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Living single… at 33.

Taking in the view on my own.

You might recall a popular TV series in the mid-90’s, “Living Single”, that followed six black singletons living in Brooklyn. They were in their twenties.

Because that’s when most people are single, right?

I haven’t written about my (lack of) dating life in a while – in fact, when I searched through the archives of this blog, it’s been at least a year. Why? Well, until possibly yesterday, I didn’t have much to say on it.

I used to look at being single as sad, and then it became a badge of honor. Now it’s just nothing – or at least, nothing that defines who I am or what I do each day.

I know I’ve got some new readers here – Welcome! – and it’s likely that you never thought this was once a place where ALL I talked about was dating. Why?

Because I did a lot of it in my twenties. I dated, I wrote columns about my experiences, I bartended and met more people to date, and then I published books about it, and spoke about it at open-mic nights… and now I just live it.

I had some fun experiences, some really bad ones, I fell in love a few times, and I also strung myself through abusive relationships.

And then I decided to be single.

Not the single where you have crushes, and “talk” via text, and meet new people on Tindr, and have casual sex. The kind of single where I just get to know myself.

That was at least five years ago, and I’m still in that space.

I definitely never planned on being single at 33, but I also never planned on living in Texas, eating mostly vegan food, or contemplating what life at 55 looks like for a singleton like myself.

At times, being single is scary. I have Miranda’s fear of dying in my apartment, alone, with my cat, and wondering how that ends. And some nights, settling into the covers of my big bed is just a weird reminder of how long it’s been since I fell asleep next to someone I really cared for.

Most of the time, though, I’m happy with my life. Many days, I can’t even remember what it was like to be in a relationship, or to even have a crush on someone. I can do nearly anything I want, and for the most part I do. That was always my saving grace at the end of a relationship – I was free.

If that doesn’t tell you anything about the kinds of relationships I’ve experienced, I don’t know what will.

My jump into being single likely got off to a bitter beginning; I was single because I’d been burned. And there are still remnants of that – it’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve never had a relationship that I’d classify as good or healthy.

But even between relationships, I would quickly meet someone new and move to the next person; one rebound after another.

So being single was a much-needed blow to the cycle. For awhile, I found it difficult to even look at a man, whether at a restaurant or when checking out at a store. I was convinced all men were the same, and I wanted no part of their game.

Don’t worry, I have softened a little since then, and although I don’t meet many people whose relationships I envy, I do follow a few bloggers that give me hope in dating, relationships, and possibly even marriage.

When I graduated from college (10+ years ago), it seemed like everyone was getting married, and many of those same people got divorced, and/or had children. But really, a study came out last year saying the number of marriages in the US, and around the globe, have been declining since the late 90s.

A report from the Urban Institute also stated that many millennials won’t get married until age 40. In the past (say, in 1960), people married for many reasons – to have children, for financial gain (taxes, military, etc.); there was also less pressure on education and careers, for women at least.

Today, being single can mean a plethora of things, and it can look many different ways. That’s the catch 22: there’s almost too many options on how I can spend my years. Do I adopt? Travel? Move elsewhere? Get more hobbies?

I suppose I’ve got time to decide.

In these five years, I’ve gone on a few dates, and unfortunately they’ve been really bad reminders of what I don’t miss about dating – ghosting patterns, mixed messages, messy homes, boring conversations, and selfish sex.

It’s unlikely I’ll go on a date before 2020 rolls around, but when it does, I have a better idea of what I’m after – someone who has it together; a good, fun sense of humor, an appreciation for life, and a kind heart.

Until then, I’ll be obsessively reading library books, cooking new recipes, and planning my next vacation.

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Celebrating 20 years of ‘Sex and the City’!

Photo credit: HBO – one of my favorite scenes from the series.

This week, fans of “Sex and the City” have been celebrating its 20th anniversary – can you believe it?

HBO’s iconic series debuted in 1998, when I was in 8th grade. We didn’t have HBO at my house growing up, so I didn’t come across the series until I was a junior in high school, when I went on a college visit to Miami of Ohio.

It was 2001, and I saw an episode on DVD – I’m pretty sure I fell asleep before the episode was over. To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about dating when I was 17, and I certainly knew nothing about sex.

But by the time I went to college, I’d scrounged up all of the available seasons on DVDs and brought them to Louisiana. The episodes made me laugh, and I started to see why so many people loved the show so much – they spoke so honestly about dating, and in college, I really needed that.

My DVDs also came in handy when I applied to get a new roommate during my second semester of freshman year. The only open bed available was with someone who’d scored a room alone – she was probably REALLY disappointed when I showed up with my boxes of crap on a random weeknight.

Until I showed her my SATC collection and told her she was welcome to watch them anytime. We watched loads of episodes together.

It’s difficult to believe now, but SATC changed the dialogue about sex  and dating, and it was one of the first shows (aside from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) that put single, career-driven women at the forefront.

It also carved a larger path for sex columnists, given that SATC’s main character has a weekly column titled, “Sex and the City”. I quickly became a fan of Natalie Krisnky’s writing, who was the sex columnist for Yale’s campus newspaper until 2004.

I also wrote the relationship column for the LSU paper, and while that was not the start of my publishing career, it gave me a place to vent about my dating troubles, and gave me confidence to start this blog, and eventually publish multiple books on the topic of love, sex, and relationships.

Based on the best-selling novel by Candace Bushnell, SATC gave us four women that were relatable, yet far enough out-of-reach that we could drool over their fashion, apartments, and exclusive access to New York City.

