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non-relationships

Remember that time I kept bringing up my ex, and how in “love” I was? Oh, like, here and here. Well, even though I still believe he should be considered an EX, I’m embarrassed to finally admit to myself that the “relationship” was never nearly as serious as I believed it to be at the time. And by “never nearly” I mean like not at all.

I can count on one hand the number of times I actually SAW the Ex in the year that we, for lack of a better term, dated. Four weekends, to be specific, not counting the two weeks we spent abroad as part of a group. That and sporadic Gchat convos on the order of a few lines several times a week for a year. As for phone calls, they were so rare that I actually felt OVER THE MOON when we had like-for-real conversations chatting on the phone. Why did I think this was a relationship and that it had the potential to become something real??

Even though I feel like a fool for having made up something in my mind that was clearly a dead-end fling or whatever it was, I can only breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over, and that I didn’t do something completely inane like move to the city where he lives. And, I’m happy to report that the fauxmance was definitely a case of temporary mind-cloudedness; I’ve met several interesting guys in the last few months that I’m enjoying just getting to know, without like, pretend-dating them.

Have you ever tricked yourself into thinking a casual relationship was something more? Tell me!

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To say that at 28 years old I’ve learned not to waste time on a guy who’s not clear in his interest and not actively pursuing me would be COMPLETELY true. As in, I’ve totally learned that lesson. Put it into practice? Umm…

Yeah, so there’s no point trying to pretend I’ve not sunk to the depths of patheticness when it comes to this guy. (He’s not even worth a cute nickname. Jerk.) We’ve been off and on for over a year now, but it’s definitely time to pull the plug. Because, this last time, he made actual plans with me for this weekend (we don’t live in the same state and he travels a lot for work, so advance planning is a necessity). Three weeks pass, not a single word. No response to two in-the-meantime texts I sent. (I SEE YOU LOGGED IN TO SKYPE!)

“Let me know that you’re still coming!” I wrote in a very pleasant, very passive-aggressive email. Because, you know, weekend guests need to be planned for. Food bought. Place cleaned. Work schedule adjusted for airport-picking-up.

No response.

Four days later, beginning of this week, my Saving-Face-Email (still pleasant, even more passive aggressive): “Hey, since I didn’t hear from you I need to assume you’re not coming, because now I don’t have enough time to get ready. Too bad! :(” (Sad face is the ULTIMATE in this one-sided exchange’s passive aggression.)

NO RESPONSE.

I am pissed at him, at THIS, at myself. I’m beyond disgusted at myself right now. So, desperate measures requiring dire circumstances, I’m giving up any and all contact with this guy for Lent. I figure that a 40-day period should do away with whatever warped bond I feel to this guy who’s been stringing me along for a year now.

Maybe not the holiest of goals… But I’m not Catholic anyway, so whatever.

Remember when I wrote about the new site Cloud Girlfriend, and how it was still in testing mode and not yet live? Well, it came to life this week, and it’s a little different from the original spin.

Even though the name of the site hasn’t changed, girls as well as guys can now sign up for the service free of charge. Not sure what made them go in another direction, but turns out the site will NOT be doing stuff like posting on users’ walls and the like (in order to, as they originally aimed,  boost one’s dateability and appeal in the eyes of prospective interests).

Here’s the twist- Cloud Girlfriend’s new mission is summed up pretty well in one of the changing taglines on its homepage: “Cloud flirting. Practice here.” Shy of actually signing up for an account and putting it to the firsthand test (sorry! haha), what I’ve gleaned from articles is that it’s basically a romantic fantasy world. You know how you create an avatar of yourself if you’re playing a video game or Wii? You do the same thing here except the avatar is idealized to your heart’s content-your ideal physique, looks, dream job, everything. The site then matches you up with someone whose idealized self is compatible with your fake self. It’s the beginning of a beautiful faux-mance!

With Cloud Girlfriend’s updates, the good news is that now you no longer have to worry that the gushy and overly attentive posts on your crush’s wall were in part fabricated by him or her. The bad news? I just don’t see how engaging in romantic fantasy is going to help a shy person get better at real relationships, as the site’s founders are touting. Even if two users form a true connection despite the walls they’ve created with false personas, they still have to let down all their hangups and insecurities. It’s hard enough to do that in real life!

