Keep Going: It’s Supposed to Be This Way

” As painful as this all is, I know that in the end things will work out how they’re supposed to, and I’ll keep going.”

Lotusgirl80, November 25, 2014

I still remember when I wrote those words. At the time, I’m not sure I whole-heartedly believed them to be true. My heartbreak was fresh, I was taking it day by day, trying to stay positive, but losing interest in those life sustaining activities, like sleeping and eating. My days went by in slow motion, and life seemed to be a chore. I had lost a piece of myself, or at least that’s how it felt. It took time, a long time, to truly believe that things would work out, and that I’d keep going.

It was the time and distance from my heartbreak that gave me a new perspective, and made me realize that all the pieces were already inside me. The love we had was beautiful, but it wasn’t perfect. We both had our faults, and I kept making excuses for him and trying to change who I was. I couldn’t see that when I was with him, and it took me a long time to realize that after we broke up. Now that I have distance, I can admit to myself that he was not the one that got away — it just wasn’t meant to be. Still, he’ll always hold a place in my heart, and the beauty of his faith and integrity will never escape me. He taught me to always be grateful, and to ask for more — not to settle.

And as I keep going, it is with gratefulness and a desire for something more. And this is reflected in all aspects of my life, not just my dating life. (I know my stories here have morphed into a dating blog recently, but there’s been a lot more going on behind the scenes.) In January, I started a post-graduate program, and after many all-nighters and internal questioning, I completed what I had started, and am now looking into new possibilities. In May, I quit a job that filled my need for productivity and belonging to the daily grind, but was ultimately no longer serving me, filling me with confusion and resentment. In June, I began following a dream that stemmed from my elementary school days, a dream to run long distances. After an intense 16-week training program, I ran my first half marathon in October, and now I have plans to run a marathon….eventually. To be honest, I’ve had my doubts along the way, but I have moved through these changes, thankful for the support of others, and my own internal drive that has kept asking for more of myself.

And love. I’ve had my doubts. For a long time, I didn’t believe it was out there and was so reluctant to make another connection, especially an online one. However, I did get back in the game, even created an online dating profile (hovering over ‘delete’ the whole time) before settling for that good-on-paper guy who totally didn’t get me. That didn’t last long, because my inner voice kept speaking out and I decided to listen. And I am so glad I did listen because I was shutting myself off to a real connection.

The real connection. I’ve met someone who gets me. I’ve met someone who makes me believe in love again. I’ve met someone who’s not afraid to share what’s on his mind, and I feel comfortable reciprocating. I’ve met someone who uses the word ‘love’ freely to talk about what matters to him, and  notices how guarded I am with that same word. I’ve met someone who makes me laugh to the point of tears. I’ve met someone who appreciates my randomness, or peculiarities, as he calls them. I’ve met someone who wants to explore the world and all the possibilities it holds. I’ve met someone who has woken me up to the possibility of an ‘us’.  And if you must know, we met on that feminist app, Bumble.

So, I’m glad I didn’t give up on online dating, and that I kept going, asking for more in all aspects of my life. I truly believe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Before I die, I want to fall in love again....
Before I die, I want to fall in love again….

 

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Dating Lessons: Trust that Voice Inside

For all of you following my dating life, this is the long overdue update.  The adventures are over, and now I’ve relearned a valuable lesson. It’s one of those lessons that we’re taught at a young age, and revisit through various stages of our lives. It sounds like this….listen to your gut, follow your intuition, trust that voice inside. Spoiler: I don’t always trust that voice inside.

The last time I sat before these keys I was reminiscing about crushes and those butterflies that make new relationships so much fun. Truth be told, I was hoping that those feelings would stir in me again as I was about to embark on a third date. The third date made me think about the possibilities, but then I kept bumping into a wall, the voice inside.

On the second date, I held my introvert card tightly, but on the third date I loosened my grip. I took control of the conversation, talked about my work, my passions, my writing, and we met half way, both sharing and getting to know each other a bit more.  As we took in the art show, admiring and analyzing the paintings, I let my guard down, spoke my mind, and discovered that his ex-wife and I have something in common — we blog about him. I told him about my blog, he asked what I wrote about, and then that was it. I’m not sure I would have shared the URL with him, but he didn’t even ask. As we hugged goodbye, I missed that someone who cared about my writing.

I hushed that voice, we spent a week apart, I rationalized the little stuff, and we met again for a concert in the park.  The swing music was good, but he was more interested in showing me pictures of his new house, and I didn’t mind that. After the concert, we went for ice cream and reclined in the field next to the petting zoo. As he twirled the blades of grass between his fingers, he asked me, “Where is this going? Do you always take things this slow?” The questions caught me off guard. Was I taking things slow? Why am I still uncertain? I managed, “I’m still getting to know you. I would like to see you again.” Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, that date was sealed with a kiss and a few dancing butterflies.

