Datehazard’s Blog

On dating, singleness and adjusting to being 30ish.

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.

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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…

 

Goodbye, Corporate Lawyer March 11, 2009

Filed under: Adjusting,breakups,Dating,Singleness — datehazard @ 11:22 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

One of the things I’m starting to learn is how important friendships are to me.

I spent the evening hanging out with The Artist in her studio; we had a great time chatting about nothing in particular while she did some repetitive work on an installation.

I had originally intended to go to yet another networking event, but decided against it after I realised I’d rather spend time with my friend. Just random, plain, unstructured, lovely, friendship building time. I don’t remember the last time I allowed myself that luxury.

I realise there are a lot of things I’ve omitted or let decay while I was in a relationship with my previous boyfriend — so much so I didn’t even realise what I’d let go, and how one-dimensional I’d gotten. You can’t have this kind of time with a friend, when you’re in a committed relationship, really. There’s always something couple-related to do: some schedule to follow, some compromise to fulfill, somewhere to be.

Talking to The Artist made me realise that I needed to face the Corporate Lawyer and call it what it was. So, I met him for a late dinner (he’d just come off work), and told him that I’d prefer if we stayed friends, but that I really liked him and did mean friends. Not just sorta occasionally hanging out. And definitely not fading into the woodwork, or into the distance. Or whatever metaphor you’d like to pick to suit your mood.

He was worried about his job and really thinks he’s going to lose his position in his firm this Friday; or if not this Friday, then some other week. He looked dejected when I told him that generally most layoffs do occur on Fridays, not the middle of the week. He also told me about the argument he’d had with his sister and the annoyance he’d felt at his friend, a fellow corporate lawyer. He was going to say something really mean about her, but stopped himself, just as I intervened and tried to gently direct his attention elsewhere. I could see the stress and worry on his face. But I think that he’d be fine if he lost his job. He has good skills, works for one of the best law firms, and has done interesting work. It is definitely hard, though, and I felt guilty for giving him the “let’s be friends” speech given his current stress level.

But I certainly don’t think that giving him the speech would be better if I’d waited. There is really no good time to say “I’m sorry, I’d like to see other people.”

And now I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day.

 

Meeting the friends & family March 1, 2009

Filed under: Adjusting,Dating — datehazard @ 11:38 pm
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Last night, I met up with the Corporate Lawyer, his sister, his visiting lawyer friend, and her two married friends (another corporate lawyer, and an architect).

We had dinner at a delicious restaurant, and I got very drunk while we were waiting for our table. It took a while for them to get our table ready, eventhough we had a reservation, and Corporate Lawyer and myself were the first people to arrive. The drink I had at the bar, on an empty stomach, went right to my head. Fortunately, the drunkenness really came into full force during the serving of the main course, and no one seemed to notice.

Meanwhile, Corporate Lawyer had been particularly agitated that day, and told me that he was really worried that he was going to get the axe at work. He’d read one of his partner’s actions as a sign that his performance was not considered up to snuff. It didn’t sound that way to me, but I’m not sure if there was more information he was withholding, and didn’t press for details. He was miserable enough as it was. At one point, he said to me, “well, DH, I guess you’re going to be the only breadwinner soon.”

I laughed at him and gave him a hug to cheer him up.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still not dating exclusively, and I still get the “I’m not sure I’m that into you” vibe from him, but he’s starting to open up a little more to me. Which is, frankly, neither a good nor a bad thing.

Call me opportunistic or just plain lazy — or most likely both — but I just don’t really care about this relationship. He has a lot on his plate, as do I, and I’m perfectly happy to coast for now. Especially after the drama of The Charmer. It’s nice to hang out (and occasionally make out) with someone who’s pretty undemanding, pleasant company, and pretty straightforward. I keep thinking that we should be having a serious conversation about Where This Is Going, but last time I checked (about a week ago), he was totally uncomfortable with anything serious, and told me that he was happy with how things were. Which I clarified as that we’re dating other people. The only thing I asked for was that he would tell me if/when he slept with someone else, for my own health’s sake. We’re both cautious and safe people, but I’d rather minimize my risk whenever possible.

So, I guess there’s nothing to worry about?

I’m not looking to date anyone else right now. Should I be? Should I hedge my bets?

This is starting to feel like work…

 

Studies in dating February 28, 2009

Last night I was out with The Artist, The Grad Student and another friend, having a few drinks in Brooklyn. We were enjoying some cheap drink specials and having some great conversation. And then I thought I’d have a little fun.

I noticed a good-looking man at the bar, dressed in a grey knit vest, white shirt and a tie. He was chatting up a woman who had short, black, curly hair. She didn’t seem that interested in him, but she wasn’t brushing him off. The flirting vibes the man was putting out were unmistakable. He leaned in to talk to her, moving in so close that the woman would be able to feel his breath on her ear. His body posture was possessive: his arms practically encircled her at some points while he gesticulated in his conversation. He did everything to be physically close to her. But he didn’t touch her.