And I have to admit, even though I thought the original premise was kind of weird, it was certainly original. (This just seems like a dating version of a Facebook app!) But hey- you never know.

Readers: What do you think? Does interacting with others under avatars help you beyond the game-playing role itself?

Have you ever wondered what kind of first impression you give? And, are you good and quick at reading others right away? I mean, you know the old saying, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, blah blah blah. We all grew up with that somewhat depressing adage, more as it relates to landing a job than anything else, but obviously it applies to dating, too.

According to a survey by Match.com, more than half of all singles can tell within 15 MINUTES if a date isn’t going well.

Yikes. That’s fast. You know what I’m thinking within the first 15 minutes of meeting someone new?

Hmm, this is a nice place. (Or not.)

What am I ordering? I’m STARVING!

Should I go with appetizers and a meal? Or just one big meal? I’m hungry. (Did I mention I like eating?)

Am I asking enough questions?

Wow, whatever he ordered sounded good. Hmm…should I change my order?

Was that a pop culture reference? Crap, it sounds familiar. Do I pretend I got it or ask what that meant?

Now, granted I’ve mentioned before that I suck at conventional dating…the meet-today, date-tomorrow type of thing. So, if I only get 15 minutes, I’d better work on my first approach. (Or, my non-approach?)

Obviously everyone is looking for different things, not just in a potential mate but also the type of relationship they’re seeking at any given time. But with over 50% of singles saying they can tell where the date is headed within just a quarter of an hour (which isn’t even enough time for the appetizers to come out!), it begs the question: what does 15 minutes really tell you? Is that really all it takes? Maybe I should stop focusing so much on the food…

I’m sure we can all agree–there’s a lot left unsaid when we come to rely on non-face-to-face and nonverbal communication. Technology makes it SO easy for us to simply screen our phone calls, hang up without leaving someone a voicemail, and just stick with texting, emails, Facebook back-and-forths, and Tweets. But–these gadgets of convenience might just leave lots of room for missed chances.

I just finished the book “Save as Draft” (Simon & Schuster, February 2011) by writer-lawyer Cavanaugh Lee and I loved it. The book chronicles the romances and related comic (and often not-so-comic) missteps of a female lawyer whose relationships are wholly affected not just by the emails sent between her and her friends, but also the ones that they write but save {unsent} in their Drafts folders. Lee touches on something really unique to our modern technology-saturated age: are we overthinking it? Sometimes the things we DON’T say are the things that could have changed everything…for better or worse.

I’m definitely guilty of doing it. Except I never let an email sit in a folder addressed to someone unless I know for SURE I’m going to send it. I have typed out venting emails in a fit of anger (or sadness, panic, despair), but if I have ANY doubts about truly sending it, I’ll be proactive and make sure to put my own email address in the “To:” field before typing–just in case I accidentally hit ‘Send’ instead of ‘Save’!

Lee’s “Save as Draft” is clever, creative and modern (the entire book reads as emails, text messages, Facebook posts, and Tweets between the protagonist Izabell, her best friends, and the men in her life), and a quick, fun read. Writers will wish they had written it!

Do you save, edit, and delete often? Has technology made it too easy for you to NOT tell someone what you really meant to say?

Do you ever take a step back and think about how far you’ve come in your dealings with the opposite sex and relationships since, say, high school? Heck, since college even? Er, since the last year? You should! You might be surprised.

Right now I’m in the middle of a very painful and the-end-is-nowhere-in-sight project: cleaning out my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house. There’s so much crap that I don’t know what to do with it! I’ve been selling stuff on Amazon for the last month like crazy. (The people at the post office recognize me now.) Still, I feel like I’ve barely made a dent. What stays, what goes?

