon as it seems like things are getting serious. That way there's no confusion... Or time-wasting for that matter.


Photo Credit: PhotoXpress

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Reasons for the Game Playing

In my adventures in dating, I've hoped a guy would be honest with me when he's just not into me. All the game-playing, intermittent calls, passive text messages, attempted dates... All of it just to say you're not into someone. No real point in stringing someone along when you can keep it honest and be direct, thus eliminating any mystery or some form of post hook-up behavior that would be a little less than desirable.

Then after thinking back on this weekend, and blowing off a guy I wasn't interested in, I thought about the times I've  blown guys off and strung them along. Which reminded me that we all play games while navigating through the dating pool.

So I tried to think back to some of the main reasons I've played games in the past, and came up with the following reasons for my behavior. While I've learned a great deal about myself and I'm not identifying these issues as "definitive" for all women, I can say that I recognize my actions were rooted in some deeper themes: 

  • Boredom: When the Well of Dating runs dry, sometimes we hang on to the guys that don't quite make our toes tingle just to hang on to someone. You never know when you'll want someone to fall back on until someone more interesting strolls into your life.
  • Ego Boosting: One time too many, I've allowed myself to keep talking to a guy because I like the attention he gave me. Showering me with compliments and attention when I needed it managed to lift my spirits a bit.
  • Fear: The reality is that sometimes, it's a lot easier to ignore someone than to be honest and let them know that you're just not that into them. You hate the idea of rejecting someone or you at least don't want to blow them off in the event something better comes along.
  • Rebounding: When someone hurts us, it's natural to take out our frustration on the next one that comes along. So, we act detached to gain control of a situation. Unfortunately, that can backfire if we don't get out of the game before feelings enter the picture.

Ultimately, whatever the reason, if there's any variation of "game playing" that's going on, it's probably because we're not into who we've got. And, the challenge here is to give the other person what we would want for ourselves -- as much honesty as we can muster. That way, there's no confusion and we clear the way for someone that may ultimately be "the one." 

I'm still practicing myself, to be honest. And while it's not perfect, I'm committed to being as honest as possible, with any potential mates AND with myself.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Post Hook-Up Stress Disorder (Or PHSD)

Dating is hard enough without factoring in the ever grueling weeding out process. You know what I'm talking about -- eliminating people because they don't offer some of the core traits that makes them viable dating options. And, after playing the field several times over, it's often natural to "shift directions" if you will, choosing to approach dating differently until something better comes along. A couple of very common by-products of unsuccessful dating includes:

* Very jaded daters always expecting the worst
* Daters looking to fall in love too quickly (concerned their time will run out)
* People who decide they're going to enjoy flings to "tide them over" until they find "the one"
* Daters who project their own philosophies onto other people to cloak their own insecurities
    While it's not a guarantee that these things will happen (I will personally profess to having all three happen to me at some point), in dating, you often find that the way you respond to the next person has a lot to do with your previous experiences. 


    Anyway, the reason I provide this context is because it's along a similar path that one of my close friends, Veronica (a.k.a "Sassy") is following for herself. A smart, intelligent woman, she's always been certain of who she is, despite all the dating hurdles in her life. So, for the moment, the ability to be non-committal was a way to enjoy herself while not being bogged down by the ongoing quest to find a mate. To be honest, I respect this approach, which I would argue that a lot of people seem to do -- have some fun until they're ready to retire the proverbial Black Book.


    And, that's exactly what she was doing when she met a younger, attractive male recently (about 8 years her junior). So she ran with the momentary chemistry they had, which is why when the situation escalated into a physical one on the first date, she didn't seem to mind. It's not like she was invested in having this move beyond anything casual.


    But, after she seemed to treat him with great indifference the following morning, preferring to sleep than to indulge in any post hook-up activity, his interest in her turned to judgment about her lifestyle, telling her later that because he cared about her, he felt it important that she know how he felt about her behavior in their situation: How can a woman have sex with someone knowing it won't go anywhere? Did she think a man wanted to marry a woman that's had that much sex? Suddenly, a woman that had been certain about who she was and her actions was suddenly questioning them. All because a young man felt that he needed to salvage his pride. 


    Now, since this encounter, he's proceeded to call her twice and send her multiple texts, apologizing for what he said and wanting to talk to her in the hopes to salvage their "friendship."


