Luis

Yikes, Internet! Have I been slacking. 

I’m gonna be straight with you. This particular post, it was a tough one for me. You’ll see why. I think you’ll understand. 

Date Number 11 was with a guy named Luis. He and I met at a luau themed restaurant near me that has been in business forever despite never seeming to have any patrons. Luis works in finance. His personality reminded me a bit of my ex, actually. Smart. Subtly arrogant. When I asked him about his line of work, he prefaced a story by saying, “I don’t know if you remember this thing called the financial crisis that happened around 2008?” 

Nah, bro. Never heard of it. 

Luis has only been doing the online thing for a few months. He picked it up in March, when a long term relationship of his fell apart. “It’s something to help get my mind over the loss, I guess. It takes some getting used to”. 

I can attest to the truth of that statement. I know it did for me, when my ex and I called it. I asked him to tell me what happened. And so he did. 

“That was the end of 2007 until forever. She was from Texas. Out of school, I couldn’t find a job in finance. I started selling insurance and ended up with more clients down south. You know, people are nicer down there. So we moved to Texas. Some stuff with my mom happened, she got sick, and I had to come back. That was the end of 2011. I got a job in finance, but she was all settled in down South. I started hanging out with other people. Getting tempted. I ended up cheating on her. I kept getting away with it. Until I couldn’t anymore. One of my coworkers, at the time… we ended up being physically intimate. She got pregnant by me. She told me she was almost certain she was going to keep the baby. And that forced me to come up clean, with everything.”

This is a rough story, but it’s a common one, really. Long distance is hard. Monogamy is hard. Honesty is hard. Sex is easy. While that doesn’t excuse this type of behavior, we have all heard it before. But the next part of this hit me in a different way. Because 2011 is not several months ago, but several years. Which means that Luis’s recent ex, after all this, stayed with him. 

“She was devastated. But she stood by me. We tried to see if we could still hold on to something. Which brings us to very recently, this past March. She never wanted to have a connection with my daughter. I get it, because this is a being that exists that reminds her of my fuck up. All I wanted was for her to feel like my daughter was a member in her family. But I never felt she would feel that. And she has a right to feel that way. I remember a cousin of hers sent a baby picture, and she got so emotional about her cousin’s daughter. I never felt she would feel that for my kid. I never felt I could show her pictures of my daughter. That was tragic for me. I told her I couldn’t do it anymore. The whole situation.” 

This is a particular brand of story, Luis’s. Because it’s life-altering. It’s the kind of thing that happens to you where you look inside yourself and you’re never quite the same. Luis told me that after all of it went down, he was angry for a whole year. I fucking bet. I bet his ex was angry even longer. “Cheating is like alcoholism. You count the days where you haven’t done it”. Luis said that to me. That made me feel a way that I definitely sort of hated. Partially because it’s horrible, and dismal, and truly, next level sad, but also because I know how honest it is. As much as I’d rather not admit it, that feeling isn’t completely unfamiliar to me. 

And here’s the thing. I’ve been going on a lot of dates. And recently, one of them has managed to stick. We have been out more than once. I think about him a bit more than just how he’s gonna fit on my blog. But this shit with my ex did the thing to me that I can probably guess also happened to Luis, and his ex, and the mother of his child. Changed them in an actual, significant way. For the first time in maybe my whole life, my sadness isn’t just the mourning of a loss that although tough, I know I will recover from. I get why people do such dishonest shit to one another. If they end up hurting you, at least you’ve already got something in the bank. I win.

But of course we don’t actually win. Acting out of fear instead of faith is rarely the right choice. But I get it. It’s hard to trust, when your trust has been broken. 

Love,

Me

luis_loveme.jpg“I’ve been in the situation, where you immediately connect, and from the other end, it’s receptive. I don’t like using words like love at first sight, or anything like that, but it’s akin to that. It’s chemistry. I’ve had it before. So, I’m looking for it again. Why settle for less than great? It’s a real thing. In Spanish, there’s a word, ‘chispas’. It means like, where sparks are flying. It’s rare. When you have it, don’t fuck it. Don’t fuck it up, guys.”

Jeremiah

Happy anniversary, Internet! It has officially been two months since I have entered the realm of aggressive singledom and with it, relentless online dating. It has somehow managed to feel both like a literal eternity, and yet no time at all. It is sort of a new era though, both personally and blog-wise, not having to see my ex at my place of work anymore in my daily life. To him I say, in the words of an internet person who found the idea of partaking in this shit neither interesting nor amusing:Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.37.37 PM.pngBye Felicia indeed! 

For my first date with my newfound freedom, I met up with Jeremiah at a local cafe. Jeremiah, man. This dude was a character. As he sat down he told me he drinks “gallons of coffee a day, if not more”, proceeding to corroborate that statement by immediately ordering two of them to be delivered to him simultaneously. He was very obviously scandalized by my choice of decaf. I caught him slipping his empty sugar packets back into the little black sugar box on the table. When I asked him why the fuck, he told me laughingly “I’m a sadist. I have this obsession with doing things that don’t actually cause any harm or damage to anyone, but it causes people to break out of themselves for a moment.” 