That was the turning point. We started dating without such long intervals in between. I guess it was unfolding into what could become a relationship, but I still was harbouring some ambivalence. And the butterflies were beginning to clash with the voice inside. Maybe I don’t know how to date anymore? I wonder what he’s doing; is he thinking of me? Why are we still playing “who texted who first” ? We really are different. Maybe I’m not ready to date again. He is the opposite of that someone, and that is……a good thing? You don’t have to agree on everything. We can balance each other out. He’s all about efficiency, I’m about taking my time. He likes numbers, I like words. He  wants kids, I don’t. He wants to find his “missing piece” and start that family.

Then that voice inside could no longer be hushed. I’m not that “missing piece.” I’m not going to complete his puzzle, and he’s not going to complete mine.  I knew this after our first coffee date in June, but I didn’t trust my voice inside. I let this go on into August.  That morning I knew I had to stop fighting with the voice inside, I told the butterflies to settle down, and put my lipstick courage on. I gave myself a hard stare in the bathroom mirror. I remembered being here before. That was when my heart was aching, and mascara was running down my face. That was when I was trying to get over that someone, but just couldn’t. This time was different; my heart wasn’t aching, it wasn’t feeling anything. My voice inside was speaking up. This just isn’t right. I’d rather be alone than with someone that doesn’t get me. I was going to ask the hard questions this time.

“What are we doing? What do you really want? ” His reply was blurry, and I told him this isn’t working. It wasn’t fair to either one of us; we were closing ourselves off to real connections, and someone was going to get hurt. He started half-heartedly back pedaling, making excuses for us to continue dating, but I stopped him. The voice inside had had enough and wasn’t going to be ignored again. This wasn’t what I wanted.  That was the bottom line.

*****

It’s been a couple weeks since I trusted that voice inside, and I’m so glad that I did. I’m still single, but that’s okay. I want those butterflies and someone who gets me. I want someone who is a work in progress, just like me. I’m not going to settle for a guy who looks good on paper, or online. I don’t want to play it safe anymore. I’m going to trust that voice inside.

trust-the-voice-inside-2

Adventures in Dating: Second Dates

I did take down my online dating profile, but I didn’t give up on dating completely. I just decided that I was going to let things unfold naturally. So after a week of exchanging text messages with my Saturday coffee date, we settled on a second date, a Monday dinner date. Although I still felt that we were on different paths, I thought I should give it a second chance.

We agreed to meet downtown at a Szechuan restaurant, but when I arrived I found him standing outside the ‘CLOSED’ sign. This made me smile. He wasn’t as predictable and organized as I thought he was. Still set on spicy food, we found another Szechuan place, a place where he knew the owners, and was given a special menu, which I couldn’t read.  We ordered frogs, chicken, and spicy eggplant. When the dishes arrived, he asked if he could serve me, and reached for my bowl before I could answer. For a moment, it felt awkward, and I wondered if it should have been the other way around. Then I flashbacked to my time in Asia, and the only difference was that my date had actually asked, before he started piling rice and chilies in my bowl.

During the course of the meal, our lips turned a deeper shade of red as we discussed dating — online and crossing borders. I told him that I hated online dating, but he thought it was an efficient way to date. I didn’t disagree with him, but told him that I liked meeting the old-fashioned way, in person. He asked why I replied to his online message, and I told him that I recognized him. After he almost choked on a frog, I brought up our mutual friend and her potlucks. Then he also began to recall my name and Thailand in a conversation with our friend many years ago. And in the moments that followed, we felt like we knew each other a little better; we had a context outside of the online dating pool.

And he wanted to know if I dated outside the white pool, if I’d dated Asian men overseas. Yes, to overseas and at ‘home’. I knew he was expecting some profound discoveries, but to be honest, I didn’t have any for him, and I wasn’t ready to open up.  I mentioned that I found Asian men more family oriented, and I liked that, and that I found some Thai men had a flexible definition of fidelity, and I didn’t like that. (Now that I am writing this, I have a lot more to say on the topic of dating outside the Western (mainly white) pool, but I will save that for another post.)

Tennis player, Paradorn Srichaphan and Miss Canada 2005, Natalie Glebova
Famous Thai-Canadian couple (Not me!)

 

As he had asked me about my dating past, I asked about his. He thought Western women were more independent and ambitious. He felt that Asian women were more materialistic. I challenged him on his views, because I felt that they stemmed from his failed marriage, and because I know Asian women who are amazingly ambitious, and Western women who are wrapped up in material wealth. And as we talked, he told me about some of the women he’d met online: the woman who drank wine with every meal, the woman who seemed too good to be true and was — she went to Afghanistan, the woman who was a great badminton partner but nothing more, and the woman he met offline and dated for six months, before she left Canada in search of better job opportunities (she was Asian….sounds ambitious to me?). He concluded that his parents were happy that he was dating again, and that although he is traditional in many ways, he wanted to be the one to find his own mate.