In the span of six seasons (from 1998-2004), Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte became our best friends, even if only digitally, we related to their love, loss, fun, and fights.

The best part? The writing is timeless. Over the years, SATC episodes covered first dates, baby showers, breakups, and marriage, and even dipped into more serious issues such as cancer, abortion, miscarriage, infidelity, interracial dating, and sexual identity.

No matter the topic, the tone of the show was always hopeful – that we can get through just about anything with the support of our friends and the relationship we ultimately have with ourself, and that’s a lesson that never comes too late.

As part of a week-long celebration, the E! Network has been playing all of the SATC episodes, and although I have the entire series on DVD (I was gifted an entirely new set after wearing out the first set), it’s fun to just turn on the TV and see all of the episodes I’ve watched countless times – I could probably recite most of them.

For this post, I was trying so hard to think of my all-time favorite episode, but it changes depending on what I’m going through at the time.

Right now, I can definitely relate to “A Woman’s Right to Shoes” (season 6, episode 9) when Carrie attends a baby shower and is asked to remove her Manolos – they get stolen, and she gets “shoe shamed” when she asks for a new pair from the hostess.

I have also always loved “Hot Child in the City” (season 3, episode 15) where all of the women face something from their childhood – whether it’s scooters and sunbathing or getting braces.

Just a few episodes later, in “Cock a Doodle Do”, Samantha goes to WAR with transsexuals on her block – it involves eggs and lots of yelling, but eventually they makeup and throw a rooftop party.

I never really did like any of Carrie’s boyfriends, not Berger or The Russian – I only like Mr. Big. One of my favorite episodes with him is “I Heart N.Y.” (Season 4, episode 18) when he’s getting ready to move to Napa. There’s pizza in an empty apartment, and several references to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and it’s perfect.

SATC also gave us some epic one-liners, including:

  • When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep on walking.
  • Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means that you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.
  • They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.
  • I am someone who is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.
  • Maybe the best any of us can do is not to quit, play the hand we’ve been given, and accessorize the outfit we’ve got.

I will probably spend a large chunk of my weekend watching SATC without regret. But I’d love to know, what were some of your favorite moments of the show? Or, did it change your life in some way? Give you confidence for a career move? Help you meet new friends?

Let me know in the comments! Have a great weekend everyone!

Taking the high road… or hiding under it?

Is this what the ‘high road’ looks like? Cuz I should hang out here more often.

I had an entire blog post ready for today that looked a lot different than this one does. I was going to post screen shots of some text messages I received from a guy I went on a few dates with almost a year ago (the texts are just a few weeks old).

The texts he sent me were mean, and I was hurt. So, I was prepared to put him on blast – because that is what I have done on this blog every time a man treats me poorly.

Originally, I started this blog more than 10 years ago as a place to keep notes for a memoir I was writing (it has since been published). Over the years, this blog has undergone changes in the same way my life has – at one point, I was dating a lot, boy-crazy, and all I wanted was to be loved.

Things have since changed, and a large part of that changed was a result of how I’ve been treated by boys and men over the course of my life. Many men I’ve dated have later seen our stories here; they’ve gotten embarrassed and called me crazy, told me I was “Taylor Swift”, or that I’m just looking for attention.

I don’t like being told any of those things, of course, and I also realized that dating has never been worth it. I’m not here to bash men, and I am not out to be Taylor Swift. But looking back, I feel like those were just hurtful things said to me because I was simply presenting the truth. I know I am not alone in the way I’ve been treated by men, and it’s not okay that any women get text messages like the ones I am talking about today.

So, even after I drafted a post, I then saw an Instagram post (via Stories) from Color Me Courtney, and basically it was a message she’d gotten that said really mean things. And Courtney’s takeaway was, when you get hateful messages, don’t spread hate, spread love.

And that made me think twice about what I was about to publish on this blog. Would I just be putting more hate into the world? I don’t want that to be the vibe of this blog.

Honestly, that has never been my goal – I have only posted my personal stories so that other people can relate, and know they are not alone.

But maybe I don’t have to post texts and my wannabe reply to do that. Is it enough to just say that yes, even though I’ve been single for 5+ years and have only been on about two dates during that time, those dates still end up awful.

Those are the guys that are finding new ways to hurt me (i.e. texting my friends saying they actually liked them and not me).

Years of therapy has taught me that the reason I have dated so many assholes is because I have a history of not valuing myself, so I accept less than what I’m worth. I was hurt, so I attracted people who were also hurt; people that could (and did) take advantage of me in many ways.

Because of this, I often associate dating with being broken – that only the weak need a partner. This is something I know is not true for most people, but I have never dated someone while I’m feeling whole and confident.

And even in these years of growing and learning and feeling confident – I still end up with the mean texts and actions of rejection.

So, is that all it takes? Am I taking the high road, or am I just hiding under it? Am I doing women everywhere a disservice because I’m not being clear about this situation, or is that how it’s done properly?

If I posted the texts, the person I’m talking about would probably text me again and that’s not something I want. Or maybe the blog post would just say more about me than it does about him.

So, I’m leaving it at that: just a simple message to let you know that even approaching 33, 5 years single, I still cannot seem to get things right in the dating department.

And, I’m still okay with that, but I would be even better with it if I didn’t have to get texts about it 🙂

On keeping it real (honest).

A good soak in the tub.

It’s 9:30 pm, and I’m writing this on my phone as I soak in the tub. I just had a mini-meltdown in my car and am grasping for all of my self care necessities at once: Blanche, bubble bath, John Mayer, and a clay mask. 

Since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, I’ve been stressed. I’ve been doing several things to help those in need (and am looking forward to doing more), but it takes a toll. 