This was gonna be fun. 

And it was! I sort of adored Jeremiah. A bit of a self described vagrant, he’s been on a lot of online dates, in a lot of cities. He started in 2012, after getting out of a long term relationship. Of his experiences, Jeremiah told me, “I’ve had the whole found love on it, crazy dates on it, stalkers on it. In the past five years I’ve talked to maybe a thousand people”. That’s an impressive statistic right there. I asked him to tell me more about the love part. “It’s a chemical attraction and there’s something that floods you. The second she walked in the door, I don’t remember anything else. It’s what most people desire in life. It was this attraction where everything was just perfect. It lasted six months, and then once again, something inside me told me that it’s time to move. She’s still my best friend. I think if life ever had the opportunity, we would probably be together. But I think it’s what everybody looks for in online dating. That moment of love.” 

How he found the resolve to walk away from something like that, I’ll never know. I’m not sure I could. But apparently, Jeremiah does it all the time. “You ever have those moments where you make eye contact with someone and you’re both just staring each other down, and there’s that physical energy? My favorite thing to do is to have that, and have a conversation with someone, and get into depth, and then just be like ‘I have to get going I hope you have a great day’, and walk away forever. And leaving people wondering”. 

Ordinarily I would find this type of behavior borderline insane. But it fit Jeremiah, and his personality, and his circumstances. I asked him what he’s looking for in a person, and he told me that at the moment, he’s not really looking for much. “To tell the truth, love fucks up relationships forever. If you find true love. Once you have something great… after meeting that girl, I haven’t been able to put myself in a real relationship”.  

I used to feel that way, about the only person I think I could say I’ve really loved completely. And it was exactly how my buddy Jeremiah described it. Instant. Inescapable. I’d never been pulled into someone’s orbit that way before in my life, and I’m not sure I ever will again. It was a weight I carried with me for a long time. Too long. Remarkably, despite having a whole blog dedicated to the guy, that feeling did not belong to my ex. But strangely enough, when he left, he took that other feeling with him. I loved my ex differently. Quickly. Intensely. And somehow, in the losing and processing of that one thing, I was able to let the other go as well. And that. That feels like the real start of something new. For once, despite all of it, I feel clean. 

Love, 

Me 

jeremiah_loveme.jpg“I never wanted a white picket fence. I always wanted to see the world. Go wherever I wanted and do whatever I wanted. Be happy and content, just momentary happiness to momentary happiness. That’s the problem with relationships. Everybody just wants to feel not lonely. Because loneliness can be a burden, but it can also be a blessing and a bliss. The knowledge that you aren’t responsible for anyone. The knowledge that any mistake you make, it doesn’t leave a wake. That you can be happy with what you want to be happy with. It’s this beautiful existence that we have.” 

Mike

The end of the school year has arrived, Internet! I am jobless and free. Additionally, my ex has officially left the building. We had an ugly and unexpected goodbye confrontation at work in which I told him that I hated him and that he broke my heart and cried. He responded by looking at me and blinking. There’s really a wealth of emotional depth to that guy, lemme tell ya. The whole thing somehow managed to feel unnecessarily dramatic and yet very unceremonious at the same time. But! At least it’s over and done with. He will move on to a new opportunity come next year, and I will be remaining at my current post. Given that I don’t get found out and subsequently fired for writing this blog, that is. 

Now that summer has begun, I figured I might as well roll on down to the shore area for my next date with Mike. He was cool; as it turned out, we had quite a bit in common. He’s a self-taught photographer building his own company, so I got to talk shop with him for a bit. 

An ambitious dude, he’s also in school to become a physical therapist. Mike seems like he’s had a real run of it with the online dating. “I had a whole lot of bad experiences. It was so mentally exhausting that I took a six month break from dating and entered the world of celibacy.” Yikes, man. My condolences. 

As we sat and sipped Negronis, Mike told me how he had tried reconnecting with a girl he’d dated somewhere near seven years ago.  

“She seemed so far out of my league… but we connected. Fast forward seven years, I asked if she wanted to come out and grab drinks. We started talking, and texting each other every single day. She invited me to spend the weekend. We ended up paddle boarding looking at the New York City skyline. How much more romantic could you possibly be? We make out, it’s obvious we like each other. But the next day, she was a completely different person. Cold. Not affectionate. I felt unwelcome. I ended up leaving early. She told me to text her when I got home… I didn’t hear anything from her. She fucking ghosted me. I would’ve been fine, but don’t leave me out in the fucking dust to wonder. I was like, fuck this person. I realized she did the same exact thing to me when we broke up the first time. Word to the wise, never try to get back together with exes. No matter how hot they are.”

I think Mike is probably dishing out some sound advice there. We wound up talking about exes quite a bit. He told me a story of another one of his, from a few years past:

“I would’ve thought about marriage. She was the only girl I enjoyed making things for. She was really thankful for anything that I would do for her. Genuine and purely thankful. I adored that about her. When we broke up… for me to try salvaging that relationship, I did everything. But she had these unrealistic expectations. We mutually decided to call it. And she was like, ‘so that’s it, it’s happening now?’, and she asks me, ‘can we cuddle for the last time?’ and we cuddled, and I had her head in my chest, and she was just crying. We had this thing, where whenever she was weak, I would be the rock, and whenever I was weak, she would be the rock. We had this dynamic where we were always strong for each other. So I just let cry. I was there for her. That was it. She left, and I never saw her again. I let her go.” 

