Friday, May 29, 2009
You seem to be a little bit confused about what I like to call "the way things work up in this piece."
See you -- the bangin', bi-racial daughter of a famous black R&B musician are supposed to engage in some variation of the following: be hot mess, get knocked up by someone with tatoos in the dumbest places, disappear for a few years then come back with a KMart kids clothing line.
You are not supposed to date the intellectual savior of Obamanation. John Favreau is ours.
You get the Hollywood people. The John Krasz-on-the-Office's, the Used-to-be-Zach-Slater's. You understand them and their overwhelming vanity. They understand you and your face. The rest of us just can't leave work every other week to go lounge around in St. Tropez. Also we don't have publicists who call them and say, "Hi Guy-from-that-show-Castle (in loooove...), Jessie would love to grab a drink with you next week."
And so the world goes round with you dating its celebrities and us dating it's really smart people with 9-5 jobs.
I know John Favreau is among the greatest brains of our generation. I know he is the kind of writer that comes around once in a metaphor stronger than blue moon. I also know he's done all that at the really-quite-perfect-for-me age of 27.
That's why I studied my ass off through high school, got into a top notch college, and honed all sorts of necessary skills so I could eventually end up with someone like him (if not actually him).
What have you done in the past -- oh -- ever -- to deserve to be on the right arm of this perfect man. Appeared in The Office?! Or that movie where Jason Segal gets naked? You appear on movies where non-models get naked for no reason and then go date the guy who wrote the innagural address. How daaare you.
Break up with him. It's only fair. I promise you'll have no trouble finding a replacement. Then the rest of us can go on believing that if we could just meet him in a bar somewhere and regale him with our memorized recount of all the state senators (alphabetical by state) he'll be ours.
Also -- who does you hair? So cute.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Back to this issue of the "Generic Me" that John brought up last Friday.
There is -- like it or probably not -- a one to two sentence description our friends use to pitch us to people who may want to date us (that's after they get through the physical description).
- "Oh you want to know about Amber? She's cute, brown hair, pretty tall and thin -- and she's the assistant to a movie producer. Hates the job but meets awesome people." Hello, Amber.
- "Yeah, sure I'll introduce you to John, he's great -- ibanker by day but also does all this cute volunteer stuff." John: defined..and redeemed.
- "Mmm Rebecca? Well, cute girl, but she's currently unemployed and generally dates assholes." Sucks for you Rebecca.
I'm no stranger to the effects of the "Name : Description" game:
- You know my friend Jessie -- the one who writes that blog all about dating and relationships? Um...yeah, sometimes she writes about people she dates, but don't worry -- she only does it if they're real assholes -- usually.
- You should meet my friend Jessie. She looks a lot like Minnie Driver, loves to walk around the city, and has shoes for every occasion.
And so since we can't hide behind our one-sentence selves we must "campaign" to friends, family, co-workers, and laundry ladies to encourage them to pitch our best selves.
But Jessie! -- you say to whatever you read this on -- that's deceitful...putting on airs...manipulating the truth!
Relax. It's just guiding the outlets broadcasting your specific message (that being who you are in two sentences or less) to achieve your desired response. Lost? Good.
I recommend the following methods to inspire others to make you look good when they talk about you:
- Drop subtle hints by describing yourself like you want them to describe you. Example. You: "So Jill told Adam that I was an energetic media person who loves good food and online news portals. Isn't that exactly the way you'd describe me?! I just thought it was so perfect and, as such, really liked Jill more than I ever have before so I gave her a nice gift." Adapt as necessary.
- Ask directly under the cover of a personal image overhaul project. You: "I know this is going to sound weird, but I'm really trying to focus on volunteer work more, so I think it would be helpful if you always describe me to people -- or guys -- or, you know, whoever -- with a focus on that community involvement angle because it'll help put that idea of me into the universe more. Make sense?" If they challenge this tell them it is a part of "The Secret" and that if they don't do it they won't ever get anything they want in life.
- Barter -- very hot right now. Make arrangements with key contacts that you will always describe them in a given light if they return the favor. I, for example, have expressed to certain friends that I will never mention how they act when drunk if they don't immediately reveal that I judge all male dating behavior via an online column.
