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Archive for May, 2009

Okay, last post where I basically just link to the On Happiness blog. Promise. But you really do need to start reading it. Anyway, this is a good one when it comes to dating, or going out in general. Control your exit!

As a rule, I don’t like to go out to a place where I’m not sure how I’ll be able to get home. If it’s not close enough to walk, there’s no access to public transit, and cabs are scarce, I tend to suggest altering the night’s plans. I don’t feel limited geographically by this rule of mine. You can explore plenty of a large city by foot/train/bus/cab. As for the rest, well, there be dragons.

Not only do I know I’ll make it home safely, but I also know that when I start yawning, or I’d like to head out to another bar, I can leave without ruining the evening of people who’d like to stay longer.

If you’re going out on a blind date, or even a non-blind date with someone you don’t know too well yet, it is imperitave that you can get yourself home. Pick a location in a familiar and non-sketchy neighborhood. Have your train card and enough cash for a cab ride, plus whatever you eat or drink, plus some extra. If you drove there, one drink maximum. Not only is all of this important for your safety, but it’s also important for your sanity! If the date goes bust, there’s no awkward 20 minutes in their car as they drive you home. You can make your speedy exit right after a friend phones with a fake emergency or you climb out of the bathroom window. Knowing how you’ll get home will allow you to relax and (hopefully) enjoy the date.

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When I get sad, I stop being sad, and be AWESOME instead. True story.

Barney Stinson

Lately I’ve been getting into the Slate blog The Happiness Project. In it, Gretchen Rubin explores the topic of happiness from all angles: tips on becoming happy, studies on happiness, and so on. I wonder why I haven’t bothered to read this earlier, because it’s really interesting!

Much of what she talks about applies to the unlucky in love. Whether you’re in a stale relationship, or you’re single and bitter, focusing on finding happiness can be a huge help. One of her postings caught my eye — Life’s Cruel Truth: You Get More of What You Already Have. In it, she raises an excellent point:

When you feel friendly, people want to be your friend. When you feel sexy, people are attracted to you. When you feel confident, others have confidence in you.

This truth is cruel because so often, you want others to give you what you feel you’re lacking. It’s when you’re feeling isolated and awkward that you want people to be friendly. When you’re feeling ugly, you want someone to tell you how sexy you are. When you’re feeling insecure, you wish someone would express confidence in you.

I suppose the jist is fake it ’til you make it, which can seem inauthentic. But consider this scenario: You’re at a party. Who do you gravitate to (besides people you might already know)? The wallflower frowning into their warm beer in a dark corner, or the smiling, funny life of the party who’s telling a captive audience about the time they went hanggliding in South America?

How many times do you put on the pouty face when out with friends because they dragged you out of the house when you’d rather have stayed in? Are you often angry at your boyfriend or girlfriend when they aren’t affectionate toward you, when lately you haven’t been particularly affectionate toward them either? Do you want to have more fun when you go out? Do you want a relationship that’s more affectionate? Look like you’re having fun. Randomly hug your significant other more often.

I don’t think you should feel like you must automatically snap out of a bad mood. It’s okay to be angry or upset and stew a bit in order to articulate why you feel that way, and work toward fixing the situation that got you in a funk in the first place. But as Rubin points out, venting about anger or isolating yourself to mope don’t actually make you feel better in the end, even though that tends to be what we automatically feel like doing.

Let’s bring this back to dating. To put it not-so-delicately, no one wants a shriveled-up bitter person who complains all the time! Work to achieve greater happiness, and you might find yourself more easily making new friends and meeting potential dates.

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Hey ladies: If you’re looking for a nice guy to take you on hopefully more than one date and seriously consider whether or not you’re girlfriend potential, don’t commit the faux pas of bragging about your recent sexual conquests to said nice guy.

The only guys you’ll attract if you do this are, forgive the phrase, the pump-and-dumpers. Relationship-minded men will think you’re a skank. Don’t kiss and tell. Everyone has a past, but no one needs to know about it besides you and the person testing you for chlamydia.

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Forget Christmas. I love me some warm springtime weather. The flowers are out, people are walking their adorable golden retrievers, and for the first time in months, everyone’s showing some skin. Said skin might be dreadfully pasty, but it’s skin nonetheless. Today I rocked a denim miniskirt I might be getting to old for (but according to Stacy and Clinton, I have ten more years until my hemlines need to stay closer to my knees).

I get seasonal affective disorder in the winters, which means I go through three months a year where I hate leaving the house. It’s cold, I can’t muster up the strength to put on anything nicer than fleece under a puffy down coat, and it gets dark at 5pm. Summer, though uncomfortably warm, wakes me up. Girls are in dresses, guys are in shorts (I have a thing for toned calves, so this excites me greatly), and it’s light out past 8 every night. It’s no wonder that in April or May, people everywhere are declaring it “their” summer. It’s their summer to date, go out, have fun and travel.

Could it be the summer of CHO? I should hope so. Since moving to this city three years ago, I haven’t dated anyone for longer than two months. I’d say I’m due, and summer is the perfect time for something to start. Summer dating is fun — you can go for bike rides or eat at outdoor restaurants. You can picnic or go to wineries. By the time winter comes around, you’ve already become a boring couple who never goes out anyway. Perfect timing!

So wish me luck, readers. My straight male friends have all told me they don’t get how it is I’m still single. Maybe an awesome guy will show up who agrees.

