Saturday, December 8, 2012

Grabbing a Spoon

Seven months after my breakup, I’m totally ready to move on.  It was a gradual process, comprised of throwing photographs and ticket stubs away one month, deleting his number from my phone another month, finding a cute boy to flirt with the next.  Baby steps.  And now I’m ready to grab a spoon!  Two, actually. 

I didn’t plan to follow up my Dharma & Greg post with a Friends post, but sometimes romcom tv shows can teach us a lot about relationships and provide metaphors that are easily relatable to real life.  “Grabbing a spoon” is how Joey (in his lovable, promiscuous way) motivates Ross to move on after his divorce from Carol.  Carol was vanilla, and vanilla was great, but now it’s time to try some new flavors; see what else is out there!

So a couple weeks ago I grabbed a spoon.  For the first time in ten years, I gave a guy my phone number without the aid of liquid confidence.  It was a guy I had talked to on a few occasions and he seemed flirtatious, so I made a move.  He never called, but it was empowering just to take that step after so much time.  It was the first time in over a year I was interested in a new person and that alone felt pretty good, but since I had nothing invested in the new guy and don’t have to see him again, I suffered no loss.

And then, earlier this week, I went on my first actual date since the breakup.  And it was really, really great.  The guy was someone I talked to for several minutes at pub trivia the week before and asked me for my number which, like, never happens.  So that was awesome and empowering as well and I realized that now that I’m no longer wallowing, I’m displaying confidence that others might find appealing.  So the date went really well, the guy and I have been chatting all week, we’re going out again next week, and… who knows?  Maybe it will be something, maybe it won’t, but at this point I again have nothing to lose.  Sure, I like him a lot so far, but how much can you really tell from one date?  I used to think a lot could be told, but it’s time to take a step back and just let things happen. 

I’m trying to do something I have NEVER done before: have fun when dating!  It’s an entirely new concept to me.  So I’m going to keep on grabbing spoons and see what is out there that I haven’t yet experienced.  I’ll admit, it’s a little scary, but I encourage others to do the same.  But be careful, because there are some pretty crazy flavors out there, especially if you’re browsing the Ben & Jerry’s section of the freezer aisle!  And stay away from nuts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What I learned about soul mates from Dharma & Greg

I remember an episode of Dharma and Greg in which an ex-girlfriend of Greg, who he has remained close friends with returns to town. Dharma feels threatened by this beautiful, successful, single woman who seems to be much better-suited for Greg than Dharma is. Dharma and Greg take the ex out on the town to find her a man, but Dharma spends most of the night talking to a guy at the bar. Like Dharma, his parents were also hippies, he has an unusual name, he enjoys yoga and New Age-y things that Greg generally scoffs at. At the end of the evening, Greg asks Dharma if she found a soul mate, referring, of course to someone suitable for his ex. Dharma replies to him, "Yes! But I'm going home with the man I love."

I think about this episode a lot. It really got me thinking when I originally saw it years ago, too. A Romantic and true idealist, I always believed in soul mates. Dharma made me consider, for the first time, that even though I may have a soul mate out there, he might not be the right person for me. Yes, I know I am basing this theory on a sitcom, but the philosophy is worth exploring. Recent events in my life have brought this to mind, and I can't stop thinking about it. Maybe, maybe Nate was my soul mate. Nate wasn't the first man I was convinced was "the one." He was the third. But he was the first of the trio I had a long-term, happy, healthy, cutesy, committed relationship with, so that made my conviction seem all the more reasonable, even likely.

Maybe Nate was my soul mate. On our first date he recited lines from a documentary written by a man my brother was named after. The first time he walked into my apartment he noticed right away that I arrange my bookshelves according to genre. We both have a tendency to put on ridiculous music and break into an even more ridiculous spontaneous dance and we shared an obsession with the Brooklyn Bridge. From the very moment I met him, I felt comfortable and happy and was able to be myself without holding anything back. The first time we kissed I felt electricity course through my body and thought, "I'm never going to kiss another man" -- a thought that terrified me, but one I couldn't push away.

Maybe he was my soul mate. Maybe not, but it's possible that he was. And maybe we were soul mates, but there's actually someone out there I'll be happier with. Right now that doesn't seem like an option, and it's not something I'm going to explore for a long time, but I have to accept that it just might be true.

Monday, May 7, 2012

On this day in 1995: Dear Diary, What Is Love?

May 7, 1995:

Dear Diary,
I just got back from Washington, D.C. with my church's Youth Club. There is this one boy who goes to my church. His name is Steven but he'd probably get mad if you called him Steven. Anyway, I think I'm madly in love with him. He is AWESOME looking, and he's really sexy. I got to sit by him in the van on the way there. Go me!

I found this diary entry particularly amusing after having recently been actually, really, truly and very madly in love with a boyfriend with whom I spent painstaking months building a deep relationship.  Three hours sitting next to a boy, even an "awesome looking" one in a church van does not equal love.

