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Archive for March, 2008

Street harassment, or why big-city women are so cold

The catcall: time-honored tradition of bored and overconfident men, major annoyance of tired and nervous women. Ladies, if you live in a city where you don’t spend all your time outside actually locked in your car, you’re going to get spoken to, even if you’re wearing paint-stained sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. Read the stories on Holla Back NYC or any of its sister sites. You’ll be shocked to find out what women have to deal with every day. I really don’t think that most men, even decent men who would never say insulting things to a woman on the street, understand how serious a problem this is.

So I’ll address it here. Guys, do you know why women ignore you when you try to talk to them on the street? Because we get it all the time and it’s exhausting. We no longer have the strength to determine whether or not you’re even sincere, so we just assume you’re an asshole and treat you as such. Don’t take it personally. Because many men don’t see us as more than walking vaginas, we often don’t see guys we pass on the street as people we’d like to date. Or…stand within ten feet of.

Hey, nice guys: Are you tired of women giving you the brush-off? Then get mad at your fellow men for harassing the ladies and ruining things for you. Help a woman out if you see she’s in a bad situation with a strange man. You’ll help keep her safe and hopefully teach the loser a lesson.

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Now that the birthday celebratory craziness is past, I can return to the normal routine and get back to the blogging. A married friend of mine told me he’s “starved for dating advice” (har har), so today I’ll pass along a story I heard from psuacoustician:

Good friend of mine had been dating a Boy off and on for 5 years. The last on period has lasted 2 yrs plus a few weeks. Then he decided to tell her that he doesn’t love her anymore. That he likes doing everything they do together (which is all couple type activities) but doesn’t love her. She loves him. Period. Thought that he would ask her to marry him. Alas, this being an on off relationship, is not the first time he has messed it up. So this time, she puts her foot down and tells the dude, If you do not love someone, then you end the relationship. Thus, she forced him to end the relationship. She then promptly removed all digital traces of him including email address and phone numbers stored in her phone. Since we all rely so heavily on our phones, she doesn’t have the temptation of calling him once the numbers are deleted because she never learned them.

In any case, in previous times The Boy has messed up (generally in Feb.) and has come groveling back before the end of March. This is what he sent but 2.5 weeks after telling her he doesnt’ love her.

From: The Boy <Boy@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 7:22 AM
Subject: hey
To: The Girl<Girl@gmail.com>

I don’t know why I am writing to you, other than to say I apologize. I am a very selfish person, and just lost the one constant thing I have had in my life for years. You are a rare person, and I took it for granted. The best friend I have ever had, I pushed away.

I hope your memories of me will not be all bad.

All my love – The Boy

I especially like the signature. In any case, fuel for the fires if ever an example was needed.

Wait! It gets better!

Literally, in Feb ’06 he came back from being overseas for several months and told her that he loved someone else. Went to another state to the other woman and found out that the other woman was just drunk when she lead him to believe there was a chance. In the two years to get to today, the other woman has since married and popped a kid out. GO figure…….

That is some serious mindfuckitude. For now, at least, I’ve focused more on the beginning stages of dating and haven’t yet delved into all the ways you can pull someone’s still-beating heart out of their chest and stomp on it after a long-term relationship.  I don’t know either party in this now-ended relationship, so I’ll keep my comments general.

Now! How to tell when a relationship’s over or potential relationship isn’t going to get off the ground? It’s kind of like knowing it’s time to move to a new city or switch jobs: It’s just no fun anymore. But it’s not necessarily that simple, and there are a number of factors that go into it. I’ve known friends who were so afraid of being single that they’d date anything that moved, and that is no way to go about these things. People, “single” doesn’t mean “alone,” and it is far better to not be dating anyone that to be dating a complete douchebag.

