Tuesday, June 05, 2007

You ask and I answer (eventually, anyway)

So, um... remember that one day when I was too lazy or uninspired to think of my own topics, so I asked you guys to pick some for me? I suggested you ask me whatever questions you wanted about my dating life, and many of you kindly responded to provide me with blog fodder. And then? Yeah, then I promptly put off answering all your fine queries on the grounds of being busy lazy or something.

I don't know whether I really believe that old "better late than never" cliche', but I'm going to go ahead and finally answer these anyway, as though someone other than Poppy and Being McCrary are still waiting for them, OK? Maybe after that, I can do something equally timely, like perhaps recap the 2004 election or talk about the last episode of Seinfeld. Excellent plan, I say.

All right then. Your questions... (now with answers!)

FunkyB wants to know... Is there one particular (past or present) dating relationship that has become the standard by which you measure all others?
Sort of, but it's not one of my own relationships. I have two (married) friends who are so genuinely well matched and in love that they still look at each other today with the same glow and wonder they did years ago, when they first started dating. I'm not saying they have a perfect relationship (because who does, really, right?). I don't know that I even really want a large part of what they have. I'm a different person from either of them, and what seems to work for them would, I think, stifle me at times. But when I've been sad or felt something's missing from the relationships I've been in, it's usually that my boyfriend hasn't looked at me the way my friend looks at his wife, that he doesn't laugh at my dorky jokes or find my ridiculous quirks charming and endearing the way those two do for each other. So that's the standard, I guess. A lot of it comes down to that.

3Carnations wants to know... What was the length of your longest relationship? Tell us about him.
Almost every time I have mentioned an ex-boyfriend, it's been the same ex-boyfriend--the most recent one, though he's not at all recent anymore. (We broke up about two and a half years ago.) You know how Charlotte on Sex & The City says it takes half the total length of a relationship to get over the relationship? My apologies to everyone who'll shun me for taking any life advice from that show, but I do think she was right on that. Case in point: Jimmy the pothead. We dated four months, and I was pretty much over it in two. The next one took longer. The time line is fuzzy, because we were friends first, then friends-with-benefits, then essentially dating but not calling it dating, and finally, "officially" dating and in love... In all, I round it out to about a three-year relationship, and it was a good year and a half afterward until I felt genuinely over it in some way. Funny how even when you know something is missing and it's time to move on, it doesn't make it any easier to let go.

The Other Girl (formerly of Lately Bothered) wants to know... Now that you're north of 30, what do you call someone who, were you ten years younger, you would call your boyfriend? I can't figure this one out. Sometimes I think I'll get married, just so I can stop saying, "this is my ... uh, person who I'm seeing on a more or less exclusive but not committed basis."
Um, I'm pretty sure I'd still call him my boyfriend. Are you saying I'm too old for that?? No, seriously, I know exactly what you're talking about, and maybe I'm delusional to think it doesn't apply to me, but I honestly thought I had another ten years or so before I had to worry about the term "boyfriend" seeming absurd. I mean, a grandma with a "boyfriend"? Sure, that sounds a bit ridiculous. But at 33? Don't I have a few years? (Please??) That said, I have no good answer to this question. Man-friend? Companion-of-choice? Looover? Yeah, none of those really work. If you come up with anything, TOG, let us know. I'm sure we've all wondered about this at times.

Being McCrary wants to know... How do you decide what to wear on a date? Do you buy something new or go with something you already have?
I am trying to remember the last time I bought something new specifically for a date, and I think it was my first date post-last-breakup. I hadn't been on a "real" date in years, so I felt like I needed new "date clothes." Unfortunately, I didn't even really like the shirt I bought, and I was convinced the whole night that the guy was looking at me wondering why I was wearing some weird shirt with a print resembling dumb little bubbles. I am pretty sure that's the only time I ever wore that shirt, and I actually just gave it to Goodwill yesterday. After that night, I tried to buy a bunch of date-appropriate tops (Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared!), and just wore one of those on every date. I actually keep this weird mental database of what I wear on every date so that I don't immediately repeat the same outfit if I have a second and third date with the same guy. As if most of them would ever even notice. Ha.

