Dating Story: The Networker

The Winter Blues are a real thing in my life. It is palpable how sad I can get. One year I decided it was a great idea to start a challenge to myself to break some dating habits. I decided I was going to go on 50 First Dates and write about my experiences.

I didn’t have any finite plans about what I wanted to do with this project, maybe I would turn it into a play or a book. But I really wanted to do it, so I started an online profile one January and got to work setting up dates.

In case you are wondering about the project, nothing has come of it yet. I ended up having a mild depression that winter after going on these dates that were going no where and having the same conversation over and over again- from what to do you to what are your hobbies to I’m just not feeling it. The other question I get about the project is what if I had met someone. I did not restrict myself to only going on one date with each guy. If I wanted to keep seeing him I would. The whole point was to get out of a rut and if I got out of a rut before 50 First Dates, then great.

Anyway, back to the Networker. We messaged online in the normal fashion. Nothing in particular stood out other than he was bald and was hysterical. He even made a joke about being bald forced him to develop this great sense of humor (makes sense to me). He quit his corporate job and now freelanced and finally started to turn a profit in his business. (Hence the nickname. He knew everyone in town because he had to hustle for his work)

I wouldn’t say I am attracted or turned off by bald men, I would say I am curious. I like to think I am open to it, but most of the time in person I am not really attracted. I had not figured this out yet about myself.

So we agree to go out for a glass of wine. It was February. 2010. If you were on the East Coast, you will recall that was the winter of Snowmageddon. It started sometime around midnight the night of our first date.

We knew the weather report and decided to risk it. We were just meeting for one drink after all.

The Networker was hilarious, and I really enjoyed that about him. He was pleasant to be around. So one glass of wine turned into two. I couldn’t make up my mind if I was interested in him, but I was having fun and wanted to figure it out.

I do not know why I wanted to figure it out THAT NIGHT. I do not know why I didn’t think “I am intrigued. But I will wait and figure it out another night when they are not predicting a huge snowstorm.”

But no. I didn’t think that. Instead, I suggested we go to my favorite dive bar a few doors down, play the jukebox and maybe some pool and keep hanging out. So we do. We run into a few acquaintances of mine and we hang out as a group. Lots of laughs ensue and plenty more drinks.

I cannot make up my mind about this guy, but it was probably not a good sign that I was making eyes at another guy across the bar. He was just drop dead gorgeous. I couldn’t help myself (but I know I should have).

The Networker and I decide to call it a night and parted ways with a hug and plans to meet up again for dinner the following weekend. My night did not end there, I went back to flirt some more like the idiot that had one drink too many tends to do.

But that story will be for another day.

Long story short, my car got buried in the snow. A few days later the Networker picked me up at my apartment and helped me shovel out. I was incredibly grateful but still not sure I was attracted.

The Networker and I met up for dinner. Again, the conversation was great. But I was pretty certain I was falling on the side of the fence of “Not Attracted.” He walked me to my car and finally went in for a kiss. And let me just say politely that it firmly planted me in the “Not Attracted” camp.

So I told him I wasn’t feeling it and would like to be friends. He balked at this, the way we all do when our pride is wounded, and we parted ways. I still am not sure what the right way is to end a relationship like that. I thought honesty and directness was best, but that still stings.

Who knew that he literally KNOWS EVERYONE in my city. So even now 5 years later we are consistently running into each other at events and parties thrown by mutual friends. I was really glad that the first time I saw him after that awkward ending was at the Farmer’s Market and he was with a girl, I had hoped a date.

Luckily there are no hard feelings between us and we can have a great time if we happen to both be at the same concert together, oftentimes alone because we are both confident enough to go to things alone. (which I suppose means it’s a shame I’m not romantically attracted! We have so much in common!)

I’m glad we’ve been able to be friends, despite the awkward ending.

 

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Dating Story: The Bartender

Don’t we all have at least one story about a bartender? I have a few, I will do my best to distinguish between them.

He was so my type. Tall. Dreamy. Charming. Boyish. Incredibly intelligent. Unattainable.

There’s something about those charming bartenders. It’s like they get training to be that charming. I guess they do. It’s called a night with good tips.

