The “WE”-totaler’s Dilemma

Hello my patient and loyal readers. It’s time to remove your jaw-clenching dental guards because the deferred episode of “Mailbag Monday” has arrived. So, let’s not waste another nanosecond on hooey:

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

About 2 months ago I started seeing a guy I met on a popular online dating site. I really like him and think this could be something really special…but for one tiny problem:

In my previous relationships, I’ve been a bit of a “Desperate Debbie.” I go from zero-to-breaking-the-sound-barrier in 60 seconds and within a week I’m buying matching bath towels with our monogrammed initials.

But this time, I’m trying to ease back and get some perspective. It helps (or hurts?) that he requires a good deal of space; i.e. we get together twice or 3-times a week. This is totally unchartered territory and I have no clue how to navigate the time we don’t see each other. Do I call just to check in? I guess my question is — how do you ensure distance makes the heart grow fonder instead of just becoming distance?

Wow, okay. This is a doozy. But it helps that there really is only 1, single solitary place to start answering:

barney“Sharing Is Caring” chants that lovable, Prozac-snorting purple dinosaur Barney. Sure, good, fine. But what his Play-Doh-eating fan base is too young to realize is this:

When you grow up — i.e. start using your “woo-woos” and “fee-fees” for realzies — sharing can also become SCARING the crap out of someone and sending them running for the hills with no forwarding address.

It’s a fine line. And I have to wonder whether you (the self-proclaimed former “Desperate Debbie”) have in fact been on the wrong side of it — OR — whether you’ve just been with the wrong person. The distinction is this:

Door Number 1:

You’ve realized after a life of heart-doodling-around-last-name-sharing that your need to infiltrate every pore of your lover’s existence is rooted in some negative pattern of childhood abandonment that if continued, will either:

  1. Do to any potentially healthy relationship what a blaring siren does to a baking soufflé, or —–
  2. Trap you in a creepy, interconnected, ever-churning cycle of codependency that is the stuff of certain horror movies:

flowers in the atticIt’s safe to say the children of Christopher and Corrine Dollanganger — Cathy, Chris, Carrie, & Corey — would have preferred if their parents had gone to a few Al-Anon meetings.

Door Number 2:

You’re trying to change who you are, fundamentally, to fit who think the other person wants.

Because here’s the thing: There is no shortage of “WE” seeking men out there. Guys whose very dream is a sentence-finishing, bar-of-soap-sharing, iPhone calendar synching, peeing with the door open, pet name giving, kiss-blowing and “I miss you already” saying when you walk into a different room in the same house LADY.

This we-lationship could totally work, So Long As both parties are into it. And then, it becomes this two-minds-melding-into-one symbiosis. Like an angler fish and a bio-luminescence: the glowing organism lures pray straight into the sharp-toothed fish’s mouth, and in return, the fish provides a steady stable home for the bio to live on.

(Enter “Finding Nemo” heart sigh here)

PERSONALLY, I’d rather put my head in the direct path of 2 charging rams than be in that kind of we-lationship — but that’s just me.

This is you we’re talking about. Now, IF — after all of this — you are still sure of your choice in Door Number 1, then let’s walk through it:

You are entering the life of a “WE”-totaler. Cold. Turkey. No more binge-linking your names into one. In this world, Renee Zellweger doesn’t say “You complete me,” to Jerry Maguire. She says, “You complement me, in all my independent desires and separate interests.”  

It’s not about the QUANTITY of time you spend together, but rather the quality. About being comfortable in your own skin and in your own space — AS well as when those spaces converge.

I can’t remember where I heard this story. I think it was in grade school, while learning to distinguish between the different geometric shapes. But I think about it in terms of what I consider to be a balanced relationship. Here goes my greatly paraphrased version:

Sitting at the edge of a steep cliff, there is this giant, multi-sided, rhomboid-like mis-shape; all points askew and asymmetric angles struggling to organize themselves in such a way that the piece as a whole can get to the bottom of the hill. But no matter how hard it reconfigures itself, the shape won’t budge. Finally, it gets so angry and frustrated, that it breaks apart into 2 perfectly rounded circles. Looking at each other from across the cliff side, the 2 circles delightedly roll down the hill together, side by side.