I feel really lucky that Austin wasn’t affected as much as predicted and I still have my house, my kitty, my car…but events like these either bring out the best in people, or the worst. 

I couldn’t help but notice just how many people did not contact me to see how I weathered the storm. In fact, the 3 people who did contact me, are people I haven’t seen in at least a year. 

Maybe it’s not a big deal to most, but no matter what’s going on between me and you when shit hits the fan, I’m going to reach out and see how you’re doing. That’s what we do. Right? 

I know many people probably just don’t feel a need to check in because it’s much easier to just look online and see the last time they posted on social media. 

But what if that wasn’t an option?

In the last week, I read a book (“What Made Maddy Run?”) and saw a movie (“Ingrid Goes West”) that both talked about the cultural change we’ve experienced because of social media and the effect it has on our mental health. No spoilers, but the result is not a good one. 

I know I’m guilty of scrolling through Instagram and being jealous of someone’s outfit, their vacation, or really just…their entire life. Of course, I’m only seeing the highlight reel. And that’s where things get dicey. 

I always think I’m putting the real me out there, but you’ve never seen a picture of my face after I’ve been crying. 

If you wanted to, you could read a lot of my issues right here on this blog. And there’s plenty of dirt on my Twitter feed. But I’m going to put some realness out there, right now. 

In the last year, I’ve spoken to only four members of my family. Including my mom. In the last two years, I’ve had other family members tell me I need Jesus, threaten to sue me, and tell me I’m a piece of trash. 

I spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas with my cat. And it was awful. 

There are days when I feel lonely, times I feel there’s no one I could call, times I feel like a burden to this world. 

I work in politics. Liberal politics. And things are dark right now. Obviously. 

I suffer from financial stress. The money I make at my day job barely covers my bills, and I’m constantly doing extra work to keep up, to save for fun things, or to just pay off a credit card or taxes. I worry about bills, and trying to save. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel financially free. 

I’ve done some shit I shouldn’t have. Mathematically, I feel like I shouldn’t still actually be alive but I’m here and I get very stressed about making my time here count. 

I know I’m critical of myself. And of others, too. At times I wonder if I’m right in the way I feel, and I recall years of therapy where I learned it’s ok to feel anything you feel. 

I’ve spent many years searching for what I think is happiness, and I’ve found that generally it’s my weekly trip to the library, cooking, or driving by these two palm trees at the bend on my street. 

So there. Now you see it, my dirty laundry. I know we have a long way to go before posts like these are accepted just as any other. It’s less of a pity party and more of a display so you know that if you’ve ever felt any of these things, you’re not alone. 

I’d like to think that’s a small reason I’ve created this blog for myself – it’s my place to go when the seas get rough, when I feel like there’s no one to call. 

There’s another (literal) storm out there. If you know someone that’s going to be affected by it, at all, shoot them a message. We need each other – the real each other, not the Instagram stuff. 

I’m not apologizing for my crazy today. It’s real, just like any of my blog posts – this one’s just a little less pretty. 

She’s perfect, so flawless, oh so they say…she thinks I can’t see the smile that she’s faking, posing for pictures that are being taken. I loved you, gray sweatpants, no makeup, so perfect. 

Sent from my iPhone

Detox Your Dating: Day 6.

Day 6 got me twisted.

Ok – day 6! Today is all about the “Top ingredients for a high-quality man”. This is exactly what I need to see. Denise has a list of just SOME of the ingredients of a high-quality man, and they are:

  1. His actions will always speak louder than his words. High Quality mens’ words and actions are congruent.
  2. High Quality men will want to connect with you in the most personal way. Texting is the lowest form of communication.
  3. He has had at least one long-term relationship.
  4. He doesn’t trash talk his exes and takes responsibility with what his part was for the break-up.
  5. Attitude that they can make things happen in their lives…not that life just happens to him.
  6. Consistency is key. He does what he says he’s going to do.
  7. Has a steady job and a string of logical choices and progression in his career.
  8. Willing to delay having sex without getting angry or making you feel guilty (it doesn’t mean they don’t try to have sex…).
  9. They are able to control their emotions–they don’t exhibit extreme bouts of anger, jealousy, and depression.
  10. They don’t profess their undying love to you right away. High quality men know they are a catch and are looking to see if you add value to their life.

…Yep, pretty much never dated a man that fit any of these things.

Day 5 Challenge: Top ingredients of a High Quality Man

Denise shares the Five F’s Formula (which I’ve never heard of). Here it is:

Friends: You want a man that can be your best friend, right? Does he have friends? Is he a bridge burner or relationships keeper? How does he treat them? Are his friends kind and respectful towards you?

Family: Pay attention to his relationship with his family. Consider it a red flag if he doesn’t have one at all. While there are extenuating circumstances, you want to see that your future husband knows how to resolve conflict and repair relationships when conflict.

Finance: Finance is a leading cause of divorce. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or rich; it’s how he handles his money that matters. Is he responsible? What does his spending and saving habits look like?

Future: Pay attention to his ambitions and vision for his future. Does he have a clear plan for his future? Does he has a history of several career changes and is still searching for what makes him happy? Men often rely on their career for confidence and you want a confident man. It’s not about how much he makes but that he is strong and confident in what he does.

Faith: Do you share the same faith and beliefs? At the end of the day, the last thing you want to argue about is what you consider to be the source and foundational principles of life.

Homework: Share an example of a man you dated and tell us how which one of the Five F’s you wish you had explored or made more important. Do you seem to be dating men who have most of the Five F’s, but have a pattern of lacking one of the above? If so, which one?

