Newly single…and liking it?

Before we get to my post, just a quick blog announcement: since we started Stupid Cupid over a year ago, we’ve always referred to our dates by their first initial. This was easy and effective enough in the beginning, but it’s come to our attention that this practice is now confusing as shit. It’s simple math, really: there are a finite number of letters in the alphabet, and apparently an infinite number of douchey single guys. The longer we date, the more repeats we’re going to have. We can imagine what a pain it must be for you guys to keep everyone straight while reading about our shenanigans. I mean, I recently dated a D, and then co-blogger D dated a D, and then both of those Ds dumped us. It’s like a 21st century Abbott and Costello routine. So, to quote my co-blogger:

D: TOO MANY D’S UP IN HERE – WE’RE SWITCHING TO NICKNAMES

Damn straight we are. From this point forward, all new dudes we go out with will receive a nickname, probably based on a noticeable characteristic or a funny anecdote, but I make no promises as to the consistency (or, frankly, the fairness) of our naming practices. To avoid further confusion, dudes we’ve already written about will still be referred to by their initials; as you’ll see below, D who dumped me is still D (you narrowly missed receiving a nickname containing the words ‘nerd’ and ‘stalker’, sir. You’re welcome.)

We hope this will make things less confusing for you guys, and we’re pretty sure this nickname thing will be an enjoyable practice for us as well. Spoiler alert: the first bachelor to have a nickname bestowed upon him is a guy co-blogger D went out with last weekend, and his nickname involves Japanese food. I assure you, the story behind the name is delightful.

**End blog announcement**

The dust is settling on my break up with D two weeks ago. I’m still processing things, but that initial sting of rejection (which was really more like a punch in the gut) has faded into something more like a dull ache. On a whole, I feel better, but that also changes day by day (and even hour by hour). Last week I was feeling really good about the whole thing; almost obnoxiously so. People were like, wow… you seem to be doing great! And I was all…

everything is awesome

Yes, I saw the Lego movie. I told you, I dated a nerd for months.

Anyway, last week everything was awesome, because the weather was gorgeous and I had a ton of fun plans to distract me. This week, it’s been torrential down-pouring, and there’s essentially a tumbleweed rolling across my Google calendar, so I’m a little closer to this than I’m entirely comfortable admitting:

500 days jack500 days getaroom

I miss D, even though we’ve been talking. I promise you, “talking” is not a euphemism for anything. We’re genuinely trying to figure out this friends thing, which has been really nice in some ways but also confusing as hell, because I think neither one of us knows exactly how to act towards one another now. The boundaries are different, and the dynamics are different, and it’s…fucking weird. When we agreed to try to remain friends, I told him I reserved the right to change my mind at any point if I started to feel differently, and I’m still playing by those rules. If I wake up tomorrow and am all:

ron burgundy

then we’ll call it a day. PS you might be interested to know the results of our little poll: 36% of you keep in touch with your ex(es). Okay, well that makes me feel a little less crazy for trying this. Then again, 33% of you answered “hell no”, so there’s that. Anyway, the experiment continues, and I will keep you all posted.

D also informed me last week that he read and loved both of my posts, which made me cringe ever so slightly. It’s one thing to know that he’s going to read them, and it’s another to receive actual confirmation that he did. After I published part 2 of my post, this fun little exchange occurred:

D fazed

Uhhhh apparently it’s 2003, because…

http://corporateplantationworker.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/punkd.jpg

Is that the most Aspies thing you’ve ever seen in your life? WHO DOES THAT? I reminded D that I had been really understanding and gracious about the whole being dumped thing, but that that goodwill only goes so far. Translation: do not poke the bear. The dumped bear.