In the end, no matter what kind of relationship you’re in, remember this: “That which is for you, will not pass you.”

F View

I’d like to interrupt today’s episode of Mailbag Monday for a very important PSA:

For the love of Kris Kristofferson, I finally have proof that earth veered off its axis some time ago and has been spinning at a faster-than-normal rate ever since, thus forcing time to progress at a supersonic speed.

Proof being: I just received a check in the mail for a music review I completed earlier this month. The check was dated: 9/5/2010.

Okay. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program:

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

I just got out of a long-term relationship. And by “long-term” I mean the last time I was single, Pluto was still considered a legitimate planet. So, on the insistence of my older sister, I joined Match.com to re-acclimate to the life of a bachelorette. Being totally new to the online dating world, I have a question: If a person has “viewed” my profile on several occasions, but has never made actual contact, is it fair game for me to open the lines of communication?

Sincerely,

Lost in Cyberspace

To “Lost in Cyberspace” — the short answer to your question is Hell to the No.

But who am I to take short cuts when there’s a perfectly long winded response waiting to get lost in. 3-2-1 AND Lift off:

In all honesty, there was a time in the far distant past of 2011, when online dating sites like Match.com were actually good at what they claimed to do. I really believe the 100-plus clams you had to fork over for a 6-month subscription actually went toward the food and living costs of a 5-member think tank holed up in a white, windowless research facility somewhere in the sacred regions of the Himalayas.

This Stephen Hawking-esque brain trust was paid to sit around listening to Barry White records, playing the flugelhorn, and devising a sophisticated scientific algorithm that pairs compatible online profiles together.

But that was long ago, a B.K.**  time of innocence and hope. Yes, it was in these glory days that the “Guided” steps to communication on Match.com were used for just that… communicating.

(**B.K. denotes the calendar era Before Kristen: When K-Stew reached into Rob-Pat’s chiseled chest and pulled his still-beating heart out with her bare, adulterous hands)

But since then, Match.com has gone the way of most things that decline in quality as they rise in popularity. Nowadays, I’m pretty sure the $100 member fees go toward retaining the site’s class-action lawyer.

saul goodman

Better Call Saul

Oh yes, dear readers. I actually had one guy “View” my profile several times over a 2-week period, without so much as a wink. Finally, I get an email from him that reads as follows:

[Sad Face Emoticon] Wow! I really thought we had a connection. I guess I was wrong. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

To which I should’ve replied: “ARE YOU SMOKING BATH SALTS?!!”

Seriously, Match has this new feature called STIR events, in which paying members are invited to crawl out of their virtual caves and convene at a local bar to meet other members face-to-face. If they behaved in person how they do online, it would be like Samuel Beckett’s theater of the absurd:

Act One:

Guy (dressed in all black. Face painted blue)

Girl (dressed in all blue. Face painted red)

Guy: Stares at girl, looks away. Stares at girl, looks away. Stares at girl, looks away. Stares at girl, looks away. Stares at girl, looks away.  This goes on for 30 straight minutes without interruption.

******

Act Two:

Guy: Winks at girl at bar

Girl: Winks back at guy

Guy: Smiles at girl

Girl: Smiles back at guy. Proceeds to walk over to guy and introduce herself.

Guy: Turns back away and completely ignores girl.

Chorus shouts: “I say what I mean. I don’t mean what I say.”

All said, I am resigned to think that anyone who “Views” my profile repeatedly over a course of many weeks without making contact does so because they are either —

  • A)     A serial killer
  • B)    The guy from Memento
  • C)    Their 1st, 2nd, etc… choices have failed to respond to their actual emails, so they’re sifting through the dregs of the other matches, trying to psych themselves into thinking maybe the more they look, the better I’ll seem, all the while hoping upon hope that their real favorites are just away on vacation and haven’t had a chance to check their inbox.

Ultimately, Match.com (and its online dating brethren) has essentially become the Passive Aggressive Playground — raucous, confounding times had by all on these fun-filled diversions:

  • Monkey Around-With-Your-Emotions Bars
  • Mood Swing Set
  • See-No-Seesaw.
  • Imbalance Beam
  • Wink-en Logs

Bottom Line: You won’t see the Old Spice Man “viewing” or “winking”at someone’s online profile as he repels off the side of an ice-capped mountain straight behind the wheel of a runaway speed boat, onto a jungle shore where he wrestles a giant panther to the ground, and then falls gently onto a 1000-thread count, rose-petal covered bed smelling of grit, daring, and the sea after a storm.