Mike cried when he told me this story. When I told him that it was okay, and he didn’t have to, he said to me, “no. I don’t know you that well, but I respect you as an artist”. That blew me away. It blew me away, and it humbled me. So many of us are so fucking scared to be vulnerable. I am. Constantly. My ex was. Trying to get that dude to open up to me was like squeezing water out of a rock. He took an undue amount of pride in the fact that he hadn’t cried since he was seventeen. Nearly a whole decade of stoicism and sarcasm masquerading as strength. 

Sometimes memory feels like a maze to me. You try to get out but turn corners and hit things you don’t want to tackle, and head in the opposite direction until you’re so lost that you eventually decide to just call the maze home. And then you have Mike. Who comes to me, a complete stranger, and is open, and honest, even though those things require betraying all the nonsense and bullshit we so frequently wrap ourselves up in to keep other people out of those places that we run away from. 

But really, we shouldn’t run. There’s so much beauty, in both ourselves and each other, to be found. 

Love, 

Me

minkin_loveme.jpg“I spent some time working on myself. I realized that once I was alone and by myself, I was not over some of my past relationships. So I went through a process of mourning, because I needed to do it. And then I became very happy. It was the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m still the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel like a better person having had that time period to myself. Remember who were you when you were an individual. People forget who they are, and it’s like the worst thing that you could possibly do. Once you’re out of it, you feel like you’re missing something. You miss being loved by another person. So you go sleep sleep with somebody else, or enter into another relationship. But what about loving yourself? Give yourself some love.”

Ken

Top of the morning, Internet! Writing to you today from the greatest city in the world, New York! More specifically, my friend’s apartment in Astoria, Queens, where I am currently trapped. FullSizeRender (8)As it turns out, debit cards don’t work after you put them through the washing machine. Incidentally, you also need money to get on the subway, which as of yesterday afternoon, I ran out of. So until my very good friend gets out of work and can come pay my way back home, this is where I’ll be. It’s always an adventure, when you’re a literal idiot. Keeps things interesting.

Anyway, let’s get back to it. For my most recent dating excursion, I met up with Ken at a 50’s themed diner I used to frequent for boozy BYO lunch with my friends, back when that was a thing I did. Ah, the glory days. Ken came off right away as a very mellow guy; he had a great laid back, chill energy about him. He’s a sous chef at an Italian restaurant, as well as a father to a very cute 5 year old (he showed me pictures). So far, he’s been online dating for about three years. When I asked him how his experience has been thus far, he told me “it’s extremely difficult. Because with cooking, there’s very limited time that I have, especially because I have a daughter as well. I’m not going to sacrifice my time with her. So I try to make it work, but in a week, I maybe have 12 free hours.” That’s an intense lifestyle. Props to Ken for putting up with the shit storm that is trying to find a life partner on top of it.  

Ken actually sort of blew my mind. He has a crazy story, which he was generous enough to share with me for this project. “We ended up being together for four years. We were engaged. It’s a pretty bad story. We had two friends, but they were really her friends. They were a couple, and they ended up breaking up. The one kid, came and stayed with us. It was my daughter, my fiancé, him, and me in the house. I was working 60-70 hours a week. Save money, make my bills, provide for everybody. And I always had this odd feeling when I came home from work. She always used to come and greet me at the door, you know, it was cute. And about two months in of this guy staying with us, she stopped. So I came home one day, and everybody was gone. He wasn’t there, she wasn’t there, my daughter wasn’t there. It ended up, she had left our daughter at her mother’s house, and went away with this guy. After that, I was pretty down. One of the darkest times in my life. And then that’s actually how I started online dating. Figured I’d give it a shot.” 

I can say pretty confidently that if this had been me, the only thing I’d be giving a shot is a commitment to a life of solitude. I have such respect for people’s bravery in the face of what I can only imagine is just devastating loss. But Ken has such an adventurous outlook on life that by the conclusion of our date, I wasn’t at all surprised that he continues to be game to the idea of love. “Dating is fun. You never know what you’re gonna get. My ideal person would be adventurous. I’m pretty spontaneous. I’ve left work sometimes and driven straight to North Carolina, just like that, with no care in the world. Up to Montauk. Out to Lake George. At the drop of the dime, I wanna be gone. And then you just come back in the morning.” 

I have a ton of admiration for that. I know very few people who could be dedicated to their child, be passionate about their work, and still find the time and energy to live life in as full of a way as Ken does. It’s pretty inspiring. 

So this is usually when I talk about the ex, or myself, or our relationship. Partially because it’s cathartic, partially because if all these strangers are willing to have me put their lives up on this blog, the least I can do is return the favor. But I’m not going to do that today. Instead, I want to talk about the people I have met so far. I have been on eight dates with kind, interesting, multifaceted, unique, strong, open individuals who have been generous enough to share with me (and all of us, really) some of their most personal stories. That’s a real privilege. When I started this project, I’m not really sure what I was expecting. But as it moves forward, I only continue to be more surprised, and uplifted, and grateful for having the chance to meet and get to know these people. And to me, that’s a note worth mentioning. I think it’s also one worth ending on. 