Even though my mood this week has been what some might call “unique”, I have had some time to get used to being single again. And while in some ways it sucks a big huge fat one and I hate the world, in others it actually doesn’t feel bad. It even has its moments of being (dare I say this on a blog where we complain about being single 24-7?) sort of nice. One thing I’ve learned about being in a relationship, even a good one, is that you invest a lot of time and emotional energy into another person and the relationship as a whole. This is/was wonderful in many ways, and in a great relationship what you get back in return of course makes all that effort more than worth it (ugh low point, I just mentioned ROI on our dating blog. Please accept my sincerest apologies). But this particular relationship wasn’t working towards the end, and in hindsight, I really did feel kind of drained, and also like I was neglecting myself a little bit. I’m not saying that D was needy or demanding or that this was his fault, because clearly it takes two to tango. I’m saying there’s a little bit of an exhale happening that I’m actually kind of enjoying.

So, with that in mind, I’m making a concerted effort to look on the bright side/think positively/not be a perpetual Debbie Downer about this break up. Even as I typed that last sentence, I secretly thought…

the fuck does that mean

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that positivity of any kind is a fairly foreign concept  around these parts. Be that as it may, I’ve decided to give it a try, because what the hell? Here’s how I’m looking at it: having more free time and freed up energy is an awesome thing. I have more time to do shit just for me, figure out what I want next in my life, chat up my friends more, maybe find a fun new hobby, write, and just…chill. I hope this doesn’t come off as some smug Eat, Pray, Love bullshit, because God I hated that book…

mindy eat pray love

Basically I’m picturing the next weeks/months of my life as a breezy dream where this happens:

ina garten

Why yes, Ina, I’d love to.

So… besides not having a house in the Hamptons, here’s the issue. You may recall that I stayed on Okcupid the whole time I was with D for blogging purposes. I changed my status from single to ‘seeing someone’ (which of course did nothing but attract cheating losers instead of single losers) but wasn’t talking to anyone. After D and I broke up, I changed my status back to single, because, you know, accurate. I expected to get a slew of visitors and an underwhelming flurry of one word or unintelligible messages from random douchebags, which don’t worry, I did. It didn’t occur to me for one second that I might actually get a good message, because, I mean, have you been reading this blog? Good messages are like unicorns: they’re rare, they’re mythical, and they appear to only exists in books, movies and our imagination. 

You know where this is going, right? I got a good message. Actually, a great one. I clicked on the guy’s profile, half praying for it to be awful or illegible or insane. But of course, nope. At first glance, this looked to be someone I would be thrilled to go out with: smart, funny, interesting, and cute. You know, basically…

unicorns

God. Damn. It.

In my almost two year career as a part time online dater (and full time pessimist), I’m pretty sure I can count ON ONE HAND the number of times I’ve gotten a really good message from someone with a nice, normal profile who was also taller than me and appeared to be cute. Dismayed, I sought L’s sage advice. We decided that my options were:

  1. Ignore the message completely
  2. Write back explaining that I’d just gotten out of a five month relaysh and am not ready to date yet
  3. Write back normally and see what happens

Option 1 was vetoed immediately, because hi, do I have to make that stupid unicorn analogy again? I’ve seen the dating pool, and let me tell you, shit is rough. I wasn’t about to ignore something promising just because of bad timing.

Option 2 seemed to be the most up front, but something about laying my sad breakup story, even a super abridged version, on a total stranger screamed bad idea/wild over share. Also, one message from someone is absolutely no guarantee that you’ll receive a second, and I decided if I bore my heart to this dude and he didn’t respond, I might ACTUALLY kill myself. Mama can only take so much rejection. Thus, Option 2 was vetoed.

Which left… write back normally and see what happens. I did, and I got a response, another great one. At that point, it was actually surprisingly tempting to just say fuck it, keep a back and forth going and see what it led to. I mean, flirting is fun/boys are cute/distractions are tempting/validation is intoxicating, particularly after you’ve been rejected.