So “Lost in Cyberspace,” to make a short story long, I say to you this: Only respond to matches who send an email, or at the very least, follow-up their winks with actual contact.

If you wanna be my Lover, you gotta get with my Friends — or do you? (Take 2)

(Continued from “Lover” (Take 1) )

All personal anecdotal dysfunction aside, it’s totally natural to be protective of a brand-new relationship. In the beginning, they’re like the perfect Cosby sweater: snugly, soft, not-wooly or itchy, and miraculously comfortable for ALL seasons including summer.

bill cosby sweaterIn the beginning, it’s just you and him. Sitting on the head of your newly hatched union keeping it safe and warm, and feeding it regurgitated worms out of your strong beak. You don’t want to push it out of the nest too soon, lest it be swooped up in the razor-sharp talons of a passing vulture.

vulture

Going public: It means you no longer see him through your eyes only. There’s now a whole new set of piercing peering pupils that can spot all the red flags you were previously blind to in your incubation:

  • The track marks on his arm
  • The uncanny resemblance to a high school classmate your friend knew, only back then HE was a she dating the captain of the football team.
  • The fact that he followed your other friend to the bathroom and asked her if she wanted to grab drinks sometime.

Then there’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: i.e. his personality completely changes in social situations. Or, parts of his character as yet unknown to you are now revealed: For example:

Your friends bring up politics — a subject you 2 had yet to tap what with all the other “tapping”  going on — AND he with straight face says something like,

“It doesn’t matter who wins the 2012 Presidential election because in a year, I’ll be happily living on the moon as part of Newt Gingrich’s lunar colony.”

Okay. So there’s a lot at stake here. But in the end, you have to ask yourself:

If a relationship exists in the holed-up sex den, and no one is around to hear it, does it really exist? Historically speaking, couples that subsist in isolation don’t end happily:

Adam and Eve, the Mosquito Coast, Open Water

So, I’ve created a checklist for newlybeds. Once you can cross off all the milestones, you are READY to make your grand debut as a couple:

  1. Had 2 home-cooked meals and 1 Sunday brunch
  2. You’ve had “the talk” — thus establishing that you are no longer ACTIVE on your online dating accounts and/or have changed your Facebook relationship status to (at least) “spoken for.”
  3. He’s left at least 2 legitimate belongings at your house.
  4. You’ve gone shopping for food, and NOT in a regular grocery store; At a Farmer’s Market!
  5. When he’s on the phone with you and a friend/workmate interrupts him, he says to them: “Yes. I’m talking to herrrr! Shut up!!! You’re sooo stupid.” — VERSUS — He says to You: “Hey Bra. I gotta bounce.”
  6. When you go shopping on your own, you find yourself wandering into the men section and playing “Dress-A-Doll” in your head:  He = doll; clothes = paper outfits.
  7. When you talk about him, the pitch of your voice causes coyotes to hold their ears.
  8. You’ve called in “sick” at least 1 time to play hooky with him.
  9. If he lives in a gated apartment complex, he has given you the security code — VERSUS — he meets you at the door each time and lets you in.
  10. He knows where you keep your bottle opener AND can pretty much find his way around your kitchen
  11. (Courtesy of theirreverentcouponer) — You’ve had sex at least 10 times.
  12. You’ve had sex in at least 1 other position besides missionary
  13. You have your own personal Mii avatar on his Wii bowling players menu

If you wanna be My Lover, You Gotta Get with My Friends — or do you? (Take 1)

I hope everyone had a wet and wild Labor Day — you know, the international holiday that celebrates the closing of public pools. And of course, welcome to Mailbag Monday (read: Tuesday). Let us not tarry.

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

I’ve been seeing a guy for about 1 month now and so far, it’s just been he and I hanging out together – on our own. I don’t know about his buddies, but MY friends are chomping at the bit to meet him. How long do you think is an appropriate time for the official “boyfriend” coming out party?