I have been in love three times.  Unrequited loves, all of them. 
Current score:  Love: 3 / Me: 0

Go Me!

Monday, April 30, 2012

What NOT to say to someone who has just been dumped

It's been a week since Nate broke up with me and the wound is still fresh. Friends and family have rallied around me to cheer me up and offer comforting words, and while in most cases they have proven very helpful, they've also succeeded in providing me with a new blog post: what NOT to say to someone who has just been dumped.

"You'll find somebody ten times better."
- Better is not the point. Ryan Gosling could ask me to marry him right now and I wouldn't accept. I don't want better; I want Nate. I want what I had. That's what was perfect and made me the happiest I've ever been in my life.

"It's Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all."
- Is it? Really? I disagree. Had I known it would end like this, I would have walked away eight months ago and never fallen in love with him in the first place.

"You will be happy again."
- Duh. The point is that I'm not happy now.

"Finding true love takes time."
- How much longer will it take? I thought maybe 28 years was long enough.

"You must first love yourself before someone else can love you."
- I do love myself! I think I'm fucking wonderful. Yet I'm still waiting for someone to love me...

"On the bright side, you can still be friends."
- Oh, so we can hang out and laugh and have a great time and do everything we used to do, except have sex? Yeah, that sounds really awesome. Not to mention I'll have to sit around and watch when he finds someone new. Sounds like a real party.

"At least it's not just you. The success rate for relationships is really, really low. Almost nobody stays together anymore!"
- Wow. Just... wow. Extremely encouraging.

There are, however, some words that have actually made me feel better this past week, and I thank my friends whole-heartedly who have been there for me and said these kind things:

"That fool just lost the best thing he ever had."
- Damn straight.

"You weren't too good for him, but you were far too good for the situation."
- Ahh yes, I can't deny this. Being in a "medium-distance" relationship and stressing about the next time I'd get to see my boyfriend had definitely started to take its toll.

"I know it hurts that he didn't love you, but just remember that I have loved you for 19 years."
- Friends that have stuck around since I was a chubbster wearing stirrup leggnings are the best.

I can assure you that, for the most part, when someone has been dumped, all she/he wants to hear is how much life sucks. And it does suck. A lot, sometimes. But my week of mourning is over and now it's time to let the wound begin scabbing.  I know, I know... scabs are really gross and generally unwated, but that's how I view the process of healing from a break-up.  No one really wants to go through that, either.  I could also form an analogy about how even after the wound heals the scar remains, but... maybe I'll leave that extreme corniness for a future post.  Deal with it.

HAPPY 50th BLOG POST TO ME!  Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just Somebody That I Used To Know

My boyfriend of nearly eight months broke up with me four days ago, telling me that he could never love me. He was the best thing I ever had and I'm left aching and broken, with so many questions that don't have answers. The breakup was preceded by my telling him three weeks ago that I was in love with him, to which he responded kindly and sweetly, but said he couldn't say the same... not yet. Over the next three weeks nothing changed within our relationship, we were still as happy as we were before, but I guess that's all the time he needed to realize something just wasn't there for him. Except I don't understand. How can eight months together in a relationship separated by a distance that required a great deal of effort on both of our parts, a relationship in which he sent me flowers for no reason, talked to me on the phone for hours a night, sent me messages just to tell me I was beautiful, romantically surprised me on Valentine's Day, ditched all his friends for me on his birthday, eagerly met my family last month... how does that not amount to love? What is that, if not love? And what is love, if not that?

I once dated a guy through the Fall and he told me years later that the season always makes him think of me because "you were my Autumn." Well, Nate was my Autumn. And my Winter. And my Spring. I thought he was going to be my Summer, too. There were things I was really looking forward to experiencing with him: camping trips, friend's weddings, the rest of our lives... you get my drift.
On Sunday night he held my hand and told me we couldn't keep spending time together as boyfriend and girlfriend because the "spark" (why do guys always use that word?) wasn't there for him and it wouldn't be fair to me, but he cares about me too much and enjoys my company too much to eliminate me from his life. He still wants to be friends. Of course he does. They always do. I told him he can't have it both ways, and that's the hardest part. I'll never see him again. To do so would just be too hard.

A breakup is like a death in that way. Someone you loved so much and thought would be around forever is all of a sudden just cut out of your life. The stages of grief are very similar to those experienced when mourning a death: 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. I think I'm currently in the midst of denial and hope I can skip over the middle three stages to the last one. Going about every day life is the hardest part right now. It's not possible for someone to remain in your life for the better part of a year (and believe me, it was the better part) and not have them impact pretty much every aspect of your life. I can't shower without thinking of him because he bought me my shower gel; putting on my coat brings him to mind because we were together when the middle button popped off; I put on my favorite necklace and remember the time I lost it while making out in the backseat of his car; I open my top drawer and see his favorite bra and the underwear he bought for me; I put on my shoes and am reminded that I bought them to wear with the dress I wore for his birthday; I can't go in my backyard without picturing him out there playing basketball with my nephew for hours; and my bed, which is usually a safe haven... well, that's where he broke up with me.

