Blogging, Dating, PSAs

Why I’m Never Dating Again

DISCLAIMER: Names changed because it’s fun to rename people you’ve never met.

Go-Jules-Go_Why-Im-Never-Dating-Again_Title-graphic_13FEB2019

“I don’t have a lot of experience with girls. I mean, like, verrry little.”

Looking back, I probably should have dropped my fork and run. But he was so funny. And had great hair.

It was late March 2015, and Adam was the ninth person I’d met during my 10 first dates in 10 weeks online dating phase. I never made it to the tenth. Our first date lasted nearly six hours, over dinner and drinks at a local gastro pub. (And by gastro pub I mean restaurant that features 117 kinds of beer, dramatically mustachioed waiters and duck confit sliders.)

At 35, Adam was a few years older than I was, animated and full of fun stories. When a position in the arts failed to cover the bills, he settled for manual labor alongside his father, work he described with hilarious disdain. If I had had to guess, I’d have said he’d probably just moved out of his parents’ basement within the past year.

“Next time we’re going to have to go to [the notoriously cheap local Mexican restaurant],” he said after I ordered my third drink (I did mention we were there for six hours, right?).

“Why?”

“I won’t be able to afford your hollow leg!”

hot-air-balloon-champagne
Well I need SOMETHING to drown out the memory of first dates #1-8.

At the end of the night, I insisted on paying, knowing I’d racked up an impressive tab with my multiple martinis and tuna tartare compared to his two beers and burger. As with most first dates, I left feeling both energized and drained, and still very much on the fence.

We texted incessantly, and by the end of our second date, I found myself saying, “I reallllly like you” before kissing him. He had been so nervous, I was surprised by how naturally he reacted.

On our third date, we got lost in the subway.

Adam-Jules-lost-on-subway_Go-Jules-Go
Sign you don’t want to see when you’re supposed to be IN Manhattan.

Still, I wrestled with my resolve to keep dating. Meeting strangers and immediately auditioning them for Future Life Partner, or at the very least, Tonsil Hockey Teammate, seemed…WEIRD to me. Maybe because my dating life didn’t begin in earnest until 31 – after my divorce. I had married my first real boyfriend, someone I’d known through work for almost two years before we’d started dating, and we had been together for over ten years.

Nevertheless, in early 2014, newly single, I dove headfirst into two back-to-back relationships via eHarmony, eventually burned and defeated by both. “Gotta get back in the game!” was the conventional wisdom, and since I’d yet to become the baller, independent thinker you see before you today, I went with it. “10 First Dates in 10 Weeks,” I called it.

Big mistake.

Really big.

Just…no.

Go-Jules-Go_10-first-dates_Make-it-Stop
I cannot believe how many pictures I have from this phase that never before made it on this blog.

After that, I entered one more relationship courtesy Match.com that was nice, but not right for me. It was mid-2017 by then and I realized I needed a break. I needed to finish grad school and focus on my passions. I dove headfirst into my thesis, met amazing new people, and lined up an exciting array of adventures for 2019 (heh, stay tuned).

Is that the reason I’m glad I’m single this Valentine’s Day? …Kind of. Have I noticed that I haven’t gone on a date in almost two years? …Sorta. Am I EVER going to date again?

…No.

stuffing-fries-in-mouth
And not just because I want to mainline leftover french fries in peace.

That’s right. You heard me. At some point in 2018 it occurred to me that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I was following someone else’s rules. No wonder I was burnt out, frustrated, confused. I thought I just hadn’t found the right app, or tried hard enough, when in fact I was simply looking in all the wrong places. It was so obvious I couldn’t believe I’d missed it:

The only men I’d ever loved were friends first. Including my ex-husband.

Real friends. Friends for the sake of being friends. We weren’t trying each other on to see if we fit. We weren’t grilling each other over craft beer with sweaty palms and sky-high stakes.

Go-Jules-Go-title-graphic-PTSD-from-dating
Or to get a blog post out of it. (…Who, me?)

