Intentional Dating

On my 27th birthday, my best friend (who at that time was just a guy I’d recently re-met after we’d both moved to San Francisco a month earlier) drove me up to the top of Twin Peaks and stopped his car.  We looked out at the beautiful lights before us and the city we’d come to call home, and he told me to wait a minute, then went to his trunk — and came back with a birthday cake, full of lit candles.  He sang “Happy Birthday” to me, and my jaw dropped — my friends never remember my birthday, let alone bring me cake.  He then went on to tell me that over the last month while we were getting to be good friends, he realized that he had more than friendly feelings for me and was wondering if I felt the same.  It was an incredibly romantic gesture — but I felt no romantic or sexual feelings for him at all.  Zilch.  I was very honest with him; I’m sure it stung a little, but he got over it and we remained great friends.

Over the next two years, I watched him fall for the same girl over and over: charismatic, energetic, full-of-life women who wanted to sleep around and be rootless.  Which would be fine – except for that what my best friend wants more than anything in the world is to be a married father.  He’s a traditional guy who believes in traditional gender roles.  And he will be the best dad ever — that is, if he can ever manage to fall for a woman who wants the same things he wants in life.  He’s not doing anything to seek out this woman; rather, he’s putting his happiness in the hands of fate, as most of us do.  As we’re told to do by every romantic comedy ever made.

He complained to me for years about how no women ever liked him back because he was just “too nice.”  He’s not a Dr. NerdLove Nice Guy ™ — he actually is a nice person — but he chooses the wrong people.  He looks for his “type” instead of women he’s actually compatible with.  I finally told him this recently after he and his fiancée broke up because she’s not ready to get married.  And while I was telling him that he should specifically be on dating sites looking for women who want a serious long-term relationship and children, it hit me: I am absolutely fucking terrible (I’m sure most of us are) at taking my own advice.  My whole life I, too, have been dating people who I was immediately physically and mentally attracted to because they were my “type” instead of looking for people who want the same things I want.  And as I was recently forced to figure out exactly what it is I do want*, I thought it might be an excellent idea to use that to my advantage.

This year I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with a couple of men who I would never have pictured myself with, and they’ve both been really wonderful experiences.  I feel cared for and valued, and much happier because of it.  I finally started seeking out people who have a similar communication style to me and who want similar things in a relationship instead of just expecting people to fall out of the sky in front of me.  And surprise!  It’s working.  Intentionality is a beautiful thing. 

The moral of the story is: Figure out who you are and what you want, and specifically and purposefully look for people who also want these things.  Because amazing things can happen when you do.

*I used the questions at the end of the chapters in More Than Two; seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough.

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Getting What I Need (NSFR)

We fit together.  I’m the teaspoon and he’s the tablespoon.  He tells me a deep, dark secret and I press myself into him.  He cups my left breast with his left hand, I cover his hand with mine, and he holds me tight and holds me tighter. 

He woke me up at 6:30 with a raging hard-on, whispering in my ear, “I saw you lying there, and you looked so beautiful, and I had to have you again.”  We’d just gone to bed five hours before after fucking for hours.  I was sore, but I ached to have him inside of me again.  To feel his cock filling me up, twitching against my g-spot, making me gasp.  Making me cry out to gods I don’t believe in.  At one point he says to me, “Your hair smells nice… but your pussy feels better.”  Best thing I’ve heard in a long time.  We laugh.  We speed up, then slow down.  We soak my sheets in our sweat, and it’s not even hot outside.  We come together, him pressed into my back, my top leg carelessly thrown over his legs, his arm around me, fingers touching my nipples, my hand on the back of his head, my own head thrown back.     

Sometimes he tells me what to do, and it’s always exactly what I want to do.  He’s scared to hurt me, but I’m encouraging him little by little, and he’s game to learn.  He touches me softly at the right times and in all the places I want to be touched.   

He sends me text messages telling me that he can’t wait to see me, to touch me, to be near me.  We get each other so riled up with tales of what we’re going to do to each other the next time we meet that I have to stop whatever I’m doing and touch myself.

He kisses me in public and calls me darling.

He’s so strong and so vulnerable all at once, and beautiful when he’s sex-flushed.  He wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but he is exactly what I need.   

Needle in a Haystack

A couple of weeks ago, I did a search on OK Cupid for all the gay and bisexual ladies within one hundred miles of my city, and eighteen came up.  Yes, you read that number right: eighteen.  One is a woman I’ve slept with (and prefer not to again), four of the women are ex-girlfriends of friends, four are friends I’m just not attracted to, and the rest are either way too young (I have zero desire to date anyone who’s near the same age as my students) or have less than a fifty percent match with me — or both.