Here are some red flags to look for:
1. If they tell you at any point that they’re “not looking for a relationship right now” or they’re “not ready to commit to someone,” listen. And then run, swiftly, in the opposite direction. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, this is not a person for you and they’re telling you that.
2. A noticeable change in behavior is a big indication of impending badness. Was your once-attentive boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly not returning calls or ignoring your IMs? If they’re out of town or passed out following invasive dental work, you probably have nothing to worry about. If not, ask them what’s up and get that breakup over with.
3. Have they recently gotten out of another relationship? You might be the rebound person. Don’t have high expectations for this.
4. Obviously you won’t likely be in love after, oh, two weeks with a person. But, as in the case of the story above, if you’re with someone for a long time and the relationship doesn’t seem to be progressing at the rate you’d prefer, you need to talk to the SO about it. This might get you two back on the same page, or you might decide to go your separate ways. It’s difficult, but it’s better to be upfront.
5. Also as in the case of the story above, if you’re experiencing epic levels of mindfucking (the SO has fallen for someone else yet kind of keeps you on the side, they say they don’t love you and then signs their e-mail “all my love”), just… leave. Seriously. People who do this need to work on themselves before they can be released to general public.

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No long post today, as it’s my birthday and I’m lazy.  But here’s something to bring home the Dating and Technology series.

Don’t break up with your cat with a text message!

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It’s complicated.

Before, if you were in an on-again, off-again relationship, only you and your closest friends who saw you every day would know.  Now, I have to know, even though I hated you in high school and we haven’t spoken in years.

Ah, social networking sites.  Your relationship status, vacation photos, and favorite movie quotes are there for all to see.  If we were to compare various social networking sites to, say, types of bars, Linkedin would be a swanky hotel bar, Facebook would be the neighborhood watering hole, and MySpace would be the kind of place that has a mechanical bull and bales of vomit-soaked hay to cushion your fall.  And they’d let in kids with fake IDs.

These places are great for keeping up with the dramatic rises and falls of your friends’ dating lives, and they’re also great for finding out if that person you just met is single.  And if you know me, you know I love a good stalking.  You can also show off to the world that you aren’t unlovable, because if they click that link they can see the photo of a real, live person who does in fact love you (and is willing to declare it to hundreds of people!).  That, my friends, is devotion.

You can also find out when your exes get married and have kids, which is terrifying.

Anyway, two things before I go and watch The Hills because I tire of this subject.  First, does anyone expect to find a date off of these sites?  I know people who’ve been approached, but it usually doesn’t work out.  Also, is there, like, a massive sense of shame when one has to change their status from “in a relationship” to “single”?  Because I don’t really judge people, I just see it and think, “Oh, that’s too bad, they were cute together.”  I read an article that I can’t find the link to that quoted someone who said that when she and her boyfriend amicably broke up, he asked that she wait a few days to change their Facebook status because he didn’t want to deal with it right now.  Do people really care that much?

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Give those fingers a rest.

I’m actually talking about text messaging. Jeez.

Anyway, like grammar being important when e-mailing, conducting relationship business over the phone will also be obsolete in three years. Seriously, those high school kids maintain relationships entirely via text message. Does my saying that make me sound old?

Then again, I came of age when IMing was still a pretty novel concept, and it’s still my method of choice for keeping in touch with friends in other states. Remember when AOL was cool? Remember when you had to ask your parents for permission to go online because, in doing so, you tied up your family’s only phone line? Remember those heinous Geocities websites with the blinking magenta text?

But I digress. A few months ago I went out with a guy once who (other than when we were actually on the date) communicated solely via text message. At the time I didn’t have free texting as part of my cell phone plan, so I wasn’t too thrilled about this. The nominal cost of sending messages aside, I don’t like texting as a main method of communicating with anyone. Texting is great for finding someone at a party or sending a brief message when you can’t otherwise hold a conversation (like while sitting in your cubicle). If you come upon a funny sign, a picture message says a thousand words.

But asking someone out for the first time with a text message? It’s like hiding behind a fence. If someone gave you their phone number, they expect you to call. Really. Don’t do the bare minimum when it comes to trying to impress someone you like, because if they catch on to that, all you’ll get in return is “sry, not interested.”

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The art of asking someone out by e-mail

Either your personal yenta worked her magic and got you the e-mail address of, she swears, your soulmate, or you met someone and later procured their e-mail address through nefarious means. Though some people believe that asking someone out by e-mail is impersonal and cowardly, I disagree (breaking up with someone by e-mail, however, is a different story). Having seen my guy friends agonize over every word they type, I know that way too much thought goes into this.