Nabbalicious and Paisley want to know... What are your non-negotiables? I mean, aside from the guy needing to have good grammar and spelling skills (which [they] agree with).
You know, I never even said myself that proper grammar and spelling are a must. You guys all just assume I'm far less forgiving than I might actually be! The truth is, when I'm meeting men online, it's hard to see past bad writing and horrendous spelling. I do try to keep an open mind, but it's a struggle, obviously. If he can't express himself effectively through his writing, what else is there at that point? If I met someone in person who was smart and funny and charming, however, and only later discovered he couldn't spell to save his life, I might have to learn to overlook it somehow. But anyway, that wasn't the question, was it? You wanted to know what things beyond grammar and spelling are on the list. Well, there are some pretty obvious ones... No alcoholics, no chain smokers (I'd like to say no smokers period, but one cigarette or cigar here or there won't kill either of us, I suppose), and no one who can't hold his temper. Also, no one who kicks puppies or lacks basic hygiene or listens to Los Lonely Boys or Creed. OK, no, seriously, he must be smart and funny and must find me smart and funny as well. Beyond that, almost everything is negotiable and situational and I just won't know what I can and can't live with until I meet the guy.

NancyPearlWannabe said... I'd love to hear your best/worst dating story. I may have already missed that in a previous post, ... but you can just add the links in if you like. I'm easy like that.
For years, the worst date I could think of was the "NO! I'm DIPPING!" guy listed as "Mike" in my "One Date Boys" post.* No individual part of the evening was entirely unforgivable or tragic, but the man was dull as a spoon and lacked any discernible wit. I was more bored with him than I've been even on Sunday afternoons alone on the couch, nursing a hangover with no cable or computer to keep my mind occupied. That date no longer holds the "Worst" ranking now, though! Now I think I have to shift that title to the "Nonfiction means 'not true'?" guy, the "I think the next president is going to be a woman or a black man" guy, the guy I spent two of the longest hours of my life with, back in February. You can read about him here, if you'd like.

As for best date, I think that still goes to the aforementioned pothead. He was funny and sweet, even from his first phone call, and red flags be-damned, we had a good time together. I remember talking over Thai food on our first date, and getting along so well and laughing so much that he asked the waiter, "Can you tell this is a first date?" "Um, I wouldn't have guessed that; no," the waiter replied. "You guys look like you're having a good time." And we were. We continued to have a mostly good time for the next four months or so. I knew from the start that that relationship would have a shelf life, but it still makes me a little bit sad sometimes anyway.

* Gah! Another Mike! Even more support for the "No Mikes" rule!

OK. That's only about half of the questions I received, but I think you'll agree this is getting just way too damn long for one post. Consider this Part One, then. To be continued... (Maybe even this year! No, really!)



YAY!!! Thanks for answering my question.

You know teh year 2007 is all about "Big Love", right?

So, hell, if you can't beat 'em join 'em. If your friends have such a nice relationship, you could always take a couple of shot glasses and a bottle of tequila over to their house and ... you know ... just see what happens. ;)

3carnations said...

Thanks for answering the question I forgot that I asked! :)

Noelle said...

I'm afraid I agree with you about the Charlotte rule, which is funny, because the longer I date my boyfriend, the more I hope that we stay together, or break up soon, because I'm looking at a 2 year mourning period now, and that is too long.

I'm glad you're easy on the grammar with these boys. At the very least, it's something that you can teach them.

NancyPearlWannabe said...

You're definitely right about the mourning period. It took me almost exactly a year and a half to be fully over my ex. Then I dated a bit and met Chris about six months after that.

Your dating stories make me laugh, mostly because they remind me of all those random guys I agreed to go out with whose names I can't even remember now. In fact, I'm sure I'm forgetting about some of the guys entirely. Although I do have to add that my dating experiences were always just fine. I have no real horror stories- even the ones I didn't really like like were cordial and nice enough. Or maybe I'm just a sucker?

lizgwiz said...