I already knew it was a small community, but that’s really fucking small.

So I thought to myself: “I’m bisexual (which sounds hilarious in my head as I type it — as though I’m saying, “Hey, I’m resourceful.”)… maybe I should make my account visible to men.”  Despite ALL THE HORROR STORIES I’ve heard from straight and bi female friends, I took the plunge and unchecked the box that would allow my profile to only be seen by self-identified LGBT folks.

And then this happened:

hi! how was your day? did you enjoy it a lot??

hi i have interested in non-monogamy but I’m not the bi woman lol I’m straight but interested in you

Heyy Do u like asian cock?

hi

How are you doing?

Hey there ! Nice to meet you. I have been looking onto your profile and would love to extend the conversation further. Profile seems quite impressive. I’m kinda impressed by the way that you have described yourself.  If you are interested then we can talk further with a coffee or a meetup. Well, writing grammatically correct ?? I’m not sure about it. Have a nice day !

Hey how are you doing this morning

Hello dear, I hope that you are fine.

hi how are you?

Hi, where are you from?

Hello

hi nice to meet u~~^^

I should be careful not to make grammatic error 🙂 Hello \

You are awesome!!! Had to say Hi

Hi

hi, how are you

Hey there

Hello beautiful girl ….i will be very glad to get acquainted with you. ..would you like to talk with me I kinda hope you message me back because you seem really cool.
(Note: this person has a 41% enemy rating with me.)

what is your sexual preference?
(My reply: People who capitalize their sentences.)

Hello

That’s twenty messages in ten days from men that have absolutely nothing to say.  The PUA community says that online dating is a numbers game, so I guess that’s why men aren’t bothering to write anything of note.  Do these guys actually have nothing to say, are they too lazy to read profiles, or are they just willing to date anyone?  I am really curious to know: Who responds to this?  Are there actually women out there who write back to “Hey there”?  Also curious if there are women who send messages like this to men; all the messages I’ve received from gay and bisexual women have contained real content.

In addition to these twenty messages, I received two messages from guys who actually read my profile and wrote something related to the things I said, and I was SO DELIGHTED!  At first, anyway.  One of them made a comment on a Star Trek reference from my profile but then followed it up with, “But I’m not that nerdy, so I really don’t know.”  I am that nerdy.  That’s why I wrote about Star Trek in my profile.  Good job, dude.  The other guy said in his question responses that a) he would never consider an open relationship (red flag number one) and that b) he wouldn’t be cool with a partner hanging out with an ex (red flag number two).

OKC for straight people is a whole new world.  It’s kind of like a video game where you have to find your way through / around / over several obstacles in order to get to the next level.  Luckily, I AM a resourceful girl — and a proactive one.  I’ve had much better luck searching for people who I’m compatible with and sending messages to them.

For now, I think I might go back to my preferences and re-check the “I only want my profile to be visible to gay and bisexual people” box — just for a brief reprieve from all the empty messages.

If anyone out there has a hilarious or horrifying online dating story, I would love to hear it!

Heavy Sigh

So I’m at a party last Saturday night, and this reoccurring thing happens.  I’m mingling and talking about dating girls, and the person I’m talking to is like, “Oh, you’re queer?!  What’s your type?  (I start to stammer, and said person doesn’t actually let me think about this long enough to answer the question.)  He asks if I have an age preference; yes, I tell him.  I don’t want to date anyone under 27 or 28.  He completely ignores this and says, “What if it’s not dating?  She’s 25, but she really just wants to have a lot of sex.”  He whips out his phone and starts showing me pictures of his best friend, who admittedly is cute, but I know nothing about this girl, and this guy knows nothing about me.  He leaps gaily (see what I did there?) forward and says, “I’m going to give you her number.”  “No,” I say, confidently.  “I’d be pissed if someone gave out my number without my permission.”  “Okay!” he says, and calls her to ask her permission.  After a minute of talking to her, he hands the phone to me so I have to have an awkward conversation with a stranger on the phone in the middle of a party.  No pressure or anything.

What makes me so frustrated about this scenario isn’t the fact that he didn’t give me time to answer him or that he basically set us up without really waiting for my consent OR her consent; it’s that he just assumed that I would be a good match for this girl just because we both happen to be into women.  What the fuck is that?  Can you imagine if you were at a party and someone said to you, “Oh, hey — you’re straight!  I know this other straight person!  You guys would be PERFECT together!”