The beauty of the e-mail date invitation is that you can get out what you wanted to say articulately, without sounding awkward or babbling over the phone. The key, of course, is to actually sound articulate. I’m in favor of keeping it simple. Like Coco Chanel said, when accessorizing, remove the last item you put on. So too with e-mails, edit what you write so every word is relevant.
1. Perhaps when today’s middle schoolers are adults, e-mails will read like this:
“yo,
wats up?? u busy 2nite? i got sum natty ice i need 2 finish. wanna help?? lol!!!111”
I weep for the future. Anyway, at least until 2018, spelling and grammar are important. If you aren’t strong in these areas, enlist a friend who majored in English to assist you.
2. Identify how this person would know [of] you. Mutual friends put you in touch? Met at a concert? Say it.  Maybe mention something specific you talked about.
3. It’s okay to inject humor, but know that some jokes, while funny when said aloud, don’t translate too well to the written word. It’s probably better to avoid jokes altogether rather than be cheesy. If you don’t want to come across as too formal, just keep your tone light. You’re not writing a cover letter.
4. Get to the point.  Like I said, this isn’t a cover letter.  You don’t need to give your life story, just say how you met, segue into mentioning some activity, then ask them out.

An example:
“Hey Joanna,
We met last weekend at Brian’s barbecue.  I remember you said you have two golden retrievers who chew your furniture when they get bored.  They’re opening that new dog park on Sunday.  I was wondering if you and your dogs would like to accompany me and mine?  Maybe a few hours running around will wear them out enough so that your couch is spared!
–Steve”

So that was the best date idea I could pull out of the air, but you get what I mean.  You get brownie points for remembering specific parts of the conversation, you already have a specific activity in mind, and watching dogs run around is totally a fun way to spend an afternoon.  Aww.

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So, uh, you will call me, right?

The cell phone. How did we live without it for so long? How did we get help when our cars broke down? How could we fake emergency phone calls to escape from bad dates? Clearly, life began with the Zach Morris phone.

People expect us to be reachable at all times. This adds a new dimension to dating. No longer do we have an excuse to be out of touch for days. Neglecting to return a phone call is a major faux pas. Unless you’re out of the country or you recently dropped your phone into a toilet, you’re expected to pay attention to those missed calls. List of the day: the pros and cons of that stylish Crackberry.

The pros are obvious:
1. No need to wait for the Pony Express to deliver your tear-stained love letters. You can whisper sweet nothings into her ear.  From a distance.  No roaming!
2. Making plans to go out is so easy! Running late? Get lost on the way to an unfamiliar restaurant? Just call!
3. Free nights and weekends? Genius.
4. People can be reached anywhere. If they don’t return your call within a few days, you know where you stand with them. Give up!
5. Think your significant other is cheating? Steal their phone and check the list of recent calls.

The cons merit further consideration:
1. You’re going to get caught cheating if your significant other sees your list of recent calls.

Seriously, though.
2. Some people freak out if you aren’t available all the time. Sadly, they don’t realize that sometimes you need a break from marathon conversations consisting of deep questions like “So, watcha doin’?” Sometimes you’re taking a shower. Sometimes you’re getting chewed out by your boss. You can’t have sappy conversations all the time.
3. Somehow, calling to say you’re running late became an acceptable alternative to, you know, showing up to places on time. Respect your date. Don’t run late. (Ha! I’m such a tool.)
4. Ignoring your date in favor of a cell phone conversation? Not okay.

Basically, there’s a new standard of etiquette to follow. Like I said before, promptly return the call of someone you recently met if you’re interested in them. Be discreet when having a cell phone conversation in public, and don’t answer your phone repeatedly during a date unless your sister is in labor. Be reasonable about how often to call your significant other. Just because their phone is on all the time doesn’t mean they can answer it. More and more we’re blending all of the different areas of our life (work, home, relationships), but it’s more than okay to create some separation.

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