Love, 

Me 

ken_loveme“Someone who’s willing to work. A lot of girls, they want a finished product. So, that’s something that’s always important. No matter how old you are, or no matter where you are in life, you’re always a work in progress. You gotta go through the motions, you gotta figure yourself out. Like even right now, I’m still figuring myself out. I need somebody to be like, ‘yeah, I get it. You’re gonna change a little bit.’ Don’t force me to change, but let me change, you know? Once you stop… I think like, once you stop doing that, that’s when then fun stops.”

Abdul

Whaddup, Internet! Had this gem of a conversation the other day. If the ex is gonna put my car up for sale on Craigslist, might as well have some fun with it. 

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Despite having feminine hands, I’d say my ex is a pretty handsome guy. I’m weird about attraction though, in that I tend to be somewhat oblivious to it. I rarely meet someone and lock onto them in a physical way. It’s only once I start to catch feelings do I look at someone and notice, “oh yeah, and I guess you’re kind of cute, too”. 

With my next date, Abdul, that was not the case! I noticed right away. You’d have to be blind not to. Dude looked like he walked out of a catalog. When I later showed his picture to a friend, he responded with “where’d you find that model?”

In addition to being stupid sexy, Abdul was one of the most interesting people I have met maybe ever. He grew up in Pakistan, went to college for medical studies in the Caribbean, knows how to scuba dive, learned to surf during a hurricane (what even?), and speaks four languages. For the first half hour of this interview I had a hard time forming coherent sentences. What the fuck was this dude doing on the Internet? 

Abdul started off by sharing a bit about his past. “I’m Muslim, and my whole family is super religious. That’s how I was raised. In Pakistan, if you want to be a good Muslim, you can’t interact with girls, so I was deprived of that. When I moved to the Caribbeans, that was my first exposure to the real world. I would talk to girls, and I would find out from other people that I was coming off weird or creepy. So I told all my friends that if I was doing something wrong, tell it to my face. So that’s how I became more fluid with interactions. If you saw me two years ago, I did not know how to talk to women. I see other people coming from Pakistan, and they’re so confused. They’re like, ‘I look good, I’m talking to girls, I have money, why aren’t they talking to me back?’” 

That made me so sad! I could throw a lot of adjectives around to describe Abdul, but weird or creepy would definitely not be included. We agreed that he should start a web series to help people coming from Pakistan learn how to speak to women.

He told me that his beliefs have informed a lot of his romantic experiences. “Most Muslims follow the Hadith, which are the sayings of the prophet. I choose to follow more the Quran, which is more lenient. I had a date with a girl, and she chose to follow more the sayings. We had a conversation about it online, and she seemed to be okay with it. But before the date started, somewhere in the conversation it became about religion, and she brought it up in a way that suggested it wouldn’t work between us because of it. It was an interesting way to start the date. After that, we talked for maybe about three weeks, and then she just stopped replying to my messages. But I get it. It was gonna happen eventually.” 

Clearly, Abdul is more lax about the dating scene than I could ever hope to be in a thousand life times. 

We talked a lot about religion. It’s a fascinating topic. But it’s not all we talked about. We also talked about work, and family, and friends, and traveling, and making art, and going on adventures. Somewhere along the lines of this interview, it stopped feeling like an interview. It felt like an actual date. We had good, engaging conversation. As it turns out, we like to do a lot of the same things. Abdul was cultured. Interesting. Smart. I think I’m pretty safe saying there was mutual attraction between us.

It completely freaked me out. It made me miss my ex, and partly in a real way, but also in sort of an escapist one. In a “fuck I just realized at some point I am going to have to form a connection with another human being and just let me go back to the thing I already had” way. Because before things were bad with my ex, they were good. This one night we were laying in bed, and I was losing it crying about my job.  He pulled me close to him, and looked at me, and told me, “we will be okay”. And in that moment, I felt safe. We will be okay.

We got there because one night, we went to a bar. The next, we went to a diner. On a random Monday, we called out of work, and instead of spending the day at our job, spent it with each other. At some point, we had sex. At another, we made love. And then at another still, we fell deeply into it. Until we landed there. At safety. When I was with him, I felt like I was home. And then, just as swiftly as it came, it went away. That’s not an easy thing to just let go of. Confronted with the reality of having to eventually form that with another person, all I wanted was the old one back. 

Of course it gets easier. If I had a nickel for every time I said I’m gonna become a cat lady, I wouldn’t need a man, because I’d be rich as shit. And yet I always go back to falling in love. Because I know that it’s worth it. I think we all do. But when I got home from that date, all I wanted to do was hide under the covers with some Netflix, and drink a glass of wine, and lie to myself a bit longer about a person that I know, in my heart, is very much gone. So that’s what I did. And sometimes, that’s okay too. 

