Datehazard’s Blog

On dating, singleness and adjusting to being 30ish.

With my luck, I should definitely not buy a lottery ticket April 23, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,Drama,frustration — datehazard @ 11:53 pm
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… because with my recent luck (if this is any indication), I will definitely not win anything. In fact, if my most recent dating misadventures are an indication of my current (un)lucky status, I will most likely find out that the lottery is fake. And that I’d just participated in some kind of elaborate scam.

Like what happened last night.

I was out at one of my usual networking events, and bumped into one of my colleagues. We generally never hang out at work, so it was really great to see her. I had also brought one of my new friends along — my roommate’s friend, in fact — because he is thinking of getting into my field of work, and figured he might appreciate being given better access to some of the more business-related sides of what I do.

After he left to another event, my colleague “Stylish Beret” and I stayed behind, looking at some of the work, making a few connections, and preparing eventually to leave and get a drink on our own. We were having a great time chatting, and we walked to a bar nearby to continue our conversation in more convivial settings.

After about an hour of a stimulating and lovely discussion, a group of rowdy men and a few women decided to sit at the table next to us. They decided to invite themselves over, and, as usual, I started getting hit on by the alpha male in the group, while my friend attracted the eye of a kind-looking, jovial guy. The man who introduced himself to me was the President of the company, and the rest of the people there were his employees. He proceeded to tell me about his bisexual wife, and how they have an open relationship. His manner was one of bragging, essentially, but it shifted rapidly to one of fear when he, after a pause, asked me not to reveal this information to his fellow colleagues. It was clear that he’d had quite a bit to drink and was feeling entitled to the liberties he was taking, particularly to an attractive stranger.

I struck up a conversation with one of the women of the group, too, who decided she’d take it upon herself to set me up with someone in the group. She (ever so kindly) shouted jovially at me, “You’re going to pole tonight!!”

I’d never heard that expression before, and honestly, started laughing. It was just absurd. And a little of the usual human comedy/drama.

The rest of the evening was then spent with me talking to a guy who was trying all of his moves on me, while I gently teased him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t good looking, it was that he was trying too hard. And he was definitely approaching me as someone who might help him scratch an itch. Generally, this is not a recommended strategy for complimenting a woman. Guys, take note: spend the time to try to get to know someone, and treat the interaction with a light touch. Leave the hammer and mallet at home. Especially when you realise you’re talking to someone who is intelligent and strong-willed. Cheesy pick up lines are just going to give her so much fodder for comedy. At your expense.

After “Clumsy Conversationalist” eventually made his exit, it was then time for the third act of the evening.

As with all plays, the third act is generally the one with the most promise: the scene has been set, the characters established, and the situation is now ripe for exploit — either comedic, tragic, or a combination of both. In my case, I decided to treat the eventual outcome as a complete joke, and an opportunity for instilling a little fear. Call it vigilante justice if you will, call it delicious, call it whatever you want.

But I get ahead of myself.

As I’m preparing to leave, feeling not particularly inspired by the evening and missing my earlier conversation with my friend Stylish Beret (who is still deep in conversation with the same guy with the twinkling eyes and kind face), another of the party comes over and sits across from me. This is a man who is considerably older than I am, with gently sagging cheeks, but with a smile that lights up his whole face. It is really his smile which is spectacular: it rearranges his time-worn, serious eyes into dancing sapphires of boyish invitation. His gaze is steady and consistent — engaging, but soulful. There is something warm and inviting about this man, something deeply reassuring. He is generally directing his comments to the clumsy conversationalist sitting beside me (who is no longer trying to hit on me), but makes sure he catches my eye, too. Soon, though, we are left alone, and he turns to talk to me. The clumsy conversationalist had been trying to find his way out of the conversation, and out of the bar, and Sparkling Eyes had provided just that convenient interruption.

Sparkling Eyes turns to me, asks, “What is it that brings you to New York?” I look at him, and, based on the brief fragment of conversation he’d just had with the conversationalist, replied, “Work.” I felt compelled to ask, “And, by the way, are you a writer?”