I was volunteering at a nearby theater where I used to work. It was their gala, so I was dressed fairly fancy. I had the fits shift to check people in at the door and show them where to go. With this shift, I had a chunk of time with nothing to do. All of my former coworkers were assigned to the main events – the big fancy dinner and the onstage performance.

So I decided to go around the corner to my favorite dive bar where I could always get a cheap, strong cocktail from a friendly bartender.

I didn’t know the bartender behind the bar, but he looked friendly. He looked very sweet. I asked if he could put the Stanley Cup finals on and he gave me a look. He switched a TV near me and left me alone. Eventually I started a conversation with the other people in the bar and we had a great vibe going.

The bartender and the second bartender came over to join us and we all joked around. We decided to cement our new friendship with shots and a round of beers. The bartender seemed to always linger in my general area and found ways to talk to me. But I had flirted with other bartenders before, so I knew the game. Also it was a bar that was usually populated by gay people so odds were that he was gay. (I found out later he suspected the same of me)

I continued flirting and we talked about hockey and how impressed he was that a woman in a dress and heels would ask to watch that. We talked about Baltimore. And then I finished my beer and paid my tab (he only charged me for one drink, not the shot or beer) and left.

But I couldn’t get his cute eyes out of my mind. And I could have sworn he was flirting. I decided to recruit a friend that was also volunteering to come with me to the bar after the gala and give me a second opinion.

We returned, very late, and the place was hopping. I was served immediately and of course the bartender remembered me! He was happy I came back!

My friend and I had a round of drinks and then a second so my friend could really observe the two of us together.

My friend concluded that the bartender was indeed flirting and I should make a move to make myself clear. So I decided to use the good ol’ standby- my number on a napkin. So, I asked the bartender over t close my tab and paid for the drinks. When I was settled up I leaned over the bar so I was closer to his space and asked “If I gave you my number would you actually call?” He looked stunned, and paused. Eventually he said yes so I slid my number across the bar.

He texted the next day and asked me out for that evening. Being a bartender, his schedule was crazy and he had Sunday nights off and didn’t want to wait another week. So he picked me up and we went to a little bar with a pool table. We talked about the book about body language he had recently read and philosophy and all the things that really turn me on but I feel too pretentious to say that.

It was a pretty perfect first date. And then the second was just as perfect. Somehow I found a man that was younger than me in years but intellectually older than me and more of a gentleman that I had ever met. His mix on his iPod was also exactly my taste and let me sing along with the windows down when “Electric Feel” came on the mix.

And then he cancelled our third date. He gave some excuse that seemed logical so I let it slide even though I was disappointed.

Our third date was more of the same – great conversation and when he dropped me off he actually came upstairs for a cup of tea. Which led to making out on my bed. We had kissed before but it had always been a peck in public places or making out in his car, which is always awkward. So making out on my bed was hot. What was even hotter was that neither of us was trying to take it any farther than that. We just enjoyed making out.

He was so endearing in so many ways. He was smart but humble about it. He had a model-like handsomeness but had a skin disease which caused patches of discoloration on his skin. He was youthful and mature. It was wonderful. And that’s probably why I believed his excuses when he cancelled out fourth date, some kind of health emergency in his family. And then we rescheduled and it was some other ridiculous excuse.

It just all seemed too strange. And it was always at the last minute, within a few hours of our date. They were these ridiculous excuses that sounded made up. And it felt awful to have someone cancel on me over and over, especially with crazy excuses that seemed to deserve their own reality show.

So I said something to him that each excuse seemed to get more ridiculous and I wasn’t sure if they were real. So I told him I didn’t want to have another cancelled date, I wanted an actual date. And if that’s not what he wanted than he shouldn’t call me again.

I think that caught him off guard. So he never called. And I never reached out. So that was that. And most of the time I tell myself my gut was right that there was something behind those strange stories. At the very least, those would be difficult problems to be dealing with.

Every once in awhile he comes up as a recommended contact on LinkedIn because his email is in my gmail somewhere. And I wonder how he is. I wonder if that chemistry would still be there. I wonder if things got easier for him.

And typing this made me realize how important that mental chemistry is for me. It was an amazing mix of physical attraction and mix of wits. I need someone that makes me grow, strive to be my best. And I know I often settle for less. I settle for the guy that’s hot or smart or steady.

