Tag Archives: romance

ICYMI – My Annual “Lesson” Countdown on Twitter

4 Jan

I’ve had a tradition every Christmas for the last four years. This is the day I start my annual “life lesson” countdown on Twitter. I started this tradition after a particularly difficult year, determined to learn from my mistakes and start new. Call me crazy, but I truly believed if I put these lessons out into the universe by New Year’s Day, I’d given myself permission for a fresh start. It worked. As I conclude each year, I feel refreshed, purged, and determined to do and be better.

As years past, my “lesson countdown” acquired a following of friends, family, students, and strangers attracted to my “no fluff” approach to self-betterment. I’ve actually been asked why the advice is so raw. My answer is always the same: You can’t change anything about yourself until you are completely honest with yourself. The more you continue to ignore the tough stuff, the more things will stay the same. Do yourself a favor: Dig deep.

This year was my best list yet for a number of reasons, but mainly, it’s because I turned 30 in September. Yes, this makes me old, but it also makes me realize I don’t care about the same stuff I cared about in my 20s. Sure, I still want to be pretty, skinny, smart, funny, and the life of the party (who doesn’t?), but I also want to be the best teacher, employee, bridesmaid, best friend, and best potential wife possible. This means looking at life through a different lens and realizing sometimes I have to cut people out of my life to be all the things I want to be. It also means focusing on that work/life balance I never had. It means opening my heart to someone new, even if if it terrifies me (Or, I could be a cat lady. Is that so bad?).

So, in short, I’m taking this blog out of hiatus because 2013 made me stronger, wiser, and (of course) prettier, skinnier, smarter, funnier…

Your thoughts and comments are welcome! I love responding. You can also tweet me @OGradyKL.

Happy New Year!

Lesson List 2013:

#1: Tomorrow isn’t promised. Live each day like it will be your last. Have no regrets. Learn from everything you do

#2: Don’t overuse the term “bestie.” It can easily lose meaning. Save for those who you know will be in/at your wedding

#3: Embrace who you are – every positive & negative. The sooner you can, the sooner you can be truly loved by someone else

#4: Drama, pettiness, and immaturity ruin friendships. Understanding, kindness, and effort strengthen them

#5: If you aren’t a doctor, your daily job is not that stressful & the things you’re worrying about aren’t that important

#6: You can’t always accept people for who they are. This doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person w/ limits

#7: Don’t underestimate the power of laughter. Its healing qualities are astounding and celebratory effects infectious

#8: Time does not heal all wounds. Some things will always feel like a punch in the gut, no matter how much time passes

#9: Dating is fun, said no one ever. Instead, dating is a chore until you meet someone who doesn’t make it feel like one

#10: A job is something that pays the bills. A career is something you can’t wait to do, even if it doesn’t pay the bills

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Love, Part 4 of 5: You’re My Best Friend…Maybe

10 Apr

There are many words to describe me. Ask my friends. Ambitious, passionate, loyal, funny, silly, and fabulous are just some of the adjectives they’d throw out (OK, maybe I threw in “fabulous”). Another thing they’d throw out? I’m a total guy’s girl.

Allow me to clarify before you picture me in baggy JNCO jeans and a backwards cap: I’m not a guy’s girl in the tomboy sort of way. I’m more of a guy’s girl in the “She’s really cool and don’t mind having her around the guys” sort of way. I genuinely like watching sports. I like beer. I’m almost drama-free (and if I have drama, I usually don’t voice it). Additionally, I’m really laid back in the “Let’s talk about chicks!” arena. I’m always willing to listen to who makes the current smokin’ hot list or how her body looked (…and what her non-made up face looked like the next morning. For the record, the results are usually negative). I’m also a standing wedding date and a regular to family/holiday dinners (because their moms already met/love me, so it’s easy). I also know what they’ll eat/not eat on any restaurant menu. That’s a skill in-and-of itself.

Everything I just detailed falls within a day in the life of Kerry. This is because approximately 70 percent of my best friends are guys. It’s been this way since 1999, when I met my core group of best guy friends in high school. My “guy group” only grew as I got older.

Don’t get it twisted. It hasn’t always been easy. Being close friends with dudes has its own set of complications, especially if your friend of the opposite sex is single too. This brings us to today’s topic at hand:

Can a single guy and a single girl be just friends?
Answer: It depends.

First, let’s dive into the features and benefits of guy/girl friendships.

Benefits for a Woman: A woman’s friendship with a guy gives her the opportunity to have a light, fun, non-complicated relationship (not always the case with female/female friendships). Women are attracted to a man’s ability to think logically and rationally. A woman also loves the natural protective nature of a man. Having a close guy friend, she gets all the bennies of having a protective figure in her life without the boyfriend status. She also gets an inside look into the workings of the male brain (gold). She also can wear pajamas and no makeup to his apartment for a microwave popcorn dinner and he won’t care. Score.

