Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why the to-marry-young-or-not debate makes blood(s) boil


Yesterday's to-marry-young-or-not convo sparked the expected comments and controversy.

Some people were offended by the suggestion that independence and a focus on career from 20-28 (or so...) is a mistake. Others supported the argument that marrying young is not a joke or an indicator of future divorce -- it's just a decision of two people who love each other and are ready to commit to that love for life.

The article was trying to make one, simple point: marrying young is not a recipe for divorce. Studies actually show that it can be beneficial. Plus our pre-conceived belief that divorce rates peak in cases of young marriage is statistically incorrect.

But in addition to that one point the article also made another. It suggested that people who wait may find themselves sad and screwed -- in the always a bridesmaid, considering egg-harvesting, feeling like a Cathy comic strip zone.

The whole point of the article was that judgement shouldn't be passed on the idea of marrying young. But in making that argument the author -- whether intentionally or not - judged the decision to wait. This wasn't "the time is right when the time is right for you" advice. It was, "the time is right when you are young." You'll be sorry, it hinted. Some of your friends will get happily married and you'll be devastated, it suggested. Don't think waiting until you're stable will make you a more attractive option, it warned, because it won't.

The reason this article chafes so much is because we don't know if this guy is right or wrong. We don't know if we'll get to 28 and curse the fact that we weren't husband-hunting at 22. We can't predict whether our window of attractiveness is widening or narrowing. I personally couldn't tell you which of my friends' young marriages I believe will succeed or fail.

I worked hard to get myself into the best college I could because it's rooted in fact and history and statistics that a name-brand college education is a strong indicator of success. I moved to a major metropolis because job search sites and industry numbers and tons of data proved this city was the smartest place for me to start my career. I invest in a 401K and go to the gym and keep up with the news because all those things are proven to be smart decisions. My life is governed -- for the most part -- by logic and guarentees.

We know that marriage -- and even serious relationships -- aren't about definites. You can't predict it. You can't force it. You can't talk your way into or out of it. It is a very personal, very individual decision to be ready to even find lasting love, let alone decide you're ready to commit to it.

This article challenges that individual decision. It says, you may think you want to wait and that you have good reasons for waiting but you don't. You may believe that you'll be happier focusing on your career and becoming stable before you really focus on marriage but you won't. You probably think the right person for you will be there when you're your most ready, but they likely won't.

That is hard to swallow. A. because we want to say, "what makes you so sure you're right?!" but more likely B. because we're in no way prepared to answer the response, "well what makes you think you are?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why we don't want to marry young and why that's a mistake -- according to one guy


Warning: this may cause you to pit out.

This Sunday's Washington Post featured an article that challenged -- among other things on the topic of marrying young -- Gen X's frequently held presumption that the earlier you marry, the less likely it will last.


The writer's thesis statement is simple: marrying young isn't inherently wrong or inherently risky. Waiting well into your twenties (and beyond), on the other hand, is definitively risky and not actually all that "good for you" in the traditional senses (those being saves you money, makes you happy).

Apparently the average age men marry is now 28 -- up 5 years from what it was in 1970 (right, 23). It used to be that women still married young but now the gap is closing and women are marrying just as old as men. So men are marrying older and therefore so are women because -- for the most part -- women marry men.

Fine -- but why? Why is everyone marrying older? And what does our generation have against marrying young?

According to the author -- this:

  • Since we were young, our generation has been advised by parents, teachers, and after-school specials to focus on ourselves, our careers and our independence. Says this writer -- someone around the age of our parents -- "[Parents] caution that depending on another person is weak and fragile. We don't want them to rush into a relationship. We won't help you with college tuition anymore, we threaten. Don't repeat our mistakes, we warn." As a result we de-value marriage and instead view independence, maturity, & existing on our own two feet as the goal.
  • Then we spread this thought base on our peers. Again: "In my research on young adults' romantic relationships, many women report feeling peer pressure to avoid giving serious thought to marriage until they're at least in their late 20s. If you're seeking a mate in college, you're considered a pariah, someone after her "MRS degree." Actively considering marriage when you're 20 or 21 seems so sappy, so unsexy, so anachronistic. Those who do fear to admit it -- it's that scandalous." So getting married young becomes taboo and waiting to marry is socialized as normal, respectable, and the smart decision.
  • And finally -- we approach the idea of a life-long mate from place of logic and math. We are well acquainted with the divorce rate -- some of us intimately so -- and we don't want to be us. So "well-educated people are convinced that there actually is a recipe for guaranteed marital success that goes something like this: Add a postgraduate education to a college degree, toss in a visible amount of career success and a healthy helping of wealth, let simmer in a pan of sexual variety for several years, allow to cool and settle, then serve. Presto: a marriage with math on its side."
I'll give it to the guy. Those are real reasons. Some of them are my own reasons, in fact. And while I would never end a healthy, stable, adult relationship because I felt it was a. taboo and b. preventing me from real career success -- I'll admit I'm not predisposed to search for one because I both have other priorities in line and do believe waiting until I've grown more will prevent me from doing so much growing inside a relationship that I eventually grow out.

In my mind that's not wrong or counterproductive or harmful to my eventual self -- it's just my 25-year-old stage.

According to that article the benefits of waiting to marry are not rooted on fact, not entirely productive, and actually very harmful to both my current and future self.

Why:

  • First there's this: "According to social psychologists women's "market value" declines steadily as they age, while men's tends to rise in step with their growing resources (that is, money and maturation)....Meanwhile, women's fertility is more or less fixed, yet they largely suppress it during their 20s -- their most fertile years -- only to have to beg, pray, borrow and pay to reclaim it in their 30s and 40s." Read: women have a worse chance of getting married the older they get because they're less appealing and have a harder time conceiving children at that age because they're less fertile. So the longer you wait the longer you'll likely have to.
  • And then: "The best evaluations of early marriage note that the age-divorce link is most prominent among teenagers (those who marry before age 20). Marriages that begin at age 20, 21 or 22 are not nearly so likely to end in divorce as many presume." So it's not actually true that the younger you get married the more likely you'll get divorced.
  • And finally: "Marriage is an unbelievably efficient arrangement and the best wealth-creating institution there is. Married people earn more, save more and build more wealth compared with people who are single or cohabiting. (Say what you will about the benefits of cohabitation, it's a categorically less stable arrangement, far more prone to division than marriage.) We can combine incomes while reducing expenses such as food, child care, electricity, gas and water usage." Meaning marrying young is actually very beneficial to your ultimate money, savings, and therefore stability.
I was with the guy at that point. With him meaning I'll agree that marrying young isn't all that bad and can work for people who are ready. I agreed that we over-value independence and undervalue commitment. I can certainly see how marrying young doesn't mean it will fail and how being marriad can actually make you more successful and stable. So fine -- I was thinking. Marriage isn't to be avoided. If the time is right, the time is right.

But theeeeen the article ended like this:

"So while many young Americans mark their days in the usual ways -- by hitting the clubs, incessantly checking Facebook, Twittering their latest love interest and obsessing about their poor job prospects or how to get into graduate school -- my applause goes out to those among them who've figured out that the proverb was right. One of those is Jennifer, a 23-year-old former student of mine. She's getting married this fall. It wasn't religion that made her do it. It wasn't fear of being alone. It was simply affection. She met Jake while still in college and decided that there was no point in barhopping through her 20s. Her friends balked. She stood firm. Now they're bridesmaids."