I definitely don’t look at finance, future, or faith enough. I’ve dated men before that seem to be on top of their money, but it has always made me nervous in the past because I don’t want to be married to someone that is strict about what I spend my money on. But obviously, I can see both sides of this – my last relationship was with a man who had terrible finance issues and was stealing money from his job. 

Future… this is one that makes me really nervous. I almost feel like I CAN’T have an opinion about this because I don’t have a clear future. Do I have goals? Yes. Ambition? Yes. But I don’t have a clear plan. 

Rarely have I ever cared if I’m with someone where we share the same faith and beliefs. It sounds crazy writing it out, but it’s true! I recently had an experience where I realized the importance of this when I got into an emotional argument with someone over politics. I know politics aren’t faith, but these are at the core of my beliefs. 

…Day 6… I have work to do.

Detox Your Dating: Day 5.

Oh man, Day 5 is a toughie!

SRSLY, everyone is just freaking out about this solar eclipse – is it really that big of a deal? My office doesn’t even have windows, so I’m 100% sure I will not notice when Texas gets 65% coverage. Le sigh.

Anyway, onto Day 5, and this one is a tough one for me.

Day 5 Challenge: Time to go Shopping for a High-Quality Man!

Denise is instructing us detoxers to think about the last two serious relationships we’ve had (oh, boy). She asks, what were the initial traits and qualities each man had that attracted you?

We’ll start with my most recent serious relationship (deep breath in)…

We met at a high-brow dinner party, and our first date was a private dinner prepared just for us by the chef. I really liked that he was a man who appreciated fine dining, interesting food, good wine, and was willing to splurge for our date.

On our first date, I felt like we had a lot to talk about, and he was funny and made me laugh.

The relationship before that… we met at work and I really was attracted to his drive, focus on work, and I felt like he was a family man – I always got lost imagining us as a big family.

…God, this is just embarrassing.

Now, Denise says, write why the relationship ended. What traits or things about his character led to the breakup?

Guy 1: We broke up as a result of his alcoholism. Turns out, his love for good wine was also a love for alchohol, period. He was arrested for drinking and driving multiple times and got into an accident while under the influence. Our relationship changed big time when I picked him up from jail. He was a really great liar, and was cheating on me for the entirety of our relationship.

Guy 2: We broke up after he moved out of town for work. He was obsessed with work – and worked multiple jobs. He was cheating on me, and was quickly married after we broke up. I have talked to him briefly since then, and when I asked him about his family (he has a wife and two kids), he simply said he was married to his job.

…So basically the things that attracted me to these men were the same things that made it end.

Do these men share anything in common, in retrospect?

They were both unavailable to me for different reasons (minus the cheating).

Homework: Name 1 example of a trait you must have and an example of an action your date will do that will demonstrate the trait you’re looking for.

…This is a problem. Honestly, I’ve had such issues in dating that I don’t even know what I want or what to look for. I want to say I need honesty in a man, but I don’t know what he could do to demonstrate that trait. I suppose, given my past, I need a man that is willing to make time for a woman (like me) in his life. So, he would need to tell me about his life, how he spends his time, and what he’s looking for in a partner. That sounds heavy, yes? He could make a sincere effort to make plans with me in advance.

😦

Detox Your Dating: Day 4.

Halfway mark!

The detox for day 3 was pretty eye-opening for me, so I’m curious to dive into day 4! This day is all about “Recognizing your cravings for attention”. Oh boy…

Day 4 Challenge: Recognize Your Cravings for Attention

Denise explains that many successful women admit to having some sort of “attachment” to something on the side. This may be something like:

  • Friends with benefits
  • Sex texts with an ex
  • Keeping a box of memories from past relationships
  • Hookup sex/one-night stands
  • Dating someone with no future

…Eh, none of this is really me. I’ve had friends with benefits, that was around four years ago. Other than that, I don’t do these things. Which is good!

Homework: 

  1. Share with the group a time you held onto one of these attachments.
  2. What triggered this?
  3. How did you let it go?

I used to always, always be “talking” to or texting someone, whether it was a Friends with Benefits type of guy, or a straight up No Future Guy! I’d say there were two things that I did to stop it: 1. I moved to a new city and state. This isn’t WHY I did it, but it certainly helped the situation, and 2. I finally went through a breakup that shed some light on what I was doing to myself. By having all of this drama and baggage surrounding me, I was refusing to let myself grow. By putting down my phone and cutting out the losers, I learned a lot about myself and how to fill days without a No Future Guy taking up my time.

…Thinking more on this now, I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, but I’ve never really had a romantic relationship that was quality. This is why I can never see what I’m “missing” from my single life. No, I haven’t only dated jerks, but the one relationship I can think of that wasn’t awful, still just wasn’t right.

This is why we have three days left to detox.

Detox Your Dating: Day 3.

The Dating Detox continues on!

Still drinking the metaphorical green juice for this Dating Detox from Denise Poteat. I know I’ve said it before, but even though I would not consider myself an active dater – reflecting on my past always does a number on me (this time for the better, I think). So, day 3, let’s get it!

Day 3 Challenge: Clean Your Pantry

Today is all about clearing out the junk you don’t need, ahem, like those 7 types of guys none of us should be dating. These types include, but are not limited to, The Narcissist (controlling, self-esteem thief, makes you question your own sense of intuition and self), Playboys (badass with moves in the bedroom), Players (physical, smooth talker), and Peter Pan (the guy who never really grows up).