In the process, I stumbled upon about two dozen journals that unabashedly chronicle (with the obvious angst and embarrassing detail) my journey from age 11 to 22. Middle school to college grad. Only a few will I keep, but before I shred (burn, destroy, ANNIHILATE) the ones that are just too loathsomely silly to make the cut, I’ve taken the time to peruse them. I’m glad I did. Because even though I’ve had to readjust myself from the perpetual cringe I found myself in, I’ve determined that there are definitely some gems of lessons I’ve learned since I was that self-conscious adolescent:

1. You Really CAN’T Hurry Love
Diana Ross, and then Phil Collins, were spot on.  I spent my high school and college years trying to start things that were never meant to be. I over-romanticized what was in front of me so I wasn’t looking at reality correctly. I rushed because–what? At 16, 19, 22, I thought I knew what love was? And I might as well pin down “The One” as soon as possible? Love comes on its own timing. And you know what? Getting to know someone, and taking things at a painstakingly slow pace really eliminates all that getting carried away with idealized fantasies thing.

2. Having the Last Word is Highly Overrated!
You do have to choose your battles. And if you’re gonna be any good at healthy relationships, you always need to look for the high road. Besides, the one who gets the last word is usually the one who gets eaten up inside waiting for a comeback…

3. Love Isn’t a System You Can “Hack” Into
A strong, lasting relationship is hard work. There will be plenty of non-communication, miscommunication, and totally wrong timing. You just have to deal with it. No matter how many relationship books I read or compatibility quizzes I fill out, I know now that you can’t take those things too seriously. Love is not a game you can win by reading some tricks and tips. You get better at it as you become a more real, authentic individual. Men and women might be quite different, but you eventually have to stop relying on the public wisdom and move beyond male/female stereotypes. Learn to read the other individual. (This goes for everyone in your life, not just romantic partners). Don’t rely on generalizations and never underestimate your gut!

4. Boys Will Be Boys
OK, so I just said not to generalize, but until I meet any guy who doesn’t fit this bill, here goes. A guy will try to get away with whatever you let him get away with. Sometimes he’s being a jerk, and sometimes he’s testing you to see how you take it. It might be intentional, or it might be just for fun. Learn to tell the difference and put your foot down (nicely) in either case–it will help you separate the bad ones from the keepers.

5. _____ Isn’t Everything
Looks, money, religious views, political alliance, whatever. One thing shouldn’t break an otherwise really awesome deal. You really have to be willing to be broad-minded and dig a little deeper. Chemistry, knowing how to manage whatever amount is on your paycheck, how he treats and speaks of others, whether he knows how to go vote–those things are much stronger indicators of romancibility and compatibility.

6. The Biggest Time Wasters? Asking Questions When You Already Know What Answers You Want AND Worrying About Things Out of Your Control
Never ask anyone for “brutal honesty”. They, especially guys, will give it to you.  The rule of thumb: unless it’s a facts-only question, anything with potential responses that you’ve already categorized as “acceptable” or “best answer” in your mind is a NO GO.
And as for worrying, well, if you can limit that to things you can reasonably put on a to-do list and NOT on the what-ifs, you’ll do yourself a huge favor.

It might not be pleasant, but your past can really be an eye opener. I think I’m finally getting into that more comfortable, wizened stage of knowing who I am and what I want. The who and the when and the how might still be grey and hazy, but that’s OK. One thing at a time!

Tonight is one of those nights. One of those I-feel-like-I-might-be-single-forever-and-die-alone nights. (There’d be a cat finding my body in that equation too, were I not allergic.)

Not to be dramatic or anything. I think it’s actually just impatience at long overdue (consistent) spring weather, as well as the culmination of a lot of life-churning decisions and changes taking place behind the scenes.  Too much cold weather plus big changes = need for a movie to make me sob and/or wax optimistic.

It’s a tossup, but my go-to movies rarely change. I’ll usually pull out Ever After for a Cinderella story (so befitting for the times, right?) or The Mirror Has Two Faces (I truly, truly LOVE Jeff Bridges!). If I were feeling especially melancholy, I might choose the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan classic Sleepless in Seattle. Luckily, it’s not gotten THAT bad yet…

Hmm…these movies go back to the late 1990s. (I hope you readers have at least heard of these movies I’ve mentioned!) Is there really nothing a tad bit newer that can keep hope alive for a late twentysomething single gal?

Movie suggestions please! What do YOU watch when weather, big changes, or the unknown bring you down?