After getting the topic of dating off the table, we talked about home renovations, mainly his. He pulled out his phone, pushed the half-eaten plates out of the way, and handed it to me. As I swiped through before and after pictures of his kitchen and bathroom, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Not only does he have a stable, brainy job, but he is a practical DIY guy! And he also makes his own planes — remote control planes. These planes are his passion, his ‘babies’, and he arranges playdates with fellow flyers.  At first I thought I would have to pretend to be interested, but after watching some videos on his phone, and listening to him describe the perfect landing, I didn’t have to pretend.

So, yeah, the second date went well. He’s a well-rounded guy – interesting hobbies, well-traveled, healthy lifestyle, good job, family values. Checks all the boxes for a potential mate, and anyone looking in from the outside would think he’s a great catch. But as he paid the bill, divided up the left-overs, and drove me home, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Later that evening, when I texted my friend about the date, I wrote that I was holding my introvert card too tight. I felt that I didn’t share enough, and that the silences were awkward. There was a missing connection.

******

Update: We are still texting, and meeting up this weekend for the third time. We’ll see how it goes! Third time a charm, third time you’ll know, that’s my thinking!

Third date

Adventures in the New Dating World: A Warm-up

It’s a whole new dating world and I’m thinking about joining it again. After experimenting with dating apps, going out with safe pseudo-dates, and consuming books like Modern Romance and movies like Everything Before Us, I’ve decided to let technology help me and have one last pseudo-date.  This is my warm-up.

To be honest, I’m not really sure how to approach dating again, so I ended up creating a profile on OK Stupid aka OKCupid. I know I should give online dating a chance, but after making a connection without technology, I feel like I am taking a step backwards. I feel like something is wrong with me. Yes, this is me being stupid. Studies show that those who partake in online dating are usually university-educated, often with multiple degrees. (Sorry, I cannot find the source to back this up, but I’m going to take my friends word for it, and my own personal research.) When you think about it, it makes perfect sense — look at the data and algorithms that are used to predict matches! Plus candidates are given a space to write a statement of purpose, and to select ideal mates based on personal data, pictures, and good grammar. For brainy folks, that is sexy. So, why doesn’t this online dating excite me? I will save that for another post – this is about my warm-up to adventures in the new dating world!

Before embarking on these adventures, I ended up going out for dinner with pseudo-date #1. As you might recall, this is the platonic friend that drives me nuts, but I still make an effort to impress. This time it was very different. After six weeks in his motherland, he came home with a ring and immigration documents.  When he picked me up, he announced right away, “I’m off the market!”  I went into over-analyzing mode –does he read my blog?

Over dinner, he shared pictures of his wife and her family, a sexy cabinet minister (not his wife), and a meme insinuating that the only happy men are single. Me being me, I called him out on this. He defended himself right off the bat, and even though I pressed the issue, I knew that he was genuinely happy to not be single anymore. He had been seeking stability and the ‘right’ someone for quite some time, and had finally found her.  I was ecstatic for him, and also fascinated by the arrangement process.  After my long line of questioning, we decided to share a dessert. I suggested lavender chocolate mousse — the ‘what-if’ guy had recommended it. The guy who had invited me to an open mic, but I had declined due to laundry.

Waiting for Mr. Right
Laundry is waiting for me…

As I dipped my spoon in the mousse, I noticed the ‘what-if’ guy (with a bit more facial hair and the same glasses) sitting by himself at the bar. Really? Yes, really!  Our eyes met and we exchanged smiles, once again sitting at different tables.  The married man excused himself, and I was alone at the table. It’s no surprise that ‘what-if’ guy did not take this opportunity to approach me — it looked as if I was on a date! And I didn’t have the guts to walk up to him, and say, “I’m not crazy about the mousse, but I would like to get to know you more.” Lesson learned: if you go on pseudo-dates, you eliminate opportunities for real connections.

Yes, that was a bit of a detour from my real adventures in dating, but it was a story worth sharing.  It’s the warm-up and why I believe I don’t need a digital cupid. And you know what? OkCupid was not what I remembered. I received barely any messages — 35, fully-clothed (not even a collarbone protruding), bookworm, elusive answers, what did I expect?!

To be continued…..with the real OKCupid dates.

Love is

Making Connections: a Handshake, a Name, and Bandages

candleA few weeks ago, I had an encounter that made me think twice. What if?