And with that it switched from an article about how marriage shouldn't be feared to an article about how girls who don't focus on it early will find themselves alone and wishing they'd spent less time in bars and more time on the old MRS. degree.

That's a different conversation -- one we'll have tomorrow.
Send comments and thoughts (20Nothings@gmail.com) for me to include.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two guys' two responses on two (recent) topics

Today -- Pierson on this "do friends of the opposite sex have to go" issue and Brendan -- someone I don't technically know who felt compelled to comment on last week's crazy girl conundrum.

First: Can you have a boyfriend and keep your boy. friends.? The male response.

Jessie and I were going to take sides and debate the merit of Rabbi whateverhisnameis' point, but she took the good side, and now I can't do it.

I may not be married, or even close for that matter, but I have seen enough healthy (and unhealthy) relationships to be able to tell that this ditching your friends for the sake of your marriage routine is a problem. It doesn't sound to me like there is ever going to be Shalom in the Home in which the couple's world is no bigger than their own four walls.

If my Catholic school education on Hebrew (read: none) doesn't fail me know, Shalom means peace. That and some other things irrelevant to my point, like hello and/or goodbye - think "aloha." Not to get all philosophy major on you, but I believe peace in a relationship is more than just an absence of hostility and negativity. In this case, it is the presence of genuine understanding which comes from the knowledge that the other person is just that - another person, with his or her own life.

Ok. I get it, he's a Rabbi and he's worried about things like temptation, fidelity, etc. Not committing adultery or coveting you neighbor's wife were Jewish doctrines long before Jessie spent a whole week writing about cheating. Despite this I think he should be more worried about the unhealthy jealousy, mistrust and overall lack of faith in one another's love that would necessitate cancelling beer and trivia. (Two of God's greatest creations) Don't get me wrong, I do believe that compromises must be made for a relationship to succeed over time. But if avoiding being alone with a member of the opposite sex at all costs is the only way to stay faithful, then there are some core issues that should have been worked out long before anybody said "I do." I've been down the road of jealousy before and all it really accomplished for me was this damn receding hairline. Realizing this I've learned that as long as I'm not given legitimate reasons to be concerned, I need to place trust in my significant others' feelings for me. Whether or not she has friends who are boys.

I'm with the psychiatrist quoted in the article who said "Each couple needs to set their own boundaries about friendships outside of the marriage. Couples should be open and honest about friends of the opposite sex and about how their family influences and religious values play into the equation." I agree with her and with Jessie that some appropriate boundaries need to be set. Beside the obvious no-touching policy, inappropriate emotional cheating is just as bad. Once these things are determined, whether by open conversation or - but be careful here - just unspoken understanding, I think it remains possible to have friends of the opposite sex. I'll even go one step further than possible - I think it is important to have friends, of both sexes, outside of a committed relationship. As long as when you say "we're just friends," you really are just friends.

PS - J, you backpedal, like on a bike. You peddle trinkets, like a wandering gypsy child on the street. Those homophones will be your demise :)

And Brendan on the crazy/hot (with intangibles) factor of the "why guys go for crazy" question.

I told Sarah this and I'll tell you the same. ALL GIRLS ARE CRAZY. What makes the situation even worse is that ALL GIRLS will DENY being crazy, and in defense will summon up an incident put on by an even crazier girl, and exclaim, "see I would never do that." What a tangled web we weave.

I for one am the guy who always talks about how crazy his gf is but never breaks up with her. It is not because I personally enjoy the crazy; it is simply because on the crazy hot scale it all balances out. I think it is only proper for us both to familiarize ourselves with the Crazy-Hot scale set out by my mentor Barney Stinson during Episode 5 of Season 3 "How I met your Mother." (via this link)


I think to take the crazy hot scale into consideration we have to be some sort of a gentlemen and add a little extra than just crazy and hot. I think it is more Crazy v. Hot+Intangibles. Intangibles will vary depending on the guy and his personal preference towards women but I think they are easily measured for each individual.

So you see after examination it is not that guys enjoy the crazy, on the contrary -- no guy appreciates 50 phone calls between 2 and 4 am, their name tattoe'd on her ass, getting a "he's mine" tee, deceiving the gmail server into thinking she is me, or even copying my finger prints while I'm sleeping to slip past my offices biometric key to check my work email and female coworker contacts. It is simply that with each new relationship you'll experience new crazy and new hot (plus intangibles) and there is no knowing where she'll fall, so why leave your current one when she is on the right side of the curve.

Not to worry - I fired back at Brendan with the following question:

Fine. So say you have a hot, hot girl who is slightly crazy in the traditional girl sense (as has been discussed) and her hot, hot identical twin who is low key, totally chill, low maintenance. Her sister's girl-type opposite, if you will. Which do you choose? The crazy because -- as Friday's male poster suggests -- guys need what those pieces of crazy represent (committment, love, security, attention, that they can in turn be man and she woman)? Or do you choose the completely un-crazy, go-wit-the-flow, lets you do whatever you want version because in the crazy/hot balance it's really all about the hot. I completely completely get why guys stay with slightly crazy girls who are incredibly hot. But I'm curious as to what would happen if a guy was faced with two equally gorgeous girls who were polar opposites in the crazy category...

To which he said:

I hate to do this to you but I am going to stand by my theory on this one. In the below circumstance it really would just not matter. I would leave it up to the Crazy vs. Hot (+ Intangibles). For the most part it would depend on where she fell on the scale. You'd have to consider that no two girls are exactly alike. The crazy one may offer certain intangibles, such as better sex, better cooking, likes sports etc, it depends on what the guy is looking for. I'm trying to break it down so this is more a matter of science and take all the judgment in the process out.

Let us just say for a second that these two girls are actually completely the same in ever aspect possible, except one is laid back in relationships and one is slightly crazy. For me it is a toss up, would depend on who came up to me in the bar or who returned my calls - so I'm going to say the crazy one is going to come through because she'll probably call me back and act interested more.

There you have it slash them. The first, I agree with fully. The second I recognize as the absolute truth but don't like at all. Either way -- good to know.

Feel free to address Brendan and Pierson in comments or directly to me (20Nothings@gmail.com).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Does a boyfriend mean your male best friend's got to go?


The Boston Globe article from Friday's early edition post (read it before you read on) starts out innocently and logically enough:

"There are rules for interacting and having platonic relationships with friends of the opposite sex once you're married."

(For the purposes of today we'll use "married" and "in a serious relationship" interchangeably.)

The advice comes from Rabbi Shumley Boteach (not a typo) -- the host of TLC's new lifestyle show "Shalom in the Home." (what I would give to meet -- date?...be?? -- the show title savant responsible for brilliance like that...).

Rules? Fine. Yes. Agreed.

But -- "You can't have late-night dinners with a friend of the opposite sex. Lunches are OK, but you shouldn't order alcohol."

It's right around no alcohol at lunch that I start to cut and paste this article link into gchats with a Read this!! WTF?! proceeding.

The article back peddles -- "Essentially Boteach (Google: Did you mean Bo Peep?) believes that any situation where a married person is sharing secrets or alone with friends of the opposite sex is a "no-no" that can lead to temptation."

Okay first -- Sharing secrets with and being alone with are two very different things...

