The Road to Mr. Right….Love

In late October, about three months after we started dating, cute Glasses and I spent the weekend together.  Before going back and reading old emails, I thought that the story I am about to tell you happened after our mini-vacation.  Turns out, it was actually two weeks before the Boston trip.  Ok back to the story, so, we spend the weekend together.  We went to dinner Friday, he slept over and we woke up together on Saturday morning.  Things between us were growing more comfortable.  I stopped obsessing about weird girl things like farting in my sleep.  We were a true couple.

We went shopping that Saturday and I helped Cute Glasses pick out some fall clothing.  Cute Glasses loved having my input.  It felt good to be appreciated and obviously, my fashion sense only improved his look! 

The plan for that evening was to take the train into the city and see a comedy show.  After the show, we planned to meet some of my friends at bar and take in a Phillies World Series game.  We took the train to avoid parking and free ourselves up to enjoy some alcoholic beverages. The D. L. Hughley show started late, the first show ran over and bumped the second show back.  We had to wait in line for an hour.  I flashed back to relationships past.  I imagined Rocker Boy having one of his toddler-like episodes.  If I were in this situation with him, he would have been incessantly complaining about the cost of the tickets and the untimely start of the show.  Rocker Boy would have let the situation ruin the whole night.  I became nervous that under duress, Cute Glasses might display some of the same behaviors. 

Cute Glasses did voice his annoyance at the late start but it was a fleeting comment.  When I suggested we get drinks from the bar while waiting in line he immediately agreed and went off to make the purchase.  There was no comment about the inflated cost at the bar or annoying people in the crowd.  He was able to focus on me and make the best of an irritating scenario. Thankful that Cute Glasses could go with the flow, I relaxed and enjoyed the wait, after all it was more time spent with the person I loved. Wait…did I just say loved???

That is when it hit me.  I loved him.  Yes, it had only been three months and yes, we were still getting to know each other but based on all the encounters we had up to that moment, I knew.  Comparisons to ghosts of boyfriends past only confirmed what my heart was telling my mind; this was Mr. Right.  Of course, Cute Glasses had not mentioned love yet and I did not want to be the first to utter the words.  I took deep breaths and calmed the butterflies in my stomach.  We were finally seated in the audience and I specifically recall Cute Glasses asking me if I was feeling ok.  Stunted by my recent inner revelation, the initial surprise must have shown on my face.  The show began and I was able to evade the question.  It was hilarious and worth the wait; afterwards we headed to meet my friends.

The friends we met up with that night were two of my oldest and dearest.  I have known them since the age of fourteen and I would say they know me better then most.  Cute Glasses was a bit intimidated since both friends were male.  I assume that there is a certain added pressure for a man if two other men are judging him.  Despite his anxiety, Cute Glasses was well received by my circle.  For the first time in a long time, my male friends approved of my choice in significant other.  It made my crazy love feeling get stronger.  As the booze continued to flow, I could feel the words bubbling up to my lips (or maybe that was just the beer burps). 

At 1:00am, Cute Glasses and I headed back to the train station to make our way home.  The Phillies had won the game that night so drunk and joyful Philadelphians were aflutter.  We arrived at the platform about ten minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive.  We sat on a bench waiting and Cute Glasses asked me if I enjoyed the night.  I told him what a great time I had and how happy it made me to spend time with him.  Cute Glasses admitted how nervous he was about meeting my friends.  He was worried they would not like him and said that he put a lot of pressure on himself to make a good impression. 

“They loved you,” I said.

“You really think so?  I hope so,” said Cute Glasses.  He looked sad and went on to tell me he was worried it did not go well.

“They loved you, I love you,” I whispered.

There it was; it bubbled up again and escaped!  It was out there…the “L Bomb”, as Friend Blue would say.  My stomach was in knots.  Cute Glasses’ face went soft and he smiled. 

“I am so in love with you. I have been trying to tell you all week,” said Cute Glasses.  He explained that he could not find the right time and thought that maybe it was too soon to share.  The ride home  was filled with hugs and kisses and the sappy crap of romantic comedies.  It was the first time I ever told a man I loved him before he told me.  Maybe because that time I meant it sincerely.  Cute Glasses was my Mr. Right. 