A look of surprise registered on his face, and he said, “Well, actually, I used to write quite a lot. How– how did you– ?”

I replied, “Because I’m a writer, too. Something about the way you put your sentences together gave you away.”

I smiled at him.

I continued, “And, by the way, is Jack Kerouac one of your favourite authors?”

He looked wordlessly at me, even more surprised.

“How– Well, yes– I love Jack Kerouac– How did you know?”

I smiled again. “I don’t know. It was a hunch.” I continued, “I get the feeling that your approach to life is one of a journey — that the metaphor of the road trip and travel — is something that resonates with you.”

I continued, “And yet, you’re still searching. Why are you searching? What are you looking for?”

He looked, amazed, wordless at me. I heard the words tumble out of my mouth, and I was surprised, too. They didn’t feel like my own thoughts, or my own observations — they seemed to be more of verbal manifestations of instinct. And for once, these manifestations were coherent. And so they seemed magical.

At around this point, I expected him to change the subject; attempt to cover up, try to reach for some kind of privacy, however much he’d have to wrestle for it. I am not usually this straightforward or blunt with someone I’ve just met, but with this man, I was much more intrusive than I’d ever remembered being. Even when I’m my diplomatic straightforward self, it results in younger men generally straining to escape, change the subject, or do what they need to do to avoid being so open.

But not this man.

He just kept looking at me in wonder, mesmerized by my words, his curiosity and his attention entirely held.

And so we kept talking. He told me about himself without restraint or edit, calmly, unhurriedly. As he talked, he struggled to be clear, to be concise, and to be precise. His hands formed rounded shapes in the air as he tried to articulate his feelings of vulnerability. He looked, with furrowed brow, at me as he spoke, choosing his words carefully. And interspersed these moments of seriousness with that brilliant, transformational smile.

I found myself smiling in response to him, easily, unthinkingly, each time he smiled at me.

There was a naturalness to the conversation, and a depth that I found difficult to quantify, and even harder to identify. And even more strangely, that I had no desire, whatsoever, to do any of the aforementioned analytical things. Analysis operated on a different level last night, when it came to him. The world dissolved and we were left in a self-contained sphere. He reached out to hold my hands; his hands were surprisingly warm, and reassuringly rough. He pressed my fingers between his palms, smiling in wonderment at me during those frequent, happy silences.

We parted on a subway platform, he trying to insist on me coming home with him, or coming home with me. I reassured him, telling him not to worry, and not to try to be deterministic. Every time he asked, I smiled, and made no promises. He seemed to understand and he listened. Even at that late hour, even with the heady intoxication of our long, intimate conversation.

We kissed, and we laughed as we kissed. I don’t remember being so happy during a first kiss as I was then. I felt, somehow, that I knew him, on some kind of essential level, and that he did of me, too. I knew it wasn’t possible: I knew the feelings were really strong and were most likely based in the cold science of organic chemistry. And I went home, floating on a cloud.

And this morning, I wondered, smilingly, about this mysterious stranger with the sparkling eyes and the brilliant smile.

And found out that he’s married. With three kids.

And so, when he texted me asking to see me again, I replied simply, bluntly, “No, I don’t think so. Cowards and liars are so boring. Give my regards to your wife.”

He replied in kind, by text message. But I haven’t checked it yet. I’d imagine it’s some paltry attempt at an apology.

And so, life goes on, and dating continues its own twisted journey. And I’m left with yet another amusing, if bittersweet, experience.

 

Strength in retreat April 8, 2009

The reason for the (comparative) long silence has been mainly because I’ve largely given up on dating as a strategy or a game. My general lack of being impressed with the interactions I’ve had lately has meant that I’ve taken to focussing on my work and on just living my life.

Until recently, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be back in NYC past the summer, especially since there had been some shake-ups at work. I’d assumed that I hadn’t made the cut, since I’m so new here. As I’d prepared my résumé and sent out some tentative job applications, I became convinced that I’d have to leave. As it so often turns out in my life, the day I told my roommate that I’d no longer be here past June was the same day I received a contract renewal. So it looks like I’ll be back here through December 2009 at least.