Ah yes, the age-old question of when to merge friends with boyfriend. Believe me, the PROS of NOT introducing your man to your mates far outweigh the CONS: (See list)

new boyfriendAs a matter of fact, I once dated a guy for over a year before introducing him to someone else. And that somebody was my landlady who required his presence to co-sign the lease on our house.

Granted, he and I kept very different schedules:

  • I went to bed at 10 pm to get a proper 8 hours of sleep before waking for my 9 to 5 corporate office job.
  • He kept the hours of an incubus, a.k.a he was a musician who stayed up till dawn watching Jonestown, the Jim Jones documentary and stapling egg crates to the ceiling.

We also had very different lifestyles:

  • I love the outdoors, hiking in nature AND running in the park, all the while eating a healthy, all organic diet of fresh greens, fruits, and free-range meats.
  • He maintained his washboard abs on the 3 “C’s” rock-star regimen: Crystal meth, Chain-smoking, and hepatitis C.

And we definitely had very different views about life:

  • I tried to see the bright side of most things, the underlying lesson in a challenge, the beauty in the banal, and magic in the seeming mundane.
  • He believed from the harrowing moment we are all wombjacked, every second on is just a micro-death of our innocence until we emit our very last breath and finally do die, utterly alone. Basically, he didn’t so much see the glass as half empty, as there NOT being a glass there to begin with.

Okay, so we were utterly, painfully ill matched. Like Platoon vs. Pippy Longstocking ill matched.

Like a jellybean jar vs. the Bell Jar — ill matched.

Frankly, he and I had ONE single, solitary thing in common: A combustible physical chemistry that could split atoms. But what nobody ever tells you is — “mind-blowing” sex (by its very definition) renders the mind, the objective analytical capacity of one’s brain, inoperative.

(To Be Continued…)

Mailbag Monday: Seren-DUPE-ity

mailbagWelcome to Mailbag Monday. This week’s topic has to do with staying on the right side of the searching-single-lady morality line. 3, 2, 1, and action:

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

“Is it unethical to cause a minor traffic accident in an attempt to meet the really cute guy in the truck behind you?”

This is a prime example of what I like to call Seren-DUPE-ity — a situation in which every step to meeting a guy is pre-designed and plotted by you. He along with friends, family, future offspring, and whomever else you had to pay off along the way — however — know the experience as FATE.

It was, as they say, “in the cards” …. EXCEPT that you stacked the deck.

It was, as they say, “destiny” EXCEPT that you snuck up behind Cupid as he was preening his wing feathers, knocked him out cold, stole his bow, and shot an arrow “straight through your lover’s heart” all by your lonesome.

oh no you di'intNow, I had to be really careful not to answer this reader’s question too soon. My knee jerk response was,

“Girlll! You gotta check your head before you wreck his flat-bed.”

But, then I thought about it some more and considered all the possible crazy acts of manipulation a woman could do to snag the man of her (lucid) dreams. Many hours and countless disturbing Google images of sexually cannibalistic black-widow spiders eating the heads off their male lovers later — here’s what I came up with:

Commence: Dance of Chart Joy

  • X axis: Act of manipulation
  • Y axis: Correlating degree of cray-cray

* Color blocking coincides with Department of Homeland Security threat levels

** Full definition of each act of manipulation beneath chart

*** Click on chart for larger image

Mis-FAKE-N Identity: Good, clean, taradiddling. Goes like:

  • You spot a cute guy in the Large Breed dog-food section of the grocery store. You walk up to him and say,

“Brock [or any other macho-sounding guy’s name] is that you? Oh my God! It’s been so long. What are you doing in [your city]?”

  • Not Brock:

“The bad news is: I’m not Brock. The good news is: I would love to have dinner with you tomorrow night after I get done tagging sharks.”

*****************

Amelie: Like the movie, this involves adorable, doe-eyed acts of winsome capers. Probably includes any of the following accessories:

  • Bottle rockets, a trail of bread crumbs, garden gnomes, a Dutch windmill, decoder rings, 2 Speak-&-Spells, and one old curmudgeon neighbor made of glass.