    Honestly, this story almost reminds me of the confidence thing that happened a little while back. However, this one is a case of its own, and to understand it, I've given it a name: a case of PHSD -- or post hook-up stress disorder. This is when a person, not knowing what to do after being intimate with someone else, proceeds to take some type of drastic, negative action. Acts include but are not limited to: rudeness, insulting their hook-up partner, disappearing, indifference, smothering, overanalyzing or some other form of anxious behavior. While this is something that many women have been accused of being, men have been known to display said symptoms. 


    Of course, none of this has been scientifically proven. But, I would be in full support of a study that will support my analysis of this kind of behavior... 

    Photo Credit: leafy/PhotoXpress

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    For Love of the Game

    Just recently, I'd received simple advice given to me in order to process why it's easy to fall back on old flames: when someone shows you who they are, believe them. But, in a recent conversation with a friend, I realized that I could take that same advice to dissect male behavior.

    Earlier this week, I had an awesome chat with my friend Tim, trying to understand why a man I went out with (and thought I had a good time with) had tried so hard to impress me on a date, just end up disappearing. Now, don't get it twisted. I am completely in tune with the disappearing acts guys play. However, what I wanted to get at the heart at was the efforts a guy goes through to bed a woman. I mean, why put in so much labor if the plan is ultimately to pull a "hit it and quit it" kind of thing?

    Granted, I can think about it logically. But from my personal perspective, I don't put in too much labor for something I don't intend to keep for very long. To me it seems like energy wasted. But, of course, I like to work for what I want because it means a little more.

    While Tim pointed out that the things my date did were ultimately designed to seduce me, neither he nor I could comprehend the reason for his disappearance before the situation between us got sexual. And, while I later speculated that it had more to do with what happened in his life, like an old flame coming back (my guess), I was intrigued by Tim's interpretation of the lengths a guy will go through to get a woman into bed.

    Essentially, he make it a point to say that no matter the tactic (like the origami flower I received during my date over the traditional flowers), a guy is always trying to get you into bed.

    "You should always assume that our goal is to get you into bed," he said. "Whatever we say. Even if it seems like we're being patient, it is a tactic, to show we have self-control and allow you ladies to push the envelope."

    Ouch.

    "I do think guys can speed up the process if they're patient," he continued. "Giving her the choice."

    "And you ultimately want to get her into bed," I asked.

    "Sure," he replied. "If that isn't the point then why date? Men can't connect with a woman emotionally without sex."

    "Then if you're trying to bed her," I asked, "Why is getting her into bed soon a bad move?"

    "Well," he noted. "It's not exactly. There's no exact answer. Too many variables. If it happens, the only thing I'm wondering is whether I enjoyed myself enough to do it again."

    Hmm. Lots of food for thought with opinions like this. But, what seems to make the most sense to me is that simply... it's about the thrill of the game. So if he has to work a bit, it's like he's earned something. Which is why the chase is so fun... For the idea of winning piece by piece, until you feel like you've won. Which makes the sex much more interesting -- when you're invested in the win.

    Sounds kind of like closing a deal or getting the job of your dreams. Once you know it's yours, it's like little rush of power.

    And the power of the one being chased is to roll with it and be you but always hold a little back. That shows strength and gives the other a chance to come back.

    Of course, if you are motivated by one thing, then the rest of this is pointless. But that's another post altogether.

    What is it about holding out? Does that always make it better?

    Photo Credit: Ann Triling/PhotoXpress


    Bonus: And, for a chuckle, one of my favorite Friends episodes -- the pilot -- and all about when Monica gets "tricked into bed" by Paul, the Wine Guy. Enjoy it on You Tube! (After the 3 minute mark!)

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    The Fine Line in May-December Romances

    When you're in the dating world, it's easy to be bogged down looking for all your dating requirements: height, looks, eyes, job, build, personality... And of course, age. Ideally, we all have an ideal age range that we'd like our mates to be. Some prefer slightly younger or same age, while others prefer just a touch older (say, 5 - 10 years). But what if the gap is a little larger? Then you have the making of a May-December romance, (May referencing a younger person in the "spring" of their lives and December referencing the "winter" or older age of a person's life)

    I know I've addressed the age thing before...But I've managed to somehow avoid side of the topic, even though I have done it before. 

    It was a couple of years ago. I was 24 and he had just about 20 years on me. But, it was hard to resist him. He was handsome, smooth, well-dressed, charming and affectionate -- spoiled me rotten with attention. Needless to say, I loved it. 