Ew. I have dated ALL of these guys. And then Denise tosses out a checklist: “Have you ever dated a guy like this?”…

  • He doesn’t have his ducks in a row financially
  • He’s passive-aggressive, jealous, and needy
  • He runs hot and cold in his feelings toward you
  • He’s highly critical of your behavior and leaves you walking on eggshells
  • He’s broken up with you more than once, so you never know where he stands

Let’s see… yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I hate myself.

Then she says, “What about the new boyfriend who claims to love you…”

  • He communicates mostly by text message
  • He never wants to listen to your needs
  • He disappears for days at a time
  • He never talks about a future
  • He makes you feel bad about yourself – to the point you think you’re crazy

…YES, YES, YES, YES, YES.

Ugh.

Homework: Look at your past 3-4 relationships and share your biggest weakness.

Because of my ultimate fear of intimacy, I choose the men that are unavailable – whether it be because he has multiple girlfriends, too busy with work/school/friends, is an alcoholic – I always just use those as excuses as to why it’s not working. Aside from just not being there, these men have made me feel crazy, had me questioning my feelings, and sent me into tailspins. Looking back, it’s SO clear that every single guy I’ve dated (even the ones I just have crushes on) are unavailable in some way.

Detox Your Dating: Day 2.

Rolling right into Day 2!

Who is ready for Day 2 of this Dating Detox Challenge? ME! Well, sort of. Because here’s the thing: I’m not really dating.

I haven’t been on an actual date in two years, and even that is pretty lenient, because that date was a special situation. Needless to say, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve been on a date. Why? Because honestly, I’m just not sure it’s the thing for me.

I used to think of myself as really good at dating. I’m fun, smart, I can carry on a conversation with most people, I like swapping stories, and in general, I like meeting new people. But as the years passed, I started seeing that the work I put into dating was never worth the result.

So, Day 2 is interesting… Here goes.

DAY 2: WHAT’S YOUR GUT TELLING YOU?

Why are you dating?

I’m not really dating. I’m currently on one dating app and have only talked to two guys in the last month. I’ve noticed that even when I “match” with a guy on the app, the messages are very short and uninteresting, so it just seems like a waste of my time. However, there IS something keeping me from giving up entirely on dating and that’s me thinking about the future.

In general, I like my day-to-day life, even though I spend most of my time by myself. I do have friends – although I am working to make more friends (I moved to a new city almost two years ago). I am close to my mom, but she lives states away. I have spent many holidays alone, and although I’ve tried to do all I can to make this okay, it hasn’t been a pleasant experience.

Ultimately, I want a partner in life. I want someone to share life with at the end of the day. A forever companion for the holidays, for the ups and downs of life.

So you want to share your life with someone so that you can do or feel what?

I do, at times, feel like something is missing in my life. And it’s not Jesus. I wonder what my life would be like as a 50-year old being single, or at 60? 70? What will I do? Will I regret not putting myself out there more? Will I regret not having children?

And once you have that companionship and feeling that someone else cares about you, what will that do for you? What will that change?

I never want to rely on someone else for my happiness, but I do want to support someone (spiritually/emotionally) and have that same support back.

Homework: Share your WHY statement on the Facebook page.

Here’s what I put on Facebook: Day #2 homework: I honestly haven’t been on a date in two years. There have been times in my life that I am actively “out there” – online and going out and getting set up by friends. Why? Ultimately I want someone to share my life with. As a single person, I do spend a majority of my life by myself. Yes, I have friends and family (although a majority of my family is estranged), but I want that partner, that support. Most of the time, I am happy in my life, but sometimes I wonder: is this IT? Am I always going to come home to my cat? Will I regret not having looked more? Not having children? These are the questions that keep me from shutting out dating entirely.

Detox Your Dating: Day 1.

Always up for a challenge!

A fellow singleton friend asked me if I wanted to try a free 7-day exercise called “Detox Your Dating Life” put on by Denise Poteat. I immediately agreed – although I do really, really enjoy being single, I’m always up for a challenge.

This 7-day exercise involves lots of self-reflection, and over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing these thoughts with you as I move throughout the program. Yes, I was bad and didn’t do the days right after another. It took me awhile, okay?!

Enjoy!

DAY 1: STEP ON THE SCALE

One of the first steps on this day was to state my limiting beliefs. According to popular belief, you are what you eat, and this saying works in dating, too. If you don’t believe you can go after a certain type of person, then you certainly won’t get him or her.

Who you date is a direct reflection of yourself, Denise said. I immediately cringed at this thought. I have dated some real bad ones. Ugh.

What is your single biggest frustration with dating?

Being vulnerable is my #1 block with dating. I have always dated guys that are really wrong for me (probably really wrong for anyone). I don’t do it on purpose, but I believe I do it because then, when things turn south, I can just blame it on them and not have to accept that it may be because of my baggage and flaws.

I also don’t like the work or the compromise that goes into dating. I have my own schedule that I like, I feel like my life without men is relaxed and comfortable. When I am dating, I feel stressed and on-edge constantly. I don’t want to give up my care-free life for a man.

What belief do you have about why you are single?

Ultimately, I don’t want to open myself up to true intimacy.

Top three reasons that describe your feelings about being single:

  • I don’t feel comfortable approaching men
  • I don’t have the energy to date; it’s too much hassle
  • I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy

Homework: Review the following statements and share with the private Facebook group the thought you struggle with the most.

  •  Am I better off alone?
  • Do I really need a man to be happy?
  • What if I get into a relationship and lose my independence?

