Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself

I had an Arbonne business for a few years in my twenties. It was natural skin care and other health products and went into people’s homes and did skincare parties.

I learned a lot from that business. I learned a lot of skincare tips, which are fantastic. But more that anything else, I learned a lot about running a business and the importance of positive self talk.

Maybe it sounds crazy, but I have really active self-talk chatter. It is almost a constant in my brain. I have been consistently meditating for about three months now and the more I observe, the more I am in tune with the actual messages that I am saying to myself. And I need an overhaul of what I am constantly saying to myself.

I made a promise to myself if I catch myself saying “should” that whatever follows is just an obligation and I need to slow down and look at the situation. Ask myself what is compelling me to feel like I should be doing a certain thing. If I should be doing it, that means I’m not actually doing it, so why not? Why am I resisting? Why do I feel obligated?

Should is usually a spotlight on exactly what I should not be doing. Should is a silly word and usually brings guilt alongside it.

So when I was getting ready for bed last night after a date with Unexpected Date guy, I found myself will all kinds of self chatter.

“I should back off. I shouldn’t like him as much as I do.”

And immediately sirens went off. What was that all about?

And, dear reader, since I consider us to be fairly close now that you’ve seen my booty and read some of my innermost thoughts, I hope you are ok with me working through my thoughts.

Unexpected Date guy and I had just discussed that we are both ok with taking it slow, with hanging out and making out. And that’s it. He was up front about what was going on his life that made him feel like he wasn’t completely himself and he doesn’t have anything to give in a relationship. I told him where I was, and why I feel like I can’t completely bring myself to the table either.

We both felt relieved to be on the same page and to be open and honest with each other. He said he was worried about rushing into anything because he had done that before and would hate for me to “catch the Feels.” (ugh, I will be unpacking THAT phrase some other day, I really hate it)

But when I started “shoulding” at home, I realized how much I actually like this guy. Which was the opposite of “not catching the Feels.” (shudder… I need to stop writing that phrase, it really bugs me!)

Which leaves me where exactly?

One option I have would be to completely leave. To say “I like you a lot, I see where this is going. And neither of us can go down that road right now. So I’m hitting the breaks hard.”

The other option I have is to continue as we have been. I can say “I really like you. And I am willing to ride it out and be patient. Let’s be friends right now.”

But if I take a step back, that doesn’t feel true. Even just writing that I am willing to wait it out and be friends, I have a reaction in my body that tells me that I am forcing something. My body stiffens a little bit like it is bracing for an impact.

That’s not a good sign. I shouldn’t be making choices that my body is interpreting as an impact.

I suppose that leaves me with letting this fish go and throwing the bait back in the water for someone else. Which is a disappointment, yes. But I can’t blame the guy for wanting to straighten out his life. It is a bit complicated and messy and, in the end, I don’t really want to be a part of messy. So I appreciate that he is saving me from that.

And there will be someone else that is less messy and a better fit for me. I truly believe that.

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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 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.

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.

The 5 Guys Every Single Gal Will Date

I noticed a pattern when I’m single. I noticed that there is definitely a pattern in the guys that I date before I find a relationship. For better or for worse, these are the guys.

  1. The Guy That Is Totally Wrong For You
    I  usually know I’m fooling myself, I’m fully aware. And I think by now my friends know that, so I stopped getting questioned when I date the guy that’s 7 years younger than me and has no clue what he’s doing with his life. They appreciate that he’s adorable and gush with me about how hot he is. Then we move on, and change topics.I probably don’t sleep with this guy because I know that would be a waste of time. But I go out with him a few times, maybe drink a little more than I should, and have a lot of fun.I don’t know why I always end up dating this guy. It’s not like I ever see potential here for long term happiness. Maybe I’m lonely. Maybe I think that I should try dating outside my “type” to see if I’ve been wrong all this time (Spoiler alert: I’m not). Maybe I want the male attention and he’s an easy target. Regardless, this guy lasts usually 3-4 dates tops before we get bored.

     

  2.  The Nice Guy You’re Not Ready For
    I hate this one. This one makes me feel like a bad person.This guy is so nice. Too nice. It makes me feel like I’m not good enough for him, because I normally walk over him because he lets me. This guy does nothing wrong, other than trying to show me that he cares. Unfortunately he has caught me at a bad time when I’m not ready. I’m still being a rebellious punk, enjoying singleness and maybe just starting to dip my toe back into the water.If he met me later, who knows. Maybe it would have worked out to have lasted longer. Or not. But I never get the opportunity to properly explain that he is so nice, he should stop wasting his time on a girl that crushes his confidence because she’s not ready. It isn’t you, it really is me. Really.