Love,

Me

abdul_loveme“I’ve preferred to date Muslims. I’ve had it in my head that I want to marry a Muslim… my mom, dad, and brother have all passed away. Now, since I’m an adult and I don’t have anyone to look up to, it’s just me, experimenting with different things. So I think I’m getting out of that mindset, of needing to marry a Muslim. I’m trying to expand my horizons, so I can get a feel for everything, and know what’s good for me and what’s bad for me. I believe everything happens for a reason.”

Adam

You know, Internet, people are looking for all sorts of things when they online date. Love. Companionship. Casual sex. 

Directions. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.37.00 AM

Validation. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.22.38 AM

Drugs. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.23.43 AM

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Adam, who understands the function of a dating app, and is looking for an earnest connection with another human person. 

Adam suggested we go on a picnic date. As someone who has always wanted to go on a picnic, this sounded like the best idea ever. Adam was a very down to earth guy. We ended up having a lot in common; we studied at the same college, are both into outdoorsy type stuff, and share a love of good red wine and local craft beer. Adam was easy to talk to. He’s the first person I’ve gone out with where it felt less like an interview and instead more of a casual conversation. Honestly, Adam and I hardly talked about online dating. He’d done it, sometimes more, sometimes less, but hadn’t really found much of connection within it. 

Mostly, we just talked about life. 

Of his current situation, romantic and otherwise, Adam told me, “it’s the weirdest thing. This is kind of where I don’t know where I fit. It’s this weird flux. I’m at this point in my life where I don’t know where the hell to go, and it would just be really really cool to figure it out. There’s no real heading to me. There’s a couple different options, and I would like to head towards one. It’s such a vague, weird answer… do you get that?” Yes! I get that hard. I’ve often wished I could fraction myself off and test out potential choices before actually making a commitment to one. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels sort of that way. 

I asked Adam what he hoped to find in a person. But he countered first, asking me what my most beautiful, romantic moment out of all my relationships had been. “Then I’ll explain what I look for”. So I told him a story from a long time ago, about a distant fourth of July, with a person who once was not only my partner, but also my best friend. 

Afterwards, he told me a story about an artist he dated a few years back. “She was going to an internship. There was this big farmhouse, and that’s where the people would stay. The barn was the studio. In the front yard, there was a hammock, and across the street there was a wheat field. Every weekend I was up there. One night, we grabbed a bottle of wine, laid in the hammock, and a thunderstorm rolled in. We didn’t say a word to each other for an hour. It was a beautiful moment. Next day, it’s around midnight, grabbed another bottle of wine, went out into the wheat field, way out, stamped down all the grass, it was the clearest night imaginable. And we’re laying out in the grass, just looking up at the stars together. It was just the perfect moment. She was so open to everything. It was special. And what I look for in a woman, is someone I can share beautiful moments with.”

I related to this. In fact, I related to most of the things Adam said. The whole reason I started this blog was so that people could read it, and through hearing other people’s stories, maybe feel a bit less alone about their own. I found that for myself in spending time with Adam. It was actually pretty nice. 

The whole date was nice. We met at the Botanical Gardens, which were beautiful. Adam had brought an awesome picnic. Food, wine, the whole works. After we ate and I took his picture, we walked around the grounds. There’s this old-timey type mansion there that has been converted into a hotel. You’re not allowed in unless you’re a guest, but we found a service door open in the back and crept around the kitchen and sitting rooms until someone discovered us and told us to leave. It was goofy, and silly, and felt like an adventure. It was fun. It was the most weird, fun thing I’d done in a while.  

As we parted ways, Adam and I agreed that we should hang out again, as friends. “I like to keep good people in my life”, he told me. Me too. 

Love, 

Me 

adam_loveme“You want to know what I look for in someone? I’m really looking for something more. And not just with women, just everything. I’m looking for more meaningful experiences. I’m looking for more beauty in my life. And having someone that can share that with you? Where you look at each other and you’re in the same moment? Wild. I really try and look for the beauty in life. I really think that’s what it’s about.” 

Chris

LOL, INTERNET. El oh el. 

Remember when we were kids on the playground, and our moms used to tell us that if a boy pulled your hair or poked you with a stick, it meant that they liked you? Well, what if a boy puts your car up for sale on Craigslist? Because THAT’S WHAT MY EX DID. 

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Not only did he put it on Craigslist, but he made me sound like a complete moron, and also priced it $4,000 below value. I found this out when some rando called me on my way to my next date and asked when he could come see my vehicle. His response to this scenario was, “oh shit, someone’s messin’ witchu? That’s fucked up”. Yeah, bro! Yeah it is. He put this up on the Internet literally immediately after we had that nice moment I told you all about at the end of my last post. I went to teach my class; he had a free, and so went and did this. 

But I get it. Dude is a man-child on the grown up playground that is life. He’s also kind of a dick, but that’s not exactly news.

Anyway, on to the next thing, which is my date with Chris. Chris had a great entrepreneurial spirit. He’s a marketing major from Pace who started a fraternity in college, and is now building his own company. He’s been doing the Internet thing on and off for a few years, and said of the experience, “It’s like trying to find an oasis in a desert… there are more little things that can come in the way of you actually meeting someone, that it can start to make people think ‘oh, there’s something wrong with me’”. I would venture to say that all dating can make you feel that way, but that doesn’t make his point any less true.

