Person or Prop?

It was really fun putting out the online dating archives” series last week. Yesterday, when I didn’t write or put anything out it was suddenly weird and I wished I’d done something. Plus, I’ve been thinking of lots of obnoxious dating stories now and I can’t get them out of my head. This story is pretty mild on the scope of my dating-hell spectrum, but it was a meaningful lesson I’ve been mulling over recently and I wanted to tell it.

So, I was at this party with a group of friends–mostly guys–and one of our other friends shows up already kind of tipsy.

He’s this really smart guy–very eloquent and outspoken. He’s a pacifist, a feminist, and an intellectual. We’d been on a huge road trip together and talked about how much he loved his girlfriend and what he was doing to make sure lines of communication were open between them. I wasn’t the only one who respected him, but a lot of the guys in our group did. He elevated the tone of a lot of our conversations from just quippy banter to being really meaningful and eye-opening.

So he comes in, gets a drink, sits down and starts talking to me about his relationship with his now wife. He got married about two months prior and it’s not going well. No one else is in this conversation, it’s just the two us and I’m understandably a little uncomfortable. At the same time, this is a friend. I’ve met his wife. I know him. I know that I’m not going to do anything with this guy. You don’t give a drunk guy his car keys and you don’t mess around with a married guy when he’s hit a rough patch. But he needs to talk enough to put me in this awkward situation, so I’ll let him talk. If we’re both lucky he won’t remember he said any of it and I don’t ever have to tell his wife I knew they hadn’t had sex two months into their marriage.

Because that’s where it goes. And I keep telling him that they’ll figure it out and it’s difficult for some people to get past the shame, but you’ll make it work and it’ll be okay because you’ve told me how much you love her and she feels the same way about you.

Finally, someone wants to do shots and it’s an excuse to be a part of the group again.

I’ve got my shot and we’re waiting for a few others to be poured and suddenly his hand is on my ass. Not a grab. But it’s an unmistakable invitation.

If it had been anyone else I would have given him so much shit in front of everyone. But this was my friend too. He wasn’t in a good place.

So, I didn’t do anything. I just stood stiffly and waited for him to get the message. And he did. And he didn’t bother me about it anymore. Not that it kept him from making that mistake later.

And I’m upset. And I want to talk to a friend. But my friends are all here and I can’t ever tell anybody.

So, this other group of friends arrive, and with them, the guy I’ve been sleeping with. I was clear about wanting a relationship. He doesn’t want to be exclusive because he thinks that’s just the first phase in my plot to marry the shit out of him. And he’s been hurt before so  he just needs that space. So I didn’t push it, but every time he gets drunk and saying, “you’re so fucking pretty, you’re so fucking pretty, god, you’re so fucking pretty” like a goddamn parrot, I end up with him. So, I’m sleeping with him, because he gets horny when he’s drunk and I’m an idiot who thinks he thinks I’m special somehow.

Anyway, his group is here and I’m sober enough to know I want to be home, but too drunk to drive.

So, the guy I’m fucking and 3 other guys are going to a second location and I don’t care that I’m out of their way, I want to go home.

They drive me home. I get out of the car and start walking to my place and the boy I’m fucking gets out. He wants to walk me to the door.

Now, this is the first time he’s even seen the condos I live in. He’s never so much as attempted to take me out on a date. Once, he joined me at a coffee shop when he was applying for a job at a company my friend worked at and he wanted some tips on interviewing for the position. He doesn’t care about my well-being. He cares about our friends thinking he cares about my well-being.

I see all of this and I don’t want him to walk me to the door for this very reason. I tell him to get back in the car and go. He says he’s worried about me getting into my place safely (which I’ve been doing every day for 6 years). I tell him I don’t need him to walk me to the door. He says he’s already doing it so why don’t I just let him do it? So I let him walk me to to the door. He’s walks too close the whole time. I let my posture go “cave-man” and surly like an angry muppet.

He gets me as far as the top of the stairs and I say that that’s far enough. He doesn’t know why I won’t just let him walk me to the door.

I say that he’s never been there before and that I don’t think he cares about me. I wish I’d said that I thought he cared more about what type of person his friends thought he was that the type of person he actually was.

Instead, I said I didn’t want him to meet my dog. He likes dogs and my dog is awesome, so I don’t want the boy I’m fucking to meet him.

I imagine when he got back in the car he made some comment about bitches being crazy.

It was the night I realized I wasn’t a person to some people who I thought were my closest friends. I really thought that we cared about each other, but I wasn’t even a character in their lives. I was a prop. I was a thing they acted on to feel good or to feel good about themselves.

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My online dating archives (part 6: LAST ONE! Trust me, I saved the best for last)

Alright, friends, this is my last one and I’m glad to be done with this series. Reading through this shit again has brought me back to remembering just how thoughtless people can be. EVEN PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO IMPRESS YOU. It’s crazy when you think about it.

So, you’ll want to buckle up for this last one. It’s pretty long partially because this guy does not know when to move on and partially because I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know when to just shut my mouth and block a guy.2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 01

Okay, the stats don’t look great, but let’s take a look at what you’re all about….