Don’t worry, I quickly came to my senses.

cher

I knew, deep down, that if I pursued this dude or frankly any dude right now, it would be 1. way wayyyy too soon and 2. for all the wrong reasons, namely a distraction from the D stuff. I’m in no way ready to get involved with someone new, and also, the last two people I’ve been involved with had both recently gotten out of super serious relationships, and that turned out to be the source of most of our problems. I mean hello, I got dumped in part because D still had feelings for his ex, so I have firsthand experience with people who jumped back into the game too early, and it’s not something I want to perpetuate. So…

I sent the cute guy another message, laying it all out there, and asking if I could contact him when I was ready to date again. To which he said yes. I don’t know when that will be, exactly, but for now I’ve got plenty of DVR and dreams of channeling The Barefoot Contessa to keep me occupied.

 

Ask LSD: How do you follow up after a date?

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about our bad dates. Why?

1) They are usually more hilarious.

2) It serves as therapy.

3) We want to make sure we are providing the ladies of the internet with some cautionary tales and advice. We can’t get those several hours of our life we spent hearing about movie theater etiquette back (and, btw, what do you think my A would have done if he encountered S’s D in the movie theater? National Guard? Court Marshall), but we can prevent sistas everywhere from falling for the same tricks.

That said, we’ve been fortunate to have some very good dates as well. And, in a way, the good dates are a lot more nerve-wracking than the bad ones. When you meet a guy you never want to see again, you walk away and it’s like, who cares? In fact, you’re often delighted because 1) The hellish experience is over 2) you’ve got a good story to tell your friends, or, our lucky case, our wonderful readers.

barney gif

But, when you meet a guy who you think, “Wow, I could actually like him,” that’s when the anxiety really kicks in. What to do next? Well, first, you call your friends on the walk home, and the conversation goes something like this:

S: How was your date?

L: It was actually prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttttttyyyyyyyyy good. He was really nice, and he made some good jokes. And he laughed at my jokes. And he was a generous tipper.

S: Oh! Sounds fun! Get it girl!

L: I mean, he also had a small bald spot and he mispronounced Oregon, like, 3 times.

S: Hmm…

L: I mean, whatever, I’ll probably never hear from him again and that’s fine. I don’t care. Hey yo I’m still not a player but you still a hater.

S: What’s happening right now? Are you quoting Big Pun?

L: Yes. I’m drunk.

Second, after you appropriately debrief not only your friends, but your coworkers, your neighbors, your barista, and your hairdresser, you start to hear the inevitable question. “So, are you gonna go out again?” Or, “Did you say anything to him after the date?”

Good news, friends! We’re here to offer our (as always, unsolicited) thoughts on follow up after a great first date.

L: When I first started dating, I would spend the first couple days after the date hoping that the guy would follow up with me and trying to send him legit telegraphic messages to do so. Most of the time, they would, and that was great, but sometimes they wouldn’t, and I would use the absence of contact to reinforce my negative sense of self and just general feeling of hopelessness:

dying alone

Now, I’ve been dating for a full 6 months. And I’d like to think of myself as a bit wiser and thicker skinned (largely thanks to the wise counsel of my co-bloggers and our readers). I’ve realized a few things:

1) Contrary to my previous belief, even though I hold the longstanding title as “most insecure” among my friends, there are people out there who are just as insecure as me and just as afraid of rejection. Some of them are men. So, if I had a good time on the date, I provide a little positive reinforcement (i.e., “thanks for taking me out. I had a great time.”) I figure, at the very least, a thank you is in order. And maybe it’ll give them the nudge they need to ask me out.

2) “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – My dad

Oh what? Michael Jordan said it first? Well, I’ve been listening to my father tell me that for 20 years. And I finally realize that he’s right. What’s the point of going out in pursuit of fun, dateable guys you want to see again if you don’t even try to see them again?

3) I can survive rejection. UGHHHHH. I know I just spewed all that sports-loving, all star style feel good bullshit about baskets and free throws, but I take it back for a minute. Losing sucks. Rejection sucks. But the weird thing about rejection is, the more it happens, the easier it gets. So seriously, every time I text a guy and say “thanks for taking me out,” and I never hear from him again, I actually care less and less. (How’s that for a growth mindset y’all?)