     

  3. The One With Potential, But It Doesn’t Quite Fit
    This guy always has a fond spot in my heart. I look back on our relationship because it wasn’t ruined by either of us being cruel to each other, or using each other. It just wasn’t a fit, but we had fun while it lasted.It’s easy to spot this guy. The dates are good, the making out is hot. But something doesn’t click into place all the way. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it, but you’re totally aware of the fact that this will probably burn hot and fast, and then it’ll be over.These guys are really fun, I just remember to not take them seriously as potential partners. That’s they key. Do not mistake him for something he’s not, and then everyone can still have fun.

  4. The Hookup That You Think Is More
    Let’s get real. I slept with this guy too fast because he is hot and the chemistry was off the charts. So maybe I wanted to atone for my sins by trying to make a relationship out of nothing.If only I could just accept the fact that it’s hot sex. But no. I try to fool myself into thinking hot sex is supposed to happen with a relationship. This guy is not boyfriend material. This guy doesn’t even want to be boyfriend material.Sometimes I have the hot sex just for the sake of hot sex. But usually my typical mistake is to make it messy. And then no one is happy in the end.

     

  5. The Nice Guy You Are Ready For
    This one is rare. This one comes when I don’t expect it, but I am completely ready for it. I dealt with the bullshit, and now I am fed up and only interested in something real.This relationship reveals itself only with patience and an open heart (and mind). It’s not usually what I am expecting- maybe he doesn’t look like I want him to, or he doesn’t have the perfect job or hobbies. But the feeling is right. I feel happy and we seem to fit together easily.In the past when I have found this guy, the timing is right for the relationship but I am not quite ready for “the one.” I see this in hindsight. So we date, we have a fantastic time, and when the time comes to end things it happens. And then I am devastated and heartbroken, and when I begin dating this whole process begins again.

See, isn’t dating a ton of fun???

Dating Is Really Just Practicing Improv

I caught the acting bug when I was pretty young, I think I must’ve been 7 or 8. I was obsessed with my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz and Annie. I memorized the entire movie and would act out the scenes along with the movie. I did this for many, many years until I started watching movies with people other than my family (anyone else would be really annoyed by my reciting every line of The Labyrinth).

I took acting and improv classes for as long as I can remember, I loved it. I acted a lot in college, but I really fell in love with improving in clubs. My friends  were pretty brilliant and witty, and I think I always knew I couldn’t compete with their one liners so I just got good at building a scene and a character.

Because so many people were interested in improv we convinced a professor to start a class, and we even performed at a bar a few times. After graduation, I joined a group and performed on a monthly basis. Those were some really happy times for me.

A friend of mine is a professional actor and told me I had potential. I had always wondered if I should run off and join Upright Citizens Brigade or one of the other famous acting troupes. But moving to New York or Chicago or Toronto seemed so expensive, and I was a little too practical.

Here I am years later, catching the improv acting big all over again and I am rereading the famous texts of the greats.

As I read Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare. Just Show Up, Patricia Ryan Madison shows how important it is to use improv skills in your every day life, how it all bleeds together and can help lead you to richer interactions. And then it all clicked.

Improving is what makes a date good!

The first rule of Improv is always say Yes. Obviously, in dating, it is implied to always be true to yourself.

How often do I catch myself turning my nose up at an idea that someone else is suggesting?! How often do I think that I have the better idea, instead of excitedly accepting what has been offered?

Iam quick to the no, it feels like I am protecting myself. But really what happens is it shuts down the momentum. Saying “no” or “but” or “I better not…” just kills the energy right on the spot.

In improv we are taught to say “yes, and…” so that you are always adding something to the situation. I bet you can’t help but think of what a nightmare this could be if a girl is on a date and the guy is trying to take things too far. Yes, one option is to shut him down entirely and you will probably never hear from him again, which could be a good thing if the guy is a doofus. But what about the guy that is trying to find the boundary and is just using the charm he’s always used in the past? Maybe you like this guy, you’re into him but you don’t know how to turn him down but let him know you’re still into him? Try the concept of “yes, and…” Try something like “I like where things are heading, how about we save something for our next date?”

It is a flirtier, softer approach, and I wouldn’t recommend it every time. But how many times have I let things go farther than I probably would have liked just because I didn’t want to reject a guy I was into. (Judge me for being weak and boundary-less if you’d like, but I bet many women can relate to this)

In improv, you must always be adding to the situation. Just like in dating, no one likes the guy (or gal) that sits back and makes you do all the work! It should be a partnership, like ping pong. I hit to you, you hit back. Don’t grab the ball and then just hang onto it for a while! Contribute and add things to the time you’re spending together, it will make for a richer experience all around and you are less likely to describe your date as dull.