Here’s what I put into the Facebook group:

Am I better off alone? I have wondered this for nearly 10 years (I’m 32). I have mostly only experienced abusive relationships, for which I entered counseling and worked to get to the root of my issues. However, I’ve been single for four years now, and have spent that time relearning who I am, and ultimately what I want out of life. I haven’t ever gotten happiness from a man, and I’ve seen so many women fall into the same manipulative relationship traps I did years ago. I feel weak when I even start to like a man – I associate strength with being single. I feel like, as a single woman, I have this absolute freedom that I don’t have when I’m in a relationship. As embarrassing as this is to admit, there were even times I didn’t want a male waiter at a restaurant. I’m growing, and still learning, but I just can’t picture myself being vulnerable enough to love.

And Denise replied! Here’s what she said: Thank you Holly for being so honest…you really hit on something that I think many women in the group can relate to. You said “I associate strength with being single.” When you have been hurt early in your life…you can stop trusting men and ultimately…your own judgement. I want to help women learn to hear and trust their intuition…to be gentle, but strong with what they require in a relationship with a real man.

Day one = done! Be on the lookout for days two, three, and four next week 🙂 Want to do the challenge? You can sign up here – it’s completely free!

Is foreplay feminist?

Sexual women shouldn’t be ashamed.

A few years ago, I had a date with this guy I really liked. We cooked dinner at his house, and before I knew it, we were upstairs, in his bed, making out. I quickly told him I wasn’t ready to sleep with him since we weren’t monogamous and hadn’t even been talking that long.

He was okay with that, but I noticed he also never tried anything else but kissing. Never even touched me anywhere below the waist. I chalked it up to him being respectful and that was the end of it.

We had a few “incidents” over the years that put us apart, but, as life would have it, our paths crossed again, and there I was, back in that same damn bed. Only this time, I wanted to sleep with him. He was a nice guy, we had a lot in common, and I kind of didn’t care if it went anywhere afterward or not.

But he proceeded to take things from making out to sex. As in making out to going for it, without ANYTHING else in between. No touching, no feeling, no oral, no whispering in my ear, not even kissing on the neck.

Umm… what? No.

“I’m going to need something else,” I told him.

“What?” he asked.

“You know, touch me…” I said.

“Oh,” he said. “Well, I haven’t done THAT since college.”

And he let out a little chuckle.

No wonder you’re single, I thought.

I can’t speak for every woman, and I won’t, but I’ll say that yes, I need more than just thrusting. I need to be touched, I like oral sex, and you know what? I’m not ashamed of it. I’m a sexual person (imagine that, a woman, being sexual)!

I give and take, and I think sex should be equal work and pleasure for all parties involved. I want to be with a man who wants me to get off.

There, I said it.

This incident OFFENDED me, a lot. Possibly more than I have ever been offended.

In a single second, this guy made me feel embarrassed, ashamed, and ugly. I felt like he didn’t want to touch me or show me a good time. And you know what? I have unfortunately been with some guys who were jerks, but they STILL wouldn’t dare sleep with me and not ensure I had a good time.

This small act let me know who this guy is: a selfish one, who has no interest in pleasing women, and has no interest in trying to the point he insulted me while I was naked, in his bed.

The other thing I found weird, was he said he hadn’t done that since college. That was 10 years ago for us. So, all the women he’s been with between then and now just get the three thrusts and done? Also, why decide “Oh, once I graduate college, I am SO done with oral sex and foreplay”? Newsflash: My basic sexual needs didn’t change when I got a degree.

I clamped my legs shut, and rolled over to go to sleep. In the morning, I was still pissed.

“Good morning!” he said.

I said nothing.

He continued talking to me and I continued ignoring him.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“No, I actually think you’re an asshole,” I said.

“What? Why?” he asked.

“Umm probably because you just go around putting your dick in people without doing anything else and you just take what’s good for you,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “That was selfish of me.”

He went outside, cut a flower, and brought it inside to me.

“That’s nice but it’s not an orgasm,” I said.

I don’t know if it was lack of confidence, lack of caring, pure machoism at its finest, or what, but I cannot.

So, I’d love to know thoughts on this – especially from the guys! I don’t want to get into numbers here, but I’ve been in enough situations to know this isn’t really normal. But when I talked to some of my girlfriends about it, they said yes, they’ve been with lots of guys who don’t care if they (the ladies) enjoy themselves or not.

This is not ok! I don’t care if its feminist or not, I refuse to be with someone who isn’t interested in what I want, and really what I need.

No really, who’s my soulmate?

“Did I pass you on the sidewalk?”

Hola, readers! Ugh, it has been a weird/crazy week over here, so I apologize for not posting yesterday. In time, I’ll explain it all, of course.

But, something has been on my mind. You may have noticed that when I posted about what happened with my last crush/male-interest, etc., a fellow blogger posted her advice. Here it is, in case you didn’t see it:

Are you willing to give this a try? Right before you go to bed each night, think of the perfect person you would like to meet in detail, down to what you are both wearing, what you are doing, etc- like you are watching yourself in a movie.

More than once, the entire experience has come true in almost the same detail that I had imagined; made the hair on my arms stand up straight and reminds me every day to keep looking forward.

This advice comes from Linda over at A Moxie Girl, and she’s actually someone I’ve worked with in the blogging world. She has some pretty amazing stories about the truth in the power of visualization, so I definitely want to take her advice.

But one thing her comment made me realize, is that I sort of have no idea who I’m hoping to meet. Who is going to fulfill my needs? My desires?

When I was in high school, I made a list of all the things I (thought I) was looking for in a guy. I don’t have the list now, but I remember some things were superficial, i.e. “looks good in a baseball hat”, and some things were personality-based, such as “keeps up with the news”.