He noticed me looking at him. I didn’t look away. I was a little tipsy at this point and was wondering how he might react if someone else were to flirt with him. So I smiled a little, and kept looking at him.

Mid-conversation, he stumbled, noticed me looking at him, looked away, kept talking, and then darted glances at me to see whether I was still looking.

Game on!

Eventually he excused himself and walked towards the door, right by my table. I tracked his progress, watching his gait, observing his choice of shoes, his long fingers and veined hands, the careful manicure. He studiously looked straight ahead, until he reached the door; at which point he turned, ever so briefly, to look at me. It was too brief of a moment to reciprocate my acknowledgement, but I smiled to myself at the nervousness he displayed. Clearly he was enjoying the attention.

Then he was outside, and I could see him through the bar’s picture window. He struck up a conversation with another man outside, and smoked a cigarette. He talked enthusiastically, his angular face animated, his eyes darting about and his hands gesturing, dancing in the cool night air. He turned to look at the window, and I looked away. I wasn’t sure if he could see me, but this time I didn’t want him to notice me.

He eventually left with the woman he’d been talking to; as they left, he placed an arm lightly at her back. She was completely oblivious to what had been happening; her back had been towards me the entire evening, and she seemed preoccupied with some other matter. At no point did she seem that interested in the man. She was relaxed, calm, almost lazy in her movements. Her clothing choice was of a casual Bohemian chic which belied its probably overpriced cost. One can always tell a woman’s clothing budget by the choice of her bag. She may dress like a bum, but if she sports an expensive bag, it’s most likely that her seemingly careless appearance is the result of the opposite kind of commitment. It probably took hours for her to decide on just the right amount of visual insouciance.

He didn’t look at me as he left, but he didn’t have to. As he walked closer to my table at the door, his gait stiffened remarkably, his look became unwavering in his linear path. His jaw set. And then he turned his head, ever so slightly, his eyes darting in my direction, as he held the door open for his new date. I smiled to myself after he left. He was awfully cute.

My party left shortly after. The Grad Student and the Artist and my other friend headed in one direction, I, in another. The Grad Student and the Artist live on separate subway lines, but tonight they were going the same way, determined to spend the night together.

I walked cheerily on my own, thinking of finding a bar and striking up some conversation with a handsome stranger, unencumbered by my friends. As is usually the case for me, my initial bravery wavered, then evaporated altogether as I passed a dive bar, a rowdy college crowd, and then the perfect dark, jazzy bar. By this point, the streets were starting to fill with people coming up from Manhattan, or Queens, or New Jersey. Girls dressed in long, tight t-shirts and lycra leggings talked loudly, “OMG” peppering their excited speech. Young boys stood on street corners, baggy pants around their thighs, gesturing jaggedly and smiling broadly, teasing each other, posturing. Checking out the girls in t-shirts going by. The night was taking on a carnivalesque atmosphere from the number of people emerging seemingly straight from the earth. Loud, happy, anxious people poured out of subterranean subway exits.

I was one of the few to enter, instead of exit, the subway. The platform was practically empty save for a few subdued people who looked like they were headed to house parties, or home after a day’s work.

And as I stood there on the platform, observing the dirt and grime caked into the mosaic “B” of the subway stop, the flourescent light seemed suddenly harsh, and the air had a sudden overwhelming density. My nostrils were assailed by the smells of a combination of human sweat, the damp night air, ozone, and that unmistakeable New York subway perfume of machine and human grease, vomit, dust, and stale bodily fluids.

I was lonely. And acutely aware of my singleness. The light and the smells around me seemed to accuse, outlining my solitary state, unrelenting. I hugged my coat around me tight, feeling its short wool fibres with my fingertips. My red cashmere scarf caressed my neck and cheek. I shifted my weight anxiously from left to right. Now I was standing, now pacing. Now leaning on a studded vertical iron pillar, now standing straight.

The train finally arrived, much to my relief. I managed to find a seat and blended in, anonymous with the crowd.

I started to doze off, comforted by the car’s rocking motion, its steady onward progress.

On one of the occasions when I blinked awake, I noticed a young woman sitting across the way with her profile to me. She was obviously talking to her boyfriend, who was blocked from my view by a standing passenger. Her face twisted in pain, a mix of anger, hurt and disbelief flitting across her face. She looked at her boyfriend repeatedly, her body lurching towards his, then withdrawing in pain, only to reach to him again. She would alternate between cajoling and pleading with him as she leaned toward him, to pulling back abruptly, sulkily. And then she would dip briefly into depression, her face contorting in pain with the effort of trying not to cry.

I was wide awake now, watching her.

Eventually a seat opened up next to her, and she patted it immediately, inviting her soon-to-be-ex to sit next to her.

I saw a young man with a spotless white baseball cap and baby blue shoelaces get up slowly, reluctantly strut towards her, and sit down.