Internet Dating…pedal to the metal

As you know, Cute Glasses and I met on the internet, Match.com to be exact.  Within the first four months of dating, we had surpassed many relationship milestones.  I met his parents and he had spent time with mine.  Our first mini vacation was a success and we agreed that we would book a ten-day trip to Ireland, which would mark about eight months of being together.  By many people’s standards, things were moving quickly.  Friend and family seemed surprised that we were committed after only five dates.  Cute Glasses brother expressed concerns that our relationship was progressing too fast.  He was worried that Cute Glasses was falling too hard too fast.

Despite our friends and family concerns, Cute Glasses and I felt that we were perfect for each other.  We were consumed with our compatibility and rationalized that at “our age” we had enough experience in the dating world to know the right thing when it came along.  Moreover, as I mentioned in the last post, the whole concept of meeting on the internet put things on the fast track.  If you think about it, Cute Glasses and I spent over two weeks communicating via email.  When you start emailing with an online prospect, the email stage becomes a vetting period.  Obviously, you have to ask some personal questions to determine if meeting in person would be worthwhile.  It is a unique situation because unlike meeting at a bar, it is common to talk about your feelings on marriage or children.  When both people are online, looking for a relationship it is normal to discuss your potential longevity as a couple up front. 

Cute Glasses and I also spoke on the phone prior to our first date; the conversation lasted over an hour.  It was around the time of the last Presidential election so we talked politics and religion; both of which are controversial subjects.  Going into the first date, we already knew quite a about each other and the mutual interest was already established.  That is not so on a blind date or when you randomly meet someone in a social situation.  Therefore, I would certainly say that Internet dating does put relationships on the fast track because both parties have a boyfriend or girlfriend as the end goal.

Meeting the right person is difficult.  If you are lucky enough to have met the right person at work, or in your social circle then count your blessings.  These days, it is rare to stumble upon the right romantic situation.  If you are like me and you want to take control of your dating future, do not be afraid to give the online thing a try.  Match.com is no longer a tool for dorky techies and fans of World of Warcraft…it is for everyday people with busy lives!   Looking for a mate is exhausting and we are not getting any younger.  Put the pedal to the metal and wiz your way into the personal circle.  Time in the “intimate circle” is a-wasting. Wink wink.

Meeting New People…too personal?

Yesterday was Sunday and I attended Church with a family member.  Raised Catholic, this non-denominational Christian Church is not at all the religious pomp and circumstance I am used to experiencing.  The service was less traditional than Catholic Mass.  A band plays contemporary Christian rock followed by a pastor in plain clothes who walks on stage talks about life issues.  The topic of yesterday’s sermon was “A Place for everyone.”  The pastor spoke about level of contact that people have with one another.  As an example he used the theory of  Proxemics introduced by anthropologist Edward T. Hall in the late 1960s.  Basically, the theory explores the different levels of human interactions: public, social, personal and intimate.  He was using the study to encourage people to explore their relationship with God, but of course, I was thinking how it could relate to relationships and dating.

The chart below demonstrates the levels of relationships.  The outer circle is public. This might describe your relationship with Oprah if you ever went to a taping of her show.   As an audience member, she was communicating with you but on a generic topical level.  The second layer is social.  For example, you are at a bar and meet someone new.  Social would be a relaxed or friendly situation with people you do not know personally but in a situation where you could strike up a conversation.  This is probably the level at which most people are introduced or meet a potential dating prospect.   In the social setting, people exchange generic questions like, “Where do you work?” or “What do you like to do for fun?”

The personal circle would represent you relationship with friends and family.  These people are familiar with more then just the basics about your life.  Someone in your personal circle has likely known you for an extended period of time and retains specific information about your life.  Conversations are likely more detailed and honest in this circle whereas in the social circle they might be guarded or censored.  The intimate circle is deeper than the personal circle.  The intimate circle can refer to intimacy of a sexual nature, but more so the depth and detail of the information that you share with a person and the support that would come from that deep relationship.  For example, parents, siblings and children can be represented in the center circle, as parents and siblings often have a unique bond with their family members. It is suggested that you can only really be intimate with about three people at one time because of the effort and feeling that goes into the level of relationship.