It was a pretty long list, and I really have no idea why I made it. I also thought I was only going to sleep with one person EVER, and be married by the time I was 25, so we can just chalk it all up to high-school ignorant-bliss brain.

Later, an English teacher mentioned during a lesson that you can list out everything you want in life, or your career, or in a partner, and you’ll probably end up with the exact opposite. I wondered if what she said was true.

There are times I’ve dated men that fit my original, high school list (I really am a sucker for a guy in a hat), but of course I never wrote down things like “cheats on me”, “is abusive”, or “won’t meet my parents”, and I’ve landed myself in all of those situations.

So, what the heck is it that I want? I know that I need someone who is honest, comfortable (not complacent) in their skin, kind, and a little selfless. I want someone who takes care of themselves, who’s interested in a healthy lifestyle, but won’t judge me when I eat French fries. I want someone who values what they have; someone who is hardworking, but knows how to kickback, too. I hate admitting this, but I want someone who appreciates nice things, whether its a rare scotch or a fine dining experience.

Looks? I am not really sure. Yes, I see men I find attractive all the time – but they don’t all look the same. And I suppose THIS is what I need to work on when it comes to my “nightly visualizations”. Don’t worry, I’ll think on it and get back to you.

What about you guys? Ever visualized HARD and had it actually happen? I’d love to hear about it!

The other side of heartbreak.

Keep away the lonelies.

I promised I’d fill you in on my love life as of late, and well, I’m a woman of my word. And yeah, I’m going to somehow try and explain this as honestly as possible, without going off the deep end. Here goes.

I’ve known this guy for 16+ years (ugh, I’m so old), and over the years we’ve developed one of those friendships I’d see in a romcom and be completely jealous of. We have SO much stuff in common, from politics and television to food and writing.

There’s been spots in our friendship where we’ve talked and texted every day, and there’s been times we haven’t talked for months. For years, even though I was romantically interested in him, I never wanted to force it – I liked him in a way where I felt like I wanted him to do what made him happy, even if that meant not being with me.

But these last few months felt different. Our talks were different. His gestures were different. He was very kind, and I’ll be honest here: I was feeling very vulnerable. Almost scared shitless.

He lives states away, and I needed to know where this was headed. Was he planning on staying where he is currently, or was he open to moving? Is he the type of guy looking to get married and have a family (I mean we are 32)?

These are questions I’ve never really had, and they are DEFINITELY questions I’ve never felt comfortable asking. I was in 100% new territory here, and quite nervous.

When I went to visit him though, my fantasy was not quite what I’d dreamt (imagine that, because this always happens to me). On the surface, he said some things that were sweet – that he felt vulnerable, too, that he didn’t like going a single day without talking to me, and that he ultimately wanted me to be happy – these are things no man has EVER said to me before… and well, frankly, I wonder if I’ll ever hear them again.

But despite the kind words, there were… actions… that happened that didn’t back up these words. Actions that made me wonder if he even liked me at all – ever. I felt a little tricked, and I felt like a fool (per usual). And to top it off, he wasn’t open to moving.

On the one hand, yes, I got answers. They certainly weren’t the ones I wished for, but I got them. I really hoped to keep our friendship, but we haven’t really talked since – granted, I haven’t reached out either, because I’m just not really sure how, or if I should, or if it’s worth it.

There’s a part of me that feels really proud of myself for seeing red flags and knowing that I want better for myself; that I cannot settle at this point, and there’s something in my blood that’s telling me I need to continue my adventure as a single woman.

It’s a weird feeling because – as silly as it sounds – I kind of thought this was it! He was so different than the men of my past; there was so much actual connection, and very little talk of sex and that was refreshing to me. But it still wasn’t right in the way I need it to be.

I don’t have any hard feelings, but I’ll say that being on this side of heartbreak – a place where there was no betrayal or lies (as far as I know) – it was just simply a misalignment – it really isn’t that much easier. Okay, so I’m not dragging ass, eating ice cream from the carton, but… There is still a lot of loneliness. I went from talking to someone every day to hardly even looking at my phone.

I all of the sudden have tons of extra time (which explains why I read two whole books last week).

And I know this is just another something I will get over – I’ve done it many times. These experiences, although painful, are important as I continue to figure out who is going to be the right one for me. In the meantime, though, I make pretty awesome company for myself. And I’ve been on my own for so long, I’ll admit I’m getting verrrryyy used to it – not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but it’s happening!

That’s where I’m at now, and I’m just trying to keep things moving. I’m also thinking about the future. I got a good reminder that I don’t really have anything holding me down, and things are wide open for my. It’s a very freeing feeling, and I know that’s something a lot of people can’t say.

Cheers to what’s coming next, even if I don’t know what!

Indiana: A story of what could be?

The road to Indiana.

Howdy! I had every intention of posting yesterday, but life took over – okay, more like work took over, and I was up until the wee hours this morning finishing things, and packing for my trip to Indiana tomorrow.

I planned this trip months ago, so I could participate in my second “Take Steps for Crohn’s”, which I am still looking forward to, but the trip has also transformed into something else.

It may come as no surprise that I have some pretty strong feelings for a guy in Indiana. It’s not someone new, in fact, he’s been a part of my life for years – but we’ve really been on a roller coaster.

Without going too much into it, I will say that we’ve managed to be there for each other through some very tough times, especially as of late. I’ve had a tiny crush on him since I was 15, and have been fairly honest about my feelings over the years – him, too, even though he hasn’t always felt the same way.

