Grown Up Relationships

If I read all the crap on the book of faces I would determine this man is going to break my heart or manage to disappoint me. 

If I paid attention to the message on all the rom-coms that I have allowed to influence my views on romance I would be so sad right now. He’s never chased me through an airport or train station, and I travel all the damn time. There is really no excuse for this. 

If I let Dateline scare me into singledom I would be missing out on this amazing experience. If it is too good to be true, he will murder you. No one meets the man of her dreams. Shout out to my momma! 

If I listened to the voice in my head that tells me I am not cut out for relationships I would still be swiping right and looking for the next fun distraction. 

If I read blog posts about “true love” and healthy relationships written by 23 year olds I would decide he’s just not that into me. 

If I thought about the difficulties navigating a long distance relationship I would give up before we have even gotten through the new stuff. 

If I used our complicated schedules and last minute obligations as an excuse to run I could be so far away right now. 

Instead, I make a decision to focus on the reality of our relationship. I redirect those pesky insecurities. I shush that stupid voice. If I listened to her, I would be a wreck. She doesn’t like me at all. I really don’t know what her problem is. She needs to get a grip. 

I am so happy, even if this is hard for me. I’m not going to pretend I am good at relationships, but I know I have never wanted to be better at them more than I do now. It’s worth the effort. The good stuff is so much better than the hard stuff. 

Safety in Numbers

“Swiper, Stop Swiping!”

I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Dora the Explorer had a crystal ball and could see the danger awaiting us in the age of Tinder. 

Notice, it’s Tinder, not Tender. I get the benefits of a photo, age, and distance between me and my potential paramour. Date, booty call, one-night stand, relationship, potential love interest, however I choose to use it. It is a good tool for finding some company when I travel because it doesn’t just match me based on my homebase, it works on my actual location. It’s akin to a bar living in my phone. There is frequently a sense of ennui to my swiping. A detached boredom with no expectation. I am simply window shopping. I might try a few things on, but I really have zero intention of buying. My wallet is empty, and I don’t have that much credit. 

Unfortunately, the absence of alcohol, dark lighting, and loud music promotes a strange sense of intimacy. I  have to use words to communicate. Sorry honey, your cleavage isn’t going to buy you company tonight. Words easily trap me. I lose all sense of reality and fall into a hopeless fantasy. I can convince myself this is safe, because it’s not real. I am in no danger of falling in love or getting trapped because it’s Tinder. Somehow I talk myself into dropping some of the walls I use to keep everyone at a safe distance. I recklessly engage in mutual sharing of hopes and dreams for the future. I shed a little of the prickly “f*ck off” persona I adopted so long ago. I even have a few photos that are apparently “hot.” I think it’s the lighting and red lipstick. Maybe the angle. I managed to catch a pensive yet not angry expression. It wasn’t easy. It was one of many, many bad ones. I’m not showing you, because now that I mention it I am more than a little embarrassed and should probably delete this whole aside. 

I pretend. The safety of my little blue screen gives me a sense of confidence and I become charming and flirtatious. The awkward parts of my personality are hidden a little. I’m not afraid of being myself, because it doesn’t matter what these guys think of me. They aren’t real. I honestly have nothing to lose. I’m just passing through. 

I find myself saying things I would never say IRL. I match and unmatch with an abandon usually reserved for women more beautiful than I am. I am picky about who I choose to meet. The conversation has to be lively and interesting. I eschew the men who start of asking my bra size. I know my bra size. It’s not interesting to me. Somehow I feel like I am in control in this situation. If you irritate me, I can just stop talking to you. Unmatch, block, ghost, ignore, I have a plethora of tools at my disposal. 

Sometimes I am pretending to pretend. I allow myself to get caught up in the excitement of foreign experiences. I start to look forward to our interactions. This is probably because I am so picky about the men I choose for communication. Really, it’s easy to dislike boring, unintelligent men. 

I’ve become friends with a few of these men. The ones I go out with are generally quite attractive, educated, clever, and age-appropriate. They tend to have a way with words. I find myself intrigued and at times more than a little attracted to their electronic personas. 