What the actual fuck?

#FuckYes

Someone sent me an article a month ago that focuses on doing things in your life that you are enthusiastic about (take five minutes to read it); the thesis of the text is that if you’re not saying “Fuck, yes!” to something, then you should just say no — especially in relationships (sexual relationships, romantic relationships, friendships; all the ships).  The piece begins with the question: Why would you ever choose to be with someone who is not excited to be with you? 

People sometimes stay with partners they’re not that into for reasons of financial or emotional security, sex, a boost in self-esteem, or out of habit.  Or because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings.  Most people have experienced power imbalances in their relationships, and many of us have been hurt by people who have held onto us while only having lukewarm or ambivalent feelings toward us.  

Someone recently said to me that this is a bullshit binary (not in those exact words), which is a fair point.  There is a lot of grey area between being stoked to be with someone and feeling “meh” about a partner, and it’s hard to be in a state of excitement all the time because, realistically, we have lives outside of our relationships that need tending to.  The ways we feel about people can’t be shoved into a binary, and peoples’ feelings and relationships change and grow over time. That being said, as Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert say in More Than Two, “ambivalence has little place in romance” — it can be and often is incredibly painful.  Which is exactly why “Fuck yes or no” IS a binary (hence the or); emotional purgatory is the worst place to be.

A few important things I took away from this article:
1) Know thyself.  Know what you want in a partnership.
2) If you’re not sure how someone feels about you, ask, and really be ready to hear their answer.  If you’re not sure how you feel about someone else, then tell them so they can make informed choices. If your feelings shift while dating someone or fucking someone or mid-relationship, say something. 
3) When you really feel excited to be with someone, tell them you are, because maybe they don’t know it!  Conversely, if you know someone is really into you and you’re not feeling it, even if you think it will hurt their feelings, be honest about it. 

Basically, just communicate more often, more honestly, and more compassionately.

**A note about the “Fuck, Yes or No” article: I like the premise, but it’s problematic.  It’s heteronormative and it uses war imagery to describe relationships, sex, and love (happiness is not a war).  The author claims that the law of fuck yes or no “instantly resolve[s]” consent issues.  What the what?  Consent is an ongoing conversation that can’t be “solved.”  He says if someone is “pressuring you into doing something you’re unsure about, your answer is now easy.”  No, it’s not.  It’s never easy to say no, especially while being pressured.  Finally, this article (this blog as well) is situated in a framework of privilege.  I have the privilege of entering into and exiting from relationships freely without the threat of violence or coercion, in a community and culture where sexual activity and relationships are choices.  I don’t have financial obligations that require me to stay with someone I don’t want to be with, or children to take into consideration.  This is certainly not representative of everyone, and it’s important to acknowledge that there are people who don’t have the choice to say, “Fuck, yes or no.”       

Office hours just got interesting!

I had a student come to my office hours yesterday for a chat.  As he was talking to me about his girlfriend and whether or not he wanted to marry her (I’m sure you can imagine my reaction to that… we had a whole conversation about marriage and monogamy), he abruptly stopped and asked, “Jo — have you ever been in a relationship?”  “Of course,” I replied, laughing.  “Lots of them.”  “Then… why are you alone?” he asked.  I told him that I’ve been with people who wanted to spend their lives with me and I didn’t feel the same at that time, and that I’ve been with people who I’ve wanted to build a life with, but they didn’t.  That it’s just never worked out.  That being with someone I really want to be with is more important than being in a relationship just to be in a relationship. 

He then said: “Well… aren’t you lonely?”  “No,” I said (the answer is more complicated, of course, but I didn’t think it would be appropriate to turn my student into a therapist).  “I mean, I date people.  Actually, I was supposed to go on a date this weekend, but it was canceled.”  “Why?”  he asked.  After hesitating for a long time and thinking, Can I say this? I answered slowly, “She’s not feeling very well and wants to stay home.  She lives in another city.”  “Oh,” he said.  “So you date men and women?”  “Yup!” I answered.  “I’m not shocked,” he said (which I find hilarious).  And then: “I understand how men and women are sexual, but I don’t really understand about men and men and women and women.”  “Well…” I started, reminding myself that we are in a school setting and he’s my student, so I have to tread carefully.  “A lot of people think that there’s only one definition of sex, and that’s penis in vagina sex… but there are lots of different kinds of sex.”  “Oh,” he said.  “I didn’t know that.”  (Oof, I thought. I feel sorry for your girlfriend.)  I went on: “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to say any more on the subject, but you have the entire internet at your fingertips.” 