We connected over shared laughs, common interests and similar goals. Our paths crossed naturally, and over time, we confided in each other, deepened our trust and developed genuine love. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

So did Adam become a real friend? No. But he certainly was the closest to one I found during my 10 9 First Dates in 10 Weeks, and he reminded me of what I really wanted. He reminded me that I need to see someone’s heart and soul before I feel comfortable sharing my most vulnerable self.

I admire those who can bare it all sooner, who can meet new people and embrace the uncertainty. I have girlfriends who relish getting to a new city and firing up Bumble. To them, it’s fun and exciting. For me, it’s a fate worse than death a chipmunk-less world.

chipmunk-stuffing-peanut-in-cheek
Wait, what?

The choice to never date again probably sounds dramatic and sad to those folks. When I made the decision last year? I’d never felt more relieved.

Go-Jules-Go_Redbox_Valentines-Day
Meet my Valentine’s Day plans.

~*~*~*~*~

How do you feel about dating? About being single (or not) this Valentine’s Day?

~*~*~*~*~

Blogging, Dating

I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You

DISCLAIMER: Names changed to protect the innocent guilty.

Go Jules Go title graphic I love you but I'm not in love with you_6FEB2019

I was 18 years old when my life began.

One balmy summer day, after all the Y2K dust had finally settled, a young, auburn-haired woman walked into the local bookstore where I worked. Meg. The new hire. Her sundress flapped against ivory legs as she took the new hardcovers to the front of the shop.

We were fast friends, chatting in between placing orders and ringing up customers.

“You were maaaade for retail,” she teased, quoting one of our most recent patrons while I rolled my eyes.

I’d gotten the full-time job the same year I’d earned my GED. By the time I met Meg, I was taking classes at the local community college, my sights set on screenwriting. Bullied for glasses, braces and a few spare chins, I had eventually been homeschooled. I sometimes wondered if old soul really meant late bloomer.

Jenn-bday-Jules-Amelia-Bedelia
Just because I CHOSE to spend Date Night at our store’s Friday night book signings doesn’t mean I…never mind.

Meg regaled me with sordid tales of her past: running away from home, men calling in the middle of the night begging for forgiveness, operatic dreams dashed, sex, drugs and rock and roll.

“You need a little fun in your life,” she said one night as we sipped Sangria at a local bar. She was five years older than I and seemed to know all the places with lenient carding policies.

In March, one month before my 19th birthday, Meg and I took our shoes off in the mud room of her parents’ colonial and walked into the small, dated kitchen, just like we’d done countless times before. Blue painted cabinets and faded wallpaper enveloped us. Despite its age, everything in the house was spotless.

And there he was.

“Gem,” he greeted. (“Meg” spelled backward.) His deep voice rumbled with affection.

The figure sitting at the small round table, munching away on carrot and celery sticks, shared Meg’s fair skin and smile, but had much darker brown hair and eyes. Goodbye Justin Timberlake, hello…

“Ben, this is Jules. Jules, Ben.”

Meg’s twin brother. The apple of her eye. He grinned widely, eyes sparkling.

In addition to sharing physical similarities with his twin, Ben also shared Meg’s intelligence, musical ability and sense of humor. He’d graduated college two years earlier with a degree in psychology, but his true passion was film, giving us plenty in common. He had a serious girlfriend, but she didn’t like his friends, which meant every time I saw him, he was alone.

And suddenly he was everywhere.

The next time we met, we talked for over an hour. The third time, he sprung up and gave me a giant bear hug. His solid frame pressed against me and I lost my breath. I’d never been held like that.

That same night he stopped me from leaving by saying, “That Train CD you gave Meg is really awesome.”

Train_Drops_of_Jupiter
YES, MY BEST STORIES INVOLVE A TIME WHEN WE STILL LISTENED TO ACTUAL COMPACT DISCS. F*#%.

We stood in the laundry room of a friend’s house, in a holding pattern between the door out, for me, and the door back in, for him. We chatted for a few minutes about music.

“Well…goodnight,” I said eventually.

He stepped forward and this time I was ready for it. I lifted my arms so his were forced to circle my waist.

“You give good hugs,” I murmured.

He gave a throaty chuckle and squeezed me even more tightly.

Over the following months, the conversations and hugs grew longer. And longer. But he never made a pass, and I was sure I was imagining things.