    While it only lasted a couple of months and we stayed friends a little while afterward, it was even, with all of our differences, a lot of fun. 

    In hindsight, I realized that as we continued to spend time together, our age gap was harder to hide... And even though he never expressed discomfort, it was hard to avoid the elephant in the room.

    In any event, this was the same issue I encountered recently when I was out recently and met a dashing older man named Donovan. Beautiful eyes, salt and pepper hair, a charming smile, a quiet persona and an easy-going approach made him an immediate catch. And, as the night progressed, and he got increasingly assertive, I found it appealing. 

    Later that evening, as we did some one on one talking, he seemed surprised by the fact that I returned his attraction, expecting me to be drawn to someone younger. And, he mentioned it had been a while since he'd been out of the dating scene, thinking that things were a lot more direct than he's used to and thinking about his own daughter out on the dating scene in a similar situation...

    At that point I have to admit I was a little thrown. A mention of his 17 year old daughter did cramp things a bit. So, how do you deal with that?

    That's when I told him that every situation is unique, but you can't explain who or why you're attracted to someone. It just happens.

    The night ended quickly but I found myself thinking about it afterward. He seemed uncomfortable with our age gap, much like I had been a couple of years ago. And while I admit, he did have quite a few years on me, at that point, I was really just running with what I thought was an obvious vibe between us. But that only gets you so far. I mean, once you get that out of the way, what about the rest of it? The shared experiences, the common interests? If you don't have time to build those things, it can be hard, regardless of how old a guy is. 

    I mean, many Hollywood A-Listers make it work. But there has to be so much more there...

    Lesson learned: May-December romances have to be about more than the initial physical chemistry if they're going to last. Sure, physical fire is important... It most often is. However, being able to get past the hang-ups is what determines whether it will last. Because if you don't get past that hurdle, how can you weather all the awkward other hurdles that emerge from these types of relationships?

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Back in the Game

    Every time we step into the dating ring, we're taking a chance with our hearts. And, whether they turn out to be a great match, the loves of our lives, jerks or just good friends, we owe it to ourselves to find out which of any of these they can be.

    But, if you've endured some of the icky sides of dating, you'll know that there's no way to be certain of someone's intentions. And, as I've found myself saying all too recently, it's your current state that impacts what and who you attract.

    In any event, I found myself grappling with these very emotions on a first date this weekend. He was gorgeous, charming, smart, successful and a gentleman, bringing me an origami flower when he came to meet me. And, as the night grew, I felt the attraction stir within me, enjoying every moment.

     So when the end of the night came and he walked me home,  I was sure that I wanted to see him again... Which immediately made me nervous. And, when he told me that he wanted to see where things went and didn't want to rush it because he was new to the game again, I was immediately pleased -- and confused. Not to say that I wanted to speed through it. But instead of basking in his gentlemanly approach, I questioned whether that was his way of playing some type of game with me. And instead, the night ended with a gentle kiss and the hope for more.

    Later that night, as I tried to sleep, I replayed the evening in my head, questioning his actions and whether he was as into me as he said he was. And the second my mind went there... That's when I checked myself.

    Had I internalized all the experiences of guys past that I couldn't even enjoy and appreciate a man that I actually liked wanting to take things slow? Why was I rushing the gratification or the thrill of the first time? I'd done that a couple of times before and learned all too soon that I was rushing it because I was sure that this great feeling would disappear. But, it was all the more thrilling when we did take it to the next level. Hell, it was like my birthday and 4th of July on the same day.

    Now, here it was again, right in front of me, and the first thing that freaked me out was whether I'd see him again, only because I was remembering guys before him.

    In the meantime, because I like him, and want to see where this goes, I'm going to ride this out and trust it. It'll make it that much more explosive if something does happen.

    And if not, at least it was a fun Friday night.

    Photo Credit: Paul Paladin/PhotoXpress

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    The RD's Dating Lexicon: Entry #001


    Note: Starting today and moving forward on Fridays, I'll be posting a new "words" related to dating, as a type of dating dictionary. Words will include slang names for men and/or women, alternative names for hooking up, different stages of dating and so forth. Some of these will be old familiar ones  you know, some will be yanked strictly from my head and others can be comprised of terms or topics you share with me. And, when applicable, I'll also link to mine and other bloggers whose posts may serve as models of said term of the day. (Today I'll include two, based on some of my recent posts and/or men in my life.)
      