So, Bartender, wherever you are and whatever you are doing now, I hope you’re well and you’re happy. I hope you and your family have less health problems. I hope you’re still reading and thinking big thoughts.

 

 

Dating Story: The One Night Stand

I am not a stranger to the one night stand. I actually have no problem with it, if both people are on the same page and are looking for exactly that.

But I have one one night stand that I absolutely regret.

And even the word “regret” feels strong because I at least learned the lesson that I never want to do that again.

This is the one guy that the details are completely fuzzy because I was incredibly drunk. It’s probably as close to blacked out as I have ever been.

There was no particular reason, I went out with my roommate at the time and her friends. And we just kept drinking and drinking and drinking.

I met the One Night Stand at our local bar on a Saturday night. My roommate had friends in town, and I felt like the best way to impress them was to keep up with their drinking pace. I should mention it was two men that were 6 feet tall. I am 5’2 (and a half!)”. My roommate had an intense flirtation with the more attractive one and the other guy was happy to play my wingman.

We picked out a guy and he facilitated an introduction and kept conversation going. And we started playing the games in the bar, like darts. And we kept drinking. My wingman was proud of his match and peeled away.

At one point in the conversation we realized we live in the same apartment complex. And how convenient… So we got back to his place. And I can’t remember how. I don’t know if we walked or had a driver, but we got to his place where I watched him play video games with his roommate.

Apparently this is seduction.

I sipped my Bud Light because I was aware of how drunk I was. I mostly use let it get warm. I was trying to be the Cool Girl. The girl that could hang. I thought this is what I had to do to get a guy to like me.

So I waited and it kept getting later and later. And if I know anything about myself, I am useless late at night. The mix of all the alcohol and the late hour made me so extremely blurry eyed that I can remember making out in his bed. I can remember waking up (wearing some of my clothes) and walking to my apartment. I don’t remember what happened in between.

I’m really ashamed of it, and I actually hold a lot of shame around those nights when I drink more than 2 and get that buzzed feeling.

I feel like I let myself done when I get drunk. I hate that I let myself lose control. I hate feeling hungover, and it doesn’t take much for me to feel hungover anymore. It takes me a long time to recover, and being a morning person I hate losing that energy every morning to feeling hungover.

I feel ashamed that I don’t stop myself. 75% of the time I stop at my limit to feel buzzed but not drunk. I am ashamed when I get caught up in the “woe is me, I deserve another drink” story. Or sometimes it’s the “It’s girls night so I deserve another drink!” Or “I’m flirting and on a roll, I want to look cool and like I can keep up!” Or I just lose that common sense after two drinks and instead of ordering a soda and give into social pressure and I order a third…

I am sure that this shame I feel around drinking doesn’t help my hangover. It probably contributes to me feeling bad physically. And I wish I could say I’m hopeful and I could say I’ll get it right. But maybe I won’t. Maybe 25% of the time I drink too much, and maybe progress is simply not feeling so ashamed.

And I’ve only had the one semi-blacked out hookup, so it could be a lot worse. Thank god it’s not. At least I know absolutely for certain what I DO NOT WANT.

Dating Story: The Train Driver

I can’t remember if I knew I was being set up when I went to the play reading. But it was incredibly clear when we were introduced that our mutual friend orchestrated the evening so that we would both be there so we could meet.

He was tall and boyishly handsome. And he was funny and sweet. I was completely smitten.

We had a really easy time together. We laughed all the time and flirted constantly. Conversations just flowed. Hours flew by. I knew he had a tricky schedule but in that first 6 weeks he always seemed to make time for me on his day off.

He drove trains for a freight train company. His route took him up the eastern coast and back. All he had to do was make sure nothing went wrong and to solve problems if it went wrong. It was a mostly mindless job, so he spend most of his time reading, texting, Facebooking, playing games on his phone.

What I thought I found was a guy that was really into me because he was texting all the time and really getting to know me by asking lots of questions. What was really happening was that he was bored and I was responding.

But it took me a long time to figure that out.

The Train Driver is still to this day one of the best kissers I have ever known. The makeup sessions were incredibly hot and we would lose hours. Just making out. It was the most fun I had ever had.