That means that I have to ramp up my research work in general and have some commitments to fulfill. Which meant a shift in focus away from dating to thinking through my next career steps. Hence the quiet.

And to be honest, I’d needed a break from so much emotional upheaval as well. It was, frankly, getting tedious. And tiring.

At the moment, there is a poet I’ve been communicating with, but we’re seeing if we can be friends at the moment. We met at a party and hit it off, having one of the best conversations I’d had in a long time. We met again this week to go to a weekly arts-related event that I generally attend on my own. We didn’t have quite such the great time again, but I feel like I’m getting a better sense of him as a person, which is always a good thing. It’s too early to say right now whether there is any spark or any possibility of having this go beyond anything but a platonic friendship, but I’m really enjoying this kind of interaction.

This is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to do internet dating, I think. There’s always that pressure: that proverbial elephant in the room, precariously cramped on a stool in the corner, trying to be unobtrusive. No matter how friendly one gets (and perhaps particularly when one DOES get along with one’s date), it always seems the dating question is at the fore. It’s never about just getting to know someone, slowly, organically. Because we happen to attend the same kinds of events and like the same kinds of things. Instead, we “happen” to meet because we “happen” to employ a search engine that “organically” selects each of us for the other, based on stated qualifications and needs and wants. That thrill of discovery; that spark of initial interest; that ember of romance that comes from meeting someone in the flesh and randomly finding out mutual interests and passions, isn’t included. And so dating becomes an interview process: a series of trials and eliminations.

 

Playing games March 17, 2009

So, apparently, I’ve been doing it all wrong.

I had a most enlightening talk with a new friend (let’s call him The Author) this afternoon. He suggested that I stopped being so conscientious about the men I was pursuing and adopted the approach of a dog trainer.

Basically, if my “pet” was behaving, I would feed him treats and be nice to him; otherwise, I would train him to behave as I wished, and would punish him for being bad, and generally adopt an attitude of a lack of caring. He also advised strongly against pursuing the Analyst, saying that I needed to not pursue someone who was cold and distant (his translation for my, “he’s hard to read”). He also made a wide stereotypical statement about the Analyst, and said it was almost impossible for someone from his background to treat women with the respect that I was probably expecting and demanding.

Those words of advice played in my mind and lingered in my fears. But perhaps the most valuable thing he said was, “Don’t turn a farce into a melodrama. It’s just too much work.” How true. He also advised me to get laid.

I generally tend to heed men’s advice about other men, particularly if they’ve had some experience with the culture (which this man does have).

And so tonight I went out for St. Patrick’s Day to a local bar, got good and drunk and got someone’s phone number. But I didn’t follow the last part of my new friend’s advice.

Baby steps…

 

Back on the dating scene (again) March 10, 2009

Tonight I’m going out for date #2 with The Analyst (same guy I had the Best First Date Ever with). We’re going to meet at a public monument, then meander and figure out what we’d like to do. Basically take it easy and wander around. It sounds like a lovely way to spend an evening with someone.

I know this will sound like I’m jumping the gun a little bit, but I’m not sure whether The Analyst and I have all that much chemistry. When we spoke on the phone last night, he was really hesitant and quiet. It made me think about the fact that I thought he seemed pretty depressed when I first met him. I mean, he laughed at all my jokes, and he seemed to really appreciate my sense of humour, but it seemed to be because he was really in a sad space and needed cheer, rather than that he was really genuinely appreciative. There wasn’t the witty back-and-forth or the one-upmanship that one would expect from someone who was really following.