    Resume Man (noun): Refers to a male dating prospect that has impressive credentials such as education or career that look good on paper, much like someone interviewing for a job. 

    * In a sentence: When it comes down to dating, Betty often prefers a resume man, the type she thinks her mother would like.

    Wifey (noun): Another name for a woman with long-term or marriage potential.  

    * In a sentence: Tony's told me on numerous occasions that he thinks of her as wifey; she's the one.
    ** Related Content: The RD on the Marrying Kind, Training Wheel Dating**

    Enjoy!

    Photo Credit: PhotoXpress/Steve Mann

    * And feel free to e-mail me your ideas at (therd) at (therelationshipdiva dot com). 

      Thursday, March 25, 2010

      Being Single: Stigma or Blessing? Depends...

      Q: Is it a bad thing to be single?
      A: It depends on who you talk to.

      I know that in the last few years of my life, I've spent a majority of it being single, with a lot of it by choice. Truth is, when I make myself available, dating comes somewhat easily. However, honestly, being single has had it challenges such as: (but not limited t0)
      - Dateless nights
      - No permanent cuddle buddy (especially a bummer for cold Chicago winters)
      - Fostering bouts or moments of insecurity

      And then there are the benefits, such as: (but not limited t0)
      - Freedom of moving at your leisure
      - The ability to "shop" for who you want
      - Having time for yourself

      Either way, I've remembered one main thing: that when it's going to happen, all the elements will come together the way they should at that moment.

      Anyway, it's this same topic that The Frisky is tackling today. Check out the post: Social Stigma For Single Women | The Frisky

      I mean, what do you think?

      Breaking Old Habits

      Every so often, we find ourselves revisiting a certain type of situation because it's comfortable. An old flame, memories, whatever. And, when it's one of those "what if" situations...Well, you just can't help but wonder. 

      Anyway, even though I took to spring cleaning a lot out of my life, I noticed some of those "missed spots" surfacing back into my life -- in the form of Lionel.


      Now here's the thing: when I decided that I was done putting myself out there (and told him so), he was hell bent on making it up to me. And I, in the spirit of being an eternal optimist decided that I would take our history (and the fact that I find him so very cute) into account and hear him out. 

      So far, nothing's changed. And not that I expected it would, but I'd say it all came in full circle when my colleague Darren reminded me of a saying by Maya Angelou. Essentially, when people show you who they are, believe them.

      Then it just clicked for me, as I remembered that an old dog doesn't learn new tricks... And the more things change, the more they remain the same. Hence, a replay of the same ol' game. 


      I guess it's true. Old habits really do die hard.

      Photo Credit: PhotoXpress/Marvin Gerste

      Tuesday, March 23, 2010

      Reasons for Houdini Tricks

      It's easy to wonder why, just when you think a guy is into you, he just -- *POOF* -- disappears. Just as quickly as he was sending those sweet text messages, or flirting with you on your last date, he's vapor. And in turn, the first thing that is easy to assume is that what you may have done or said may have made him change his tune.


      Instead -- and here's a crazy idea -- I'm thinking it's helpful to wonder got into him to, ah, "redirect" his attention.


      I found myself having this conversation with one of my closest girlfriends, Katrina. We were talking dating when she explained that the guy with whom she had a great date with just disappeared... Only to bring his new date to a mutual friend's function. Incidentally, the same friend through which they first met. 


      In any event, this raised some questions for me, with the main one being what causes a guy to lose interest. So, while the items I'm outlining below aren't in stone (and I am open to any additional theories you may have), I've found in my extensive "research" that there are some reoccuring themes:


      (1) He already knows he's not feeling it: Let's just get the painful one out of the way. I've been told on several occasions that for the time it takes a woman to make up her mind about a man, a guy's already decided in half that time whether he's into you. So if he's not feeling it, he'll be less enthused about sticking around for the long haul.


      (2) He's met someone else: This happens all too often. He's into you, things are going well... And suddenly someone just blows his mind -- so much so that suddenly he's stopped calling you. Just. Like. That.


      (3) You didn't seem into it: Yes, yes, yes! Lack of interest can make a guy vanish faster than a thief in the night. Some type of "hard to get" is OK (for the guy that likes a chase)... But, when you just seem to be outright bored or unengaged, it's enough to make a guy wonder if you're into him at all.