I found this theory very interesting and there are many ways that is applies to dating and meeting new people.  Many couples meet in the social atmosphere: a bar, a sporting event or party.  However, during that those initial meetings there is a certain urgency to get past the social and into the personal to find out if there is truly compatibility.  For example, in the social circle you can determine someone’s job, living situation and other statics about him or her.  On that superficial level, many people have criteria that you might be looking for in a mate.  I could meet five men that fit my standards, but without getting personal, how do I know which has boyfriend potential?  What you really need to know are the personal details: do they want children, what is their relationship like with their family, is marriage in their future.  Not the type of conversation you have with a stranger at a bar.

Internet dating sites give us the option of bypassing the social and moving right to the personal.  Without even meeting, you can view a person’s profile and determine if they believe in the institution of marriage, love pizza and hope to have three children in the next five years.    Most sites prompt you to address personal questions so interested parties can weed out their compatibility standards before making initial contact.  It is almost like boyfriend or girlfriend resumes at your fingertips.  For around thirty dollars a month, you can do away with the public and social scenarios and move right to the personal details.  Therefore, I ask you.  Is technology is peeling away the once measurable distances between people? 

 To be continued…

The Road to Mr. Right…Relationship Milestones

After Cute Glasses and I made things official, our relationship progressed at a steady pace.  We usually had plans both weekend night and a couple of times throughout the week.  Each conversation we had made me realized how much we had in common.  We were raised with similar values and sought similar paths in life.  We agreed on money matters, moral issues and even politics.  We had the makings of a long lasting relationship.  Our basic compatibility was different then I experienced in my past relationships. 

I met Cute Glasses parents on Halloween, three months after we met.  They turned out to be lovely people who were genuinely interested in meeting me.  I could tell that they were a lot like my own loving and supportive parents.  Our conversation that night reinforced that Cute Glasses and I were raised with similar ideals and comparable opportunities.  It was a judgment free zone; they obviously trusted their son’s judgment in women.  This was a relief since I had negative experiences with my boyfriend’s family in the past. 

With the “meet the parents” milestone out of the way, Cute Glasses suggested that we go on our first vacation.  We had discussed booking a ten-day trip to Ireland that February but I figured that we should first take a mini vacation first to see how well we traveled together.  We chose to visit my favorite Aunt and Uncle in Boston.  The plan was to stay with family and attend a Patriot’s game over the course of a long weekend.  My hope was that Aunt and Uncle would approve of Cute Glasses; they have known me my whole life and I credit them as good judge of character. 

Well, the first night with Aunt and Uncle was a fabulous time.  We ordered take out while Uncle and Cute Glasses sampled fine scotch.  Once the libations were flowing, Aunt brought out a new board game.  The game was much like charades: you could use different methods to get the other players to guess the word/phrase on your card.  Cute Glasses’ miming skills were so amusing that we bagged the directions and just called out guesses while he hopped around the living room like a rabbit or danced like a ballerina.   He was open and loose with my family almost as if he had known them a long time.  It felt natural and genuine.  Aunt and Uncle were for the first time, impressed by my significant other. 

You see, things with PB and Rocker Boy were not the same.  Rocker Boy was not confident enough to interact with my family on such a level.  I believe that Rocker Boy was so intimidated by anyone outside his comfort zone that he clammed up in unfamiliar situations.  It would have been like pulling teeth to get him to agree to play a game with people he just met, let alone actively participate.   PB on the other hand would have been sure enough of his intelligence to participate, but it would not be his idea of fun.  It would have been more of a labor of love in his eyes, whereas Cute Glasses was in his element.  We were not making sacrifices or compromising for one another…we actually found the same activity enjoying.

Do not get me wrong, Cute Glasses and I do not watch all the same TV shows or read the same types of books.  In fact, that weekend, we sat in bed together enjoying books of vastly different genres.  We have different interests and hobbies but our idea of a good time is parallel.  I think that this is an important distinction in relationship.  No two people are going to agree on everything, but at the root of the bond, your interests should compliment one another.  Compromise is a part of every relationship, but if you find yourself constantly making concessions for your partner, that should raise a red flag.  Spending time together should be easy, not a chore.  If you find that type connection with someone, hang on tight.  However, if you find yourself constantly outside your element in a relationship, you might be with the wrong person.