It was a lazy Sunday, and cooking for one was the last thing I wanted to do. So, I decided to make my way down to the almost vegetarian café in the Village, the café where I feel totally okay eating alone. As I entered the café, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one dining alone.

He was silently admiring his spread of curry, polenta and fresh vegetables. Well, he was silent until I was about to order, and then I heard a breathy, “Oh my God…..this is Soooo good!” It rang out more than once, making me blush and smile, as though I was eavesdropping on two lovers, who could no longer contain their whispers.  It made me look at my bowl of soup with a bit more enthusiasm. I’ve always had a thing for guys who know how to truly appreciate food.

As I hugged my bowl of soup and felt the sun touch my face through the window, I decided to be bold, take the Bumble approach, and strike up a conversation. I tried to let that introvert go as I inquired about his edible romance. Thai curry. I’ve got this, I thought — I lived in Thailand; I took Thai cooking classes in Thailand. But I didn’t offer that up right away; I decided to do what I do best — ask a bunch of questions to avoid talking about myself. Anyhow, he took the bait.

I learned that although he loves food, enrolls in cooking classes, and enjoys friendly cook -offs, he ended up getting a practical engineering degree. He told me that usually he can’t handle Thai spice, taking off his wire rim glasses, and wiping his glistening brow. At this point, I interjected with my Thai experience. He held up his hands in surrender and teased, “Oh, you lived in Thailand. I can’t compete.” I smiled, he laughed. Then he proceeded to describe the fine art of making phad thai, and how his friends fell in love with his sauce, proving that he could compete.

Still sitting a table apart, we moved on from Thai cuisine to music. In between bites, he told me how nervous he was about tonight, open mic night. The last time he’d performed was three years ago, maybe even longer, but this was something he had to do. I got the sense it had something to do with him leaving San Francisco and the end of his marriage. Yes, he shared all that with me without me asking. I did ask how he ended up in Victoria, and the rest just followed. There was no prodding involved, and he talked about it as if it was a wound that was both fresh and healed.  Realizing the depths of that, I felt somewhat guilty. I was just listening, asking for more.

“What will you be singing? Is it your own song?”

“Bandages. Not my own song, but I’ve made it my own. My wife used to think of me and my version when the song came on the radio.” A smile, but then a pause, “It’s a song that brings back memories too….some hard times. It makes me think of a close friend of mine….she died a few years ago…..”

I let the moment of silence hang there, in remembrance. I didn’t want to ask anymore.

As I eyed the last spoonful of soup, he turned the tables, metaphorically, and started asking me questions. And I obliged with some hesitation. I talked about my limited musical background — clarinet in high school with a band trip to Hawaii. And I touched on my time overseas, a time that shaped who I am today. That part of the world was close to him, his parents were born in that region, but he’d never really explored beyond his family’s old neighbourhoods. I found myself wanting to ask more, but he had an open mic to get to. He was still on the fence about going, but I pushed him. And then he asked what I was doing that night.  And I told him that I was doing laundry.

Yes, laundry.  I put on the brakes. I left that night with a handshake, a name, and Bandages.  Still, a few weeks later, I wonder what would have happened if I had said I was free? Would he have invited me to listen to him play? Would this encounter have turned into something more?

 

A whole new dating world

“Dating…..don’t wait too long.” This is a memo I store in my phone, because I need to  remind myself that the longer I stand on the sidelines, the harder it will be to get back on the field. Yes, I am ready. My heart beats to its own even rhythm; my eyes stay dry when I think of him; my lips speak his name with ease.  So, what is my next move? At the moment, I’m in the safe-take-no-risks box; there are a couple dating apps on my phone; I’ve gone on a couple pseudo-dates; and I’ve been dissecting this new dating/relationship culture through movies and books.

My favourite kind of coffee minus the bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel? (Maybe my coffee doesn’t need a bagel?)

A couple years ago, I made a meaningful connection the organic way and swore that I would never date the impersonal Internet way again. Fast forward a couple years and I decided to reconsider that decision. After some research, I found a couple alternatives to Plenty of Fish (Plenty of weirdos), OK Cupid (OK stupid), and Tinder (swipe, swipe, let’s hook up).  Bumble, the feminist app, and Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB), the “quality over quantity” app, made it to my phone.

Like Tinder, Bumble and CMB have a swipe system and both parties have to like each other to send a message. With Bumble, women have to initiate the conversation within 24 hours or the match disappears, and with CMB you are served a “bagel” (potential match) every 24 hours based on your profile preferences, friend circle, and app history.  (Those in my friend circle are partnered up, so I’m not inviting them to this experiment.). The Bumble profile is sparse with a max of five pictures and an optional ‘about’ blurb, while CMB encourages users to flesh out their profiles by answering three questions: Who are you? What do you like? What do you appreciate in your date?  Both apps attracted me with their simplicity and easy setup, but after a week with zero bagels and a bumbling about llamas, I’m beginning to think they aren’t working for me. Maybe I should go back to the organic way of dating.