That doesn’t diminish my fear of intimacy. It doesn’t ease my distrust of the whole prospect of love and happy endings. I firmly believe (well, I tell myself I firmly believe) there are no fairy tale endings, and there is no Prince Charming. All that is waiting for me is a lifetime of disappointment and resentment. Who needs that? It’s far better to never get your hopes up. Don’t get attached. Don’t expect anything from anyone. You are the master of your own happiness. It’s not lying within another person’s grasp. They will only let you down. 

When I first discovered the possibility of dating for “fun” I thought I had found the perfect solution. I would be honest from the beginning and demand these men play by my rules. It was great. 

Except I forgot the rules. I found myself daydreaming about one man when I was out with another. I just wanted to be with him. I did not want to see the others. 

What is the punishment for self-imposed and perhaps misguided infractions? 

I know! I know! Let’s overthink and concoct imaginary slights to punish him over. Except let’s not tell him how I am feeling. I will just quietly seeth with resentment and start judging him much more harshly than he probably deserves. I will not discuss this with him because it makes me sound crazy. 

I have turned into “that girl.” 

There is safety in numbers. I don’t have to risk getting attached. I can pretend. Until I start pretending to pretend. Then the real danger starts. 


I know you will never believe this, but I am not good about talking about feelings. I am even worse at listening to someone else talk about their feelings, especially their feelings about me! Of course I am struggling with this now. It’s not surprising that I am completely in my head and not listening to the words he’s saying. I’m not noticing his actions. 

No, of course not. I am too busy thinking about my thoughts. I am too busy listening to that damn voice in my head. The one I am listening to right now. 

How many different ways does this guy have to tell me he likes me? What hoops do I need him to jump through? It’s not like his actions and his words don’t match up. He’s being perfectly consistent. He likes me! He tells me this. He shows me. All I have to do is pay attention and believe him. 

So, I have to talk myself down off the ledge and make a decision to calm down. I have to tell that voice to back off and be quiet. Not that it is going to listen. But, I am not going to stop trying. 

And the adventure continues. What a ride…

It’s New and Exciting

I don’t have a crystal ball. 

Life would certainly be easier if I could have some guarantees.

I am ridiculously happy these days. I walk around grinning at my phone like a fool. I have lost all ability to play it cool. I don’t even think I want to. What is this madness??? 

New relationships are hard enough if you live close to each other. Forget about the fact I work 12-14 hour days. We are forced to make a real effort to make this work. 

Slow down heart. Stop pounding when you hear his ringtone. Stop counting down the days until you are both in the same state. Don’t read too much into the butterflies and warm fuzzy feelings. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Keep your eyes open. Be realistic. Don’t take off your shoes just yet. 

Yes. I know. It feels different this time. Doesn’t it always feel different when you meet someone you like? Give it time. I know you are just waiting for him to be like everyone else who has disappointed you. 

But, what if he doesn’t? Then what? 

That may be the scariest thought of them all. I know what to do with men that turn out to be douchebags. That’s easy. It has nothing to do with me. It doesn’t mean I am not awesome. It’s their fault. Not mine. They just can’t handle the awesomeness surrounding me. I don’t have to feel bad because it didn’t work out. Maybe I didn’t want it to anyway. 

I constantly tell myself I am independent and I don’t need a man. I’m very happily fulfilled being single. These things are still true. I am still okay if he never turns out to be Prince Charming. I don’t need him to complete me. 

I am having such a good time though. I know for today I don’t want it to end. For some reason I am willing to make the effort to get to know him. I want to make time to see him. I may even want to hold his hand in public! 

I like him. I like him a lot. 

This is new and exciting. Maybe I’ll stop gushing about my Spy soon. Secretly, I kinda hope not. 

Gosh, I just love Maryland. 

It’s a Choice

Okay. I admit it. I lied. Or I was wrong. Horribly, terribly mistaken. For all my blustering and posturing about what I don’t want from a man and how much I think it’s weird for people to want to be in a relationship… maybe I do want to see what this is going to be like. 