And then: "Where his points are posted on the MSN Lifestyle website, several people have questioned his rigidity. However, on poster, 'literallyjane,' agrees that friendships with the opposite sex are nearly impossible when you've tied the knot: 'Now that we're married, to avoid problems we just don't have any friend. We're happy this way because we are each other's best friend.' "

Is there an option for a colored flag more bad news than red? Black flag maybe? Or how about just road flare; those red fire rocket things you shoot up when your car breaks down on the side of a deserted road. Yeah -- that's good. That -- Jane -- is god damned road flare -- literally.

Maintaining strong friendships with members of the opposite sex once you're in a relationship is tricky, yes. You never want to behave as if someone else holds your attention and affection more than your chosen partner, of course not. As such there are behavior guidelines you should follow to keep everyone feeling as unthreatened as possible, agreed.

I don't know exactly what they are, and I don't want to define them because they're eventually going to F my life, but they're out there. Use your judgement, or some of mine.

But this "any friends are a problem so we have none at all" is a sign of an unstable relationship. It's a sign that someone -- for whatever reasons -- is too threatened and too insecure about themselves or their partner. If a marriage is too fragile to withstand the inclusion of opposite-sexed friends (and I mean one's with which appropriate interactions are maintained) then it's too fragile.

Do I think no one has the right to get jealous in these situations? No. Do I think it would/will bother me if I find myself with a female Dupree on my hands? Of course it will. We want people all to ourselves so we can feel as certain as possible that they're not going to stop liking us or leave us. That's all this is about.

But I love you and so I want you only and all to myself is one form of love.
I love you, trust you and know this other friendship is important to you so I'm going to sack up, shut up, and learn to live with it is another form. And in my opinion, that's the better one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

He Posts...a little late: Do Guys Really Want Crazy?

Late morning edition

The male responder -- Bill from Chicago -- requested I put my original question below to better ground his response.

My question:

"We girls have developed a theory that, as much as men say they want a normal, well-adjusted woman, they secretly crave the drama of a crazy girl -- crazy, of course, being open to interpretation. The way we sometimes see it, as much as a guy says he just wants an even-keel, well-adjusted, totally low maintenance girl, he actually craves the drama of a girly girl.

He WANTS her to be possessive. He WANTS her to be all up in his business. He even WANTS her to take a lot of time getting ready and never be able to make a decision and be generally needy.

We're not 100% sure why this is, but we guess it's either that guys get bored with normal, well-adjusted women OR that the normalcy is perceived as indifference/not caring/lack of a spark.
Some girls try to be as low maintenance as possible, but from what we sometimes see - that's not the best way to get or keep a guy.

Guys like a certain degree of crazy in their women -- just enough to make them feel needed and keep them certain that this girl is just like all the rest.

True? False? Does this even make sense??"

His answer:

True story, for sure.

The best place to find the answer to this question is to ask a girl who is the "guy's girl". She's the one that watches the game, tosses back a beer, doesn't cringe at the word "pussy", and would rather spend a summer afternoon tossing a football than laying out in the sun evenly tanning every inch of her body.

That girl will tell you the straight up answer - guys aren't falling all over her or itching to jump in bed with her.

If a guy had a choice of this girl - we'll call her Sam - or a "girly girl" - we'll call her Candy - chances are he'd choose Candy. That immediately opens up a dangerous situation, though...what if she's too girly? Is that just as bad as being too low maintenance?

Let's go with this Candy thing, for a second (let a man have some nice images in his mind, k? don't be high maintenance and just roll with it...). Alright, so if Candy is the turn-up-your-nose, big sunglasses, martini-sipping bitch that thinks she's hotter than hot, she's going to fall into a category that most guys call "yeah, I'd fuck her". But that's about as far as she gets (bless the poor guy that impregnates her and has to deal with that shit for life...)

Clearly, then, we can throw out the extremes. Obviously a girl that makes farting noises while throwing back a PBR (any Midwest folks out there?) is really narrowing the pool of guys that will be interested in her. And, the classy young woman (aka bitch) that idolizes Paris Hilton will only attract the guy with double earrings, slicked back hair, and a gold chain.

But what about everything in between?

When it comes down to it, no matter what, a guy just wants there to be a balance. No guy would turn down a hot girl that liked to chill and watch sports but still maintained her "girliness". But, the key is that the more things that she does "unlike other girls", the harder it can sometimes be to think of her as...well...a girl.

So, most guys want the girly stuff, but to a certain point. He wants her to take longer to get ready for him - that way he doesn't feel like a tool for being the high maintenance one. He wants her to be whine every once in a while - that way he can tell her to shut the hell up and stop whining. He wants her to be up in his shit - he feels wanted, and it reminds him of his primative-function of "conquering".

All of these things just kind of reinforce that the relationship is normal - the societal roles that each is playing is right in line with what the next couple is going through. And with that said, a guy can shoot the shit with his buddies and commisurate about "yeah she does this" and "yeah well mine does that". No real guy wants these roles to be reversed. It's immasculating.

Our open-ended "crazy" is good if it makes a guy feel like he's in control. He's making the decisions. He's the rational one. He's the one that feels like his girl wants him so much that she's vocal about wanting him to stay in instead of hanging with his boys. You make him feel like he's got the best of both worlds - a girl who wants him so much to herself, and the option to go have a great drunken night with his friends. It's a ridiculously good predicament of choosing staying home and having sex (assumption being made, of course...) vs. going out and having a guys night. That's the best.

With all of this said and done, you know then that you've got a little breathing room when it comes to letting that inner girl sing free (probably to the tune of some Leona Lewis song or something). But, please just chill on your obessession with the color pink and your need to talk about the latest Project Runway episodes - at least until after you've shown your man that you can shotgun a beer while watching the game.

She Posts, He Forgets...

It was going to say She Posts, He Gets Fired from ever posting again, but that's harsh, and it's really nice outside today.

Response to the "Do Guys Like Crazy Girls" question next week.

Today -- Friday reading courtesy of Pierson:


Do you have to stop having friends of the opposite sex when you get into a series relationship?

"This may seem a little extreme, but there are rules for interacting and having platonic relationships with friends of the opposite sex once you're married, according to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the host of TLC's "Shalom in the Home." Among the rules he shared on XM Radio's Oprah Radio: You can't have late-night dinners with a friend of the opposite sex. Lunches are OK, but you shouldn't order alcohol. You can't take long drives or flights with a friend of the opposite sex, even if it's for work. Essentially, Boteach believes that any situation where a married person is sharing secrets or alone with friends of the opposite sex is a "no-no" that can lead to temptation."

Thoughts from Pierson, and me on Monday. We won't forget.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

She Posts He Posts: Do guys actually want a little bit of crazy

We first explored both sides of the issue around whether a guy's "not now" means "not ever." (it means not ever).  Now for another in what, with this second posts, is now a series:

do guys actually want a girl with 
a certain degree of crazy?

The questions comes to us from Laura, Kate and Eva of Chicago. In their words (that I've edited so they don't get screwed):

"We developed a theory that, as much as men say they want a normal, well-adjusted woman, they secretly crave the drama of a crazy girl. We have a guy friend who complains endlessly about how crazy his girlfriend is (reads his email, constantly calls, gets really jealous and suspicious, and also has a bit of OCD about cleaning) and how much he hates it, yet he never breaks up with her. Our only guess as to why guys want a crazy girl is either guys get bored with normal, well-adjusted women OR that the normalcy is perceived as indifference/not caring/lack of a spark."