My widowed aunt, who's probably in her early 70s, calls her gentleman friend her "boyfriend." I guess it's kind of like "girls night out"--age is irrelevant.

L Sass said...

I second / third / fourth Charlotte's mourning period theory. I know that it has been much lampooned, but I think that sometimes women (my friends) are far too hard on themselves in their attempt to aggressively will themselves to be "over" a relationship.

I figure, if you've invested a lot of yourself in the relationship, it takes a while to, for lack of a better word, "reinvest" that energy.

It's an interesting topic, I think.

The Other Girl said...

I'm ten years older than you, so the "boyfriend" thing might be more of an issue for me than for you. I can't remember when the word started to make me feel awkward, and I do still use it in reference to ... whoever (heh, we're in love), but not without a lot of internal cringing. I'm working on it, but so far I've only come up with Significant Otter, which I've found amuses me but no one else.

beingmccrary said...

Thank you! Those are my favorite posts! And in reference to your Charlotte thing...I think my friends want to kill me when I say things like, "Hey, I heard on Sex & the City...", or, "I saw this one Oprah show that..." But I can't help myself!! :)

abbersnail said...

Woot! I loved this post!

maliavale said...

I really liked how you said that not only does he have to be smart and funny, but he has to think you're smart and funny. I always say that, too -- it's not just about his qualities; it's about him being able to appreciate yours!

That said:

That is all.

stefanie said...

FunkyB--Um, yeah... Let's call that Plan Z, all right?

3Cs--No problem. :-)

Noelle--I love how you said you hope you stay together or break up soon, as though either option would be equally OK with you, as long as it's one or the other. (Yes, I know that's not what you meant, and I hope you and The Birmingham stay together, too.)

NPW--I don't really have any horror stories, either. I'll admit that most of the guys I've gone out with have been perfectly nice, well-mannered, respectable, and all of that. In most cases, there's just no spark (or they bore me to tears). Chemistry is a strange and elusive thing.

Liz--That's a reasonable theory... After all, if the "boy" in boyfriend is supposed to be used strictly for BOYS (as opposed to men), it would be a ridiculous and offensive term by 21.

L Sass--I agree totally. I also firmly believe that moving on is not a strictly linear process. You can have good days and bad days, and it doesn't necessarily mean a shameful setback.

TOG--A lot of people use "significant other." I guess it works; it just seems so vague and cumbersome.

BMC--You're welcome. :-) Sorry it took so long; I'm glad you still wanted to read it.


Malia--Totally. I remember seeing some talk show years and years ago, and some "relationship expert" pointed out that it's not the other person's qualities that truly make you fall for him or her; it's how you feel about yourself when you're with that person. That makes a lot of sense to me, and I've remembered it ever since.

Also, Hee! Seriously, Malia. Best thing I've seen all week. I am still laughing about that. :-)

(For anyone who has no idea what we're talking about, you really need to go here now. Trust me. No scary dolls this time; I promise. Just click.)

metalia said...

Ooh, I love these posts. Also, pretty please start calling them your "Lovahhhs"; sure, I can't *hear* you saying it, but it'll be infinitely entertaining in my mind.

Paisley said...

I love your dating stories. I love them so much that if you wrote a book about your quest for love on MeMarmony, I would buy it.

Also - I keep thinking about how you went to Austin all by yourself. You are my new hero. Seriously.

I'm just full of Stefanie Love today.


stefanie said...

Metalia--Hee. Now I'm thinking of taking a lover, just so I can say things like, "I've taken a looovahh." Come to think of it, I think that was on Sex & The City once, too, wasn't it? I'm sorry.

Paisley--That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all week. Paisley Love right back at you. :-)

Jarod said...

Cool post! I haven't been on a date in years...what do people do on them these days?

Blitz Krieg said...

Boy, I'm gone for two weeks and get to pick up right where I left off. This was really cool, it's like you waited for me to return.

stefanie said...

Jarod--Probably the same things they did on them years ago... except, in my case, they usually involve fewer dinners, more coffee and drinks, and less action. (The "less action" part is mostly because I find I have no interest in action with most of the men I go on one date with.)

BK--Glad I could oblige. :-)