His hands did the talking for him.

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“This is just the way it is.”

“I can’t do anything about this.”

A shoulder shrug. He looked toward her, but missed her face entirely, addressing the space above her head. He turned away rapidly.

His arm was placed awkwardly over her shoulder. Unlike the previous man’s possessive stance, his was one of obligation. I don’t want to touch you, but it would make it worse for me to act on that impulse. So I will try to comfort you as best as I can.

She leaned in heavily toward him, her whole weight bearing down on the side of her boyfriend. She placed her head on his shoulder, her long curls spilling over into his lap. Her face contorted, emotions now travelling more rapidly across the stormy landscape. Anger was quickly replaced by a wheedling, puppy dog face. She was trying to guilt him into staying. Her hands gripped and strangled a black plastic bag in her lap. I worried that she would throw up into it. She looked nauseous.

He became alarmed. His dangling arm now sported nervously caressing fingers. He stroked her cheek, touching with a minimum of pressure, hurried in his motions. I saw the anxiety in his face as he pushed her head onto his shoulder. She leaned over awkwardly, pressing her full weight into him. She seemed determined to bury herself into him.

As he continued to touch her nervously with the tips of his fingers, spider-like, she doggedly set herself to finding comfort in his presence. Her face became more serene; her weight, more natural.

But even she knew this was false comfort.

And she would break out of her daydream with renewed hurt. Her grip on her black plastic bag grew ever more violent.

And then the doors of the car opened, and they left. He, walking ahead and taking her hand; she, trailing behind, sulking.

Sleep overcame me after they left, and I awakened with a start at the stop before mine. Then I stumbled home, and tumbled into bed.

 

On the benefits of getting enough sleep February 24, 2009

Last night, I went out with my roommate and his friend The Actor, to watch some improv comedy.

It was freezing cold and a fierce wind was whipping through New York. We were all hatless in our “it’s hip to be cold” way, all clenching our teeth and gripping the edges of our coats in a futile effort to stay warm.

We ate cheap, hot, fresh tortillas; The Actor gobbled his down in two bites or less, and I clutched them in my hands and drew out the eating experience for as long as the tortilla maintained its heat. Lovely, cheap impromptu hand-warmers! We hopped anxiously from one foot to the other while we waited in line. We told each other silly jokes in an attempt to distract ourselves from the stinging cold, and to generally celebrate each other’s company.

Then we were inside, and the show began. And we laughed at the distracted actor, the botched lines, the awkward moments. We laughed at the high points, the moments when the timing was just right. We doubled over, shaking silently, wiping the tears from our eyes, when our favourite actor ruthlessly exploited a line or staged a perfect moment.

Then we went home. And I slept, without interruption, for the first time in weeks.

 

The Dating Tutor February 21, 2009

Sometimes, when you don’t know what you’re doing, you need to talk to someone who’s been there, done that.

Like one of these fictional ladies.

Been There, Done That

And that’s exactly what I did last night. I ended up having a 3.5 hour conversation with my friend The Toronto Journalist. We haven’t spoken in months, and I figured it was time to give him a call. Especially since he’s from New York and lived here for most of his life.

The hours flew by and I dished to him about my most recent adventures, and my current fixation with The Charmer. He, in turn, told me about his current dating woes and the problems he’s having with his long-term girlfriend, The Box. The Box works in the medical field, and she Does Not Like Many Things. She’s also apparently super-private.

When The Toronto Journalist told me he’d never even met The Box’s friends, in the 1.5 years that they’ve been together, I was shocked. The Box liked to tell my friend, by way of explanation, “I’m sorry, but I’m just a private person.” Uh… Ok?

She also does not like taking photographs, and until The Journalist maneuvered her into a compromising situation (friendly to normal photography), with her brother and her family members’ help, he did not have a single photo of her. When he’d try to explain to her that it was important to him to be able to see her face while at work, or just to have a memento of her while she wasn’t around, she would reply, “Well, you can always just see me in person.”

Trouble in paradise. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, he gave me the same advice I’d been giving myself: when it comes to The Charmer, the only way for me to be in this situation is to step back and see what he does next. If he’s really interested, he’ll let me know.

And he gave me an earful of information about men in New York City — the way most of them do indeed play the Seduction Game and string women along, and that most New York women understand this and also have their own game of manipulation. He did say, though, that when these men recognize or realise that they’re dealing with women who aren’t from the city, they usually drop their game and try to be real.

I wonder if it’s really that easy. I mean, if you always play a game, it becomes second nature. You don’t even know you’re still doing it.

Meanwhile I really do have to tell Corporate Lawyer that I am no longer dating just him. I know he’s dating around, and assumes I am too, but that doesn’t mean I have no responsibility to him.

And Non-Profit Guy and I are going to a play today. Purely as friends. In that “WTF??” way. I will keep you posted.