Do guys secretly want a more high maintenance girl?  And if so -- why?

Yes -- I think they often do -- but we need to define crazy here.  The way I see it there's general crazy and freak switch crazy.  

General crazy: calls all the time to check up on the boyfriend, insists he wear what she wants him to wear to the party, loses it the minute he so much as looks at another girl, etc.  In my observation something like 75% of girls are like this.  They occupy a category my friend Joe calls "broads."  More on that and Joe eventually.

Freak switch crazy is different.  That's checks his emails twice a day to make sure he's not corresponding with anyone questionable, calls his Mom the minute he doesn't call her back to see if she knows where he is, throws away the clothes of his she doesn't like without telling him, etc.  I believe 50% of girls would like to do all of the above but owing to self control and the law only 10 maybe 15% actually do.  (I know that doesn't add up to 100.  There's a third category Joe has defined the "broad hybrid" -- jackpot topic for another day) 

General crazy and freak switch crazy.  Both are too controlling, high maintenance and would drive me off a cliff if I were the boyfriend, but time and time again you see guys cow-tailing to the women driving these relationships instead of seeking out a more Winnie Cooper like option (she didn't quite have the spunk of a broad hybrid, but she's close)?  Why?

I think it's because the more low maintenance and un-crazy the girl the less confident a guy is in her feelings for him.  

A low maintenance more hands-off girl tends to take care of herself, give her guy a lot of independence, and not stress about the small stuff.  That can look and feel a lot like apathy if you're a less-than-confident guy.  You read, "she doesn't freak out when I don't call" as "she doesn't care."  You might think, "she doesn't care if I talk to other girls?!" as "then she's probably talking to other guys!!" Or "she doesn't want to instantly be my Mom and Aunt and cousin and female neighbor's new best friend" as "she doesn't like my family."  

Guys like (need?) to be needed.  And though most will complain about what that neediness and possessiveness looks and feels like, the alternative is too scary for most of them.  Having to question if she even needs you at all?  Wondering if she's going to leave you in a second for someone better?  That lack of clarity doesn't sit well.  You don't have to question the commitment of a girl who stalker calls you until you pick up.  There's no "is she really into me?" when she absolutely insists you switch to a full soy diet so you can live as long as possible. And I have been told that there's nothing quite as cool as your girlfriend starting a cat fight with whomever's making sexy eyes at you from across the bar.      

Is it every guy? No.  Are there varying degrees of both crazy and low maintenance?  Of course.  And does it mean turning the freak switch on is the best way to hook a full-time man?  Don't do that.  But it does explain why "those girls" tend to always have a committed guy on their arm -- maybe even the guy who was previously committed to the very low-key and easy-going you?  Yes. In my opinion.

Friday -- the male response.

Until then -- thanks Laura, Eva and Kate! And you too can have your first name and an edited version of your own words featured!  Comments, suggestions, book deal offers: 20Nothings@gmail.com.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Final Marie Claire piece: 3 people who gave up on hooking up


Thanks to all who helped with stories and info for my Marie Claire piece. The article is live!




By Jessie Rosen
Ask someone if they know anyone who's given up on hooking up and they'll say, "what do you mean?!"

As a generation of 20-somethings (some in their teens and 30s...), we've come to famously mark the start of a relationship—whether it moves beyond that or not—with a sexual act—a "hook-up." Sometimes that means actual sex, but everyone's definition is different ("I define hooking up as beyond kissing. Usually some nudity and general "handsy-ness is involved." said Lisa Lenner, a 25-year-old, LA-based entertainment assistant).

But within the dominant sexually-casual culture of "generation me" is a group of people who said, "sure—me—I've given up on hooking up." They're easier to find than you'd think and, maybe not surprisingly, their reasons for saying "no" are far clearer than most people's reasons for saying "yes." They used to hook up—some of them chronically - but now they've decided they want out of the game.

They forfeit but in their opinion, they win. Here are three of their stories.

No, not tapas -- TOPLESS


On Saturday afternoon at roughly 3:15pm my friends and I saw a topless woman frolicking around Central Park. We do not – after extensive examination -- believe this was a stunt.

Liz noticed first. We were talking about either the flawless acting career of Will Smith (which went briefly contested until someone – fine, it was me -- remembered Jamie Foxx was not Will Smith) or the brief-but-illustrious fake magic career of our friend Matt (“Oh…it’s actual magic…”). Then Liz said, “you guys I think that girl over there is topless.”

For future reference – this is a fool-proof way to end any conversation.

Katie had been watching what Liz was watching (that being maybe-boobs) and threw in her support. “Yeah, I think those are boobs.”

Four heads turned immediately in the direction of Liz and Katie’s stare. The subject was wearing peach patterned daisy dukes, long-ish blonde wavy hair aaaand potentially that’s it…

“I don’t know guys,” someone said (I can’t remember – I wasn’t paying attention to anything else at that point), “I think that’s just like a flesh-colored bathing suit top…”

“….um -- with a nipple pattern on it?” someone else said.

We all laughed for just a quick second then immediate returned to the task at hand – trying to determine if in fact a thin blond woman some 30-40 yards in the distance was in fact not wearing a top.

To provide some necessary context – the sighting occured on Saturday afternoon – that day before yesterday where you and everyone you know where positioning on one of the ½ dozen New York City parks with grass and people worth watching. Or people you thought were worth watching until you read this.

I’ve never been good at judging crowds, so I’ll say there were somewhere between 500 and 25,000 people on Sheeps Meadow.

Our subject was sandwiched between the group of 2 to 3 dozen hula hoopers who may or may not all have known each other -- the situation was very unclear. (Eddie: Maybe they all just brought their own hula hoops here independent of each other but then it was like – ‘Oh, wow, you too?!) – and the most stereotypical group of 21st century hippies playing the most stereotypical set of 21st century hippie songs (that being those currently available on Rock Band). Oh also there was this heavier gay man wearing a pastel yellow polo shirt flipping this pink polo clad pocket gay over on his arm again and again -- forgot about that for a second.

Our girl was with some European-looking men (I can’t describe it – I just know) and two little girls (maybe 7 and 10?) most definitely (also?) not wearing shirts. They -- though equally out of place -- did not have boobs and as such were deemed unimportant to the conversation.

We continued to argue untiiiiil our subject began JUMPING ROPE. Right around then it became abundantly clear. No top. Aaaand just in case there was still any question in our minds, a group of red solo cups attached to the hairy arms of the backwards-UVA-baseball-cap-wearing camera-phone paparazzi rushed by, snapped a few rolls and chugged back to their monogrammed blankets. (Ed note: a red solo cup attached to the arm of someone wearing Nantuck reds is about as discrete as a narrow brown bag in the lap of a bum. It’s to-go coffee cups or one of those new-way Nalgene’s people.)

We spent at least ½ an hour talking about this situation while it was happening, 5-10 more minutes on our walk to Levain bakery to eat the best cookies you will ever eat in your life, another 10 on the subway ride home, and then a full ½ hour more at dinner later that night. And that’s just the time were were (mostly) all together.

Apparently it’s been legal as of 1992 to be a topless woman in Central Park (and throughout all areas where men have the right to go topless so enjoy!).

If you’d asked me prior to Saturday if I thought there was any harm in a women’s right to go topless I’d have said hell no! We deserve every right that men have! But I can now say with certainty that it is absolutely crippling for a society to allow women the right to bare their breasts in public. We had four magazine, two newspapers, and months worth of catching up to do that afternoon. Instead we spent 45 minutes arguing about whether she was an A or B cup.