Of the online dating game, Chris shared with me, “Showing who you are is really hard. One girl, at first she didn’t think we’d get along because I look very New Jersey. Very clean cut. I’m more of an art kind of guy, but it doesn’t come out for a while. It’s hard to show people that other than just non-stop talking about it, which also can make you sound like a know-it-all. Looks have a lot to do with it, more than you think. It’s not even attraction. I mean, it is, but I’m saying in terms of like… everybody thinks I’m a conservative Republican type, and I’m not at all. I just went for what worked for me. I like graphic design. I’m also a writer. Personality wise, I have a lot of traits that famous writers do. I like to say that I have a writer’s soul”. 

Only a writer could come up with a sentiment as lovely as that one, so I would have to say that I agree with him. 

Speaking of writing, Chris brought with him a black notebook. When I asked him about it, he told me “one of my big things is, I have a learning disability. I noticed a couple patterns kept happening, so I wrote down rules so that I wouldn’t forget, because it’s so tricky. ‘Always wait a day to respond. Use emojis if possible.’ It’s just watching habits, of what people tend to do. I always try to look at the evidence first.” 

Patterns and evidence. My ex was the type of guy who I rarely went four hours without hearing from. He’s the romantic type; he once told me that he never wanted us to go to sleep without saying “goodnight” and “I love you”. Those things right there, are a pattern. Right before we broke up, he dropped off the map for about four days. I hardly heard from him at all. Dude didn’t even come to work. He stopped saying goodnight. He stopped saying I love you. 

I have no evidence of where he could possibly have been, or what he was doing. On the third night of his brief tenure as a ghost, I drove over to his place. He wasn’t home. He later gave me an excuse. It smelled like bullshit, but maybe it was true. And I could collect more evidence; it wouldn’t be hard to do. When this all first happened, the worst part of it was not knowing what was going on. But now I think I prefer it. Best case scenario I find out it’s true, but it’s not like it changes anything. He still treated me poorly. We’re still broken up. But I’m very aware that the worst case scenario, in which he is lying to me, probably involves something that I’d just rather not know. With some things you’re better off left in the dark. 

Love, 

Me

chris_loveme“The longest running thing, which was kind of an emotional thing… there was this one girl I met online, and we didn’t quite click romantically, but we became really good friends, like pen pals almost. And we got really close. A bunch of crazy stuff started happening, and yeah, it didn’t end well. It was like two years. I mean, again, we weren’t dating. But it was tough. There are a lot of crazy people out there.That’s where there are rules.”

Mike

Hey, Internet. What a 24 hours it has been. 

I’m gonna get right into it with Mike. I had actually forgotten that I’d scheduled this. I knew that the date was out there somewhere in the future, but it was a total oh shit moment when he asked if we were still on. But internet dating waits for nobody, and I didn’t want to seem flaky (which in real life, I totally am) or like a dick (which in real life, I try really hard not to be), and so I agreed to meet up that night. 

Mike was a huge culture buff. It would’ve been hard to hit him with a TV show or movie that he didn’t know. He’s also a writer, working on a stage play that he soon hopes to put into production. Pretty much right off the bat he shared with me that he has Asperger’s. When I asked him if it was okay to include that detail in the blog, his response was “oh, yeah. It makes the story more interesting”. Cool guy, that Mike. 

He had a pretty cynical view of the online dating scene. He relayed the following story about some chick he had taken out, the whole thing drenched in sarcasm. “She got there fifteen minutes before me. She already had the food ordered. She ordered a virgin bloody mary and nachos without anything on them but melted cheese. She kept ordering appetizers. She was very loopy. If I was making a film, Amy Poehler would’ve played her role. She said she’d had something like six guys propose to her. Like an unbelievable amount. She left right before the waitress came back, leaving me with the check. Good thing I had accidentally withdrawn two hundred dollars and not twenty dollars out of my account.” What. The fuck. 

I definitely hate this bitch, but Mike told me he gave her a second chance. “That’s one of my flaws. I always try and see the good in people”. On their second date, she apparently didn’t remember ever having met him. We decided that she is either a drifter or on drugs. My personal vote is both. 

When I asked if he felt his Aspergers impacted his dating experience, he said it absolutely did. “It’s completely invisible to 95% of people. But it makes my perception of things very distorted… I’m the sort of person who sometimes can’t understand social cues unless they’re six inches away from me, which is what gets me in trouble in all sorts of areas. I get too close too fast. It’s a wreck. Every single person I’ve seen, the dates stop when I make the big reveal.” As if all of this isn’t already hard enough. That broke my heart.

It also turned out to be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the end of the date, Mike tried to kiss me. That broke my heart even more. 

Of course I stopped him. People in my current headspace shouldn’t be kissing other people, especially not ones as nice as Mike. And I told him that. I told him that I thought he was a great person (because he certainly seemed to be) and that he deserved someone as such (because that is true) and that I am just not in a situation to possibly conceptualize a relationship—physical or otherwise—with another person (because that is the current reality of my life). And he was beyond cool about it. He told me he respected my honesty. He hugged me three times. I kissed him on the cheek. I wanted to hit my ex in the face with a rolled up newspaper. I don’t even know why, really. None of it was his fault.

