Anyway, I trailed off up there because I wanted to promote shit (buy my eBook. WRITE A REVIEW)… given all my dating eBook stuff, I figured I’d talk to you guys a bit more about what I’m like when I’m single and attempting to date people I meet not off the internet.
If I could describe my lifelong experience with dating in one sentence, it would be “Awkward desperation with bouts of irrational overconfidence.” Confident or self-hating, in retrospect I am embarrassed by all of it. Broken down, I’d describe the phases like this –
My first crush on a character in an Animorphs book. This was safer than having a crush on a real boy, because I didn’t even have to sexualize my crush or try to lure him with my own sexuality. Along with being not real, the character was trapped in the body of a hawk. Some of the most romantic and intimate moments of my life were had with Tobais, the hawk-boy, in my own imagination at age 12. I kind of wish I’d stayed in this phase forever. Shit was relatively uncomplicated.
Most subsequent crushes were on boys who didn’t speak to me. If my first real crush knew my name, it was only because people were making fun of me (more on my first crush here). Crushes from afar continued for most of my teens. My understanding of sexuality came from this one ten second clip of this episode of Dawson’s Creek that I saw in the “TV room” in my basement where Joey and Dawson were making out (while laying down!) on the bed. I replayed that scene in my head, imagining all the boys who would never kiss me (or even know my name) for the next 6 years. I didn’t watch many PG-13 movies.
Eventually I discovered gay boys… this was the best part of high school. Gay boys are one of the best things that can happen to fat and/or awkward and/or theater girls. All those things tend to go together, but sometimes it’s a mix and match. The first time I met one of the gay boys, I was in love with him for about two years. The thing about gay boys is that no matter how much frustration you feel because you really wanted that whole Joey/Dawson make out thing to happen with them, you can’t fault them for giving you a little bit of hope and confidence while all of the other boys are busy not knowing your name and trying to recreate scenes from Jackass.
Around 18 I started “dating”, or something like that. I’d call it hooking up, but it often didn’t get that far. Going to Christian college added another level of complication to things. I have thought more than once in my life, “Was that Bible Study like, as friends… or did it mean more?”
At a certain point, I did start making out with people and was like “OMG IS THIS WHAT LOVE IS LIKE?” It took me a few years to learn that no, love is not like that. Love is boring and wonderful in a “let’s watch 10 episodes of SVU in a row because we both appreciate Ice T and sex crimes” kind of way. These relationships were often more exhilarating than real love. I could spend 27 million hours dissecting them with my BFFs. I think I spent the fall of 2003 to the fall of 2010 trying to decipher about four sentences boys said to me with my best friend. I didn’t realize until way later that love affair I was having was really with my best friend, and her ability to dissect one sentence (usually, “If I DID want a girlfriend, it would DEFINITELY be you.”) into 43 different possible interpretations.
“I’m good at sex!” I look back on this period and feel the most embarrassed. After my first real (and pretty terrible) relationship, I decided to overcompensate for my resulting feelings of inadequacy by becoming this “sexually liberated” 20-something. I’d also lost some weight, so I was drunk on some newfound self confidence (and just plain drunk because my tolerance was severely lowered from starving myself). I thought I was awesome at dirty talk; I thought everyone was hitting on me; I sent hundreds of drunk texts that ranged from aggressively slutty to aggressively crazy… I’m surprised any of my friends who knew me during this period still speak to me.
After graduating college and entering life in the real world, I realized having crushes feels just like high school all over again. This weird thing happened after I’d gone through my I’m-too-sexy-for-my-dresses-that-are-a-reasonable-length phase. I realized that the only way I’m comfortable with a romantic situation is when I have already made out with a person. This means that I have to make out with a person BEFORE I know I’m into him. This means I have a window of about one hour after meeting someone and even then, it’s helpful if I’m drunk. A lot of my “relationships” have started with me thinking, “this blurry figure inching towards my face seems cute and cool. I want some cheese fries.”
Having made out with someone is my opportunity to override my tendency to become the same awkward idiot I was at 16. If I meet someone I like and spend enough time around them pre-make out, I’m doomed. For example, In my history of “real” jobs, I’ve had giant crushes on two previous coworkers (Please note that I said PREVIOUS, current coworkers. I read that sexual harassment poster in the kitchen). The first giant crush happened despite the fact that I had a boyfriend. Due to a combination of guilt and fear that I would forget about said boyfriend and kiss-attack my coworker’s beautiful face, I talked about my boyfriend non-stop. “Oh, you also like Ray Lamontagne? Yeah, I LOVE him too. You know who doesn’t like Ray? My boyfriend doesn’t, but god… you’re great – uh, I mean he’s great. Ray Lamontagne is great. Ha ha… ha? Ok, I should go call my boyfriend now. I have a boyfriend, who I love and have to call.”
The second giant crush was even worse. I had to spend a lot of time with this person, and if he ever thinks about me he probably thinks I was a kinda dumb. Conversations were something like, “Hey Tiff, want to meet at eight?” “Really? Do you think that it would be ok considering that we work together? Wait? What? Oh, yes, at EIGHT. Sorry, I’m so stupid I thought you said… nevermind. Eight is perfect. Gooooooo company we both work at where I have to see you every day!”
In hopes that it was all the coworker-ness getting in the way of my “game”, I willed myself to develop a crush on an acquaintance in my group of friends. It was shockingly worse than liking a coworker. At least with the coworkers I had an excuse to start a conversation. Nothing oozes sex appeal like saying talking about work. “So. Our margins this week. Am I right? Your place or mine?” With the acquaintance I found myself edging creepily over to the circle he’d be in, chugging my drink in hopes that it would give me a shred of confidence. Weekend after weekend, I’d have chugged so many vodka sodas while trying to come up with a way to start conversation, that by the time I had my opportunity I’d be so drunk I was teetering back and forth on my heels trying to come up with something to say. He probably thinks of me as That Drunk Girl Who Never Remembers What I Do For A Living Because It’s The Only Question She Ever Asks Me.
This is why online dating was great for me! Remember how I have an eBook about online dating? Seriously though, if you can manage to have one non-awkward conversation with your crush, I applaud you. You are doing better than I ever did.
Peace, love and Joey/Dawson kisses,