Friday, April 17, 2009

CHEAT WEEK: Once a cheater...


You cannot discuss the topic of cheating with that age-old maxim entering the convo.  "Well...," someone will say, "once a cheater, always a cheater," to which everyone responds, "mmmm" which translates to,"I'm not sure I agree with that, but I don't want to get into it."

Will someone who cheated once cheat again?  Behavioral scientists have been trying to figure it out since they decided to call themselves behavioral scientists.  So far no conclusive dice, but according to several recent studies like the one I wrote about months ago, the answer is probably.  That study actually suggests that people are genetically predisposed to cheating. Most others focus on cheating as a behavioral pattern -- like a bad habit.  

I don't know the answer, I'm not a behavioral scientist, and I've never take a psychology class, but here's my Communications major take: 

There's cheating and there's cheating
  • The former: you're in a new relationship that just became official but get caught up in a drunken make-out with some rando you meet at a bar.  This is cheating.  It's very bad and punishable by break-up, but it's an isolated incident.  
  • The later: you've been dating someone for 2.5 years, 6 months of which you've also been hooking up with some co-worker on "nights you work really late."  This is cheating.  It is pre-meditated, calculating, and hard work to keep hidden.  
Cheating of that variety isn't easy.  You have to hide things and lie about things and avoid people and act one way to one person and another way to the other.  You've got to really want something to go through that much trouble.  When you're cheating it's likely one of 3 things:
  • someone different than the person you have
  • more of any people at all (companionship, attention, etc.)
  • just lots of sex 
So in your head you decide one of the following things:
  • I'd rather get caught and have my relationship end than not cheat
  • I don't believe I'll ever get caught
  • I'm not even considering getting caught because I'm just too focused on sex
To which I have the following reaction:
  • If the relationship is that meaningless to you then end it
  • That is foolish and cocky which is a bad combination even if you weren't also a cheater
  • David Duchovny is recently out of what he describes as very successful sex addiction treatment and is working on rekindling his relationship with wife Tea Leoni (who I love)
What all those bullets aim to prove is that the mind of a cheater is really really suspect.  Their decision-making skills, their sense of responsibility, their respect for others, their needs and wants.  It's not a good situation up there.  I think cheating is one expression of that not-so-stable mind at work. 

If you found out a guy had been accused of stealing from his company for months would you get involved with him?  If you knew a girl lied about most things on her resume to get the job she's had would you pursue it further? 

It's not so different.  We make it different because in our minds it goes, "But he/she really loves me and so they'd never do that."  We see infidelity as an offense against a person as opposed to just an offense against honesty and honesty in favor of sex.  Time and time again cheaters say, "I never meant to hurt you" and "it meant nothing."  I believe that, but in a way that makes it worse.  At least, "I cheated on you because you're terrible in bed and I can't stand it" can be fixed (or attempted to be).  "It just happened," can only lead you to assume it will "just happen" again.  

I think you can cheat once and never cheat again.  People make mistakes.  Sometimes the mistake is two fold.  1. they're still in a relationship that inspires them to cheat and 2. they cheat.  That's not an excuse, but I do believe it's a layer of why that can change with a different relationship.  Of course I also believe that people cheat on people they love deeply and want never to cheat on again. 

But as far as cheating goes -- I believe once that kind of cheater, always some kind of cheater. 

This officially concludes CHEAT WEEK 2009.  There will likely not be a CHEAT WEEK 2010 because I can never again spend five straight days writing about cheating.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

CHEAT WEEK: Informing on a cheater


You find out via a bolded ghcat (you just go *bold* around the word) that _________ cheated on _________ aaand (insert element of story that makes it even more boldable): it's been going on for a year/she doesn't remember doing it/everyone from work saw it happen/it was with her best friend...

What's the first thing you do?

Never date that person.

It's around the second thing you do that things get tricky...

When are you under the obligation to inform on a cheater? What if you know both people in the relationship? Do you tell the cheater you know and they better deal with it? Do you tell the cheatee what went down first? Is there a male/female divide?

I polled some my-aged males and females both in and out of relationships that have and have not involved cheating. Here are some of their responses:

a 27-year-old male
  • Guys should NEVER tell a guy on a girl unless they are family, they want to hook up, or are SUPER DUPER BEST FRIENDS with the girl
  • Guys should only tell on a girl if they are good friends with the guy or they are making fun of the guy they are spilling the beans to
  • Girls should ONLY tell on the guy if they are the BEST FRIEND or family
  • Girls should ALWAYS tell on the girl
a 27-year-old female
  • I have a strict policy against ever saying anything and people know about it. Bottom line - I don't get involved in other people's relationships. If someone were like - "did you know he was cheating on me!?" I'd be like, "I had heard some things but they weren't confirmed and I don't get involved in these situations, as a rule." I figure it's easier to just have a policy. Oh -- but if it were my sister or either one of my brothers forget that shit. I'd tell them if their boy or girlfriend so much as looked at a person the wrong way.
a 26-year-old male
  • If my friend is a girl and I see her bf cheating on her, and her bf is also a friend, I'll cowardly say nothing to her.
  • If my friend is a girl who is being cheated on, and her bf doing the cheating is less than a friend but greater than "some douche I hate," then we're really in the grey area here. I bet I wouldn't say anything, -- maybe drop a subtle hint or line here and there. If her bf is someone I hate, I would delicately tell her outright.
  • If my friend is a guy and the girlfriend is a friend of mind I'd go into high-powered detective mode, kind of on his behalf but leading him down the path. "Where was Julie last night? Did she tell us she was going there? Who did she go with?"
a 25-year-old straight female
  • It's hard to say because you don't want to meddle, but at the same time if it was me I would TOTALLY want to know. And if my friends knew and didn't tell me, my anger towards them would probably just as strong as my anger towards that son of a bitch who cheated on me!
  • I think it also depends on which friend you're closer to and what side they're on. If my primary loyalty lies to the cheater...then I'd probably hold my tongue. But if he/she was the one being cheated on it might be a different story.
another 25-year-old straight female
  • I think it depends on how close the friend is and where you go your info from/how reliable it is. Very case by case. But if it were me, I'd want someone to tell me -- even if it was just a rumor. I'd want to know what people were saying about me. So, if I ever get a boyfriend again, and you hear anything bad, let me know okay???
24-year-old male
  • Due to sympathy and bro-pressure, I almost always uphold the bro code: never inform on another bro. However, some caveats: 1. If disease is involved (clear evidence of him not being careful with certain people) informing is a must. 2. If I dislike the bro a lot or really like the girl and there is evidence of lots and lots of incidents, and they are really serious, then the indirect method is sometimes permissible.
  • As for telling your bro his girlfriend is cheating on him? That's no problem. It's a bro's duty to let him know. Weird, and one-sided, but true.
another 26-year-old male
  • I am not excusing cheating, but I also am not blind to the temptation of man (general sense here), and I believe if you have true love (and these are extreme cases) then being informed by a friend might just fuck it up. In that case, in fact in most all cases, I think as a friend you have an obligation to approach the cheater and handle it from that angle.
and me
  • If this is a situation that is bound to get out, and upon it getting out the cheatee will come to you and say, "did you know about this?!" and you will feel like the scum of the earth saying, "yes, I did -- but I didn't tell you because...." then you should take action. I would go straight to the cheatee because some, "if you don't tell her by Friday then I'm going to" deal doesn't appeal to me. Doesn't mean it can't work and isn't the right thing to do; that's just me personally.
This -- like so many things in adult life -- is one of those probably damned if you do, probably feel like shit if you don't situations (i.e. attend an obligatory wedding, recommend family for a job, encourage your parents to share their inner most feelings with you). It's such a case-by-case thing that rules, even of the "bro" variety, are always broken.