*****************

Brake Slam: (THE ORIGINAL ACT IN QUESTION)

  • You’re stuck in non-moving “Carmageddon” like traffic. Little old-ladies with walkers strapped to the backs of giant land sloths pass you by in mocking laughter. In your rear-view mirror, you see that the guy in the truck directly behind you is uber-hot. So, at the next 3-inch roll forward, you tap on your brakes. His front bumper crushes your license plate and takes out a taillight, or 2.
  • You get out. He gets out. You smile. He smiles. You exchange insurance information and phone numbers.
  • You get back in your car. Your phone rings. It’s him. You spend the remaining 3 “rush” hours sharing your life stories and planning the details of your “second date” (the 1st of many inside jokes!)

******************

Nanny 1: Goes like:

  • He’s a handsome widow left to raise his angelic 3-year old daughter on his own.
  • You answer his ad for a live-in “domestic assistant.”
  • 1 healing year later, you have managed to restore the beauty of his home, and also repair the hole in his heart.

******************

Roofie 1: You slip a date-rape drug into his drink and take him home to “make love.”

******************

Stalkholm Syndrome:  Goes like:

  • Abduct him from the parking garage at his work
  • Hold him hostage in your IKEA-built, GORM storage solution wine cellar
  • Several months pass. He fully processes all 5 emotional stages of captivity.
  • You are no longer his prison guard; You are his salvation

*******************

Roofie 2: 9 months after slipping him a mickie, you knock on his door and introduce him to his newborn son/daughter.

*******************

Nanny 2:

  • He’s a happily married man with 2 young kids.
  • You answer his ad for a live-in “domestic assistant.”
  • 1 week later, you cut the brake lines to his wife’s car.

*******************

Bunny stew: Fatal Attraction.

The End

So, in the grand scheme (ing) of things, the reader’s act of seren-DUPE-ity really isn’t that bad. Is it the “right” side of the searching-single-lady morality line? Well, on the chart, it sits just above the “WILY” category of cray-cray.

Threat level: “Low” to “Guarded.”

If green/blue means GO for you, then I say GO — and be sure to invite me to the wedding… OR character testimony at the civil court lawsuit, as the case may be.

Dear John… or Joe, or Jack, or whatever your name is,

Sorry for the Mailbag Monday delay, folks. I had a dear friend come into town last night and instead of opening up my digital post box to answer your burning questions…

I opened a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon and babbled on about how Walter White of Breaking Bad has done to my moral compass what a Pit Bull does to a peanut butter Kong Stuff’N toy. Thank AND You for that.

kong stuff'nSo, now that I’m back on track, let’s begin:

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

“I started an account with a popular online dating site a few months ago. So far, so… blah! Several dates but no chemistry, at least from where I was sitting. But each time, the man sent me a follow-up email or text to schedule our next date. I never returned the messages, and eventually he (they) got the picture and stopped contacting me. Is this a totally douche bag thing to do?”

Make no mistake: This is NOT the “Just Let Me Know” debate of 2012 all over again. The 2 scenarios couldn’t be more different. Basically, the “JLMK” (trademark pending!) post was about a date that without question knocked the socks off, rumpled the locks on both parties involved. There were 4 eyes smizing, 4 pupils dilating, 4 legs shifting ever closer under 1 table shrinking, 5 hours passing like 5 minutes, and 2 sets of shoulders bobbing from 2 laughs blending into 1 synchronized blissed-out buzz.

What we’re talking about here is the first date dud. No sparks. No chemistry. No connection. The conversation falls flatter than matzah bread, and as you sit there watching the other person’s mouth move up and down, the muffled voice inside your own head cries out:

“Dear God when is this hostage crisis going to end so I can go home, tear off this pair of tummy taming Spanx, slip into my red flannel footsie pajamas, open a family size bag of Pirates Booty, and fall asleep watching ‘Legends of the Fall’ for the 15th time?”

So — is it REALLY necessary to let that person know that said first date was also the last?

To which I say, YES! To not do so is the luxury of likee alone. But I have been the LIKER. Oh yes, I have been the liker. Totally oblivious to the mushroom-cloud-sized-signs that HE is not into me: The incessant shifting in his seat; the regular “Wow! Look at the time” remarks when it was only 1:30… in the afternoon; the sudden emergency-have-to-leave-now- phone call; the snoring…

And yet I still drove home all googly-eyed, humming the Partridge Family’s “I think I Love you,” and wondering if when push comes to shove, will I really stick to my promise to keep my last name.