Then there’s another guy who I’m meeting up with on Friday: let’s call him Hedge Fund Trader. Yes, yet another finance guy. He is hilarious and sarcastic, and seems pretty high-energy. We’ve been texting back-and-forth, and the jokes keep flying. I haven’t yet met him, so I can’t tell for sure, but he also seems like he might be a bit self-centred and maybe a touch of an asshole. The kind who would do something to someone else and not apologize, because as far as he’s concerned, it was funny/amusing. And his opinion is all that matters in this situation. He reminds me a bit of my good friend the Computer Programmer, who would also never intentionally set out to hurt someone, but who also has that “I’ll do what I want, thank you,” attitude, at times. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, the Charmer called. He called yesterday, and we had a brief conversation. He sounded guarded in his language and mannerisms, but said he’d like to meet up. He wasn’t sure about timing for this week, but wants me to text or call on Wednesday or Thursday in case he can meet up.

I spoke with my friend Kind Ninja (yes, she really is that fantastic), and I told her about how I’d reacted to The Charmer and everything that happened. She told me that she thinks I should just follow my heart and seize my desire with both hands. I said that I really just didn’t want to be heartbroken — that the problem I have with the Charmer is that my reason and logic are completely overtaken by a kind of senseless desire when it comes to him. And that I have no idea what to do with those emotions, let alone how to handle it if things go badly.

And then she said the sweetest thing to me that I have possibly ever heard: she said, “DH, listen to me. If things don’t go well and you’re heartbroken, I will come to you, and I will pick you up. Really.”

I am so lucky to have a friend like her in my life.

And today, I am feeling happy and confident, and optimistic.

 

I did it. I called The Charmer. March 3, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Comedy,Dating,Desire,Drama,Singleness — datehazard @ 12:25 pm
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Before you accuse me of foolishness (“Why would you call someone who never replied to you?? Can’t you take a hint?”), let me tell you why I did it.

I was speaking to my dear friend The Philosopher yesterday, by instant messenger. She’s on a research trip in another country, but we’ve probably spoken more now when she’s been away than when we lived in the same city. It’s just one of those things.

In any case. The phone call to the Charmer.

I called because The Philosopher asked me probing questions about why I wasn’t calling him, and why I was ascribing all of these negative assumptions to The Charmer’s behaviour. She made me think about whether I was being over-deterministic and possibly mis-characterizing his behaviour. She reminded me that he did express interest in me, after all.

I hated that needling sense that there may be some truth to what she was saying. I hated that sense of anxiety that the conversation was provoking in me, the way it was making me feel that I still hadn’t quite fully moved on; that I was basically stuck somewhere between Step 1 and Step 2, where I was blaming him without reservation, using him not to examine my own position, and thus also not acting at all. Damn that friend.

So, after much thinking, worrying and wondering to myself about whether it was a good idea to call The Charmer or not, I decided to do it.

I was amazed at how anxious I was when picking up the phone. My hands were cold; my mouth was dry, my bowels were turning over. I noticed my hands shaking with anxiety, my heart racing uncontrollably. It was disturbing to me that I would be so strongly affected. I was brought all the way back to a series of events over the past summer where I had to lie submerged in the water, upside-down, still seated in my capsized kayak, patiently and breathlessly awaiting rescue from another kayakker. The experience terrified me to no end initially; I am not the strongest swimmer, and had almost drowned as a child. But I learned over the summer to control my thoughts, and to visualize my visceral terror as having its own process, but not dominating, my active mind. My one standby of controlling my breath was useless to me in this situation: I could only parcel out my depleting store of oxygen, watching bubbles float from my lungs and break the surface; all the while controlling the steady awareness that I was slowly, deliberately suffocating.

And so I had to turn inward to stores of strength I never knew I had.

This is why I take risks: one never knows one’s boundaries until one pushes at them. And maybe even breaks them. And in the latter case, those are the moments that reveal whether repair or recovery are possible: another invaluable learning experience.

So I concentrated on my breath, dialed the phone, waited for the connection, let the call ring, let it go eventually to voice mail, hear The Charmer’s recorded voice, and leave a calm message. All the while panicking, adrenaline rushing through my veins.

Once again, I don’t think he’ll call back. That’s just not his style. But I’m really glad I called.