Bumble - Ladies make the first move!
Bumble – Ladies make the first move!

Enter pseudo-dating. What is this pseudo-dating? This is going out with a guy that you’re pretty sure thinks of you as a friend, and you pretty much feel the same way about him, but there is still this underlying chemistry, and desire to smell and look good for each other. A few years ago, I started taking salsa lessons and met such a guy. In between dances, we’d have heated debates, exchange occasional messages, and gush over our recent loves. I was the one gushing, and he was usually agonizing. When I became single, we started hanging our socially. We go out for dinners every few months, followed by long drives discussing our fears about dating, marriage, climbing the career ladder, etc.  In between these dinners, we exchange long-winded texts and books, followed by his unsolicited reviews of the books. As much as I enjoy our interactions, he makes my blood boil with his unknowingly sexist and closed views, and when I arrive home after our ‘dates’, I wonder why I spent so much time getting ready! That is pseudo date #1.

Psuedo-date #2 is a bit of a hybrid. He’s the old lover that you catch up with after finding him online. When I was 22 I met him through a mutual friend, and there was no underlying chemistry — it was explosive, it was the kind of chemistry that could withstand a year separation, or so we thought. After a few sizzling months, I left for Thailand, and a few months of emails, phone calls, pictures and mixed CDs later, our “love” fizzled. It was bad timing, and part of me has always thought of him as the one that got away, the one that I should have settled down with.  Over the years, we disconnected; he got married and had a child, and I fell in love with Thailand and had a short fling with Korea. A few weeks ago, when I was thinking about getting in the game, and doing my due diligence browsing Plenty of weirdos, I came across his profile. I don’t know if it was his dimples or my curiosity, but I emailed him, and a week later we had a ‘catch-up’ dinner.  It was different; we had this familiarity, but no sparks. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed; I had treated it as a date, but he never even took his jacket off.

Master of None - Noel Wells & Aziz Ansari
Master of None – Noel Wells & Aziz Ansari

I’m not sure if these pseudo dates are good for practice, or just good for nothing. Sometimes I feel it’s safer to just consume books and Netflix. My first book of the year was Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, and I followed it up with his Master of None series on Netflix.  Both look at love in this modern world, and the ever changing landscape of dating and relationships.  In Modern Romance, Ansari  points out that we limit ourselves with online dating.  We select pre-requisites, such as age and income brackets, body type and height requirements, that narrow our choices. I know I am guilty of that.  When it comes to organic dating, I usually end up with someone that I would have never found online! Then there are arranged meetings (dating) that leads to arranged marriages. To be honest, I’ve always wished that this was a viable option for me. Meet the Patels directed by Ravi Patel is a great documentary that highlights the ups and downs of the whole arranging process. There truly are so many different ways to approach dating and relationships.

Everything-Before-Us
Everything Before Us – Brittany Ishibashi and Aaron Yoo

Sometimes I wonder how this whole dating world is going to evolve, but for right now I am just happy that the Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI) doesn’t meddle in my affairs. What is this DEI?  Well, it’s the fictional government department in the new Wong Fu production, Everything Before Us. This was my Netflix fix last night, and it truly is an imaginative and insightful look at how our relationships and  choices could affect all areas of our lives.  Imagine not being able to get a job because you have one too many failed relationships? Imagine being denied a loan or entrance to an establishment because of your low relationship credit score? Imagine having to register and terminate all your relationships with the government? (This isn’t so difficult to imagine. Hello, marriage, so sorry, divorce.) Imagine staying with someone to boost your score? Although all of this may seem a bit far out, it made me think about an online profile question (How long was your longest relationship?) and our acute interest in the relationship histories of our partners.  I know I am somewhat hung up on the relationship histories of the women in my family. Zero marriages, four marriages and  four divorces, two marriages for two divorces.  Oh dear, my EI score would be so low.

Let’s go back to the beginning. “Dating….don’t wait too long.” Regardless of my score, fruitless dating apps and awkward pseudo-dates, it is time to get out of the safe-take-no-risks-box. I might have to go back to the organic way and take the feminist approach of Bumble, and get the conversation rolling. I’m in no rush though; I’ll get out there sooner or later. In the meantime, I am happy to spend Friday nights studying and watching Netflix.

Organic dating?
Organic dating?