WHAT I WOULD HAVE GIVEN right then and there for someone to have walked me up that hilltop of delusion and tell me to “look at the bunnies” while putting a cap right in the back of my foolish fantasy.

So now, immediately after any first-date flop, I send an obligatory email: short, simple, straightforward. No room for doubt “Dear John,” for the sake of decency, non-douchebaggery, and future match.KARMA.

Basic template below:

To _____,

Start off with a neutral compliment regarding his/her choice of outfit, restaurant, movie (date activity in general), and/or personal hygiene, etc…

Quick transition into but, however, even still, shockingly I do not see us being romantically compatible. Further explanation is up to you.

(Do NOT suggest being friends. That will only leave the door open to hope. You must kill hope.)

Express luck in his/her future dating endeavors so as re-establish the complete and total massacre of hope.

Sincerely,

Proper name (no nicknames. Too familiar. Gives hope a fighting chance)

Mailbag Monday

Shabazz! I’ve decided to designate the first day of each new week as “Mailbag Mondays” — the day I reach into my digital postbox and address a randomly-picked comment. (By “random,” I mean intentionally chosen for strongest audience appeal.)

mailbagI fished today’s comment out of the “Spam” folder – which I’m beginning to realize is WordPress’s way of shielding me from any negative feedback. But I say any publicity is good publicity. So without further adoodley-do:

The comment is in response to my August 10 post “Dumbroll, Please.” Said reader writes:

Honestly, if you had received those “clever” emails from a guy, would YOU have responded? They don’t sound real enough to bother. They sound like a chat bot wrote them. …They are not stupid enough to answer!”

There’s a lot going on here so I’m just going to dive right into the main argument of – “Would you have responded?”

My “Honest” answer: ABSO-FRUITLY!, and without question. Have you not read my blog? Any guy that is going to nab my attention is going to do so via his sense of humor.

WORDPLAY is my FOREPLAY! Commuter folding bikes and puns do to me what sports cars and rippling biceps do to the Jersey Shore girls. You show me your glue gun and backlog of Tiger Beat magazines and I’ll show you mine. You stimulate my brain, and you stimulate everything else.

Across the board, the guys who have won me over in their emails fit into this “clever” category, with several of them actually evolving from digital pen pals to dating partners. One guy — who I believe to this day is the secret love child of Macgyver and Martha Stewart — emailed a miniature box likeness of me constructed out of cardboard paper and pipe cleaners.

On our third date, we made a small army of these 3-dimensional figurines and went around town, leaving them on random door steps with sweet messages like, “You put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop”  — AND — “Work your cares away, down at Fraggle Rock!”

Another guy introduced me to the strange and fantastic craze of Mexican Pointy Shoes:

mexican pointy shoesHe and I spent a full week in back-and-forth emails brainstorming everyday activities confounded by said shoes. Partial list reprinted here:

Playing hacky sack, running a 3-legged race, playing the piano, pole-vaulting, bobbing for apples, walking on stilts, decorating the top of an Xmas tree, trying to slide down the chimney as Santa, scuba diving with flippers, playing hide and seek, using an airplane bathroom, walking a tight rope, lying inside a magic saw-in-half box, rowing a boat, walking up a mall escalator, trying to get off a moving sidewalk, being buried in sand on the beach,  blowing up a balloon, climbing a tree, mounting a horse…

So the answer is YES! I would respond to those kinds of “clever” emails.  I have responded to those kinds of “clever” emails. And I will continue to respond to them.

An important CAVEAT:  There is a very fine line between charmingly corny and criminally creepy. I have received my fair share of match.com messages that motivated me to foster a Rottweiler and take up Krav Maga. 2 particular examples:

  • “Hey gorgeous. I’m in town for the weekend from New York. Staying at the W Hotel. Come by and lets listen to the Cure in my hotel, room 343.”
  • “I think I saw you in the produce department at Publix. I was the one in handcuffs being escorted out of the back by the store cop. Where will you be in 9 months to a year?”