OkCupid 27   M   Provo  Utah

Okay, so it’s obvious to anyone who has ever met me that this guy is not the guy. This is the exact opposite of anyone I would even willingly hang out with. This one is a no-brainer.

And of course I’m already wary and annoyed. When someone like this contacts me I can’t help but think that they want to change me. They think that I just haven’t put enough thought into my decisions and beliefs and that they’re so smart! If they just talk to me about why everything I believe based on my own experience and thoughtful consideration is wrong they can change my pretty little mind.

I think all of this, but still, I try to be polite when I tell him I’m not interested:

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 02

“I’m sorry you’ve had the misfortune of dating that kind”? What kind? I didn’t say anything about why I don’t date LDS guys. Did you even read what I wrote?

Of course there are pushy opportunists in any subset of men, but that was never my issue dating a Mormon. Also, this kind of interaction with the occasional LDS guy is normal. I usually clarify my position with some version of the following explanation and they kindly bow out without incident:

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 03

He just insulted me on every point.

First of all, I should throw my “not dating LDS guys” rule out because if I were using my “common sense” I’d just be able to see that he should be the exception to my rule. It’s like he didn’t even hear me tell him about the experiences that brought me to that decision. Again, great listener and thank you for invalidating my experiences.

Also, notice that he says he has, “absolutely no guilt when in comes to talking about sex.” Not the same thing as having sex. Did he think I wouldn’t notice?

And the implication that having sex makes people whores with STDs who could have dozens of illegitimate babies and cheat all the time? He’s never heard of contraception or doesn’t know how it works or, believe in it or…..something? If I tell him that fairies make up the largest condom factory worker’s union in the United States and the primary active ingredient in ortho tri cyclen is magic dust would he believe that they worked?

And, to top that off he calls my decision to not have children “selfish”. Not taking into account that I might have a better idea of what my strengths and weaknesses are than he does and that I might know what I’m interested in and where I want my life to go. No, all people should want children because who is going to take care of all the babies if no one is around to make them?

Looking back on this, I don’t understand my restraint at this point:

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 04

Calling it an “eternal romance” is, again, the creepiest possible thing to call a relationship.

And I love how his tone says, “Okay, I guess you don’t want this delicious eternal romance. More for me…”

So, I should have just dropped it, but there is something wrong with me.

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 05

What I said up there? I meant it. It’s good advice for anyone willing to take it.

But what I failed to remember is that people don’t really want advice. Even people who solicit it.

Notice how he counters my “girls are people too” speech with a completely different angle:

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 06

Something tells me that his criteria for identifying “trashy girls” is whether or not they reject him.

And on the surface, there’s this glimmer hope that he wants something more than a vapid blowup doll to spend his days with. He SAYS he wants a warrior princess but at the end of the day, he’s never seen a real woman in his life and he never will if he doesn’t delve deeper than the surface-level tropes he categorizes them as now.

As fun and easy and satisfying as it is to say, “Bitches are crazy” to excuse behavior toward you, it doesn’t get you anywhere. Our behavior can be explained and sorted out, but so few men bother to try.

I also love how he seems to forget that I mentioned I was a feminist in my profile and feels I need his advice on how to best empower myself. He thinks women should behave like the female characters [and magical ponies] in popular media that he likes.

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 07

Excuse me? Did you just fucking say that after I asked you to consider attempting to think about women as nuanced, complex, multi-dimensional beings? This is the moment I can feel myself starting to lose it with this guy….

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 08

….I said I wasn’t interested kindly for the 3rd time.

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 09

“I’m a missionary so I’m pretty much used to the idea that some people aren’t going to be interested even if what I have to offer is exactly what they’re looking for.”

That line rings in my head all the time actually. Not many boys have said it outright to my face, but the sentiment is under the surface in a lot of interactions.

That I wouldn’t be interested in the church is inconceivable to a lot of dogmatic members. Sure, there are lovely parts and parts that I’ll remember fondly, but as a whole it was impossible for me to be happy there. I earned my stance on the church over years of praying and tears and hating myself. I earned it. Anyone who says The Church has something that I need that nothing else in the world can provide doesn’t know what I need.

And I tried the whole, love-can-conquer-anything-who-cares-if-our-belief-systems-don’t-coincide thing in my dating life. I’ve put up with so many boyfriends talking “at” instead of “to” me about why they are right and I should think what they do or be more like what they need without making any compromises on their end. I have done my time putting up with the cheating, abuse, neglect and sheer stupidity of some really spectacular jackasses. I know what I need in a relationship from experience. I earned it.

This fuck-face. This stupid, patriarchal, white male privileged boy who doesn’t read, or listen to any of the words coming out of my mouth wants to tell me what’s good for me…..

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 10

I’m not the slightest bit sorry.

2012-06-18 OkCupid   Convo - 11

Well, there’s no arguing with crazy. At least I know that my insolence has been forgiven :)

And, honestly, I feel like time is the best avenger. His profile name was actually really close to his real name and I reverse-looked up his profile pictures on Google images and found his Facebook account. Yes, as of writing this, he is still single.

Self-respecting women: 10; This guy: 0.