So, my new post-date strategy is to say thank you. Add an inside joke if necessary. I feel like if I do that, I’m giving the guy the window he needs to ask me out again. And if he doesn’t, I figure, he’s either just not that into me, or he has too much going on in his life, or he’s an even bigger wimp than I am. And I move on. And by move on, I mean, seek solace in a Netflix binge that involves a whole lotta Office reruns and the occasional smattering of a Law and Order SVU. Stabler +Jim Halpert= a cure all for emotional wounds.

S: Those were wise words, indeed, L. Especially from your dad (Hi, Mr. L!) who I’m pretty sure was quoting that advice to us back when we were ten and picking out our dream outfits in the JC Penney catalog (dead serious. L and I did that every time we hung out for a solid year. Obviously our cool factor was established early on).

But I digress. I will tell you something that has totally surprised me about online dating. When I started this whole thing, I kind of assumed that most of the time, I’d at least sort of know where I stood at the end a first date. I figured if a guy really liked me, I’d be able to tell. If we both had a great time, it would be as abundantly clear as a match.com commercial. If neither of us were into it, it might make for an awkward date, but we’d probably both get the picture.

Ahhh to be young and naive. What I discovered through a painful, confusing and at times, straight up humiliating process, is that at least half the time you can’t tell what the hell is going to happen next! Real talk, half. Or worse, you’re sure you know what’s going to go down, but NOPE, you were dead wrong. Here are a few of the most common examples from my personal dating history:

  • I think a date was awful and it turns out the guy had a great time. Case in point: N the Brit. Had an excruciatingly awkward date with him with zero chemistry. He was literally silent for most of it while I over-compensated by babbling like a lunatic. Assumed it had been just as lame/awful for him since he barely spoke or cracked a smile, and that was that, UNTIL he texted me that he’d had a lovely time and asked me out again. WTF? This has happened a few times (ahem), and every time I literally say to myself, ‘Were we on the same date?’
  • I think we both had a great time and it turns out it was just me. Multiple examples of great dates with flirting, good conversation, laughter, all around fun. This was in no way one sided… the guys all acted like they were having a blast, no one hurried to get the check (one guy kept begging ‘one more drink’ to the point where I was sloshed). And yet: never heard from any of them again.
  • Guy tells me he had a great time and asks me out again. Turns out it was still. just. me. Again, multiple examples of guys who asked me out again, point blank. And then still disappeared.

So given these mishaps, it’s not surprising that those few days after a good first date have become the most anxiety inducing part of this process for me. Much more stressful than the first date itself. Especially when I inevitably (will I never learn?) blab to friends, family and PPA workers I pass along the street that I had a pretty good time. All of a sudden, the pressure is on. Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen next. And the answer, as I’ve clearly learned the hard way, is:

I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA.

So anyway, in the beginning I had all these rules (you know I love a good rule) about expecting the guy to reach out to me. And don’t get me wrong, I still have rules, but I’ve definitely relaxed them. Like L, the more dates I go on, the ballsier I get. In the very beginning, if I had a good first date but the guy never called or texted, that was it. I assumed he was dead, bitched to my friends about not hearing from him, watched Bridget Jones’s Diary and prayed to the romcom Gods that there was a real life Mark Darcy out there about to come into my life:

mark darcy

and moved on. Part of that I think was because I did fear rejection. These days, after being rejected PLENTY of times, I’m definitely more proactive. If I had a great time, and a few days go by and I don’t hear from the guy, now I say f*ck it and reach out to him. There are two exceptions to this:

1. If I messaged him first, and I asked him out first. You may all remember M, who I had a great first date with and who after exclaiming that he’d LOVE to go out with me again (and sending me texts referencing the next time we were allegedly going to hang out) pulled a full on fade away. I caught some flack for not just reaching out to him, but allow me to defend myself:

I saw M’s profile and was into him, so I sent him a message. Then, not wanting to waste time, after a few messages back and forth I asked him out for a drink. You see, men of the world who insist that women never ask dudes out? They do! But I’m sorry, at some point the other person needs to meet you halfway. I don’t think it’s ridiculous in a scenario where I’ve been the proactive one up to this point to expect him to take the lead for a bit. Also, to be perfectly honest and to touch on another point made by my brilliant co-blogger, mama’s ego can only take so much. I can’t be the one continuously putting myself out there and wondering if a dude even likes me or if he just has nothing better to do. I may be an independent woman:

but don’t tell me Beyonce was calling up Jay-Z to hang out every week with no reciprocity. You know it didn’t go down like that.