My advice is tread lightly, go in with back up if necessary, and never ever tell them when they're drunk.
Agree? Disagree? COMMENT.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CHEAT WEEK: Why Chronic Cheaters Even Bother With a Relationship

Why people cheat is way too loaded a question. 

They cheat because they’re stuck in a loveless marriage. They cheat because they got black-out drunk. They cheat because they’re looking for an excuse to get dumped. They cheat because they’re addicted to sex -- all different reasons with different motivations prompting very different reactions in the victim. That “why” ends up having a lot to do with the should-I-take-them-back conundrum, but that’s for Thursday.

Today – why do people who cheat chronically and without much reservation even get into committed relationships in the first place? If it’s about the constant acquisition of diverse, exciting, sneaky sex then why bother with all the stuff that goes into a relationship you know full well you won’t treat with loyalty?

I think it breaks down to two different scenarios with a few remaining side issues (because there is nothing I love more than a bold headline followed by 200 words of copy).

WHY?

People believe they will change

I believe there is a person out there who goes in every time intending not to cheat again. They’re not proud of themselves. They’re not out to hurt their boy/girlfriend. They want to remain loyal. But like sticking to a diet, quitting smoking, or not buying shoes – it’s not that easy for some people. Yes, engaging in a sex act with another person is far more involved than resisting canary yellow cork-wedged canvas peep toes (I didn't). And no, this predisposition toward infidelity is not an excuse. It’s just meant to explain why the cheater gets involved in committed relationships again and again even though their personal stats prove it’ll end in tears. They actually want to be that loyal person in a wonderful, loving relationship.  They actually think they're going to "be better to this one."

People want to have their cake, eat it too and then also have other people’s cakes so they can eat that after/during/whatever

People who cheat because it’s Tuesday and the girl is hot find themselves in committed relationships because there are some nice things about committed relationships. It’s the same philosophy they use to regarding the cheating. Sex is fun. Sex with different people is interesting and more fun simply because it’s more. Hhmm but relationships are also kind of fun. Alright, I’ll just have one of those too!

If you’re going to have everything you want then sometimes a girlfriend is involved. A one-night stand doesn’t call you to say goodnight or buy you presents on you birthday. Assholes want it all. That’s part of what makes them assholes. Why assholes don’t realize that they’re assholes and stop this pattern of mean behavior is an Oprah episode. Regarding why they get into committed relationships full well knowing they will cheat is something I can tackle.  They do it because they want to perks of a relationship and the perks of other people while in that relationship -- just that simple. Will they ever break out of it? That’s Friday’s beast...

WAIT, BUT….

Don’t these people realize that they’re going to get a reputation for being a cheater which will result in them never a relationship?

They probably do, but for as many people as are cheaters there are people willing to date them. If cheaters never found another person to date we wouldn’t have cheaters (that makes perfect sense in my head).

People who choose to cheat aren’t wildly concerned about their moral standing against greater society.  Also they lie, so that's helpful to keeping their reputation in check.  All in all though -- doesn't matter. Questioning how a chronic cheater feels about their reputation is applying logic to a situation that is illogical.    

To me, the most interesting piece of this chronic cheating puzzle isn't why they do it -- it's if they'll ever stop.  I need a few days for that.

Tomorrow: the rules around informing on a cheater.  Warning: you're not going to like them.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CHEAT WEEK: Was It Cheating?


Cheating – much like being judgmental or looking fat in jeans – one of those things we can’t seem to self diagnose but see oh-so- easily in/on others. 

Physical cheating, emotional cheating, cheating when you’re “on a break” – it’s all the same stuff. You have an established loyalty that you break by engaging with another person in a more than friendly manner. The problem is defining “established loyalty,” “engaging with,” and “more than friendly manner.” At least with jeans there’s the muffin top test…

What follows is a break-down of the hundreds of infidelity-involving scenarios to a simpler list of infidelity-involving scenarios to evaluate which is cheating and which is just being a dick.

The Straight Cheat

You are in an exclusive relationship but proceed to engage physically with someone else without explicit permission from your significant other. Even a kiss with no tongue? Yes. What about just a sexy dance involving lots of touching on a club dance floor? Yes. So then definitely any form of feel up or down regardless of the fact that clothes are still on? Correct. Not a lot of grey area here.

The “On a Break” 

This is complicated because technically someone said, “let’s take a break.” If we’re being strict with definitions here "on a break" means the door to engaging with others is open. Someone can’t (very semantically speaking) cheat on you while you two are on a break.  Of course the terms of that "let’s talk” talk have a lot to do with how much of a dick someone is when they hook up with someone while on said break. As in: Monday – “Listen, I’m going through a really difficult time following the death of my grandmother and need some time alone.” Tuesday – “Yes, sure I will have one more funnel of Busch Heavy and then meet you back in your bed, girl who is not the girl I am on a break from.” Is it cheating – No. Is it someone you want to get back together with ever? No-er.

Strip Club Cheating

This is tough because it’s very dark in there and everyone is drunk. I’m going to defer to the very precise outline my friend Brian provided. Says Brian:

1. The "worker" touches any of your sex organs with her/his hands, mouth, or sex organs. This obviously includes overt sex acts (intercourse, oral sex) and explicitly outlaws hand to penis contact, even if it occurs outside clothing.

2. You touch the worker's main sex organ (penis, vagina), even outside clothing.

3. There is any kissing whatsoever, even if not on the mouth.

Everything else is fair game. Notice that there is a biological double standard here as this definition allows for a guy in a strip club to get a full contact lap dance and touch T&A, whereas there's not really an equivalent for a female in a male strip club (unless you consider male pectorals to be equivalent to female breasts). It also allows for a guy in a strip club to get a lap dance and ejaculate during it, whereas I'm nearly certain that there's no way, under the rules above, a woman could get a lap dance from a man and have an orgasm. If she can, then I gotta meet the guy who did it. Notice also that it explicitly outlaws any participation in a "rub and tug" massage parlor. At that point, you might as well be visiting a hooker

Thank you Brian.  Agreed on all fronts. Also – quick word to the women.  If your loving and loyal boyfriend goes to a strip club with his buddies for an occasion (i.e. bachelor party), don’t badger him about what went on, what the girls looked like, if they were hotter than you, if he got a lap dance...list goes on. Let it go. You’re not going to like anything you hear, regardless of how PG it is. On the contrary – if your seemingly lovely and loyal boyfriend frequents strip clubs because it’s “what the guys do on a Thursday night” – break up with him.

Friend-Cheating

This one’s tough – for me especially. I posses of arguably too many close male friends that I haven’t yet and won’t ever date -- not maybe men I secretly wish I was dating -- just friends (stop looking at me like that -- you know who you are). 