- Be better. It could be that people give you bad review because you're not (currently) that great. If you're a real asshole or a generally lame person people will probably share that with their friends who (for some reason) want to date you so you don't dick those friends over. Maybe if you try to be a better person and do some great (good even..) things your friends and colleagues will be able to talk about those things to others. Simple logic here.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I was chatting with friends this past weekend when the relationship issues of a couple not present came up and under judgement. This tends to happen when groups of people I know get together and drink alcohol.
Someone was saying they wished ____________ and ___________, as two successful, attractive, youthful people had more obvious love and romance in their life (sex). That it’s a shame they don’t love each other like they should and deserve to be loved. Someone else said that not every relationship is so overtly filled with passion/romance/sex all the time. That they may actually love each other more than some people who have overtly passionate relationships. That, after a certain length of time, the sex/passion gets detached from the bond/commitment. You don’t need one to have the other. It ebbs and flows.
We went back and forth like this for awhile because we were drunk and one of us is in law school – but the bottom line became that the person arguing this couple’s relationship was unfortunate because of its lack of sex and passion was expecting too much out of committed, romantic (read: married) love. That his position was obviously young and inherently American.
Do American 25-year-olds (a mental age that can sit anywhere from 20 to 35…) expect too much from romantic love -- and more specifically marriage?
Well - step one - what do "we" expect?
Ring a tune?
I think some of us – wisely or not – expect different than that. Not more (“and that we’ll never question our decision to be with that person ever”) or less (“that we may choose someone because of lifestyle plus love, not just straight head-over-heels-ness”) but the majority of hoping-to-be-marrieds are after the whole package. No one sets out to be a C-list celebrity.
But to say that’s “too much” is to suggest it’s not possible – or highly unlikely. Managing our expectations about committed bliss after the 5, 10, 20 years is the smarter bet. To go in expecting challenges and unhappiness and maybe years without sex because -- well -- Icarus got burned.
I was drunk, but I think the person arguing for the flight to the sun was saying that the less you expect the easier you slip. Take a pass/fail class and you’ll likely damn-near fail. Go in wanting just enough out of your life-long partner and you’ll get that if not slightly less.
I don’t know the answer, but I’m not sure it would even affect the expectation. We know that 50+% of marriages end in divorce. We know research shows some of the happiest and most stable couples come from arranged marriages in places like India. If there was a Cool-Aid to drink it might actually support never getting married at all.
And yet we end relationships with loving, stable med students because “it just wasn’t there.”
Is that American? Is it 25-year-old? Is it wrong or is it right?
In 40 years who will end up happier? My friend who argued that you can consistently have it all or the one with a less rose-colored approach? And how much will that happiness have to do with their position going in?
Friday, May 22, 2009
I enjoyed your take on our conversation, save the cringe inducing, Carrie Bradshaw voiceoveresque quote about rose petals. Let me respond with my take on things.
First, there are “dude cycles.” Any twenty something guy will go in cycles as to what he wants from women. Mine, and I would guess many other guys’, goes like this….
So Jessie, this brings us back to your question about if things had changed.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
There will (has?) come a time(s) when you will be faced with whether or not to send a follow-up email to a guy/girl you (thought you) hit it off with, subsequently emailed and have since heard nothing from.
Subject line: Just wanted to check in
Really fun meeting you that other night at _________________. Thought I’d be a little brazen and reach out again just to say I had a really great time with you, so let me know if you want to grab another drink sometime. I know you have my number from that night, but just in case I gave it to you wrong or something – I’m 555-2222.
Hope you’re having a great day!
I’m sure it’s been crazy at work for you, but just wonder if you got my email 1.5 weeks ago and have any interest in the drink we talked about extensively when we met and spent the entire evening together. No worries at all if you’re no longer interested, but could you just drop me a line to let me know so I can confirm in my mind that you’re not an option? You could just say, “Hey, sorry, going to be totally busy over the next few weeks” and I’ll know what that means because everyone knows what that means.
Subject line: Hi :)
Just checking in to say hi again. Loving the gorgeous weather, right?!
Hope all’s well!
The I'll teach you a lesson
I get that you’re not interested in hanging out again because you haven’t returned my email in close to two weeks. But my thing is, don’t say, “you’re really great, we should get drinks this weekend” if you a. know for a fact that won’t happen or b. think there’s a chance that won’t happen. If you know for a fact please stop talking to me and walk away. If you think there’s a chance say, “give me your number, maybe I’ll call you sometime.” But to say “we should get drinks this weekend” and then not respond to an email for 2 weeks when I know full well you have an iphone is just weird. Don’t do it.