When Cute Glasses and I arrived home from Boston, we booked the trip to Ireland.  A short weekend trip together was evidence that we would be compatible travel partners.  Cute Glasses even suggested we go over Valentines Day.  It was potentially the trip of a lifetime.  Time would tell…

Commandments Part II..my epic fail

Yesterday I touched on what I deem the most serious relationship offense, cheating.  My story was a trivial example and I certainly do not consider myself qualified to render advice or even truly empathize with those who have experienced a more significant infidelity issue.  My purpose in blogging is to share personal experience and tell you what I have learned from my own encounters.  That being said, for those of you who have lived through infidelity and come out on the other side, I have the utmost respect and admiration.  What doesn’t kills us makes us stronger and in some small way I hope what I have to say in this space helps people realize that no relationship is perfect.  We are all works in progress.

Today’s story is also about breaking an important relationship commandment, “Thou shall not test thy partner.”  I am not sure if all women are guilty of this offence, but I, myself, am.  Like most of my flaws, I think that this has roots in insecurity.  In many cases, I tested my partner in the hopes I would discover his undying loyalty.  I have said one thing and meant another, expecting my partner to read between the lines.  Again, we shall travel back to a time when I was a less seasoned dater.  The time was college and the boyfriend was PB.

It was October, and my birthday was upon us.  This fall proceeded the summer when we made our relationship official.  My birthday was on a Friday and I was excited to see what PB had planned.  Since we regularly went out and celebrated our college friend’s birthdays, I was sure PB had something special in store for me.  A few days prior to my birthday, PB asked where I would like to have dinner on the day.  I gleefully chose a Mexican restaurant; we would start the night off with margaritas!  It would be festive way to begin the night, since we would surely head to a bar after dinner.  What would I wear, whom would I invite?  It was then PB dropped bomb.  His best friend from home apparently shared the same birthday and PB was headed up North after our dinner.

I was devastated and crushed.  It would have been my first birthday with a boyfriend and I really thought that PB would plan something special.  I expected that his girlfriend’s birthday would take precedence over his friend’s birthday.  This had to be some sort of joke.  He was not really leaving town, he must have been planning some sort of surprise.    I lied and told PB to go ahead and leave town on my birthday to celebrate.  I told him that I was ok with the situation, even though I did not mean it.  I was verbally giving PB my blessing but my expression and body language was telling him I was not happy.  My goal was to get PB to read between the lines and choose me over his friend.  Surely he would see the error of his ways.

This is an example of testing someone.  You know what you really want them to do in a given situation but you tell them what they want to hear or tell them the opposite of what you desire.  You believe that you are testing their loyalty and level of commitment.  But, really you’re asking them to be a mind reader.  If you do not say what you mean and mean what you say then you are asking for trouble.  This goes double with women to men.  Most men I know are very literal.  If you tell them that you do not want anything for Christmas or that you are ok with him going to the strip club, he is going to take that at face value.  Men are not as analytical and do not always read between the lines.

I learned this lesson the hard way.  After my birthday dinner back at PB’s apartment, he packed his bags and headed for the door.  At the sight of this, I burst into tears.  PB was stunned because I had assured him there was no problem.  I accused him of knowing that I really wanted him to stay and that in his heart he should have known I needed him.  My hysterical outburst had no effect.  PB already purchased a bus ticket and he was heading back to his hometown.  He left me in disarray; I returned to my dorm room and threw a first class hissy fit.  PB failed the test and left me high and dry on my birthday.  I told my roommate I planned to break up with him for the offense.  How could he?

When my phone rang, I was too emotional to speak.  My best friend and roommate took the call.  It was PB; he wanted to see how I was doing.  My best friend was honest and told him I was an irrational, inconsolable mess (of my own making).  I could not hear the conversation but he apparently asked her if he should come back.  She told him that I said I was ending our relationship based on the events of the night.  He told the bus driver to pull over and got off the bus, he was a little more then an hour away from school.  My roommate offered to pick him up.  He was waiting on a random street corner for close to two hours before she arrived to get him.

I had done the most selfish thing imaginable.  I lied about my true feelings and expectations willing PB to read my mind.  When he did not I ruined his plans and caused him to let his friend down on his birthday.  Now his friend would experience disappointment on his birthday.  It was monumentally immature and colossally ridiculous of me.  My test did nothing but prove that I was juvenile and disrespectful of PB’s commitments outside of our relationship.  I am regretful for many things I have done in my life; but I am also ashamed of this one.