 

Adults will do what adults will do… February 27, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,Drama,Exes — datehazard @ 12:37 am
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My friend The Artist called today to ask to meet with me. When I saw her, she was agitated and looked like she had something on her mind. She told me it had to do with her roommates and how they were driving her crazy; but when I talked to her, it really seemed like an inconsequential problem.

So I was kinda wondering what else was happening with her?

Then she told me.

She’d spoken with my friend The Grad Student (remember him?) and told him that she’d told me what happened between the two of them. She asked me how I felt about the two of them dating, and I told her that I had no problems with it, but that I didn’t want to see her get hurt, and that I felt that his behaviour was pretty shifty from what she’d told me so far.

She told me, “well, actually, he told me that he’s not looking for a serious relationship right now; that he can’t handle one at the moment.”

I said, “And that’s ok with you?”

“Well, as long as he doesn’t mean that he won’t go running off in the opposite direction the minute something gets a little serious with the two of us. I mean, I have to have a talk with him and let him know that I’ve been hurt in the past, and that I won’t put myself in that position again. If he wants to date me, he has to be prepared to date me, not to run away the minute I say I want to date him.”

That was a mixed message, admittedly. But it also put my mind more at ease.

I told her, “Listen, I just want to say that I was hoping that the two of you would get together at some point — that’s why I introduced you to each other. I mean, I told him you thought he was cute the minute you met him and told me that.”

She: “Really??”

“Yeah! I mean, I think it’s great if you two want to get together. But I didn’t think it would happen so fast, and I thought that he was being kinda shady by not telling me what happened between the two of you the night you both kissed. I told him that you’d just broken up with your boyfriend, so I thought he’d have understood to hold back a bit.”

“Well, really at this point, it just feels so great to have so much attention from all of these men. And to tell you the truth, The Grad Student is a real catch. I mean, he’s smart, and really good-looking, and so much better than my ex. I can’t even tell you. So right now, that’s just making me feel even more convinced that I did the right thing.”

That seriously made me happy. I had a huge smile on my face.

“TA, that is EXACTLY what I was hoping for. I’m so glad you’re feeling better!!”

I gave her a big hug.

And I said, “one last thing. If he hurts you, I will break his neck. You can tell him that. Seriously.”

She laughed.

And then I went off to meet up with The Grad Student to attend a lecture that he’d invited me to that evening. And I told him exactly the same thing: “If you hurt her, I will break you limb from limb. This is not a joke or a threat. It’s a promise.”

He, after joking around a little bit, said, more seriously, “well, I mean, how am I not supposed to hurt her? I mean, unless we end up getting married and stay together for the rest of our lives, it’s pretty impossible not to hurt people.”

I didn’t have to say much. I turned to him and said, “You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s about acting on ethical principles. You know her headspace, and you know what I mean.”

End of conversation.

And end of my matchmaking and guidance.

Now I wish someone could do the same for me…

 

Walking away from The Charmer February 23, 2009

So, I wrote an e-mail to The Charmer this morning, saying that I was walking away.

It came out of my realisation last night that we are just looking for two different things. He wants someone who can be as morally free as him, and who can let him indulge in whatever sexual pecadilloes he chooses, and it was making me sad. I cried as I fell asleep last night, in the realisation that I couldn’t be with this man in the way I’d like. It was a mixture of exhaustion, self-pity, self-loathing and acceptance.

I told him that, strange as it may sound, he was one of the few people in my life I’ve ever met who I was immediately and strongly attracted to; the kind of person who I just cannot get enough of. It’s been many years since I’ve felt this way; in fact, other than when I was a teenager, I don’t remember the last time I felt like this.

If nothing else, that sense that my heart has awakened, and reminded me of how strongly it can feel, is an amazing thing. I’ve spent the last year in a haze, unfocussed and numb. I never thought I could feel this strongly again.

And now it’s over.

And life goes on.