The CW show character
Subject line: No subject
Super fun getting to know you that night back at Chance’s party. I think I totally dropped you a line afterwards but cannot for the life of me keep things straight these days!! Anyway – drinks! Soon! We’re sooo much fun together, with alcohol.
Subject line: So this is crazy...
So, I get this email the other day from this person I’m helping out with a freelance writing assignment gig – not important – but anyway, she’s all, “per my email blah blah” weeks back” and I’m all “wait – I didn’t get an email from her…” So I call the tech guy who looks at my inbox system thing and figures out I’ve been all jammed up weeks and not getting all these random emails! Then I realize I’d tried to send you an email after we met and though, crap! he probably thinks I’m a total asshole! But see it’s the computer that’s the asshole – haha – so here I am again just saying hi…and the night the other week was fun…and we should get a drink sometime, you know, if you’re interested!
Let me know! Oh – and maybe call me or text me too just in case this computer goes haywire on me again! 555-2222.
Subject line: Thoughts
So I know I sent you that email awhile back seeing if you were interested in getting a drink, but I’ve been thinking about it and I just think now isn’t the best time for that. I mean, if you were planning on us doing that we still could, but I just wanted to reach out and say not to worry about it because things are just crazy for me right now.
So – yeah – let me know what you were thinking. I’d hate to cancel if you’d made, like, a mental plan or something – but just let me know because no worries if you hadn’t yet.
Subject line: FWD: Hey there
Please see the below email dated 1.5 weeks ago.
Let me know status!
Subject line: King of Leon tickets
Hope you’re doing well! I know things are probably crazy for you, but I just wanted to reach out to let you know that I scored two insane tickets to Kings of Leon this Thursday night. I remember that night we hung you were saying you love them, so I wanted to see if you were interested in going. We can just call that our follow-up drinks – haha.
Let me know!
The moral of the story
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Maybe you’ve seen these posters around your respective cities?
They haunt me. I see one at least once a day in whatever subway station I find myself.
Things I know: PlentyofFish.com is this free online dating site that's giving the other online dating sites you pay for a run for their money. Apparently it was started by some guy as an experiment or business school project or something. He runs it out of his house with like his wife or neighbor or an alternative persona that’s actually just him. He claims that, "its matching algorithms and technology is unmatched, we are the only dating site capable of generating matches in real time. At 26 my algorithms and their results were cited in the Nobel Prize of Mathematics (Fields Medal) paper." I don't really understand that, but it sounds extremely official. Also places like Forbes and BusinessWeek have written about it, so that's something too.
That sums up what I know to date. I have yet to try PlentyofFish.com because I remain scarred from my latest experiment with match.com (no, PartyArty625, I don't want to meet up in Astoria for Indian food because it is in fact NOT the food of my people!). Plus I think this hot pink poster campaign with its "we delete users unfit to date" claim is a crock.
Of course, if I’d figured out how to eliminate people unfit to date I’d have some posters made up too. Or just a really stable relationship and so fuck the posters...
I have taken some significant measures to figure out exactly what this means. After my calls, letters, and emails to the Mr PlentyofFish man (woman?) went unanswered I went to the site and found this code of conduct policy explaining who the site deems unfit to date.
As I suspected -- crock:
- you will keep all information provided to you through the Service as private and confidential and will not give such information to anyone without the permission of the person who provided it to you;
- you will not use the Service to engage in any form of harassment or offensive behavior, including but not limited to the posting of communications, pictures or recordings which contain libelous, slanderous, abusive or defamatory statements, or racist, pornographic, obscene, or offensive language;
- you will not forward chain letters through the Service;
d. you will not use the Service to infringe the privacy rights, property rights, or any other rights of any person;
- you will not post messages, pictures or recordings or use the Service in any way which
Verdict: Plentyoffish -- not to be trusted.
But back to this issue of determining who's fit and unfit to date. This would be helpful -- very helpful. If I’d had previous knowledge of certain people’s lack of dating fitness I’d have avoided starting or perhaps stopped trying to date them. But – and this is very big of me to say – unfit to date me and unfit to date are potentially different things. Guys I’ve branded unfit have actually gone on to successfully date other girls…aanndd guys.