On that same vein, there is a misconception about improv that it is all about being funny. Many people think that they are no good because they’re not funny enough, they can’t think of a funny line that fast. I am here to relieve you: it is NOT AT ALL ABOUT THE ONE-LINERS.

Just like dating. No one wants to be with the date that is all about themselves- what is the funniest thing I can say, how can I one-up my date? Ughhhhhh, don’t be the one-upper! Not in improv, not in dating, not ever! I bet you remember those great dates where you are both contributing- someone says something, the other person responds and it continues that way back and forth until suddenly you’re laughing so hard and you have an inside joke to share with each other.

Everything out of your mouth is not required to be brilliant or witty or hilarious. Listen. Listen. Listen. Be in the moment and contribute as necessary. The best conversations happen without any planning, you don’t plan each thing that will come out of your mouth and in the exact order. It doesn’t work that way, you just listen and add.

One of the final rules is actually a piece of advice that my uncle gave me about how I will know when I’ve met a man I want to keep around. My uncle told me, “One day, you will find someone that you look after and he will look after you. You put each other first, and it will be equal.” That’s a principle of improv. Take care of your partner. If you’re taking care of them and they are taking care of you, everyone is taken care of!

In improv and in life, we have to know that it is ok to make mistakes. We have to make missteps, and sometimes we don’t know how to fix that. That is where the partner steps in. They are just outside of the mistake to take care of fixing it for you and rolling with the punches. He/she makes the mistake something that can become a fun turning point, an adventure.

It really does take two sometimes. Solo improv is hard, it is a technique but everything rests on your shoulders. Working with someone else makes it a little bit easier.

Perhaps thinking of dating as improv will make it a little more like play, and a little less stressful.  It clears away a little bit of stigma, and it can just be fun!

Tips For Asking A Guy Out On A Date

I used to be very good at it. I didn’t care about getting rejected, and I had no problem putting myself out there.

When did I become such a chicken? When did I get so tripped up over my own tongue?

It is as if I have developed the Yips. (I tried to find a clip of this from How I Met Your Mother, but there wasn’t anything other than the full episode. Basically, the womanizing character Barney gets so thrown off his game that he trips over his words and he can’t pick up women.)

I was never suave, but my past two attempts were muddled and shameful.

They always say we teach what we have to learn, so I decided to look back at what I used to do to talk to guys, and share my top tips here.

Part of what really trips me up about asking a guy out on a date is that I am naturally a little aggressive, and I do want to respect that a guy should be the pursuer. I don’t want a guy that will wait for me to do everything, I do want to be pursued. That being said, I think that there are times when I need to express what I want, and help the process on a little bit.

The other thing that trips me up troubles both sexes no matter who you are asking out- the fear of rejection. This part never used to bother me. I used to tell myself that at least the person would be flattered for me expressing interest, and I would know a definite answer instead of wondering What if?

But lately I’ve been a chicken or totally inarticulate and awkward. I lost my mojo!

Time it get it back:

  1. Smile. Everyone is attracted to a smile, no matter what. it makes the other person feel at ease, and I bet they return the smile. Which will make you feel better and more relaxed.
  2. Be yourself. I know everyone says this for every situation. But it’s true. If you’re not a person that can make witty or funny comments, or you find it hard to give a genuine compliment without sounding like you want something, then I am not going to advise you to do it. Be who you are. That’s who you want them to be attracted to anyway.
  3. Relax. Do a little deep breathing and stay calm. There is nothing that you need to stress about. Besides, now is not the time to do shallow breathing and go into Fight or Flight mode. Neither of those two would go over well in this scenario.
  4. Be direct. Men respond to directness, so don’t beat around the bush. Get straight to the point and ask for what you want. Do you want to get to know him better? Do you want to meet in a dark bar For drinks? Do you want to go out and have fun doing something like a hike or bowling? Just say it, you’ll get more respect.
  5. Be quiet. After you have expressed what you want, be quiet and wait for a response. The fewer words the better, you don’t want to keep babbling out of nervousness, and then he never has an opportunity to answer you.
  6. If the outcome is less than what you expected, shrug it off. It wasn’t meant to be, no need to longer over it. Chalk it up as you doing something bold and sassy and that is always a success. Go celebrate that.
  7. if he agrees, get his number and organize the details. Save your happy dance for when you’re alone.

Fellas, what did I miss? what should girls do to ask you out? Do you like it when a girl makes the first move, or is it a turnoff?

And gals, what tips do you have? Or motivating and inspiring words to help me get over my Yips and ask out my crush?