Archive | February, 2013

Love, Part 2 of 5: the “Coupled-Up” Complex

18 Feb

As you enter your late 20s/early 30s, the “single” pool slims. In fact, you probably only have a handful of friends left in the “Hey, I’m single” group. Or – if you’re me – don’t even have a handful. To be truthful, I only have up to my middle finger (ironic finger to have on this topic, no?). It wasn’t always like this. When I first moved to New York (2010), I had tons of single friends. We all went out. We all partied. We were each other’s wingmen/women. We never had to check with another person to schedule a night out. Easy breezy.

I blame myself for ruining this wonderful scenario, as the above only lasted a few weeks. I got a boyfriend three weeks after moving to the city.

At first, I told all my friends nothing would change. I’d still hang out with everyone just as much, see him sometimes, etc. Later down the road, he and I had numerous conversations about having our own space and having separate friends. This all sounded great in theory, but the reality was we did everything together and never left the other’s side. When we actually hung out with other people, we did that together, too. Truly, you could have given us one of those annoying Brangelina nicknames. Not once did I ever think about how my single friends may be feeling or think I was doing anything wrong. Instead – in my head – I was doing the best I could trying to balance boyfriend and friends. They had to understand, right?

Wrong. It wasn’t until after my boyfriend left me for another woman I realized how much I needed my friends. In the following months – as I was trying to reconnect with everyone – I not only learned how hurt they were by my long absence, but learned how much being in a “couple” changed me as a person and changed how I interacted with my friends. In short, I sucked. Big time.

When you are “coupled-up,” you change in many ways. Your priorities change. Your conversations with your friends change. Your attitude about life changes. What you find fun changes. Your expectations of others change. Honest Abe? You aren’t the same person you were before the relationship.

I’m not saying this to be Negative Nancy (who, to be clear, has no relation to Honest Abe). Us singles are thrilled for our “coupled-up” friends. Honestly, we want what you have. Hell, we’re happy for you even if we don’t particularly like your other half. Our job – as your friend – is to be supportive. When we end up really liking your other half, it’s amazing. It’s even more amazing when we become really good friends with them. They make you happy and we usually love having them around. Score.

I know what you’re thinking – “coupled-up” reader – if we like your other half (or, even if we are just being supportive), and you still see us (even if it’s with him), then what is our problem?

This is going to sound harsh. The problem is you’re in a relationship with us, too. Your relationship with us requires a certain amount of empathy, respect, time, and energy. It also requires a certain amount of quality time away from your significant other, so we can speak freely, connect with just you, and remember what it was like pre boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband.

Of course, we can’t tell you all this. Instead, we are stuck in the awkward position of just dealing with it. Or, hinting around it (even more awkward). Without you getting mad, how can we say “Hey, we totally love Michael. We really do. He’s perfect for you. But can we please have you to ourselves, just for a night? You don’t understand why it’s so important to us, but it is.” Being single is hard enough without thinking we are losing our friend to this “coupled-up” complex.

Are you starting to think about your own actions? Let me make it easy. Here are the top five gripes (plus a bonus) single friends have with their “coupled-up” ones:

1. We invite YOU somewhere, yet you respond with “We’d love to” or “We can totally stop by.”
Again, we may love your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband, but if we didn’t specifically invite them, it was probably for a reason. Thus, getting a “we” response is kinda a slap in the face.

2. We’ve hinted at quality time (either solo, just “the girls,” or just “the boys”) and you’ve made no effort to plan OR you don’t whole-heartedly agree (“OMG, you’re right. We haven’t hung out in a while. Totally overdue”).
In this, you make us feel secondary or simply not important at all. Not cool.

3. When we do hang out with you and your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband, you bring other couples.
Um. Hello? What about us? Do you have any idea what an all-couple night out feels like to the token single person? Let me enlighten you – it feels like someone is pushing your head through one of those airport X-ray machines. Great visual, right?