For a long time we didn’t jump in bed even though the kissing was fantastic. Later that summer we made a plan for his next day off and talked about both being ready for the relationship to become sexual. And then he got called in to work. This last minute call and change of plans had already happened a few times before.

Maybe I got scared that I would lose the opportunity to sleep with this guy that I had such great chemistry with (trust me, I know how ridiculous this sounds, I suffer from some serious lack mentality instead of realizing that there is an abundant amount of chemistry out there in the universe!). Or maybe I was just being completely impatient, which I am often guilty of.

Fueled by an impatience to get laid, I asked if I could come to him at his hotel in Philly. Insert eye rolling and groans here. “No, Single Gal! That’s a HORRIBLE idea!”

Yes, in hindsight I know this. At the time, I didn’t see the huge red flag waving back and forth just behind my eyes. (Have you noticed this pattern in my dating stories??)

So I went. I thought it was exciting. A night in a hotel that his job was paying for. It would be fun! Instead, it was awkward. He was worried about his coworker seeing me go into the room and ratting him out. He has different sleeping habits than I do and I don’t recommend finding this out in a hotel. And first time sex is always a little tricky, and it would have been a little more comfortable at home.

And the hotel was not in downtown Philly, it was in a weird outskirt of Philly. So when we wanted to get breakfast in the morning we couldn’t find anything that was open. So we had that awkward time in the car looking for a coffee shop but not finding anything, and both of us were getting hungrier and hungrier. This was not sexy, at all.

And I think that was the turning point. I saw him a few times after that, but he started working 6 days a week instead of 5. His day off was spent sleeping and rarely scheduled time to see me. He still texted constantly but I was growing tired of having a pen pal. Eventually I picked a fight because I was never seeing him and I drove a wedge between us and I decided to move on.

He and I kept in touch a few times a year. Every once in awhile it was a nice distraction for me. Sometimes it slipped into sexting. But I always knew it was just text messaging and I wanted a relationship with someone I actually saw. I finally ended it once and for all when he he sexting me but had announced his engagement on Facebook. It seemed like a fishy situation. He told me it was “fake” to “make her ex jealous.” I told him I wanted nothing to do with that situation.

I’m realizing I don’t stand up for myself often. I try way harder than I need to when it comes to saving a failing relationship. I very rarely am the one to end things. But it feels really good when I set a standard, and if that standard isn’t being met I ask the person to leave. I really should do that more often.

Dating Story: The Beach Hookup

There is a good chance if my mom ever reads this she may kill me. Or maybe enough time has gone by that it’s blown over.

My family has a tradition of going to the beach together, like many American families. My aunts, uncles and cousins all try to go to the beach for the same week every year or at least try to overlap for a long weekend together. For most of my adult life I just go for the weekend.

I don’t think it’s unusual to say that I can take my family in small doses so weekends are best. And even then I try to get some alone time by going for a morning run, taking time alone to read, and other things like that. My family has grown to understand that it’s just what I need so they let me have my space.

But a few years ago this was not the case and I was still trying to fight for my boundaries with my mom. She would often get frustrated when I asked for space because she perceived it was about her (it wasn’t).

One year we did dinner on the water at a restaurant that turned into a dance club later in the evening. We like to do dinner and watch the sunset and stay and dance for a little bit. This year, all of the women in my family were single- myself, my mom, my sister, and my aunt. We were all dancing and having a great time and my aunt even hit it off with some guy  and they kept dancing together. This guy’s nephew was playing wingman decided to strike up a conversation with me, even though I am sure Iw as giving off my best “This is a girl’s night, don’t interrupt us” vibe.

He was cute. He was fit. He was younger than me and he was a lot of fun. We actually had a lot in common and there was great chemistry.

The end of the night rolled around, numbers were exchanged, and I leave with my family. My mom was still very much in her over-protective mode and it was “no man left behind. We came together, we’re leaving together.” (I should note that even though I was in my mid-twenties my mom did this often. She is the biggest worrier I have ever met. You gotta love her for caring so much)

The Beach Guy and I decide to meet up for a drink someplace quieter. My mom was not having any of this, despite the fact that it was still fairly early.  So I told the guy to meet me at a bar a block away but I delayed the time by half an hour.