Revisiting all of these stupid interactions has made me want to take a minute to say to my boyfriend, Dalton, how really really super-duper grateful I am to have him in my life. He did not get me in mint condition or even at a time when I could devote a lot of energy to a relationship.

He’s significantly younger than me, which was a huge deal-breaker. Age is only a number if you’re not immature and selfish, but Dalton is neither of those things.

I let my guard down because I saw how he was with his siblings and how much they love him and want to be around him. And I fell in love with him when he was willing to be in my life with me and invited me into his. I remember being so unsure the first time he suggested we to go to the grocery store together to pick up some stuff we both needed. It had been like pulling teeth to get other boys to get off the couch for anything. They’d rejoin me when I was doing something fun.

One late night in 2013 I sat on his couch listening to him talk about the book Fight Club; how it got him through the hardest part of his life and helped him form his personal manifesto. I guess to most girls, a guy telling you they’ve based their life philosophy on a Chuck Palaniuk novel should be a cue to start rifling through their purse for pepper spray and backing out the door slowly, but I was just grateful he was willing to be honest with me about his feelings and where he was in his life at the moment. It was honest. The good, messy kind.

My sister was getting married and we were selling our house, so Dalton came over to help me paint. We had the window open and it was raining softly outside and we listened to Kendrick Lamar, Angel Haze, & Reggie Watts and he thought it was funny I liked that kind of music. It was this beautiful, fun mundane.

The first time he ever took out the trash, I was so grateful I cried. I was so overwhelmed in those months and the house was a mess and he just jumped in and did something.

I usually had to be up for work earlier than he did and he got up to make me coffee and eggs on nights I slept over at his place.

It was all of these things, these tiny things that made me trust him in spite of myself. It’s this kind of thing that makes him so lovely to be around on a day-to-day basis. How could I not love him?

And he just continually proves himself over and over. A lot of guys preach about wanting to have a strong, fiery woman, but don’t understand that at times, that fire is going to be aimed in their direction. It’s not always butterflies and rainbows and every argument teaches us how to do it better, but he doesn’t just give up. He doesn’t try to manipulate me by threatening to.

I love that he doesn’t take shit from me either. He calls me out if I need to be and challenges my perceptions of issues I thought I was settled on from time to time. I mean, I don’t love it in the moment, but I’m still grateful for it.

He knows that it’s work to be in a relationship. Most people do. I’m just happy that he’s willing to actually do it when we hit rough patches.

Anyway, I guess my  point is that there’s hope? And if you’re looking for love try not to over-think it. And don’t under-think it either.

Just, don’t be a jerk.

 

 

My online dating archives (part 5: Self-deprecating AND demanding…where do I sign up?)

So, let’s say you open your inbox to this message one day:

2012-07-04 OkCupid Convo

My first reaction was, “What an ass.”

And then I was like, hey, maybe this is his sense of humor and he’s actually clever and endearing when you get past his sass. After all, I say terrible things to my loved ones because I’m a sarcastic fuck of a human being and they trust me not to be legitimately over-the-line mean and I trust them to know that it’s my sense of humor and not take me seriously.

So I was like, I’ll read this guys profile. Maybe he’s trying to find a like-minded sarcastic fuck and we’d mesh okay in real life. So, let’s all take a brief moment to enjoy his profile which 2012 Jessica had the wherewithal to screenshot. (*High five, girl!*)

OkCupid Profile  42   M  Idaho

This man is an American treasure.

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being a little self-deprecating every so often, but this guy is painting himself as bringing nothing to the table and THEN presenting hilariously unrealistic criteria for any carbon-based sentient being that might be itching for the privilege of basking in his ineptitude.

Also: No health insurance + wants to have a kid + doesn’t like people = the origin story of a “Criminal Minds”-esque serial killer whose first victims are the neglectful, narcissistic parents.

This is what I said:

2012-07-04 OkCupid Convo

I seem to have lost my shit and all faith in humanity. Boys will do that to you sometimes.

My online dating archives (Part 3: If she doesn’t want to date me there’s only one possible reason)

I have to admit, this one is pretty bitchy. But again, the majority of these messages I’m responding to give no indication that the guy read my profile at all. And responding to between 30 and 50 messages a day in a way that was thoughtful had turned into a maddening task.

2012-05-20 OkCupid Convo

2012-05-20 OkCupid Convo

And, there we go. You look fine. I didn’t say anything about what I want my ideal guy to look like. You are a smoker though, and you can’t tell me why you think we’d be a good match based on the information given.

And those smart-ass comments you took offense to at every opportunity? That’s my sense of humor. That’s me trying to salvage the conversation to make it something that’s remotely palatable for my sensibilities. It’s what I do to make sure you’re paying attention because you can’t dial-in a meaningful conversation. If I’m going to take time to compose thoughtful responses to your messages I don’t want to be getting back the same painfully boring homogenized correspondence you’re sending out to everyone else. I’m a person. I’m a person. I gave you all the tools to see that I’m a person.

You can respond in-kind and we can joke around or you can take the fact that I didn’t react in the exact way that you envisioned as a direct insult.