4. You stand us up.
You either cancel our plans all together and/or “forget” you already had something scheduled with your honey and do that instead. Oh, and the “We had a rough night and are going to stay in” or “We are so comfy at home right now” totally counts. Personally, my favorite is getting the latter, then being asked if I want to join in plans some other day. Newsflash – I alloted this time to hang out with you. I’m a busy gal and probably can’t jump at the replacement time. Sorry.

5. We always feel like a third wheel.
It doesn’t matter how awesome your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband is, when we are out with just the three of you, we always feel like the odd man out. God bless you for trying to include us. We truly appreciate it. However, we only go because we want to see you. Not because we like the experience.

BONUS. You don’t think the same things are fun anymore.
We get it. When you are “coupled-up” your idea of fun changes. When you stay in, you cook dinner, watch tv, and enjoy each other’s company over a few bottles of wine. When you go out, you aren’t looking for interaction with the opposite sex. Unfortunately, us singles are still looking and thus, are counting on the company of others to help us out. Further, we understand you don’t want to do the things we did when you were single: out till 5 a.m., meet new people, dance the night away, beer pong championship…Fine. However, sometimes – just sometimes – it would be fabulous if you would do one or more of these things for us. In return, we promise not to complain once about your PDA. Not. Once.

Dear “coupled-up” friends: We love you. We really do. We also probably love your other half. However, we don’t want to compete with your current relationship. We want to enhance it. We also want our relationship with you to stay in-tact and/or grow. In this, you need to give us – your single friends – some consideration and care. We promise to do the same when love enters our lives.

Cue Heart’s “Alone.”

Please be sure to share this blog post with all your “coupled-up” friends.

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Love, Part 1 of 5: Dating Dunzo: “The Shimmy Out”

7 Feb

I’m going to come right out and say it: Dating blows. If you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, my feelings on the subject aren’t news to you. Instead, finally dedicating an entire blog series to the subject seems way overdue.

Before I begin, let me be clear: I am NOT one of those man-hating women complaining about the opposite sex all the time, nor will “man-hating” ever be a topic of discussion. Further, I am not one of those women who thinks a bad dating experience is all a man’s fault. In fact, I think the bad experience is the woman’s fault much of the time. Wait one second though – before all my female readers start sending me hate mail – I have a good reason:

Women are fantastic at knowing if something is going SOMEWHERE very quickly. If she’s wavering and thinks dating this guy is going nowhere, she develops tactics to “shimmy” her way out. Hence, ending the experience becomes this long, arduous, stressed-filled process for absolutely no good reason (You could – *gasp* – just tell him you’d be better off as friends. Not a fun conversation, but at least honest).

Is this “shimmy out” fact about women enlightening? Before I take a deep dive into the topic, I want to provide some context on two things: What goes through a woman’s mind on a date and close-to-perfect dates that happen now and again. Both will help set up the stories of the lame-o “shimmy out.”

Men: Do you know how many times women hear “just be yourself,” “relax,” or “you’ll be fine” before a date with you? Our moms say it. Our friends say it. Hell, when we’re really nervous, we think our stuffed animals are saying it. However, while we are on the date, all of this good advice goes out the window. Instead we spend the time wondering if our hair is OK, if we’re pretty enough, or does our breath smell like the chili margarita we had two hours ago. P.S. – While we are obsessing over our physical appearance and a dude’s body language, we are also freaking out about our behavior. Are we talking/laughing too loud? Not looking at him enough? Looking at him too long? Asking too many questions? Not making him laugh enough? I’m exhausted just talking about it.

Of course, there is an exception to the above stress: A concept called “love at first date.” This concept may sound silly, but I really believe it can happen. These are the dates where everything is perfect. He magically makes us feel comfortable and confident. He looks adorable. We spend three hours discussing favorite Johnny Depp movies and rolling meatballs to each other with our noses (hey, Lady and the Tramp did it). Whatever your idea of “perfect,” you get the point: The date was awesome and subsequent dates are seamless and enjoyable. Before we know it, the girlfriend/boyfriend label magically appears. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Sigh. If only it happened to all of us.