 

Nasty news February 21, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Drama,Exes — datehazard @ 2:15 pm
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Well, I just had a rather unexpected update from my friend The Artist about what exactly happened on the night she got really drunk and ended up at The Grad Student’s house.

Apparently it wasn’t just that she’d gotten drunk, but that she and the Grad Student had kissed. He’d been putting the moves on her, and he’d also said to my friend, “What shall we tell DH? Don’t tell her something happened. Maybe we can just tell her that you stayed over because you were really drunk?”

And just yesterday, The Grad Student was telling me how he thought I was beautiful and incredibly desirable. Which I’d laughed off and dismissed as so much loneliness. We’d spent the entire day talking about his problems, and I’d been sympathetic about his breakup, trying to encourage him to keep moving on.

And now, once again, I feel used. Once upon a time The Grad Student and I had a thing — a long time ago when I was on the rebound from my ex and had just moved to NYC. We’d managed to work through it, but there had always been that tension, which I generally ignored or pushed aside. After our attempt to date, I realised that he wasn’t the right person for me, and I told him that. And kept dating other people.

And now I am stuck in this awkward situation where I had to promise The Artist that I wouldn’t reveal the fact that they’d kissed. And I can’t act on my anger and ask The Grad Student to explain his actions, and why it was at all important to hide this information from me. And I can’t warn The Artist about this guy, who is clearly playing the both of us, because she would think it’s so much jealousy on my part. And I feel personally responsible for making sure she doesn’t get hurt. Especially when she’s in this particular state. And I’m the one who introduced them to each other.

Men are pigs. Seriously. And clearly I am ridiculously naive.

 

Friends in need

Last night my friend The Artist got really drunk. So drunk she ended up being taken care of by my other friend The Grad Student. We had all been at the networking event, and we’d gone out to a bar afterwards (where I met up with The Corporate Lawyer).

While the Corporate Lawyer and I left to get a bite to eat, my friends stayed at the bar, chatting happily. This morning the Grad Student called and gave me the scoop. Apparently The Artist had been so drunk that she’d been unable to walk without assistance when they left the bar. As he told it, since she was way too drunk to make it back to her house, he took her to his home and put her to bed. She proceeded to vomit all over the subway car in the ride back to his apartment. And then into a bucket he’d thoughtfully placed by her head, all night. And into the morning. Poor woman!

The Artist is still really hung up about her ex, the Man-Child. The Grad Student told me about their conversation in the morning, where The Artist went on at length about how poorly her ex had treated her, and how she thought he had been too premature in his decision to end the relationship. She’s still in Step 1 of the breakup, of course. It was only about 2 weeks ago that they’d broken up.

I was glad that my two friends, and now two new friends to each other, could look out for each other and take care of each other when they needed help.

 

The Goodbye February 19, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Dating,Desire,Drama — datehazard @ 2:09 pm
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How do you say goodbye to someone who seemed like they were going to be much, much more than a fling?

You don’t.

You wish them well.

And that’s just what I had to do with The Charmer. He hadn’t returned my phone call or my text message, and so I finally sent him an e-mail. I explained that I didn’t know why he was having this response, but that I’d hoped it wasn’t because I’d annoyed him in some way. And that I hoped he would have a good trip and managed to have some downtime.

I also wrote that I didn’t want to date him when he returned; that I thought it would be better if he wanted to get to know me, and to know me on my own terms, because I have a lot more information on him than he does on me. He really doesn’t know me at all. Which explained his hesitation and surprise at my behaviour on a few occasions, including in bed. I think my availability surprised him. His anxious questions about whether I was dating anyone else seemed from a place of formless fear: the kind of fear that isn’t based on anything except itself.

So I left the door open.

But I don’t think he’ll be coming back.

This one’s in the “fling” category, folks. Much to my disappointment.

[Edit: He texted me back after I’d e-mailed saying that he’d been crazy busy, but that everything was ok and he’d call me after he arrived at his holiday destination tomorrow. It doesn’t really change anything, though. I didn’t text back and I’m happy to move on with my life. We’ll see what happens when he gets back.]