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Archive for November, 2008

Not a pretty girl

A few months ago, a friend of mine (let’s call her L) was ranting to me about dating. L is an old and excellent friend I chat with multiple times a day, and my conversations with her have inspired many of my blog postings. I’ve been sitting on this particular topic for awhile.

She was telling me about a friend of hers who always seems to have a boyfriend (or, when she’s single, has guys chasing after her). Said friend is pretty and perky and blonde, and also happens to be intelligent. The total package! I paraphrase what L said to me because I don’t log IM conversations, but it was something along these lines: “Guys don’t chase me like they chase her. I’m not a pretty girl.”

This struck me for a few reasons. First, L is pretty. She’s naturally blonde, has a nice rack, and she looked smashing in her blue birthday dress when she got called onto the stage at this piano bar to do the Hokey Pokey. Second, how many other women feel this way? (I’ll admit I do sometimes.) Third, would women be so hard on themselves if they realized how much higher their standards are for “prettiness” than men’s standards are?

Pay attention the next time one of your guy friends points out a girl he thinks is cute. Odds are, she won’t be cover-of-last-month’s-Cosmo pretty. I’m repeatedly amazed at how ordinary-looking (in my opinion) some of the girls are that my male friends say they find attractive. My female friends, however, when commenting on other girls, have much higher (nay, nearly impossible) standards. We are a lot more judgmental toward each other than guys are of us.

People joke that women dress up more for each other than they do for men, and it’s true. Guys generally don’t notice that you wore the same pair of jeans two days in a row, or your hair is slightly frizzier than normal, or you aren’t wearing makeup. If they think you’re pretty, you’ll be as pretty to them in sweatpants as you are in a dress.

Ordinary-looking ladies of the world, take heart. We may not ever grace the pages of Maxim without some serious airbrushing, but we should stop being so hard on ourselves and on each other. We might dress up for other women, but the guys we want to attract probably think we’re prettier than we think we are.

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I’ve seen a lot of friends grudgingly try to remain on friendly terms with an ex immediately after the breakup. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s totally possible. I have a few friends who I’ve dated.

But what about when you try to stay civil because you feel bad about the breakup? You hurt them, they say the “lets be friends” line, you agree because you’re guilty, and you think by saying yes it’ll soften the blow. Or let’s say you secretly hope to get back together, so you offer to stay friends as a way to keep your foot in the door. Or you’re just a friendly person in general, and you can’t stand the thought of having an enemy. These are all excellent reasons to try to be friends with someone.

And by excellent, of course, I mean stupid.

Are you waiting for permission to drop a toxic person from your life? Fine. I give you permission. You are allowed to ditch someone who brings you more pain than joy. You are allowed to ditch someone you now realize you had nothing in common with. You are allowed to ditch someone who could be holding you back from forming new relationships.

Sometimes you can still be friends with an ex, but be sure to give yourself time to grieve. It might take a few days, a few months, or a few years until you can forget why you were so mad at them. Allow yourself to take that time. If after you’ve thought about it, you know you can be friends with them and not feel angry or sad, great. If you come to the realization that your life is better off without this particular person in it, there’s nothing wrong with that.

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I don’t really get into specifics about any of the guys I go out with in this blog, mostly out of respect to them (not that I tell them about this blog, but whatever). But this time, I am so in shock about something that just happened that I need to share it.

I went out this past week with a guy I recently met while I was on my way home from a work happy hour. The date went well enough — nice conversation, no awkward pauses, and he was super-polite. I didn’t know if we would go out again, but I could say for sure that this was a really nice person.

Oh, I was wrong. He sent a rather explicit booty email to me just now out of the blue. There was mention of handcuffs. I IMed him to verify that this wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t. I declined, stating that that’s not really how I roll with relative strangers, and he said he didn’t mean to offend me, he just got the idea when he met me that I’d be up for those sorts of things.

“That’s no good,” I said. “That outfit you saw me in was what I wore to work that day.”

My office has no dress code, and I like to be fashionable, but I was covered up. I looked cute and feminine, but definitely appropriate. Nothing about my style says, “I like to be handcuffed.” Anyway, he tried to backtrack a bit to save his ass, but I listened to the advice of a friend I had called in utter shock and just stopped responding. I also blocked him and deleted his number from my phone.

I have come to several realizations:
1. I am not as good a judge of character as I thought.
2. Apparently I send out some sort of “I’m a total freak” vibe.
3. Holy shit, that really just happened.

Good lessons can come out of this experience. First, this is now, hands down, the most hilarious and crazy dating story to have happened to me. I will be telling this story to laughing audiences for years. Second (I speak to the guys here, as they generally initiate these things), if you’re going to take a really big risk and booty call a girl you don’t know that well, be prepared to be definitively shot down. And if you are shot down, trying to smooth over what you said in order to get her to go out with you anyway will not work. You have blown it with this girl. Move along. Third (and this is for the ladies), there’s nothing wrong with accepting a booty call if you’re looking for something without strings attached. But if you’re looking to be treated as more than a booty call, stand up for yourself. I paraphrase Tucker Max when I say this: You get from guys what you demand from them. Don’t allow yourself to be the girl they just call for a good time and then whine about how no guy ever wants to be your boyfriend. Figure out what you want, and then act in a way that attracts that.

Anyway, I’m going to go have a good laugh and possibly take several showers. As you were.

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Reader Gwen writes,

So I broke up with my boyfriend of three months yesterday.  Even though he treated me like a total princess, I just didn’t see things in the “happily ever after” way that he did.  So the question is this:  what do I do with all of the little gifts he gave me?  Sure, I ate the chocolate a while ago, and the flowers died, but what about the little trinkets and crap he brought back every time he left town?  We’re still friends, so I don’t want to throw it away because he might be offended if he notices that his shot glass is not in the cabinet, but I don’t exactly feel like looking at it right now!  Even being the breaker-upper, ending relationships still sucks.

You know that story, about how the guy says to his doctor, “it hurts when I do this” and the doctor says, “then don’t do that”? It applies to this situation. If it pains you to wear or use a gift, I say don’t use it. Later on, you might be cured of any negative associations that come with wearing that sweater he got you for your birthday or those earrings from Valentine’s Day, or whatever else. But until then, even if the person is still your friend, don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable.

But what if they notice and complain? In your ex’s mind, you shouldn’t have a problem with the shot glass because you’re still friends (and, after all, you were the one who broke up with him). But the shot glass brings back the unhappy feeling you got when you realized you needed to break his heart. Who wants to feel that way while downing tequila?

Regardless of what side of the breakup you were on, there’s a mourning period. Sometimes you can go right to being friends, but that doesn’t mean it no longer hurts to see that person. Other times months or years need to pass before you can have even a civil relationship with an ex. Either way, the other person doesn’t get much of a vote in how you mourn. If you’re not ready or willing to be friends, that’s too bad for them. If you’re okay with being friends but you don’t want the stuffed animal he won for you at a county fair prominently displayed in your apartment for all future dates to see, that’s your right. You can throw those gifts away, donate them, or shove them in a box in the back of your closet, or you can use them if you’re okay with that. Etiquette dictates that how the person received the gift uses it is not in the control of the gift giver.

If your ex complains about the shot glass…tell him to stop looking in your cabinets. Boundaries, people.

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