Is there a person out there who is guaranteed to screw you over? Probably. Some guys are players. Some girls are liars. And vice versa. But I tend to believe that’s all just circumstantial until the right person comes along.
To be completely unfit to date you’ve got to really have something going on. Recently divorced? Yeah, should probably take it easy for awhile, but what if it was a long time coming and he’s already moved on? Small time crook? I mean not the man for me, but what if some female small time crook is looking for a con man mate? Pathological liar? I’d agree that is a problem, but who’s going to admit that to some online info fields?
I'm not saying I don't have a dating dealbreaker for every letter of the alphabet (3 for "s"...), but could I deal with S, Short if I came across a more important deal enhancer like M, Musically inclined? and H, Handy? I'll get back to you on that. You get back to me with what circumstances you think make someone undeniably unfit to date, anyone (20-Nothings@gmail.com)
In the meantime -- feel free to vandalize that PlentyofFish crap whenever you see it.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The focus of her talk was on the tent poles that defined her journey – those cross-roads or decision moments where her perspective changed – by her choice or not – and everything from then on shifted.
At 45 you can scan back and evaluate all the parts that have lead to your whole. You can say – “there, right there was when I really knew I want to be a ______________.” Or, “now that I’m through it I can say that _______________ gave me strength to know I had to _____________.” And, “If I’d ______________ before I _______________ I never would have _______________.”
At 25 there are less than a handful of things I can turn back and say something like that about. I have learned lessons. I have overcome obstacles. But the biggest decisions I’ve made so far have been what to study in college and where to move once I graduated. I’ve since stuck with my chosen industry...and my chosen apartment.
But according to the speaker I heard last week – that’s all about to change.
I am (we are?), she explained, lingering in phase one of the three phases of adulthood. From about 18 ‘til now we’ve been in what’s termed the “experimentation” phase. Life is, for the most part, one big test lab. Yes we’ve put some stakes in the ground – gotten expensive degrees, invested time in a given career, experienced serious relationships – but it’s all still open to negotiation. We are only responsible for ourselves. If an opportunity abroad came knocking, we’d say, “what have I got to lose?” If we were miserable in our jobs we’d say, “I have no reason to stay in this field.” If things got rocky we’d break up and our Mom’s would say, “thank god they didn’t get engaged.” We are transient. And when you’re transient you do things like buy four new pair of shoes in a week because looking great at several upcoming cocktail parties actually seems a smarter investment than an extra 200 bucks in your Roth IRA.
Pretty soon though, the speaker warned, it will be time for phase 2 – foundation.
Foundation is where you start to freak out about the fact that 50% of your friends are married and or own property. You have likely surpassed the age you were when your parents had you (aanndd your first sibling…) and yet you still can’t fit your summer and winter clothes inside your apartment at the same time. And so you start looking at that maaaaan in the mirror and asking him to chaaaaange his waaaaays.
It’s tends to start with having kids and end with heading up charity organizations, but suddenly who you are to the world you’re leaving behind becomes more important than who you are to that existential self – that 25-year-old self who just wanted to be happy and motivated and fulfilled by personal successes. The legacy portion is where we calm the fuck down and realize no one will remember how late we stayed out from '07-'09 or how many cool restaurants we had on our "been there" list.
I was starting to feel like a real asshole – albeit in adorable new yellow canvas wedges -- as the speaker finished up explaining the legacy portion of her lifeline talk. Seems it’s only a matter of time before the ghost of experimentation’s past is going to arrive in the night to burn my new set of summer scarves and show me what happens to girls who don’t save 10% of their pay?
Apparently, the timeline wasn’t the point.
We do it in steps – experimentation, foundation, legacy – because we can’t generally see the forest through the martinis. We’re here and now people. Followers of jumpers off bridges. It's just easier to have one motivation at a time -- especially when right now it's about experimenting...
But the point of the three phases is that you're supposed to do them together. You’re supposed to keep experimenting while building a foundation with an eye toward our legacy. Yes it gets harder and harder to overhaul your career the older you get. Of course people come into our lives to make it less “all about us.” But this attitude of “I have to pack it all in now before it’s all over” is dangerous. It makes us do things that weaken our foundation and tarnish our legacy – two phases we can’t stop from arriving no matter how hard we experiment.