      Where there are several things that ultimately factor into why a man disappears, the main point here is that he's disappeared. And, any man that can disappear that quickly may not have been worth breaking much of a sweat over anyway, right? 


      Exactly. 

      Photo Credit: Stray_Cat/PhotoXpress

      Friday, March 19, 2010

      A Dating State of Mind

      When I was a kid, my mother would tell me that positive thinking brings about positive things. And, if you told yourself you couldn't do it, then you would inherently set yourself up to have things not work in your favor.

      Well, twenty some odd years later that still makes me smile. At the same time, I've found it strangely applicable in my life. If I thought in a positive manner about something and worked towards it, then somehow, things would play out in a positive way. Granted, things like circumstance and chance play into it.  But somehow it all unfolds how it should.

      Now, today, I find myself thinking about it in the dating context, reflecting on the last few men I've dated and the particular stages I was at my life. When I felt less than great about myself, I tended to date slick, smooth-talking or good looking guys that offered little substance. The thought process here was if someone looked that good, I couldn't be doing all bad, right? Emotions and persona would come later...

      On the flip side, when things are working well in my life, I tend to meet confident, ambitious men who have a lot going for them. 

      Essentially, it was my state of mind that men were picking up on -- is she about herself? Is she confident? Is she needy? Is she too drama filled? These were either turn-ons or turn-offs... And made all the difference between a guy that I would want asking for my number, or a man that thinks he can pull a fast one on me because I'd let him.
      What it comes down to is that attitude matters just as much as looks, if not more. I know that I typically prefer men that are put together and sharp... But, if I'm not feeling that way, how can I expect to attract a guy of the same caliber?

      Lesson here (that I keep reminding myself) is that once you feel as good as you can about you, only then can you be good for someone else.  Besides, wouldn't you want someone getting the best you have to offer?

      I know I would. 


      Image Credit: Michael Roder/PhotoXpress

      Sunday, March 14, 2010

      The Relapse Effect

      Oftentimes, when something feels good (I mean really good) we try to hold onto that sensation for as long as possible. Think back to landing that first job, getting the last spot on that club/team, the first time someone you loved told you they loved you back... All amazing, euphoric feelings that are hard to duplicate... And ones we'd do anything to keep. 

      So when something ends -- like, say, a break-up with the first love -- it's hard to let go of. I mean, how could you let go of something that felt so good? How could it be over just like that?

      That's exactly what I found myself wondering on Friday afternoon, when hanging out with colleagues. See, I spotted Charles, who was eating lunch with one of his friends. And while he looked amazing (literally, my heart skipped so many beats I wasn't sure I was still breathing), I had to remind myself again about everything that had transpired. And remember that I didn't want to go back to all that uncertainty when I could never really call him mine. So I played it cool and kept walking. 

      Later, I found myself thinking about why we do this -- why it's so easy to crave and relapse into the feelings we had. And that's when I broke it down to the following: 
      • Romanticizing the Past: It's kind of like the "hindsight is 20/20" argument. We see things a lot clearer after the fact. That is, we create a happy ending for something that is so-so. Why? Maybe it's a protective thing... But it allows us to take a picture and remember things the way we want to but not necessarily how they were.
      • Current Love Life Status: Are we single? Is the current guy missing a certain quality? Are the sparks just so-so? It's easy to fall back to the last time things were good and use them as a yard stick for any future guys. (Man, I'm notorious for this one)
      • Milestone Relationship: Was the one you're trying to get over a first of some sort? First long-term, first love? Those are usually the hardest to see die. 
      Of all the relationships I've had thus far (or ones you can consider as such), Charles is the only one I learn to deal with everyday. Not wanting him, but instead it's the aftermath of it all. 

      In any event, whether it's one of these or a mix of all three, I realized that when feelings run deep, it's not worth running away from. Instead, only by understanding them can you move on. At least, that's what I'm doing... In the process, I'm also remembering to clear a little room in the clutter of my heart for the man that deserves it... As soon as I'm ready. 

      Photo Credit: Philippe Leridon/PhotoXpress

      Tuesday, March 9, 2010

      Spring Cleaning

      Isn't it a breath of fresh air when you've cleaned out your closet, after you realize how much junk you've been collecting -- and for no other reason than you're afraid to throw things away?