I saw him at work the next morning. We usually do this flirtatious thing. It’s stupid, but that’s life. You used to sleep with someone, and that doesn’t just go away. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying. But the vibe was different that day. Neither of us seemed to have the energy; I certainly didn’t. So we had a real conversation, where we looked at each other and said things that were honest. For the first time since we broke up, I felt like maybe we could actually be friends. We’re teachers, in case you didn’t already know. And when the bell rang, and I went to leave and teach my class, he grabbed my arm as I went to walk out the door, and pulled me close, and we hugged for a long time, and kissed each other on the cheek, and I missed him so much before he even pulled away. 

I felt like crying when I walked into my classroom. I sat down and just stared at my desk like an idiot. Most of my kids were on a field trip that day. I almost didn’t come to work, which I had told them the day before. Don’t expect me. When one of the students who was there came in to class, she ran up to me and gave me a hug, and told me she was happy to see me. It was the best thing that could possibly have happened to me in that moment. Sometimes life is generous that way. 

Love, 

Me

mike_loveme“I want to get a connection. To feel that I can get somewhere with someone. That maybe there’s a chance that, you know, this could go on to something. It’s transactional almost. I want to really like… I want to have that bond. I want to make sure to have this like, give or take sort of thing. And if you can’t do that, then things are going to end.”

Russell

Happy weekend, Internet! And what a glorious weekend it is shaping up to be. 

Let’s talk about how I suck at breakups. I am too nice. I am too nice, and then shit like this happens. Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 8.05.51 PMI sign onto my Netflix account and the ex has made his own username! And he goes and calls it “Me”. I gotta give him credit. Dude has balls. Clearly I do not, because when I saw him at work after discovering this information, I did basically nothing about it. We can attribute half of that reaction to my finding this objectively amusing, and the other half to me still being casually in love with him. We had this very weird exchange in which he stated that he’ll know I’ve found another person when he tries to sign on one day and realizes I’ve changed the password on him. He has this way of acting passively wounded when we speak sometimes. Like he forgets that at the end of the day, he’s the one who decided to call it. 

But let’s talk about Russell. Russell was deep. Well spoken, smart, self aware. He went to what sounded like the best college ever (he would take one class at a time intensively, per month, rather than the usual four a semester deal), and is about to move to the city to work in environmental education. When I asked to him tell me about his experiences with the internet romance scene, he laughed and told me, “the longer I’ve been online dating, the more often when I’m on an online date we talk extensively about online dating. Because it doesn’t actually make sense in a natural way, and we’re all just trying to make it work.” 

Russell talked more about theory towards dating than actual dates, which I found very cool. He’s an insightful guy, and I genuinely enjoyed listening to him share with me his thoughts. He told me of himself and his experience with relationships, “You think this is your salvation from a lonely, sad twenties. But it doesn’t solve your life. That’s an interesting thing I’ve learned over the past few years. That the idealization of whatever a relationship can do for your life, that it’ll make you not lonely anymore, or get your career figured out, self esteem issues fixed, any magical ‘whatever is wrong’ fixed… I found out being in a relationship sometimes makes it worse. It’s just a distraction from all the other things.” Yes! This. This forever. Told you he was insightful. 

We also talked a bit about old relationships, both from the internet and otherwise. How sometimes things that happened yesterday can actually pale in comparison to the intensity of people or moments from the distant past of our lives. “Emotion is not… it’s weird to accept, but emotion, I don’t think, is tied to time. And actually that’s false, but also true. Because emotions fade over time, but then in the same way they can kick up as though it happened one moment ago. It’s a little scary.”

My ex has two kids, with a women that, if what he’s told me is true, he has a long, convoluted history with. Since at one point we were basically living together, I’ve heard them speak to one another on occasion. It always sounded tense. Unpleasant. But circumstances change, and if I am to believe him, that is what has happened here. That in the week leading up to our breakup, her demeanor had become more open, welcoming. That if their relationship grew in some significant way, at some point farther down the line, he isn’t sure he’d want to say no. Because of his children. Their family. Their history. And that that wouldn’t be fair to me. 

It’s why I’ve been so easy on him. Because that thing about emotion and time, I’ve lived that experience. I respect him for being at least partially honest, if that is in fact what he’s doing, even though I know that on the flip side of that coin is him simultaneously, quietly fucking with me. It’s still better than I did, when something similar happened to me, and I had a lot less at stake than he does. And the next step, really, should be so simple, right? Just walk away, move on. And yet it feels so complex, when someone you love lets you go, but at the same time continues, in small ways, to ask you to stay. 

Russell told me that he realized, a long time ago, that he felt part of his dating experience was like “swallowing enough poison to realize that it’s poison”. That by going on a multitude of dates at one point in his life, he eventually found a need in himself to first be comfortable being alone. “The things in life that we think we should do are very powerful”, he said to me of the constant pressure to feel like you have to find a partner, and it’s very true. It’s harder than we often give credit to decipher what, or how, or with who we want all the things in our life to really be. Russell seems to have achieved a pretty impressive grasp on it, though. Here’s to hoping me (and probably most of the rest of us) eventually figure it the fuck out. Until next time! 