No – the talk didn’t change my life overnight. There was this straw hat I totally couldn’t resist at Urban Outfitters that I absolutely do not need. But now I have one of those wise-sounding phrases to add to the talk I’ll give someday.
“I remember hearing this speaker talk about the three major life phases when I was around 25,” I’ll say, “and I knew then that I had to change the way I think about where I am today and where I want to be someday.”
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
He’d return calls and texts (eventually) but not really initiate. He’d agree to dates and plans but never take it beyond a good night kiss. He seemed interested but after several weeks of no real moves it was pretty unclear.
I’d given my friend the advice I usually give in circumstances like these.
But my friend is a more committed person than I. He liked this guy. And more importantly – if the answer was “no, not interested” he wanted to hear that before he gave up. “I’m very stubborn,” he’d told me the last time we were chatting about it. “I’m not going to give up on this so easily.”
With the former you’re protected – as in, you never have to hear “I’d really prefer we just be friends” but you have to deal with the gnawing question of, “did I just give up too easily? Did he/she think it was me who wasn’t interested?” should I have said, “hey, I’m really interested here, where do you stand?”
I want to stand firm on my “if you have to ask then the anwer is no” policy. And “you won’t know if someone is really interested until you leave the ball sitting in their court.” But people from the other camp – my friend included – ask why I don’t just want some piece of mind. You’re way too quick to give up, they say. If you really, really liked a guy why wouldn’t you keep going until you were sure there’s no hope?
Honest answer – because that set-up holds the potential to make me feel like shit and I make it a point to mitigate all potential feel-like-shit opportunities. If on Monday I text you, "hey let me know if you're up for doing something this week" and the following Monday you text back, "hey, sorry, was swamped last week" I'm not concerned about how you feel about me. At that point I don't like you.
Monday, May 4, 2009
- You: Yeah, so he seems really incredible – like a really great guy.
- Your Mom: Hhmm, that’s great. Why doesn’t he have a girlfriend?
What you’re really thinking goes more like – I know!!! I don’t know, but I have a pretty thorough mental list going. Right now I’m leaning towards – "has been very focused on career" with the possibility of – "divorced parents instilled cautions about quickly slipping into relationship." But what do youuuuu think?!?!?!
Or better yet this:
- You: So yeah, we’ve been seeing each other for awhile – I think I really like this one.”
- Your friend: That’s so great. So what’s his dating history like?
- You: You know, he hasn’t really had a serious girlfriend beyond his high school girlfriend.
- Your friend: Oh…wow…and he’s 28 you said? Wow. Does that concern you?
Gut instinct for me -- the latter. Clean slate just seems safer. Maybe he was a little nerdy in high school and a little focused in college but now he’s finally coming into his adult own? Maybe he comes from a family of sisters so was raised to be particularly picky about his women? I'd rather deal with those intangible maybes than very tangible former girlfriends with names and faces and jeans sizes.
I admit there's something a little hhmm about a guy or girl who hasn’t been in a committed relationship in their technically adult life? With a chronic dater at least you know they have it in them. They can handle the motions, make the decisions, deal with the issues. Impossible to know how many times it was real and how many times it was just a here-and-now deal, but practice makes perfect, no?
Is our call on this matter not – I wonder – all just a reflection of ourselves and our own dating history? So say I'm of the “not much history at all” set (which is what you would if you knew me). I haven’t, in what we can consider my adult life, been in a relationship that I took home for Thanksgiving. I have yet to “meet the parents.” In my mind my lack of practice doesn’t make me a liability – it makes me a picky person (who lives in Manhattan). But what does it make me to the male world? A girl who doesn’t know how to be a girlfriend? A girl who doesn’t make relationships a priority?
For as many times as I’ve gone, “yeah, he’s great – but he’s just always needs to have a girlfriend – any girlfriend.” Is someone going, “she’s fantastic, but for some reason never has a boyfriend – you’ve gotta wonder about that…”
So - do you’ve gotta to wonder? Is there any significant difference? And if so then shouldn't there be some concrete numbers around it? Like a person with x amount of relationship under their belt is y percent more likely to succeed in long-term relationships, typically but not always on the z'th relationship.