 

Going offline: the aftermath

Nothing’s been published, but I’ve been writing. There’s this post I’ve been working on, but I just can’t get it right. I’ve mapped it out in my head, but tackling it seems so daunting. It’s coming along, piece by piece, but it’s nowhere near ready to be shared. However, it is a post I’d like to get up….soon. For now, this is me freestyling.beach

*****

Perhaps, some of you would like an update to my last post, Going offline: dating and connecting. How successful have I been at finding love the old fashioned way? Have I really given technology the finger, and been enjoying the organic approach to dating? Well, let me start with the day after I published my last blog post.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about putting that one out there, since I knew that my date would be reading it. I wondered if I should have given him a heads up before publishing it. How is he going to react? Have I overstepped some invisible boundary? The next morning I pushed those thoughts out of my head, met a friend for coffee and then went down to the ocean to study Italian. At 11:30am my phone whistled:

Good  morning, Amy :). I don’t know how many times I’ve read your latest blog, you’ve made my day! Xoxo

I let out a sigh of relief, a smile crossed my face, and I fired back a text. This exchange went on for a few minutes……and then nothing. I tried to focus on studying Italian, my class was that night, but really my mind was elsewhere. Then my phone rang, and he magically appeared. I was shocked that my writing had the power to make him stop mid-laundry cycle, forgo his walking cast, and almost miss his physio appointment, just so that he could come see me. In his car, between kisses, he told me he never knew that I’d had butterflies the first time we ran into each other at the beach.  (I think he’s beginning to realize that there will be more surprises along the way, and that I don’t always speak my mind. So far, he doesn’t seem to mind, and his inklings are usually right. Since he reads my posts, he knows the art of connecting with an introvert.) He was so taken by the post that he actually shared it with his friends — while his friends are sharing photos of their girlfriends, he’s sharing my writing. As an introverted blogger, this makes my heart melt.

So, back to giving technology the finger…. I have come to the conclusion that it is somewhat impossible. Since our organic meeting, texting has been our primary way to connect when we’re not together, whether it be to setup a date or just let the other know that they’re in our thoughts. We’re also guilty of exchanging the occasional Facebook message. However, I am much more disconnected technology-wise now than I have been in the past. When we’re both going about our own lives that is what we are doing — we’re fully present wherever we are, whether it be together or apart.

Although technology is playing a part in my dating life, it’s not the primary focus. We don’t text for hours on end, and when we have something to say we pick up the phone or find some way to meet up. When we’re together our phones stay out of sight unless we have a burning question for Google. When we’re together we talk about what’s on our minds, we ask the bigger questions, we listen to what’s being said….and sometimes what’s not, we sit with the silences, we go out on dates, we give each other space, we find joy in mundane activities, we surprise each other. Our relationship is growing organically, it’s not following any script, and we’re navigating the grey areas together with our eyes wide open.

I could write more on what has transpired since we’ve reconnected, but I’ll leave our story here. It’s a story for the two of us to savour. All I’ll tell you is that our Friday coffee outings and walks to the beach are continuing — they’ve become our little ritual.

*****

In the days to come, I will sit with my writing, and develop my next post. I’ll come up with something less self-absorbed and more about finding balance and sweetness in life. It’ll appeal to a wider audience — I promise you that.

cherryBlossoms

Going offline: dating and connecting

It’s no secret; I’ve spent time floating around OKCupid and swimming through Plenty of Fish. I’ve gone on decaffeinated coffee dates and endured meager dinners that have always left me wanting more. It wasn’t their fault. No one was to blame — we just weren’t on the same page.

A couple months ago, I decided I was done with the online dating world. I was getting tired of going through messages, and searching for some kind of connection. And it felt so liberating to delete my profiles. I was giving technology the finger. I was saying goodbye to those algorithms and telling those cupids to take a hike. I was taking my dating life back into my own hands. I felt so empowered — I was going to find love the old fashioned way! No, I don’t think that’s what I was doing — I was just disconnecting.

*****

Sometimes you need to disconnect so that you can reconnect. I was taking the long way home on a pleasantly warm day, just soaking up the lovely ocean and mountains in the distance, appreciating the touch of the sun, and looking forward to a Friday night of dancing, when I saw him. I didn’t want to interrupt his conversation, but when our eyes met and he flashed his smile, and those familiar butterflies began to stir, I was happy that he welcomed my interruption. It had been almost a year; he thought I’d be in Thailand, and I thought he’d still be with his girlfriend. We were both wrong. So, after a couple hours of catching up we decided we would do it again — we’d connect on Facebook. After all, we were Facebook friends, whatever that meant. So much for giving technology the finger!

As I walked home after our chance meeting, I decided it was in his ball park to initiate the next time. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I felt — I just knew that it was nice to reconnect. Almost a week went by before his Facebook message arrived:

Hi Amy. We should hang out after you finish work. What do you say?