And after the death blow, he gave me a list of things he hoped would put a smile on my face: inside jokes, good times we shared together. It was incredibly sweet and he held me while I sobbed. He kept offering to leave if I wanted him to, so I'd tell him to go, but then he'd say, "I can't leave you like this" and hold me again. He had tears in his eyes when I finally pushed him out the door. The next day was the first day in four months that we didn't speak, and it hurt like hell. I ache. The first thing I did, when I hauled my ass off the couch and made myself stop crying, was to collect everything that reminded me of him and pack it into a box: ticket stubs, photographs, dried rose petals, cards and notes from him, lotion he got me... eight months of my life, neatly packed away into a shoebox. Unfortunately, things like my bed and my backyard require a slightly larger box, so I guess I'll have to overcome the sadness they bring me by reassociating happy memories with them.

I know that I will probably love again and someday I'll find someone else... but honestly, I'm not sure I can do better than Nate. We complemented each other perfectly; it was a really, really great fit and in eight months, we never had even one fight. Maybe that was the problem: not enough danger, not enough excitement. But I'm not about to begin analyzing where and when the relationship went wrong; to do so would drive me mad. So for now I'll let myself be coddled by my family and friends, eat whatever I want, listen to my breakup playlist and go to sleep hugging a box of tissues. That's what will get me through the moments every day when I reach for my phone to tell him something funny that just happened, forgetting he's completely out of my life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Disappearing Act

For the past two years I've been recording my strange dating encounters on this blog in the hopes of somehow reaching an understanding as to how men and women interact. Unfortunately, I am no closer to reaching that understanding than when I started. This is true not only in dating instances, but even in friendships with men. Maybe I should stop trying to be friends with men I've dated...

I first wrote about Matt on 9/2/10 in The Curse of the Fourth Date. To refresh your memory, he broke up with me on our fourth date but asked if we could still be friends. He explained that it just wasn't the right time for him to get involved in something that could become serious, but as the friendship continued maybe something "serendipitious" (his word choice) would happen and we'd end up together. I doubted this would actually be the case and went home that night with no plans to see him again.

But he kept calling me. He kept texting to see when we could hang out again. So I finally swallowed my pride a month or so later and met up with him for gravy fries and beer. The month after that he invited me over for dinner, which he cooked: spaghetti, complete with home-made noodles and self-canned tomato sauce. We spent time together pretty frequently in the following months: bar trivia nights, beer chugging contests, dinner, concerts, walks in the park with ice cream. Though he sometimes sent me mixed signals (texting me early on a weekend to tell me to get out of bed and come have breakfast with him, occasionally picking up the whole tab when we went out, etc.), I was genuinely happy being his friend. Not only had I given up hope that anything would come of it, I didn't even want it to. We were in a really good place.

He came over on Easter to paint eggs with me. After hours of painting eggs, he stuck around to talk. For two hours, we just talked. About work, family, what we want and don't want from our lives. Even for our close friendship it seemed deep and serious, yet effortless. It kind of felt like a turning point.

And then he dropped off the grid. He stopped returning my calls and emails. At one point he apologized, explaining that he was sucked into a black hole at work that would probably continue throughout the month.

The month ended and still... nothing. So I stepped back and gave him his space.

Four months passed until I saw him again. We had tickets to a concert purchased months previously, but when we met up at the show we picked up right where we left off and had a great time. There was one slightly awkward moment when an older couple we were chatting with asked us how long we'd been together and when we explained that we were just friends they reacted with surprise and said, "Well, you should be together!" Their opinion echoed that of my family and friends. Everyone who saw us together thought we were blind to the fact that we belonged with one another. I regret to inform them all that they were mistaken.

I've talked to Matt only once since then, when we randomly ended up in the same train car. We chatted for two stops, agreed we should get together in the near future, and then I got off the train at my stop. That was six months ago. I will never understand what happened, why Matt was my best friend for nearly a year and then all of a sudden decided he didn't need me in his life anymore in any capacity. He dropped me cold turkey and it hurts. I miss the bastard.

Despite it all, I still don't believe that Harry Burns (When Harry Met Sally) was correct when he said that men and women can never truly be friends. For the most part, maybe he's correct; when I analyze the majority of my friendships with (straight) males, we've either dated or one of us has tried to score with the other at some point along the way. I have but one exception to this: Jake. He's been in my life for ten years and though I find him handsome and he thinks I'm pretty, neither of has ever wanted the other. Not remotely. And I know this because we tell each other everything and he would tell me. So Harry was only mostly right. But he was right about Matt.