For the rest of us, dates are usually “fine,” “good,” or “promising.” Subsequent dates are then “better” “something to do,” or “omg I need to call ___ as soon as I get home.” What’s interesting about the latter two buckets is we know dating this person is probably going nowhere, yet we don’t necessarily want to stop seeing the guy. Dating him is “good enough,” but doesn’t make us “happy” or “fulfilled” (two things we consider highly between dates 5-10). So, instead of breaking it off, (like we should) women do one of three things:

1. Drag it out as long as we can (because it’s better than being alone)
2. Slowly phase him out
3. Conduct the lame-o “shimmy out”

I’ll get into #’s 1 and 2 in different blog posts, but today I want to focus on the “shimmy out.” It’s the one no one talks about.

Disclaimer: I’m calling myself out here, as I’m more than guilty of using the “shimmy out” on multiple occasions.

First, let’s do a little defining…

“Shimmy Out” (n) = a concept, post-subsequent romantic “dates” or encounters, when a person knows the person they are seeing will not end up a significant other. Even though this is known, the person feeling this way does not necessarily want to end the dating experience because they are A. Chicken. B. Bored. C. In denial. Thus, the person conjures up excuses to avoid seeing the person and hopes with enough avoidance, the other person will stop trying (I totally made this up, but it sounds intelligent, right?)

When This Strategy is a Woman’s Best Friend: When we know the guy likes us more than we like him.

Some Common “Shimmy Out” Examples:

“I’m So Busy”: This one is classic. We tell the guy we’re dating we are crazy busy and can’t see him for weeks at a time. I’m not saying this never happens (not seeing him for a few weeks at a time – every once in awhile – is completely possible. Hey, we have many plans that don’t revolve around him). I’m talking about purposely not finding an hour for brunch or dinner or MAKING UP PLANS ENTIRELY (imaginary family in town, non-existent homework, a 10-year dead dog suddenly needs to go to the vet…) Here’s the deal: Yes, we are busy people BUT, if we see super potential in a man, and truly enjoy his company, we WILL always find time to see him. I don’t care how busy we are or seem to be. Trust me, we’ll make the time.

“This is Moving Too Fast:” In my opinion, women overuse this one on the regular. First of all, has anyone noticed we drop this line often, yet never explain the rationale behind it? Do you know why we don’t explain it? It’s because most of the time, we are full of crap. If we really like a guy and we are dating him in hopes of something more, then going at whatever pace it naturally moves – most of the time fast – is a non-issue. However, if we say this and we do have an immediate answer (we just got out of a relationship or some sort of other emotional issue) then guess what? We probably aren’t ready to be dating someone seriously, anyway. Also, (fun fact) guys can see through this line if you give it without a reason. Don’t expect him to stick around.

“I Never Check My Phone”: Lies, lies, and more lies. Women are forever checking their phones. Any guy who believes you don’t is pretty oblivious. Let’s break it down: If a guy is texting or calling, that means he’s interested. If we don’t respond, it doesn’t mean we didn’t see his text message or listen to his voicemail. We did (and to be quite honest, we probably did within the first half hour of hearing the “ding”). If we don’t respond to the text or call him back until 12-24 hours later (or at all), we really aren’t all that interested in the guy. Instead, we just want to keep him around until something better comes along (ouch).

“OMG I TOTES Didn’t Realize I Had XYZ Tonight! Can We Reschedule?”/”OMG I Suddenly Came Down With the Ebola Virus/Horse Clamp (HORSE CLAMP??). I’m Too Sick To Go Out”: Womp. Womp. Busted. The truth is we just spent the better part of an hour deciding which of these elaborate excuses we’ll use to cancel. Taking this one step further, we’ll say we’ll reschedule, but we won’t. If we do, we don’t mean it and will probably cancel the next time too. The worst part is the poor guy usually gives us the benefit of the doubt in either case, which makes this tactic plain mean. Unfortunately, this is the one we use the most because we think we’ll never get caught. News flash: We always do.

These are just a few of the many excuses women use to “shimmy out.” What’s your favorite?

Stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming weeks. Don’t worry, I’m going to be writing about how guys get out of dates, too…