      I'd say so. And that's the best analogy I had when thinking about old flames and what it means to remove their phone numbers in my cell phone. 

      See, many people are clutter bugs -- keeping all the old junk because it's comfortable. Heck, I'll own my own clutter tendencies. But, I'm finding that's collecting and cluttering is what you don't want to do when you're trying to move on. And keeping their numbers is a prime example of collecting the excess.

      For a while, I tried changing the names of all old exes to "IGNORE", so if the number called me, I knew it was someone I should not be speaking to. But, that didn't work all that well either, given the fact that I KNEW the number thus allowing me to stay in touch if I wanted.

      So when Casanova reached out -- and I responded -- I considered doing a bit of housekeeping... And, then, when I started getting super short answers from Jackson, and slow to no responses from Lionel, I realized it was high time I purge the phone book of the men that likely won't be resurfacing in my life.

      So in one shot, Jackson, Lionel and the Casanova disappeared from my phone book. (We were actually rooting for Jackson, right? Yeah, maybe not...)

      Now, I know it doesn't seem like much. But for me, the ability to delete them is symbolic, in a way. Basically, it states that I won't give anyone the time that doesn't give me the time -- sticking to the principle that silence does indeed speak volumes.


      Image Credit: Angela Kohler/Photoxpress

      Sunday, March 7, 2010

      The Non-Negotiables

      Just this week, Marisol and I were having some dinner when we spent some time talking about one of her colleagues, Shelly (who I've been out with before), and some of her recent dating experiences. This opened up the floodgates for Marisol and I to discuss the deal breakers. You know -- what you will not give on when dating someone. 

      Later that night and since then, I've found myself thinking about that very thing. What are my "deal breakers" when dating someone?

      Truth is, I think it's a good thing to have those set things you need in a companion: if you know yourself, then you know what you will and won't be happy with -- thus reducing the chances of you lowering your standards. What good is it if you compromise what you want for what you think you can live with? That's no fun.

      For me, based on the plethora of stories I've shared on this blog, I've started to consider the times I've compromised, and the times I haven't yielded, realizing that I've been too extreme on either side (too flexible or too unyielding). These days, I find myself shutting down so I don't have to choose at all. 

      Either way you go, you set the pace for your own dating fate when you set up too many non-negotiables. So, it may be worth to examine them if you have 'em -- or create them if you don't -- so you're doing the weeding process you need to do for you... It's hard enough to find a mate without us complicating it for ourselves. 


      Gotta love the dating rollercoaster.

      Photo credit: Photoxpress/mearicon

      Saturday, March 6, 2010

      Crosstown Hook Ups

      Earlier this week, I got a text message from the Casanova, who has consistently bobbed in and weaved out of my life. It's been that way since I met him nearly four years ago. But, since I thought he was so hot, I let it go. Besides, you never know when you need someone to just "fill in." 


      Anyway, when I sent him a reply to acknowledge the message, he then proceeded to launch into our usual exchange -- trying to get me over to his place to pick up where we left off. I quickly responded, letting him know if he wanted to see me, he would of course, need to try to make it happen: come to me, pick me up (like I used to with him when we hooked up a while back), whatever.


      In all honesty, while I've entertained the idea of seeing him (Heck, everyone has weaknesses!) what's kept me away is actually going out there. Then I don't know... I suddenly lose interest.

      Don't get it wrong. I'm not typically lazy. And there lots of times I like going over to the guy's place: if we're dating or there's some type of continuity between us... Just something that would indicate another level of familiarity or intimacy. That way, I don't feel quite so seedy leaving in the morning. Granted, guys may not care about this as much. But for me, as a woman, I have to say that leaving a guy's place whom I'll only see once in a blue moon doesn't always feel very great. In fact, it's kind of empty. 


      Needless to say we didn't make it work. Which was OK with me. That was when I realized that one of the reasons we'll likely never work out is because neither one of us has been willing to make an effort to actually spend time with each other. Truth is, as hot as he is, since what we have seems to be primarily superficial, I'm not all that invested. So, spending $40 in cabs to see him wouldn't exactly be on my list of priorities. On the other hand, for a man that I see more than once in a while (and makes an effort to see me), then I'd be willing to go out of my way to another part of town -- without being in a rush to split or maybe spend a little more time enjoying his company.


      Of course, this is all different than when you're in it for the one-nighter. Then we're talking a whole different ballgame.



      Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/SteveGeer