Benefits for a Man: Surprisingly, a man’s friendship with a woman affects him more than vice versa. A man values his woman-friend’s opinion more so than women he dates. A man also secretly loves a woman’s emotional support. A man doesn’t hesitate to call his close female friend for advice/comfort, but will hesitate to call women he’s sleeping with or dating (because he doesn’t want to risk his manhood). Another benefit to a man – and probably the biggest –is he never has to explain anything to his female friend (behavior, thought process, anything). A man loves to feel understood in every way, shape, or form. Whether it’s how he acts when he drinks too much or what he prefers for dinner, he loves the fact his woman-friend “gets him” and doesn’t judge. In short, if your male friend considers you his BFF, you are taking on the role of the best girlfriend/wife he could imagine, without all the nagging or sex (in that order).

The above description sounds pretty cookie cutter. Simple, even. Unfortunately, these tidy little descriptions are almost never the case. Males and females are, well, males and females. They are biologically predisposed to figure out what the other person means to them outside the friend zone. This doesn’t guarantee anything will actually transpire between the two. However, it is scientifically proven the thoughts are – at some point – present.

In a 2012 Men’s Health article, male and female friends were asked if they were – at some point or presently – attracted to one another. 41 percent said they were either attracted to their friend or thought about dating them. Taking this one step further, guys were twice as likely to say they were attracted to their female friend than vice versa. Hmm.

Based on this little nugget of information, I decided to conduct an examination of the types of single guy/girl friendships out there. Based on my research, I’ve rated each relationship on a scale from 1-10 (in order) based on if they can “truly” be friends are not. The goal with this little project is to understand the scope of male/female friend dynamics and help others navigate through it, based on my own experience and (at times) stupidity.

You Dated…Then Broke Up
We’ve all been there. Suddenly you’re dating. Then you’re not. The reasons vary: It’s not you, it’s me. We’re better off as friends. Blah blah blah. Then you try out that latter thing – being friends. How’s that going? Odds are not well. It’s because the friend thing doesn’t work unless you both didn’t really have romantic feelings for one another from the onset. Take it from a girl who has tried to be friends with most of her ex’s: It doesn’t work. You either want to be back together or – at least – sleeping with them. If neither are the case, you probably secretly hate them…and will hate them even more once you force yourself into a “friend” situation and see them with someone else (ouch). As true as your intentions may be to keep the relationship, it will always feel forced, difficult, and unnatural. The only exception to this rule is if you know you both know you’ll get back together at some point. Ready to be honest? How do you ever really know?
Really Friends? 1

You’ve Hooked Up
For a man, hooking up and going back to being friends is easy. Sex is an act and then it’s over. For a woman, it’s not that easy. There are hormones, emotions, neurological changes…ugh. Note I’m not talking about the typical one-night/few night stands (chicks can let these experiences go pretty easily. In fact, most are pretty forgettable. Sorry, guys). I’m talking about a guy you’ve build a pretty kick-ass friendship with over the years. It’s simple: If you sleep with him, it will forever change your relationship. No going back. It will either turn your friendship into a budding relationship because it felt right for you both or one of you will end up really hurt. Tricky.
Really Friends? 3

Rejected
Hands down, this is the worst. You know the drill: One of you had feelings for the other. One of you finally put these feelings out into the universe, hoping for the best. The best didn’t happen and the feelings weren’t returned. Total bummer. Getting back in the friend zone post-trauma is pretty difficult and not just for the rejected party. The “reveal” moment for either party is a relationship turning point, giving one friend certain power over the other. This power can transcend into the non-rejected party getting strange and distant once the information is out. Or, they might start hardcore flirting with the rejected party (if they haven’t already) just to test the waters (never good, as it send mixed signals). Further, they may start taking advantage of the rejected party, using them as a dating “crutch” if their current dating life sucks. You both can try to keep this going, but there will always be a perma-stamp of hurt and resentment associated with the friendship. I speak from experience.
Really Friends? 5

Flirt-Tastic
This one can be fun if you don’t take it too far. You both know you’re attracted to each other, but that’s where it ends (you both know it would never work out and you’re both OK with it). Through this understanding, you get an amazing friendship plus all the benefits of longer stares, “You look greats,” intense hugs, semi-platonic (OK, not really) kisses on-the-lips…you get the picture. Pretty awesome, yet harmless. Just be warned: If you cross the line, please reread “You’ve Hooked Up” (above).
Really Friends? 7

Platonic All the Way
This one puzzles your friends and family the most. You’ve been best friends forever. You are the first person the other calls with happy/sad/complicated news. You can sit and talk about nothing for hours. You are happy hanging out or partying like its 1999. You love each other’s friends and family. There are no secrets between you two. Actually, you know too much about each other. The only thing you don’t know is what each other looks like naked.

Don’t think I’m nuts – this type of guy/girl friendship CAN happen. It just takes a very special pair of people. No one will understand it. To others, it’s natural two single, attractive, awesome people should try it out if it seems so OBVIOUS they should be together. Let me break it down for you: Even if the attraction is there – even if one, the other, or both feel like the other person is perfect – they will not cross the line. Why? It’s not the fear of rejection that makes you uneasy (though, that may be a small part). It’s the thought of not having the other person in your life if things don’t work out. It’s a feeling that hurts more than anything you can imagine. Take that as a HUGE sign.
Really Friends? 9 (Not a 10. In these types of relationships, you always have to leave a +1 to chance)

Have any of you had experience with the situations above? I want to hear from you. Leave comments!

Source: http://news.menshealth.com/platonic-friendships/2012/09/17/.

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…