No. Of course it’s nothing serious. We are getting to know each other. Testing out the waters. Seeing what happens. 

Unfortunately, I am quickly realizing I can’t be flitting around dating all these people while I trying to get to know this one. OMG! What the hell is wrong with me? Why was I on a date with a perfectly cute, charming, funny guy who was sending all the right vibes and thinking about My Spy? It’s completely inexplicable. 

I am 36 years old and I feel like I am in completely uncharted territory. I don’t have a map for this. I have no idea what I am supposed to do. So, to hell with the rule book, I’m going to just be me. 

I don’t even feel the need to be all cool and nonchalant. I want to be my goofy, moody, ridiculous self. He just laughs anyway. What is this madness??? 

I know! I’ve been ranting and raving about the perks of dating lots of different people, refusing to even consider the alternative. I would like to say I am just tired of all the stupid drama from all these loser men. I still like dating… it’s exciting. All the flirting and having people try to impress me is fun. I just can’t seriously explore anything meaningful while I am engaging with too many other people. It gives me an out and allows me to keep my walls up. It enables me to assume no one could ever make me happy. Worse, it gives me an excuse to make very little effort to make him happy. 

So, I am making a choice to see what happens. I’m going to abstain from seeing other people for a bit. I suppose you could say I am willing to risk being a little vulnerable and taking a chance.

It doesn’t mean I am forgetting who I am. I am not giving up anything about me. I am choosing to take a chance. Here we go… 

I Just Don’t Know

I’m just a girl. 

I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life, I have a hard enough time deciding what I want for dinner. 

I don’t want to be forced into making decisions that I cannot undo. 

I like my freedom. 

I don’t want to be trapped. 

I am always going to be more obstinate than you could be prepared for. 

I’ll drive you crazy with my hot and cold moods. 

You won’t own me. 

You’ll make me laugh by singing that damn song. I know I pretend to hate it… but I really kinda like it.

You called me beautiful, brilliant, and outrageously funny before you told me to go to work. Granted I was really late. 

So, I am going to attempt to maintain my cool and collected exterior. Shut up, I am cool. You have no idea what I am thinking. Stop smirking at me. I can feel it. You can’t read my poker face. 

I guess it’s no secret. 

I really do like you. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you. 

Secret Agent Man

I’m not going to lie, The Professor irritated me. It would be disingenuous for me to insinuate I was still all that interested anyway. Don’t forget I get bored easily. I need fairly consistent interaction or you run the risk of getting replaced.

While The Professor was fun and I enjoyed our first date very much, he made a critical mistake. He decreased contact and failed to keep the excitement going. Granted, he did say he is not good about texting and calling. In hindsight this feels like an excuse. Besides, did he really think making out a little in the car meant I didn’t still need to be actively pursued? 

Unfortunately for him, The Spy had decided to strike. He has been texting and calling regularly. Not excessively, just often enough to keep me a little thrilled. Good morning texts and phone calls in the evening. He is witty, handsome, and disarmingly charming. He is respectful and curious about my day. Our conversations have a natural flow and we are interacting with each other, not at each other. 

The Spy sends me funny selfies sporadically through the day. He sends memes. He references things I’ve mentioned before. It feels like he is paying attention to me. He acts interested in my thoughts and perspective. We discuss things. Our date is planned for tonight and he periodically sends me the hourly countdown. He is obviously smart; he is making me feel like he can’t wait to see me. He is flirty and sprinkles in just enough innuendo to make me blush and grin like a fool. 

Seriously, someone needs to teach men how to be a little risqué without resorting to vulgarity. Don’t ask about my cup size or pubic hair when I have not even indicated an interest in getting naked with you. I am not sending you pics of my boobs, and I don’t want to see your penis on my phone screen. I promise. 

Sigh. I love a man with a beard. 

Maybe it is unfair to compare men to each other. How do you evaluate two very different personalities in a fair manner? Is it possible The Spy only seems so awesome in comparison to The Professor because left me wondering how he felt until it was too late? 

What are the rules to dating? How do you know if you are doing it right? 