Because we’re very close we talk often, see each other a lot, and share many inside jokes/secrets. It would never be cheating for one of them to take me to dinner if he was in New York on business. It also wouldn’t be cheating if I went to one’s apartment to lounge on the couch and watch a movie. But these friendships start to cross a line into “not cool” territory if the platonic male/female friend set is spending more and more significant time together than the actual romantic couple.  If one of these friends clearly and frequently picks me over his girlfriend.  Again – not cheating – just not nice or respectful of the other girl and definitely not a good sign about her staying power.

Flirt Cheating aka "But Nothing Even Happened"

You – a girl with a serious boyfriend -- are at a bar on a crowded Friday night. You start to make eyes with someone across the room who soon approaches. You two strike up a conversation that goes on for a considerable amount of time. The guy buys you a drink. You giggle a lot. Inside your head you think – oooh does this guy like me? Cheating is an outrageous accusation considering “nothing even happened” – which is exactly what you’ll tell your boyfriend when one of his friends sees this go down from across the bar and reports back. Bottom line, it’s not nice and it’s not loyal.

But like Liz says, “I think as women tend to be more emotional, we get upset with little things and consider it cheating. Flirting mainly as it is emotional is considered cheating by women in a relationship but the guy doesn’t think it is that big of a deal i.e. last week’s Hills episode. However if the situation were reversed the guy would flip and consider it a big deal. I think this harkens back to the boys will be boys mantra but for women it is devious and terrible if they were to talk to another man in a way that could be considered flirting.”

Which brings us to the very grey area that is Emotional Cheating

It’s like Brian the MVP of this blog post said – “I judge emotional cheating with Justice Stewart’s old characterization of pornography: ‘I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.’

I won’t go into the endless details (incessant gchat convos, sneaky plans to end up in the same place, buying of very special gifts for a person) that can comprise emotional infidelity. I’ll just say this – if you found out someone was engaging in those same actions behind your back would you call it cheating? Would you be upset? Would you question their love for you? 

And, the ultimate test -- if it's really nothing then would you tell your significant other about every little detail involved in your relationship with this other person?  If your answer is, "no -- they'd be absolutely crushed and we'd have a huge fight" bad sign.  If the answer is, "no -- my girl/boyfriend is so possessive that I'm not even allowed to be close to my sister!" badder sign.

Cheat (v.): to deceive, deprive, mislead, elude, to act dishonestly, to violate rules...the definition goes on and on.

In a way – if you’re even questioning an act then there’s some element of dishonesty and disloyalty involved.  Why it happened, what it means to you, and what you plan to do about are three whole others issues (to be discussed...THIS WEEK...on CHEAT WEEK), but at the end of the day -- it doesn't matter who defines it as "cheating" and by what standards they've made that call -- if it makes you feel hurt, surprised, betrayed, deceived, and much like-a-fool then it counts in your court.

Tomorrow: why do chronic cheaters even get into committed relationships in the first place? 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cheat Week: it's not like that

As you should know -- the Discovery Channel has this TV event they call Shark Week.  It's a week of almost all shark programming, all the time, because people are fascinating with sharks and there are endless really clever ad campaigns you can come up with based on this idea.

 After last week's post encouraging audience participation I received very-close-to-a-number-that-rounds-up-to TEN emails regarding issues surrounding the Pandora's box of a topic that is cheating. 


And so -- in the spirit of Shark Week -- we'll have 
CHEAT WEEK

Each day following today (because yesterday was Easter, and I ate pizza rustica to the point where I could no longer type) -- we'll uncover a different topic in the wild world of cheating:

  • Why do people who chronically cheat even get into committed relationships?
  • What are the rules around informing on a cheater?
  • At what point -- even without any touching-- are you emotionally cheating?
  • How far can a bachelor party go before it's crossed the line into cheating?
  • Do you/should you/would you leave a cheater?
Friday is a ways away, and I only came up with this idea yesterday, so if there are angles you'd like explored or stories you like to share -- please send through to 20Nothings@gmail.com. 

We start tomorrow with: Was It Even Cheating? (probably)

Tune In. All Week. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bad Dates vs. No Dates


From time to time we meet a person that we connect with, but not in an instant, overtly, 8.2-minutes-and-we're-in-love way.

Every once in a while that person will follow up via one of the approved electronic devices and we'll start a dialogue that we enjoy but don't obsess over in that sorry-I-could-have-sworn-I-felt-my-blackberry-buzz way.

And on occasion that person will harness up the chutzp to ask us out on a date or something very much like a date (though I fully maintain that two people attending a planetarium show in the evening without the accompaniment of a child are on a date).

It is at that moment -- following those circumstances -- that we find ourselves at a cross-roads, (cross-roads, cross-roads). Should we or should we not go on a date with a person with whom we're damn near 100% sure we have no romantic interest?

To clarify - sometimes the situation is very unclear -- sometimes you're not sure how much the person likes you, how on-the-fence you are about them, or what the potential backlash will be if this crashes and burns. In those circumstances you go because dates can be fun and people can be surprising and chances are you were drunk when you met this person so you're really in no position to make a call one way or another.

But sometimes the situation is clearer than you want to think. Sometimes you know it would take a lot of, shall we say modifications for this person to become a person you actually want to date. And sometimes you know full well that they'd switch their profile pic to one of you two in a hot minute if you'd just say yes. In those circumstances I advise - with experience -- that you do not go because of a number of reasons I will address shortly.

First -- regarding the issue of the situation being clearer than you want to think it is.

We get lonely and want companionship. Our friends start dating people and we want people to date too. We hit a particularly long dry spell and think maybe our standard or goal or eye-sight is just way off.

Or sometimes it's as simple as -- we think dates are always very fun and exciting. We can finally wear that dress that we "bought for dates". We will share stories and drink wine and sit by candlelight and have a reason to put up vague status messages (note: they're not vague). 

No shame -- we all do it. We romanticize the date to the point where it's about the date and not the other person on it. "I'm going on a date!" we say. "With who?" someone asks. "Some rando," we say. "Oh where did you meet him?" they ask. "I'm wearing a dress!" we say.

I'm not chiding -- I'm transcribing a conversation I had with a person who asked me those questions.

In our heads it's like that itch to just go see a movie.  "I'd really love to go see a movie..." we think.  Then low and behold some friends calls and says, "I'm going to see Madea's House -- wanna come?"  In reality, no -- never -- why are they still making those movies.  But at the moment, maybe -- I would like to have some popcorn and sit in that dark theater with my knees up and my phone silenced.  If it's so terrible I can just leave -- or sleep.  So: "Sure, why not," we say.

Problem is -- dates are not like movies (even when they involve movies. that's a technicality -- stay with me).  Dates are like live sessions with people you have to talk and listen to before figuring out how/if they're going to kiss you and then call you back.     

And with that we (finally) arrive at the point: bad dates leading to awkward situations you have to slither out of because you never had any interest are worse than no dates at all.

I support being open-minded and trying everything once and giving people a shot, but not when you know deep down you're not interested.

Think of it this way. Would you rather have a person with no legit interest in you agree to go out with you once leaving you with the incredible hope that they might really want to date you -- or would you rather they duck out politely before it goes anywhere?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Important Health Advice



This hit the gmail forward circuit late yesterday afternoon. Like most things -- it's funny because it's true.
Back to real posts tomorrow.

IMPORTANT HEALTH ADVICE FOR WOMEN

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?
Do you suffer from shyness?
Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Margaritas.

Margaritas are the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions.