Love, 

Me

russel_lovemeWe met through OKCupid. We went on one date, and within like three we were seeing each other all the time. Within like a month we were boyfriend-girlfriend. It was very weird. Too fast. It was sad, because she was a really good person. I think it could have had more legs if it went more slowly. When I reflect on my past relationship, the closest friendships I’ve had are with people I’ve known for like, ten years or more. They inch along, and with some of my friends we had known each other a number of years before a real intimacy developed. And I’m looking for that a lot more in a relationship now. I’m looking for a best friend.”

Leonard

Good morning, Internet! 

As if going into work every day isn’t already fun enough, the drive took me over two hours this morning. Because of that, I have made the conscious choice to be unproductive all day long, and write this instead. However, my ex is seated across from me taking a nap, so at least I’m not the most useless person on the job today. We are all very professional here. 

In a fit of mostly arbitrary rage, I changed the ex’s contact name to “Die, Jerk” this weekend. It’s the title of a Gilmore Girls episode, so at least now every time he texts me I think of them and smile. I got this from him yesterday: 

FullSizeRender (6)

I’m not entirely sure what the point of this message is, considering us no longer being together and all. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to calls or texts with his name attached. The main reason I changed his info to that is because I hardly heard from him all weekend, a shift from the consistent contact he’s kept thus far since we broke up. I’m not at a point yet where I want to believe he’s able to forget about me so easily. So I’ll take it out on his contact information. I’m still too delusionally hopeful that maybe we can reconcile and have a future to actually take it out on him personally. Although at this point, after all that’s happened, I’m pretty certain it’s a future that I wouldn’t even want. Feelings are funny that way. 

Anyway, the reason my commute was so long is because I crashed at my mom’s, who lives an hour south of both myself and my job. I went down for date two of the project, to meet up with Leonard at a local bar. Before my ex became my ex, the bar scene on a Monday is the last place I thought I’d find myself. Chatting up the bartender, waiting for my date, watching people fall in and out of conversation. It’s a lifestyle that I sincerely thought I had left behind. But if and when you come back, it never really changes. There’s something akin to comfort in that constancy; it’s not quite the same feeling, but it’s close. 

Leonard arrived not long after me. He drank Bud Light, and I pretended to have vodka soda that was actually just seltzer in a drink glass with a lime on it. I had gotten there early to cajole the bartender into faking my alcohol for the duration of the date. No one likes to think they are drinking alone, but alcohol and I have a long history, so I try to keep it to a minimum, especially on a Monday night. 

Leonard was the type of guy with whom I was instantly at ease with. It turns out we grew up in the same area. We even went to local high schools with rivaling sports teams. He’s an engineer, plans to Uber drive to make some extra dough over the summer, does volunteer work, and responded to my prompt about online dating with, “my experience with online dating is… I hate it.” I think most of us are right there with you, Leonard. 

Leonard was very down to earth about the experiences he shared with me. When I asked him what he felt was the best part about online dating, he told me, “Maybe I’m being too naive, but I just like going out and meeting people. Like up until this point where we met, you and me have both had lives. It’s interesting.” I love that. 

He also told me about his ex that he just ended things with, who he actually met online. They had broken up three weeks prior to our meeting. “I still have this hindsight in mind that she was seeing other people. The thing was, I asked her. And she said, quote for quote, “I’m not seeing anyone right now”. And I was just like ‘oh, okay. You wanna play these games, sure. Why not.’ I just want people to be honest with me. If you’re seeing other people, don’t leave me in the dark, because I’m not just gonna see other people unless I know we’re really not together. I said to her, ‘if you’re seeing ten guys right now, go for it. Just be honest with me’.” 

There’s so much in that. When my ex and I were together, all he did was tell me to be honest. That no matter what, he would respect the truth from me more than a lie, no matter how ugly. And the result was that even though I know everybody lies, I believed that he didn’t. And now that I’m on the other side of the whole thing, viewing it from another angle, I have no idea how much of what he told me, or continues to tell me, was the truth. I want to believe it was all of it (because there was so much loveliness in what he said of himself, and me, and us), fear that it was none of it, and suspect that probably, like most things, it was somewhere in between. 

Before we parted ways, Leonard said to me of his experience with his most recent ex and others, “There’s no wrong or right way to live life. Just do what you gotta do. But don’t pretend.” I love that, too. 

Love, 

Me

leonard_loveme copy

“Yeah, my last girlfriend, we met online. We just broke up three weeks ago. Together seven months. What happened was, we went to Atlantic City, she was fucked up on molly, she asked me to be her boyfriend, and then she forgot. So there’s a two month period where I’m like, ‘I guess we’re in a relationship’, and she’s like, ‘why does this dude think we’re in a relationship right now?’ She’s looking at me like, ‘why are you moving so fast?’ So that kind of threw us off. But we never fought. We never got in each other’s faces. We always had fun together. She was really cool.”