It is important to respect your partner and part of that respect is being honest with your feelings.  I am happy to share this story with you today because the embarrassment it brings me is a present day reminder not to test my love ones.  If you need something from your relationship, you have to put it out in the open.  Even if your needs are petty, like my college birthday party, you need to be honest about them.  Signals and metaphors will not do the trick and if your significant other really cares about you then they will be willing to compromise to work towards a solution.  Follow this commandment because when you test your partner, only you fail.

Commandments of Dating…when he didn’t follow the rules

Today over email, Friend Green mentioned that she was reading the “Commandments of Dating”. She forwarded me a snippet of the article and the content rang true. As my day went on, I started to think of my own relationship commandments and think back to a time when they were broken. My first thought was being faithful to your partner, the most obvious. I, myself, have never caught a partner cheating. It is not to say that I have never had a partner stray, but I never caught anyone in the act of indiscretion. The closest I came was with Pizza Bagel.

When we parted ways during summer break, the first year we were dating Pizza Bagel suggested that it would be impossible for two 19-year-olds to remain faithful for three months. We would be about four hours away from each other and at our age, a long distance relationship seemed far-fetched. I understood Pizza Bagel’s train of thought on the matter: though we had been seeing each other throughout the school year we had yet to call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. In my heart, I wished he suggested that we remain exclusive but I did not push the issue. We spent most of our time together or in the same group of friends so it was evident at school that we were not dating other people. I hoped that he would not meet anyone special during out time apart. It was bitter sweet but common sense dictated that I could not force a hormonal teenager to stay away from girls for an entire summer.

I left school one day before Pizza Bagel. It was the old days so I did not have a cell phone; I wrote my contact information on an index card. The first time I wrote it, I decorated it with magic marker hearts. That seemed creepy so I ripped it apart and just went with old fashion pen and paper. PB said he would call in a couple weeks and check in on my summer fun. Two weeks felt like a long time to go without talking but again, I did not protest. I tried not to let my disappointment show but I could not hide my tears as we said goodbye.

I arrived at the beach the same day and unpacked my things. Work started the next day because I had a standing job at a boardwalk gift store. After my second day of work, I came home to a message from PB. My Mom said that he called in the afternoon. It seemed strange because we only said goodbye two days prior and he said he wouldn’t be calling right away. I was excited! When he answered the phone, he said that he needed to talk…bad news was on the way. Turns out that the night I left college PB made his way to a fraternity party. Since only a few people were still on campus, a random group of people converged on the festivities. With me gone to the beach and his singlehood was back in tact, PB participated in a heated make-out session with one of my sorority sisters (I am rolling my eyes and vomiting in my mouth right now).

It was devastating, I had really grown to love and admire PB and I was crushed that it took less then 24 hours for him to find another girl. He took his first chance at freedom. PB went on to say that while he understood what he did was wrong the kiss was not the point on his phone call. He was calling because the next morning he woke up and realized that he made an awful mistake. He felt guilty and horrible and wanted me to know the truth. The drunken dry hump session had brought on an epiphany…he was in love with me. PB asked to come to the beach that weekend and explain in more detail. He wanted to meet my parents and become a bigger part of my life. The summer break was not going to be our break from each other after all.

Alas, I was immature, and this seemed like a romantic conclusion to our disappointing goodbye at school. Do not get me wrong, I did not welcome PB back into my life on the spot. The hurt and betrayal took a toll and I spent the rest of the week in utter turmoil. I was physically ill at the thought of what happened and seriously thought about the fate of the relationship. However, when I was ready to forgive, his commitment to our relationship seemed like a victory. I was the girl that he wanted and he was the boyfriend I chose. Pushing the kiss out of my mind, I let PB back into my heart (I had not ever let him out).

These days I am more discerning and decidedly more jaded. Had Cute Glasses experienced a similar epiphany after an indiscretion, the outcome would have been different. When you are young, you can forgive and forget with less consequence. In college, I had no real investment in PB and nothing but my feelings riding on the future of our relationship. Cute Glasses is a man and, at the time, PB was a teenager. Your teenage slip-ups do not define who you are as an adult; rather, they teach you what kind of person you want to be. I would assume that PB learned the risks of cheating, and that today he would think twice before putting himself in that situation. College is a time to test the so called, “Commandments” and learn the potential outcomes of your actions. Adulthood is the time to abide by your own set of boundaries and moral code.