Margaritas can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Margaritas almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living, with Margaritas.

Margaritas may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Margaritas. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are
encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include:
- Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration
- Erotic lustfulness
- Loss of motor control
- Loss of clothing
- Loss of money
- Loss of virginity
- Attraction to the same sex
- Table dancing
- Headache
- Dehydration
- Dry mouth
- And a desire to sing Karaoke

WARNING:
The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

WARNING:
The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.

WARNING:
The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to think you can sing.

WARNING:
The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

There's No "I" in Blog


When I don't know what to write I usually yell from my desk (read: bed) across the 12-14 feet that make up my apartment to Geanna's wing (read: room) something to the effect of, "I need something to write about!" And then, using an indoor voice because we're a kiddie pool's distance from each other, she says, "hhmm - well ______'s friend ______ is going through a really bad ______ with some ______." And we go from there.

This, though a wonderful source of bonding for us (and our neighbors!) -- is no way to fill a blog.

Time for audience participation. As of late you've been commenting like you have strong opinions, valid questions, and better grammar than me (I?...).

Send stories. Ask question. Suggest topics. Post links.
20Nothings@gmail.com

You can be anonymous. You can be shamelessly self-promoting. You can be one of my sisters (or Dani-the-commenter who has the same name as one of my sister).

As you may have noticed there is a box at right labeled "Followers" featuring 1x1" pictures of people who follow this blog via its RSS feed -- a piece of online technology I understand about as much as the sub prime mortgage crisis and why they ever stopped making Pure Moods CDs.

It creeps me out for a number of reasons, paramount among them the 1x1" picture of my Dad on it, which inspired Pierson to leave me the following voicemail, ..."Dude - when did your Dad become a real estate dealer?"... and also because, much like the Mona Lisa, I feel its/his eyes follow me as I write with a look that either means, "I'm just so proud..." or "did you really need to say 'fuck' right there?"

But since the blogger people call then followers, and I note that the only people who have followers they don't listen to are Kim Jong ill and Mark Zuckerberg (give us back our perfectly square pictures!!!) I've decided it's time to open my arms to my people in a spirit of I'm going-to-eventually-run-out-of-shit.

Help me help myself help this blog so it can help you (and yours).
Comment or email: 20Nothings@gmail.com

People often ask why I started writing this blog

This is a way better answer than the real one....


"The jeers spiked ever since the March 22 announcement on her blog that this divorced mother of two adult sons, stalwartly single for more than 20 years, is engaged to a commenter known simply as “Meade.” Except for her closest readers, the blogosphere was taken by surprise."


"The tale of Meade and Ms. Althouse is a cross between the studiedness of a Victorian epistolary courtship —a modern-day Robert Browning googling his dear Elizabeth Barrett — and the wackiness of 21st-century life online. The Althouse commentariat would log into the virtual local pub of the blog, gossiping and fantasizing about their queen’s offline love life, and even egging the couple on. When the announcement finally came, the commentariat cheered, bursting with hometown pride that a humble, anonymous son of the Internet could win the hand of the blogger."

"Intellectually smitten, Mr. Meade read Ms. Althouse’s blog daily, becoming a regular commenter. “He would write jokingly as if he was in love with me,” Ms. Althouse said. “You couldn’t tell if he was fooling around or not, but it warms your heart.”

"Emboldened, Mr. Meade wrote privately to Ms. Althouse. After he offered his social security number, in case she wanted to run a criminal check, they made a date."
"Mr. Meade plans to move to Madison in August, when the couple will become legally wedded blogger and commenter. Knox, the commenter who sent Mr. Meade on that first movie date, sobbed with virtual joy: “Couldn’t be happier for two people I’ve never met!”


I'm just saying...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You can't date standing up

Over a year ago I wrote about a first date habit I couldn't break:

"I realized last night that I do a strange thing when I’m trying to get to know someone. I imagine them in all sorts of random life occurrences as if they’re some character in a series of young adult books: Andy Goes to the Beach, or Andy Takes a Road Trip, or the more telling Andy Attends a Funeral.

I take what I know about the character in question and apply it to the imaginary event. How would they act? What would they say? What would I think? I realize two hours with a person provides little indication of how they would behave at, say, their first Boston College Football Game, but I surmise none-the-less because I am a. a girl and b. a freak."

It was a problem for a lot of reasons - namely that you can't really make those calls based on how the guy orders dinner and if you zone out while someone is talking you miss important things they say and subsequently come off like a bitch who isn't paying attention when you're actually a freak paying way too close attention to invisible things. Those two things are very different.

Well I'm pleased to report that I've since broken that habit and replaced it with a new, potentially worse one.

I now find I treat first dates like personal stand-up routines involving only one audience member and the constant interruption of a wait staff -- also I'm usually sitting, unless a given joke calls for movement.

I can't say exactly when this started, but I'm thinking it developed following my date with the guy who answered every question by repeating my same question with an inflection that turned it into a statement:
  • Me: So have you been busy lately?
  • Guy: Have I been busy lately...
  • Me: Wow -- that's too bad -- do you have mostly contract work going on?
  • Guy: Do I have mostly contract work going on...
  • Me: Oookaayy... -- you hungry?
  • Guy: Mmm - hungry!
After that I decided I needed to go in with material. Not "jokes" in the traditional sense -- more well-told stories highlighting my finer qualities and inspiring the other person to laugh a lot.

I know what you're thinking.

Jessie -- don't be so chronically hard on yourself! -- sounds like you're just opening up, sharing your life, and making the date like a very fun two-person party.

True, yes -- thanks Dad -- but see, I test this material out, sometimes extensively, and then once finally on a date I'm so excited to use it that I find myself awkwardly shoving it into conversation in a way that makes me seem like I'm either not paying attention or have perhaps rehearsed a very specific powerpoint-style date presentation. What's actually going on is both those things at the same time.
  • Guy: So I started out in dividends research but now I'm doing more personal finance management.
  • Me: Hahaha - funny because I recently went to my accountant who took one look at my credit card statement and said, "you'd make more money if you just worked at the bar..."
Apparently I'm not testing extensively enough.

I realized this was a real problem on a recent first date with an incredibly interesting guy. He had a lot of incredibly interesting things to say that did not end in punch lines -- interesting job, interesting background, interesting hobbies. As such I did a lot of listening and asking of follow-up questions. But I found that with each even more interesting answer he delivered I 2/3's listened intently and 1/3rd tried to find some way, any way to bridge from his response to one of my bits. Things like this were going on inside my head:
  • Hhmm, San Diego -- that's not far from L.A. where I had that friend who started that web project and asked me to write that thing which I did only to find out I wrote a story he'd heard somewhere else already because my pre-school boyfriend was his grad school classmate. HA! That's a good one. I could probably work that in now....shiiit he's on to San Francisco -- too far....but there was that...
This is gross. And not just because none of the above example are actually funny.
I figure I'll grow out of it in time -- much like I did with the first, first-date issue. Let's just hope that happens before I tell some really promising guy a stolen joke centered around a totally unbelievable story that you'd never even image could be possible -- unless of course you've already heard it from someone else.

  • Me: HAHAHA. I mean can you believe that?!?! He left the O out of COUNT in an email to the entire New York office!!!
  • Guy: Actually, yeah -- that guy Dave in your story is my cousin Dan -- and it wasn't all that funny when he had to go for six weeks of sexual harassment training...
(note: yes it was)