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I think I’ve figured out the answer to one of dating’s great mysteries: Why women date assholes. We say we want a nice guy who treats us like royalty, and then we often fall for the bad boy. Are women stupid? Are we just lying about what we want? Do we secretly enjoy being cheated on? Not all of us, no, and no.

It’s not that women seek out horrible guys. It’s that we like some of the qualities that assholes exhibit. Namely, they’re a bit mysterious and they don’t totally suck up to women. Women like to be chased, but we like the thrill of the chase, too. We don’t want someone who’s falling all over themselves to hang out with us ALL THE TIME because that’s kind of creepy and annoying. We like the witty, sarcastic rapport we can have with someone who isn’t afraid to poke fun. Some women also like to think they can change an asshole into a nice guy. They can’t, but who doesn’t love a challenge? And as weird as it sounds, when a guy who’s kind of a dick is actually nice to you of his own volition…it’s kind of an honor. It’s like you get to see a soft side of him that he won’t show anyone else. It’s like he deems you worthy. It’s validation from the unlikeliest of places.

There are qualities nice guys exhibit that we want, too. Nice guys are caring and dependable. They will never hurt you on purpose. You always know where you stand with them. But if you’re too much of a nice guy, the girl you’re dating will get sick of being put on a pedestal. We want to be taken care of, but not worshiped. Simply put, women not a boyfriend. Not a bitch.

Moderation is key. In the continuum of nice guys to assholes, you need to be somewhre in the middle, and be able to move back and forth as the situation calls for.

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I don’t like when people pay way too much attention to their cell phones. I get that they’re really handy. I get the internets on mine, and reading the New York Times from my phone makes waiting in doctors’ offices more tolerable. But I hate when people are out for a meal with other people and they spend an extraordinary amount of time on their phone, ignoring their companions. The saddest case I saw was during brunch, when a mother spent 45 minutes chatting on her phone while her four-year-old daughter attempted to climb onto her lap, pull her hair, call her name, and so on, just to get her mother’s attention. Why go out to breakfast with your daughter if you’re just going to ignore her the entire time?

Recently, my parents witnessed a young couple with a baby at a restaurant. The husband was on the phone for a long time, to the point where the wife rolled her eyes at her husband several times. I’ll bet he didn’t get laid that night.

I don’t put my phone on the table when I’m in a restaurant unless I’m waiting to hear from one of the people who will be joining me. For one thing, I’m afraid I’ll accidentally forget to take my phone with me when I leave. For another, I don’t want to tempt myself into looking at my phone while there are real, live people in front of me. If I feel the phone buzz in my purse, I’ll wait until I go to the restroom to check it. I recently went out on a date with a guy who profusely apologized when his phone, which was in his pocket, rang. He had forgotten to silence it before we sat down. He went on to compliment me for not having my phone in sight. “I’m not that important,” I replied. “Anyone who needs to reach me can wait until I get home.” He liked that answer. I sent the message that my priority was talking to him.

There are reasons to be glued to your phone. You’re a doctor who’s on call. A relative is about to have a baby and you’re waiting to hear news. You left a message with someone you’re going out with later and you expect to hear back from them shortly. You’re in the middle of putting a bid on a house and your realtor said they’d get back to you today. You’re on your lunch break from work and your boss might call. Whatever the reason, you can throw out a preemptive apology. “I don’t normally like to talk on the phone at a restaurant,” you could say, “but my cousin is supposed to hear if she got into Harvard today, and I made her promise to call me the second she found out.” Okay, I dig. At least then I anticipate the interruption and I know you’re conscientious enough to keep the conversation quick. Also, at that point, I’d be cheering on your cousin, too! You have just included me in the excitement.

This is a serious enough issue for me to be a deal-breaker when it comes to dating. If a person is willing to check out from your conversation on a first date, when they’re on their best behavior, they certainly won’t stop after 20 dates. In your mind, fiddling with your Blackberry might make you seem busy and important to your date. In your date’s mind, it makes it seem like everything is more important to you than they are. If I went on a first date with a guy who spent a lot of time on his phone when there was no emergency, I wouldn’t go out with him again. I’m not alone in this mindset. Curb your phone usage, or you might find that your first dates often don’t lead to second ones.

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You’ve heard the phrase “timing is everything.” Sometimes, your life is such that you can’t put down roots right now, but you don’t think it means you need to be alone. Enter the placeholder relationship: You date someone you enjoy being with, but you know it’s not going to work out because one of you is moving or graduating or just not ready to be in a long-term thing, or some combination of the three.

This happens a lot when you’re still in high school or college. Graduation is this big, looming deadline. After it is a period of great change. Many people feel that they need to be on their own for this. But what about people who have long since finished school, and have a stable job and no intentions of moving? If they met the “right person,” they say, they’d be ready to get engaged in the near future. Yet they’re already dating someone and have no plans to marry them. This is the placeholder. You keep the chair warm until the real thing comes along. If you’ve ever dated someone for years, only to find out they got engaged six months after you two broke up, you’ve been there.

Now, is a placeholder relationship really a bad thing? If you both know you’re graduating in a year, but you really like each other and just want to see how things go, it’s fine. If you’re both just looking to go out and have fun but you aren’t ready for marriage, it’s fine. In my own life, though, I realize that the older I get, the less I’d tolerate finding out that I’m the placeholder. Nor am I looking for a placeholder guy. Dating around to find the right person is one thing, but maintaining the illusion of a serious relationship while keeping your eyes open for “something better” is another.

What do you think, peanut gallery? In what situations are placeholder relationships acceptable, or even great? And in what situations are they not?

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