Hmmm…..I began to analyze his simple message. Was this a friendly hang out or was there some underlying interest? After all, he was surprised by my age and that I was still single. Okay, let me clarify. He thought I looked younger, and was too cute to be single (my own interpretation). Either way, I was looking forward to getting together, so I agreed to a replay.

This time we met at a coffee shop first, and I was late, running on Thai time. He was waiting patiently, and when I approached he put his phone down and gave me a smile that melted any guilt I had about not showing up on time. After we talked about our week, he grabbed a hot cocoa and the crutch from his car, then we made our way down to the water. This time we had our backs to the ocean and began to peel away the surface layers, flirting playfully, and  enjoying one another’s company. When it was time to part, we agreed — same place, same time, next week.

Even though I felt some sparks, I kept my feelings in check. Whatever was taking place, I was just going to soak it in, like the touch of the sun. When the third Friday came around, I was only five minutes late, and greeted with a hug that seemed to fit just so. As we ordered our drinks, he casually disclosed that he used to have a crush on me. A crush? I thought those had ended in high school. Although I remembered the first time we met and how he’d made me nervous with his beauty, and then how I’d just spend time at the office to hear his stories (even if they were about his girlfriend), I kept this to myself until I could see the mountains in the distance. This time as we sat on the bench and looked out to the sea, we were contemplating a real date and navigating the grey areas. 

Date night rolled around sooner that our Friday coffee outings, and I spent more time primping than usual. I was looking good, smelling good, and feeling good, when he showed up right on the dot. Driving the wrong way down a one-way, fumbling with chopsticks over sashimi, making fun of our overly eager waiter, and losing my heel on the way to the comedy show were all part of a wonderful night that was just getting started. I’m not sure I would have been able to enjoy all that with an online date, but this was someone I knew, we shared a context. And this was a guy that wasn’t afraid to tell a woman he had a crush on her. This was a guy that made a point to take me out on a real date and asked me to wear a dress for it, too. This was a guy who noticed the effort I put into getting ready, and held the door open for me, and paid the bill without even fidgeting.  It didn’t matter that the comedians weren’t very funny, and some of them were downright offensive, because we were there together, sipping on our water.

When all the laughs stopped, we didn’t want the night to end, but we didn’t want to play pool either.  How about going for hot cocoa? It was odd being at our coffee shop right before closing. It was a perfect night for stargazing with a warm drink. So, we drove up to a scenic viewpoint, opened the sunroof, and breathed in the fresh air. We shared stories about our homes and families, our insecurities, our passions, and when my mind would wander, he would bring me back to the present. Then he asked me. I usually don’t like to be asked, but this time it was sweet.

My date: Can I kiss you?

Me: Aw, you shouldn’t ask. (I can’t believe he’s asking me. The last time a guy asked I was 16. Wow, I kinda feel like a teenager again. Can’t remember feeling this nervous or excited about a kiss!) Well, are you going to take off your hat?

My date: No, I was thinking I would just poke you with it. 

We laughed, and then he took off his hat. He leaned across the passenger’s seat, we met half-way, and our lips touched. It was one of those kisses that makes your whole body tingle. It was a kiss with no hesitation behind it –a kiss that says I want you, but I’m going to settle for this hot lip-locking session for right now. It was the kind of kiss that you don’t want to end, and even though you keep trying to leave, you just can’t part.

*****

Our first date ended at 2am, and we’ve managed to break that record since. I’m not sure where we are heading, but it has been magical. There is this connection that I haven’t felt in a long, long time. For me, it took disconnecting to find this, whatever it is.  I found it without an internet connection, and have to say there is something beautiful about the organic approach to dating. And the best part is that this guy reads my blog posts.  Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day!

Beach.jpeg

Listen up, ladies: 6 tips for playing nice online

It’s time to play nice online and land a date. You’ve been attracting guys that just aren’t your type and some complete weirdos, too. You’re tempted to take your profile down and just forget about dating. Well, before you do that take a look at how you present yourself online. With the help of a couple real OKCupid men, I’ve come up with 6 tips for playing nice online.

1. Stop posting pictures of you and your friends.

Yes, we know that you go to the ladies’ room in herds, but online you have to stand out on your own. If you’re a social butterfly, write about that in your profile. No proof is necessary at this stage. A picture with too many beautiful women/men will distract your prospective matches — you want them to just focus on you.

If you were to apply for a job, would you staple your friends’ resumes with yours?

2. No more duckfaces, obvious selfies, or photoshopped pictures. Post actual pictures of yourself.

These pictures are going to have him ignoring the text of your profile. Expect to get some one-liners along the lines of “Funny face” “Hot stuff” or “Are you fo’ real?” And then there are many men that won’t even take the time to write a message because they’ll think you’re fake or immature.