Recently, he quietly admitted he had feelings, too – something I never, ever thought I’d hear him say. And that’s just it: it’s the first time I’ve liked someone so much, I’d accept it if he didn’t like me. I’d rather have his friendship than nothing, and I want him to be happy, even if it’s not with me.

Strong words, I know.

And that’s the other part of this entire thing: I’m in uncharted territory. I’ve never liked someone who was quite so nice to me; never been able to actually talk to someone on the phone (especially about nerdy stuff, like politics and food); never had any sort of relationship that didn’t involve around sex, talking about sex, or planning for sex. It’s refreshing.

But, it’s also scary AF. What exactly is going on here? I can’t answer that right now. And I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer it after this trip, either.

Because if you’ve been here before, you and I both know how this ends (read this, this, this, this, and this, and this, for examples). I’ve done this. Of course, this is someone different – biologically, and in many different ways. But it has ended poorly for me before. I’m bracing myself to get on that plane next week with a broken heart, and no need for a phone.

A long time ago, I concluded I like Indiana boys because they are familiar, and because, well, I live 19 hours away and don’t really have to subject myself to the intimacy that would happen in a real, face-to-face relationship.

But what if the distance was eliminated? I always say I have stayed in the South to benefit my career. I’ve banked on the story I’ve told myself that I will always be single. But what if I put something, or someone, else first this time? What would my life be like?

There is a huge part of me that already knows the answer. My life would probably be filled with a lot more love, and a little less stress. I might actually get the thing I’ve always wanted: love. A partner.

All of that just scares me. I don’t know if I’m ready, but on the other hand, how can I NOT be ready?

I don’t want to bank everything on this trip, but I am hoping it will show me a little taste of what my story could have been; what it could be, if I choose that path, instead of the one I’m on now.

We’ll see!

PS. The blog will be sparse next week as I’ll be vacationing and mind-questing 🙂 Promise I’ll be back.

Loneliness is tragic.

Walking alone isn’t always easy.

Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely. There’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely, because, well, I’ve been alone for a greater part of the last 14 years. Most of that time, though, I haven’t felt lonely.

After two tragedies struck my friends and family in Indiana over the last six weeks though, I started to feel homesick. I left Indiana at 18, headed South, and really never thought I’d turn back. And yes, I’ve had some great times in these parts, and met some great people – but is anyone ever quite as great as the friends you’ve known since middle school? Doubtful.

I still don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Indiana, or the Midwest, other than for quick visits. Although in times like these, I can’t explain just how much I wish I could hop right on over to Indiana, to spend a Friday night with people who know me; people who make me excited to be alive. Regardless, I’m trying to make the most out of my life in Austin, and I know it’s one of the most entertaining cities in the country.

But my attempts at making friends here have left me feeling more lonely than when I started. People have flaked for things I’ve invited them to do – movies, concerts, brunches – and even things they’ve invited me to do. Everyone is looking for the Bigger, Better Deal (the BBD), and apparently I am not it.

After years of suffering from breakup after breakup, I quickly learned that a man was not going to be the source of my happiness, and I’ve basically given up on that part of my life. I know I can still live a meaningful, happy, and fulfilling life as a single person.

But I can’t do it alone, can I? I suppose I pictured my life as a single person much like the lives of the women on “Sex and the City” – only, minus the sex and designer fashions. Or perhaps like those on “Girls” only minus the sex and easy-going careers. You get the picture: I need a few friends to do shit with.

Because you know what? No matter how cool I think I am, hanging out with just myself gets old. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to surprise myself with yet another great, home-cooked meal. These days, I’m so over myself that I buy all of the organic, pre-made goods I can because then at least I have time to read or to build a plan to get friends.

During the week, I don’t have much time for social outings given my job, my dance schedule, and this blog. Some weekends, I am busy with chores or writing projects, but other weekends it would be nice to meet up with friends for drinks, a sporting event, or simply a movie.

Holidays, though, those are the worst. I hate admitting this, but I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas by myself last year, and as much as I tried to make it pleasant for myself – baking a pie from scratch & mixing craft cocktails – it was a very depressing time.

Because the truth is, when you’re not close to family, and your friends live 19 hours away, it almost seems as if I’ve built so many walls around myself that my only choice is to be alone, even for the moments when being together is all that really matters.

This is not the first time in my life I’ve felt lonely, of course. In fact, it is during these times when I have fallen into a dark pattern of meeting friends, or sometimes, men, who are terribly wrong for me. Because of this, I am very weary of my actions during these times – I don’t want to fall for the wrong people out of desperation.

But it is also during these times when little things hurt even more than they would on a good day. The cat call of a construction worker (“You have a fat ass”) on your morning walk to the Texas Capitol stings more; being ignored by a crush cuts a little deeper; and getting ditched by a girlfriend calls for a bottle of wine to keep all to yourself.

I struggle with gathering the courage and confidence to do things alone, or to simply just curl up on my couch and accept my fate.

After a week of debate, I braved downtown Austin and went to see Big Freedia in concert, alone. I put on my best twerking outfit, dark lipstick, and treated myself to a beer (or two). As I was standing at the bar alone, a few ladies approached me and asked if I’d come alone. Yes, I did, I said.

So had they. All of our friends had ditched us. And so, we danced the night away, together. It was great, and just the night I needed. I had done it for Freedia – her positive attitude and awesome music got me off my couch, and her presence sent me floating into the night.

I am still trying to make friends; and to figure this whole thing out. Until then, perhaps I’ll just live by a new set of words: What Would Freedia Do?

“All I can do is do what I do and make it do what it does.” -Big Freedia