We chatted a bit more and he left to meet a friend; I felt lucky that I have students who feel comfortable talking to me about relationships and sexuality, and I feel very lucky that I have students with whom I can be honest with about my relationships.  Straight teachers post pictures of their families on the walls of their classrooms and talk about their husbands, wives, and children, and that’s sanctioned because it fits into the narrative about what relationships and families are “supposed” to look like.  It’s exciting to be alive during a time when that narrative is changing. 

Not Yet a Cougar

A couple of months ago, I was at a dance club, and I started dancing with an attractive woman who was new to South Korea.  The dance followed a familiar pattern (you know what I’m talking about): We started out by facing each other and moving our bodies together, then holding hands and doing some partner dancing with footwork and turns, then hands slid up to waists and we had our hands on each others’ backs, and then our foreheads were touching, and then we were kissing and grinding to the music, completely oblivious to all the people around us.  After the loooongest time, we finally managed to break apart and decided to get some fresh air.  While outside, I asked her to come home with me; she made some witty comment, we grabbed our bags, and we were off.  I don’t remember how it came up, but on the way home, she mentioned that she was twenty-four.  I was shocked because she looked and seemed older; I had assumed she was at least thirty (I’m in my mid-thirties).  It really threw me.  

……………………………

When I was twenty-four, I had a thirty-seven year-old pseudo-boyfriend for about a year.  At the time, I remember thinking how cool it was that I was dating someone with real furniture (the kind that doesn’t come in a box) and a full-time job with benefits.  I had just graduated from university, and it made me feel like a grown-up.  I didn’t have romantic feelings for him (nor he for me; we were both still in love with our exes), but I thought he was hot, and the sex was good.  I always felt inadequate when I was with him, though.  I hadn’t done the traveling he’d done; I hadn’t read the books he’d read; I wasn’t familiar with the music he listened to, and I for sure didn’t understand his job (he was an oceanographer).  Considering we were so off personality-wise, I never really understood why he wanted to date me.  He eventually ended up marrying a woman who was two years younger than me.

When I entered my thirties and looked back on it, I thought, “What was wrong with that guy?  Why didn’t he date people his own age?”  I’ve come to the realization that nothing was wrong with him.  Maybe dating younger women made him feel more youthful.  Maybe being an older, protective man turned him on.  Maybe he just thought younger women are hotter (in which case, he’s got a LOT of company).  Or maybe all the women his own age were partnered.  As we get older, the dating pool inevitably gets smaller as people pair off, move in together, get married, and have kids, which makes dating someone your own age more difficult.                 

That being said — I can’t seem to get past it.  Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher and the idea of dating someone who could have been my student at some point in my career squicks me.  When I tell this to people in their early twenties, they get offended.  “It’s really not that big of a deal,” they say.  “It’s only a decade.”  I felt the same way when I was in my early twenties.  I ask them if they would date someone who was ten years younger than them.  “NO!” they say, horrified.  “That’s illegal!”  “What if it were legal?”  I ask.  “Would you date someone ten years younger than you?”  “Of course not,” they inevitably reply — “they’re children.”  

Aaliyah said that age ain’t nothin’ but a number, but it’s so much more — it’s a whole lifetime of relationships, experiences, education, and cultural references.  When I say to someone, “Hey, do you remember when the Challenger exploded?” and they don’t because they weren’t born yet, it makes me feel old.  I realize that age gaps in relationships aren’t a big deal for a lot of people, and my younger friends are probably laughing at this post and rolling their eyes.  I have loads of friends in relationships with people who are 5-10 years older or younger than them, and they’re truly and beautifully happy.  My parents were thirteen years apart (which is probably why my friends all thought that my dad was my grandpa).  And I would (have) absolutely date(d) people who are older than me… but I’m starting to think hard about the fact that the median age of single people is going to stay the same while I age.

I am not calling twenty-somethings children; however, I teach students in their early twenties.  I officially recognize them as autonomous adults, but I also call them “my kids,” just as parents call their adult children their kids.  I realize there is a HUGE range of maturity in young people; when I was young, older people always thought I was older than I was.  Nor am I criticizing folks who choose to date people who are much younger than they are.  I’m just kind of freaking out because I think I’ve finally hit a point where I realize that it’s going to be tough from here on out to find people my own age to date.  Also, I’m starting to think that maybe it’s time I got out of the club.