Now, I know what you are probably thinking…MB is not a perfect person…I know she has broken some dating rules in her life. It is true. It was PB’s lesson in love today but it will be mine tomorrow. Have a good rest of your day ~ MB

Vodka is not a Band-Aid for a Broken Heart

Summer has officially ended.  I was at the beach this weekend visiting my parents.  Mr. Right is away on business so I ended up going out on the town with an old friend.  September is a good month for hitting up the bars at the beach because the wild crowd has migrated west for the fall, leaving an older calmer crowd behind.  While the scene was significantly subdued, there was debauchery abound. 

Toward the end of the evening, we stopped at a takeout window.  Since the establishment served snacks after 2am there was a large crowd forming on the sidewalk.  A group of men from a bachelor party were laughing and carrying on with a drunken woman seeking some attention.  She wore a leopard newsboy cap and her once cute outfit was disheveled showing a little more belly then the world needed to see.  The bachelors and the onlookers chuckled at the girl as she made her sloppy advances.  She shook her hips and flirted making a serious attempt to meet a man.  Alcohol fueled an erroneous sense of sexiness.  It started to make me sad, she was a cute girl clearly sloshed and uncoordinated; she seemed desperate and pathetic. 

I paused from hating for a second and thought, “Have I ever behaved that way?”.  Sadly, I think that one time or another everyone has.  A few too many drinks coupled with a bought of low self-esteem can bring out the worst.  I flashed back to summers past.  Specifically, I thought about the summer I ended things with Rocker Boy.  Still, in my twenties I was ready to party hard and erase the time I had wasted in that relationship.  I had a pattern of trying to “make up” for the fun I missed when I was committed.  It was my coping mechanism for a broken heart; the rebounding process was a drunken reentry into singlehood. 

One night in particular, I was out with friends at a crowded beach bar.  I was tying one on, as they say, in a sea of Abercrombie and Fitch clad twenty somethings.  The cover band was raging and the Red Bull and vodka was plentiful.  My beer goggles secure I was on the hunt, ready to prove to myself that meeting someone to fill Rocker Boy’s tattered shoes would be an easy task.  I spotted a familiar face in the crowd, an old buddy who admitted he had a crush on me the following summer when I was involved.  Jackpot, this would be the ego boost I needed to put Rocker Boy in the past.  I made my way over to Old Buddy to say hi.  He had changed since the summer prior.  Old Buddy had a new job, was looking good and I felt that he was someone I was interested in dating.  However, I was not ready to give up the summer of fun and get serious.

In retrospect, at the time, I was probably in the same shape as the drunken girl in the leopard hat this weekend.  I might have looked and sounded like an equally hot mess.  It is an embarrassing and humbling thought.  Old Buddy was nice enough to humor me and even continued our flirtatious banter as my summer of fun progressed.  I started to look forward to seeing him and continuously hoped that something would happen between us.  Toward the end of the summer, I caught him outside the bar.  I asked him if we would see each other after the summer; maybe go out on a date.  Alas, the tables had turned and Old Buddy was not crushing on me anymore.  The dancing drunk girl was not exactly someone he would take home to Mom.  She had no lasting allure.

It was a disappointing situation because in my heart I was so much more then a crazy party girl enjoying summer as a single woman.  I had a career, friends and interests far beyond Red Bull and vodka.  Nevertheless, like the leopard hat, when wasted you cannot your best foot forward.  Countless nights spent partying at the bar will not boost yourself esteem and/or help you meet someone new.   Vodka is not a Band-Aid for a broken heart and one good party is not going to erase your tangled emotions.  In fact, you will just end up looking silly and feeling worse.  I blew it with Old Buddy and realized that I should have taken more time to get over my last relationship.  Being single and having fun at the bar can be a positive thing, but not if you have an agenda to make up for what you perceive as lost time.  Mourn your relationship, appreciate yourself, go forth, enjoy life, and for god sakes, do not wear a leopard hat!