Be real and post actual photos of yourself. No one wants to be duped by a fake profile.

3. Don’t be too modest or mysterious.

Modesty is an attractive quality, but online you have to play up your strengths. You’ve got a lot of competition out there — stand out. What are you proud of? What makes you unique? What are your ambitions? Don’t lay everything out on the table, but don’t be mysterious. Mysterious isn’t always sexy.

If you’re having trouble writing about yourself, ask a close friend to help you out.

4. Make the first move.

This is your opportunity to take charge and make the first move. You don’t have to wait for a guy to message you. If you come across an interesting guy, send him a message. Tell him why his profile stood out for you– I’m sure he’ll appreciate it and return the favour. There are no guarantees that he will respond, but I’m sure you’ll live with the rejection. Men have been coping with it for years.  And there are plenty of fish out there — find a new one!

5. Stop with the long lists. 

Lists are for grocery shopping not online dating sites. Write in full sentences — good grammar is sexy and it shows that you’ve actually put some thought into your profile. And when it comes to the ‘you should send me a message if….’ section, keep it brief and to the point. It’s okay to have a few deal breakers, just don’t be a ball breaker.

6. If you don’t want to meet him offline, stop messaging him.

If you both have an understanding that your communication is going to stay online or distance prohibits you two from meeting, carry on as email (maybe phone) pals. However, if you live in the same city it’s likely that the guy will want to meet you in the flesh. If you don’t have the same desire, stop messaging him or tell him that you don’t feel a connection. Don’t be the ‘nice girl’ and string the guy along. You’re wasting his time and yours.

*****

Online dating comes with its own set of rules. Be real (as much as you can online) and expect the same in return. There are some great guys out there…..and some creeps, too. Watch out for those profiles that are filled with cliches (long walks along the beach) and airbrushed pictures (guys who say they’re 35, but look 20). Never feel obligated to reply, even to an apparently normal guy who enjoys bike riding, and has a receding hairline. The beauty of online dating is that you’re in the driver’s seat and you can control the speed.

Happy dating!

friends

Eyes and lips: two reasons to look deeper

Oh yeah, he's got great eyes and kissable lips....
Oh yeah, he’s got great eyes and kissable lips….

Women are visual creatures too, but we’re just more discreet. While men ogle openly and usually fit into two camps – boobs and butts – women steal quick glances and appreciate the finer details – eyes and lips.  These features are windows to what’s beneath the surface.

Recently, I checked out a new follower of my blog, and the feminist in me actually enjoyed his posts, Breasts: Two Reasons to go on Living and Butts: Behind Every Great Woman Stands a Man, Ogling Her Inappropriately. They were pure honesty backed up with humour and research. After reading, I got to thinking – maybe men want to know what women discreetly ogle. I don’t want to speak for all women, but I do want to share what makes me do a double take, admire silently, and gush to my friends. First you should know that Fabio and pretty boys do absolutely nothing for me.

Eyes

Johnny Depp's got some sexy eyes!
Johnny Depp’s got some sexy eyes!

Lively, dark windows framed with long eyelashes make my heart skip a beat. Bold eye contact that initiates the conversation either pulls me in or holds me back. A million questions run through my head when I meet your glance. Are you sincere? Can I trust you? Do you believe in your own words? What makes your eyes light up? Are you holding my gaze? Are you listening? Are you appreciating the time I’ve spent running and doing my hair? It is okay to admire my beauty – in fact, please do. Respect my mind and body, and ask for my permission before you undress me with your eyes.

Eyes express desire, affection, love, concern, and so much more. They truly are the windows to our souls, our inner world.

Lips

Taye Digg's got some sexy lips!
Taye Diggs’ got some kissable lips!

Sweet lips that turn up in a mischievous smile make me melt. After our eyes meet, it’s your lips that will do the seducing. It’s your words that are going to get us past our friendly hellos. Hopefully, you have a good story, a sense of humour, and some chapstick. If you have all three, I’ll be swallowing my gum just in case your kissable lips meet mine.

And my eyes stray below the neck. I know I’m not alone when I say I notice if you work out. Your time spent at the gym is not is vain. (However, popping veins do freak me out.) When you reach for your glass I may just check out your defined biceps, and also notice the outline of your triceps as you get up from the table. I may even make an excuse to squeeze your arm or that shoulder you pulled at work. And the more I get to know you, the more I’ll want to know about that scar above your eye and the beauty spot on your chin. As time goes on, your eyes will show me another world and I’ll long to be enchanted by the words from your lips.

It’s your inspiration and aspirations, quirky sense of humour and fun, and genuine respect and love that are going to keep me, but it’s your eyes and lips that are going to pull me past the exterior and make me want to look deeper.