How do you know if someone is truly interested or if they are just on a conquest? 

Why does it feel like The Spy already knows me? 

Who told him I love Dwight Yoakum? How did he know I eschew “Nashville country?” 

Who told him to send me a joke about C-diff and to drop the word propofol correctly into conversation? 

How did he know to joke about following me back to Texas? (To insinuate you plan to do that will get you dropped in a hurry.) 

How did he know my deep appreciation for the many ways the word f*ck can be used in a sentence? (Mom, the edit was for you.) 

I guess you can tell I am having a good time. I’ve been in a ridiculously good mood for the past five days. It’s exciting. Even though I have no idea how things will turn out, I am thrilled to be on the ride. 

Mr. Right… Now

I am not embarrassed or ashamed. 

No apologies or excuses. 

I am not looking for a soul mate. 

I don’t want Prince Charming. 

I’m just a girl… and I wanna to have fun. 

That’s all I really want. 

Some fun. 

I am 36 years old. I have never been married. I have not shacked up or had a ridiculously long engagement that ended in heartbreak. I’m not some jilted lover who is pining for the one that got away. My biological clock is not shrieking because it is almost too late. 

Yes, I cry at weddings. Of course I have imagined hosting a huge, expensive party where 500 of my closest friends watch me exchange nuptials. Most girls have. We are taught that is we what are supposed to want. The wedding industry has been telling us that is the ultimate goal of dating. I’m still not actually under any delusion this is going to happen. I don’t even think it would be that much fun. I would probably resent the expense and get drunk and ruin the whole thing anyway. It’s still fun to think about though. 

I’ve also daydreamed about magically falling into a huge sum of money that would allow me to never worry about finances again. 

If we want to talk about fantasies I am also a broadway actress and Olympic athlete who has a multiplatinum record that has been nominated for a Grammy. 

In my rich fantasy life I have jumped out of airplanes, climbed mountains, and rescued kittens from trees. I have penned bestselling novels and my memoir is the hottest book in all the book clubs. I’ve made the rounds on all the late night talk shows. Jimmy (both of them) loves me and I am his favorite guest. I hide from the paparazzi because I am just a humble artist doing what I was born to do. 

I play on Tinder and I flirt with cute bartenders. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for a booty call or a string of sexual conquests. I don’t have any intention of sleeping with every man who makes an offer. By the way, has anyone ever noticed how quick so many men make that offer??? It feels like they are just casting a net and hoping to drag in the days fresh catch. 

I am looking for interesting, smart, funny people to have some adventures with. That’s all. If we are exceptionally lucky we will end up friends. I want to spend time with someone special. I want to invest energy in getting to know them and equally as important, I want them to get to know me. 

I want to know what makes him smile and laugh. I want to know how his day has been. Does he like puppy and otter videos? Will he see an owl and think of me? Better yet, will he snap a quick photo and send it to me just to make me smile? I can still have all of that even if I don’t want to plan our joint retirement, can’t I? 

What book is he reading right now? What movies can we share with each other? Can we watch the sunset and marvel in the beauty of our planet, both of us reveling in the fact that we got to see it together? Will he know and appreciate the fact that I am a cryer and I actually enjoy it? Will he think it’s cute that I cry at Folger’s commercials? 

At some point in the near future I will be moving on to the next grand adventure. Can we part ways without hurting each other’s feelings? Can we acknowledge the bittersweet feelings goodbyes bring? Can we be excited for the other’s future escapades? Can we actually fall in love a little and still move on when it’s time to go? 

Is it possible to share your present life with someone without planning a future? 

Yeah. I think so. I want this to be true. 

I don’t want to be rescued because I am not a damsel in distress. I don’t want to be caught because I don’t need a cage to keep me safe.

I just want to have fun. Maybe with a little love sprinkled in so I don’t get tired of traveling alone. I may not be looking for Mr. Right, but I am looking forward to hanging out with Mr. Right Now. 

I Met Someone

Television commercials are cunning. I think the mad men are trying to tell me how to live my life. They want me to question my choices. Do you think they want me to feel bad about myself?