Like a rebellious teenager I waited for my mom to be fast asleep and plotted to sneak out. My younger sister thought I was insane but agreed to cover for me. I quietly left our rented condo with the skill of a cat burglar.

Beach Guy was sweet and smart. And he had a adventurous, rebellious side that seemed to match mine – rebellious but not too rebellious.I still felt safe with this guy.

He suggested a walk on the beach and I thought how romantic. The moon was out. I’ve always wanted a cute guy to suggest a walk on the beach together.

It was a nice stroll, but short-lived because before long we were really making out. And the way things escalate when there’s been drinking, dancing and moonlight things took a turn for steamy romance novel really fast.

Let’s just say I was able to check an item off my bucket list that night.

And that was that. We laughed at ourselves for getting so caught up in the moment but we both had fun. He walked me back to the condo where we were staying and we kissed goodnight. No promises of trying to stay in touch or get together. It was understood on both sides it was a one night kind of deal.

With far less grace I snuck back into the house. I was a little clumsier since I was still buzzing from a fun evening. But the door I had carefully rigged to not lock behind me was still unlocked, and no one woke up as I got back into bed.

I got away with it. My sister never really asked for details and my mom never found out. (I don’t think she reads this blog, but if she does I’m sorry mom!) The experience was fun mostly because I was never the kid that would sneak out of the house. I think every person should have that experience, it’s an adrenaline rush. It was probably that adrenaline and self-identifying as a rebel that night that led me down the path to a one night stand. But I have no regrets.

A Dating Story: The Sushi Chef

Most people hate tax season. That changed for me a few years ago when I met a sexy divorced sushi chef at my accountant’s office.

Oh he was so adorable. I don’t know how else to tell you how adorable this guy besides saying that I actually entertained his small talk before I got my taxes done.

But here is where I made my mistake. We didn’t exchange information so what did I do? I went where he works and hoped to run into him.

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Oh I wish I could go back and tell that younger version of myself to chill out, be patient and let it take care of itself.

But he probably never would have found me and I wound up with some great memories and great sex because of it. #letsbehonest

So we had coffee that day and planned a date where he would take me for sushi at his favorite place in town. Less than an hour before the date he called and was incredibly embarrassed but his car had been broken into and they stole his wallet. He asked if I wanted to postpone the date because he wouldn’t be able to pay for anything. I thought about it and said that I still wanted to see him and try the sushi. (please repeat the above gif)

We had a great date, despite the warning signs. We went out again and afterwards we ended up making out at his place. And it…was…hot. Some of the best making out of my life. The kind where you just know you are in trouble.

And he knew it, too. Mid-make out he pulls away and looks at me and says “We are both in trouble. This is one of those things that will either burn really hot and fast, or this is the beginning of a fucking bonfire.”

I don’t mean to spoil it for you, but it just burnt hot and fast. I knew it at the time. We weren’t all that compatible and the more we hung out the clearer it became. But it was a hell of a lot of fun while it lasted that summer.

That was when I was a personal trainer and I wouldn’t be done classes until 8:30 and wouldn’t get to his apartment until 9:30, smelling sweaty and feeling tired. He would prepare me the best plates of cheese, fruit and vegetables. He told me stories about his day or about his travels and learning customs in Japan.

But there were cracks that would appear when we hung out. We just had completely different ways of approaching problems and life in general. He had an ex that he worked with and he seemed reluctant to let go of her. He was impatient. He was unwilling to come to me so I always went to him. I began to feel like he wasn’t making space for me in his life, I was being fit in around the edges.

He was fun, but despite the chemistry sometimes you get a poem instead of a short story or a novel. I remember him fondly, like many of my former flames. But it was meant to end, it was meant to have a short life.

Other than the obvious lessons to be learned from this, it is one of many lessons I learned about the beauty of letting go of something when it’s over. There is no need to hold on after it’s over. It was what it was, move on.

I’m working right now on not forcing things, go with the flow. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I feel my old urge to chase the guy, to reach out to make sure he hasn’t forgotten about me. To remind him that I’m awesome.

But no one needs to be reminded that I’m awesome or even that I am here. Because I am here. And what they think (or don’t think) doesn’t matter. I’m awesome whether they remember that or not. I don’t need a guy to reinforce that, because I just am that.