2. If he asked me out again at the end of our date and explicitly told me he’d be in touch. This is a biggie for me. If you say you want to see me again, and I say I’d like that, and you tell me you’re going to be in touch about setting it up, then call me crazy but I’m going to expect that that’s what you actually plan to do. And to address L’s point that men are also shy and afraid of rejection, I totally agree, but I don’t buy that men who pull this move are. Asking someone out again at the end of a date, in person, is actually a really ballsy move, because the other person is right there front of you, and as I unfortunately know from first hand experience, rejection in person is infinitely worse than rejection over text/phone. I have yet to be asked out for a second time in person by someone that I don’t want to see again, but I dread the day it may actually happen. #awkward

The other thing is, if they asked me out again in person, they also received an answer in person. My response to M was happy, enthusiastic, and totally unambiguous: I think I smiled and said, “I’d love to.” Sooooo….. at that point the second date was pretty much a lock. Or so I thought.

In summary, if I have a good time on a first date, I’ll make sure the guy knows it, and thank him (enthusiastically) for taking me out. If he doesn’t take the lead on plan making after that, I’ll send a follow up text. If he’s still silent, I assume death by SEPTA bus, throw myself a small pity party, call L and D to scream about how I’m destined to be a third wheel for the rest of my life, slap myself/imagine Cher slapping me:

moonstruck-snap-out-of-it-o

watch some BRAVO, and eventually get back in the okc saddle.

But barring the above two exceptions, one thing I won’t do anymore if I had a good time is let it ride. If a year plus of online dating has taught me anything, it’s that meeting someone on the internet who you actually like in person is about as rare as:

NPH unicorn

And if you’re lucky enough to find it, you shouldn’t let it go so easily.

D: Well, as the most delinquent co-blogger, I was the last one of us to open up this post to add my two cents. And, as usual, L and S said pretty much everything I would have said if I was first, and they said it better. Generally speaking, at the end of every date I always thank the guy. And if I enjoyed the date, I thank him and add something along the lines of “I had a really great time!” and flash that smile my parents paid an orthodontist to perfect, only to have my wisdom teeth fuck up when they grew in. Add on a comment about something we did that night, or maybe even an “inside joke” as L does, and you’ve got yourself a patented D’s interested response. I try to also follow up with a text the next day. Leave little doubt about whether or not I’m interested. If I hear from him, great! If not, there’s some combination of movie watching and baking, depending on how into the guy I was. If it’s just sort of a “bummer, he was cute and fun, it would have been nice to hear from him again,” I pop in a Die Hard or a Fast and Furious number, sometimes Princess Bride, and slap 80% of some store-bought cookie dough on a sheet (and the other 20% directly into my tummy). Franchise action sequences are very soothing for me. And Bruce Willis doing an action sequence? instant-calm. If I really liked the guy and was really hoping for another date, then it’s Bruce Willis, and Bruce Willis only, typically in a marathon setting, with some sort of treat baked from scratch. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, fudge when I need to break out the big guns. Then, it’s back to the drawing board.

If I didn’t enjoy myself, I simply say thank you and goodnight (teaser: this has in the past given the impression that I was interested, and led to an extremely awkward attempted kiss – that story coming soon (I swear!)). I don’t initiate any contact after the date. If I don’t hear from him, we clearly both had the same thoughts and have both moved on. If I do hear from him, typically in a text, I simply respond that it was nice to meet him, but I’m not interested.

So there you have it! Zero words of wisdom from D, and a whole host of insightful wisdom from L and S. Standard…