There was a commercial for a dating site. It was filled with people whispering “I’ve met someone” to their closest friends and family. Wait a second! Is that my end goal? Is that what I am supposed to be doing? Meeting someone? I knew I was doing this all wrong. 

Do I have to meet just one person? That doesn’t work for me. I would have to spend most of my time missing him. I think I may have found a perfect solution. 

I meet lots of people! I go out and have fun. I let you buy me dinner or a drink. I listen to your stories and decide if I would like to hear some of them again. If you manage to entertain me, I lose track of time and can’t wait to see you again. Those are the best nights. 

Despite all the fun, sometimes men amaze me. I think there should be some rules or protocols to follow when one chooses to sign up for Tinder. 

1. Don’t act all pissy when I don’t answer fast enough. You don’t own me. That behavior just sets off all kinds of warning flags about your potential for being scary or dangerous. Controlling men are automatically out. I have way too much to do to worry about your fragile ego. 

2. Don’t assume I am going to sleep with you. Surely that doesn’t have to be explained. I don’t have to have sex with every man who expresses an interest. Once again, you don’t own me. 

3. Please don’t ask for or send me naked photos. I promise: your penis is not that special. If I wanted to send them to you, I would. 

4. Don’t ask me out if you are leaving your wife and kids at home to fend for themselves. Don’t lie and say you are separated or divorced if you are not. 

5. Don’t ask me out if you can’t afford to date. Sorry. I’m not sorry. 

6. Don’t lie. 

7. Come ready to talk! I like conversation. 

8. Don’t text me in the middle of the night wondering if I am available. No. I am not. 

I’ve met a lot of people. Sometimes it is fun. Sometimes I wish I had stayed in. Maybe one of these guys will make me want to change my ways. I certainly hope not. 

Girl Friend Code

If only we were lucky enough to have warning signs detailing the road work and the distance we would have to travel to get passed it in our regular life.

Oh, I forgot. We DO have these warning signs. We have friends and family who are able to view our lives a little more objectively. They are the voice of reason when emotions cloud our judgement.

I was dating this guy recently. He was handsome, smart, and charming. He said all the right things. He managed to be attentive without making me feel stifled. He went out of his way to make me feel beautiful and smart. I was ignoring the indicators of potential problems.

He complained about his (dead-end) job. He was supposedly working on his master’s degree. Except he was not actually working on it. He talked about not “needing” money to be happy. The relationship was moving FAST. I was a little overwhelmed by all of this. My head was spinning. He was so good-looking. I ignored those things making me nervous and focused on the good stuff.

He called when he said he would. He made me laugh. He seemed to have read all the right books. He was so good-looking. He told me how much he liked me. He pointed out the reasons I was unique. He found my kryptonite. He made me feel special.

Then one day he called with a complaint about parking tickets and a boot on his car. Hmmm. How many parking tickets have you not paid? Once again I just sat on my concerns until later in the day when he texted me from a different phone number because his cell phone service had not been paid.


It’s okay to be having financial problems. I get it. I have struggled with money for most of my life. The part that made me nervous was his insistence of these things being no big deal. Then, he got defensive and mildly aggressive. I stopped talking to him at this point.

I had several girl friends who were not as enamored by this fella as I had been. They had not voiced their concerns until I voiced mine. Everyone wanted to avoid being the negative bitch. The problem is I count on my women friends to tell me when I am not using my brain. I chose them to serve that role in my life.

I find myself not being completely honest when I don’t like the guy a friend is dating. I think we all do it.

At some point we have to make sure we stand up for our female friends. Dating is dangerous. I was imagining what Nancy Grace would have to say about my death and who would portray me in the Lifetime movie before I was ready to break contact with this dude.

I was not hurt, nor was I actually in danger. I was still very much in the getting to know you stage with this man. I dodged a bullet.

So, what is the best way to live up to The Girl Friend Code? What are the absolute traits we have to help our friends avoid? How do we help our lovely, strong, capable friends avoid being a headline? Any suggestions?