Finally, in November, buoyed by quitting a toxic babysitting job, I emailed Ben. “I think there’s something between us,” I wrote, heart racing. “You’re completely amazing, and I wish you all the best life has to offer,” I went on. “I’m just afraid -and my ultimate point lies here- that you won’t realize when it’s being offered to you.”

Pepper-festival-Jules-bite
The face I make every time I remember this email.

That was Thursday. On Sunday, Ben replied. It was the longest three days of my life. He explained that his lack of response indicated “slight discomfort” because, while he enjoyed my company just as much, it was in “a different way.” He ended by saying he hoped that we could “continue to chill.”

I was devastated. Humiliated. Yet some part of me wasn’t willing to accept his words. And because of that, our friendship deepened. I was sure if I waited long enough, and tried hard enough, I’d get the thing I wanted most.

Six months later, at 3:00am one May, standing outside his parents’ house, Ben kissed me.

“I thought it was all in my head,” I breathed.

“It’s not,” he replied, brown eyes blazing. He held me and stared deep into my eyes, like he always did.

“I tried to figure out if I just wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough,” I gushed. The words were out before I could censor them. I didn’t care.

“That’s ridiculous,” he reassured me.

cropped-champagne-jules-apr2013.jpg
Right?

The following year was speckled with a few more kisses, a couple of midnight confessions, and an endless series of marathon hugs. He loved me, and said I was one of his best friends, but he was never ready to leave his girlfriend and accept all I was willing to give.

Before I knew it, I was 21, tipsy, and begging Ben not to leave a party. He did.

And that was the moment.

The moment I decided to let myself fall in love with someone else. Someone I’d known a long time. Someone who, as it turns out, loved me back.

Meg once told me, when I finally confessed how I felt about her brother, “Your loving Ben has a purpose, if only to make you see how much you deserve in love.”

And she was right. Without Ben, I never would have known how to appreciate that love that’s meant for you is easy. Simple. Happy.

Any time someone talks about “Most Embarrassing Moments,” I think of that email I sent to Ben 17 years ago. I cringe. I blush. I bury my head in my hands. But actually, I love that girl. She put it all out there, fear be damned.

And guess what?

I’m still the same girl.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, humor, TV Junkie

Stranger Danger: The New Dating App Sweeping the Nation!

“So what dating app do you use?”

“Mostly Tinder.”

“How is that going?”

“It’s fine, especially if you’re not looking for anything serious.”

My eyes darted back and forth between two women, a friend and a fellow partygoer, having one of those conversations that went from ‘Nice to meet you’ to ‘I’ve been in therapy for eight years’ in 7.6 seconds.

“What kind of guys are you meeting?”

“A mix. I have a thing for dark-haired guys.”

I opened my mouth and…took a big gulp of bubbly. I was pretty sure my only dating apps had been designed by guys who looked like the dad from 7th Heaven.

7th-heaveh-dad-daughter
“Now listen up, Mary. Just because I’m a known child molester whose left hand could be headed anywhere doesn’t mean my dating advice blows.”

Frequenting such upstanding apps as eHarmony and Match had resulted in stories like this. And this. Annnnd this.

Match-misguided-selfie
Spoiler alert.

“Oh really? You would like the guy I just met a couple of months ago. Caramel skin, dark hair, green eyes…”

“Why didn’t you like him?”

“Too young for me, but he’s perfect for you.”

I watched the conversation between my friend and a complete stranger unfold, wondering if it would outlast the Prosecco supply.

Jules-Holiday-Inn-balcony-2
‘Cause then we might have a problem.

“I’ll see if I can find his number.”

“Okay!”

I blinked. Hang on. What just happened here? A stranger we’d met an hour ago was giving my friend the number of a stranger SHE met three months ago and… My head started to spin, not unlike when my girlfriends plan things.

funny-owl
I want my Mommy.

Then I started to wonder… Was this really any less creepy than swiping your finger across a stranger’s likeness to indicate that you might want to share awkward conversation and unlimited breadsticks? Was this, in fact, a far more appropriate vetting system?

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I know I just met you, Rose, but I’m telling you. Don’t ever let this one go. #titanicpuns Photo credit.

The next morning, the woman from the party called my friend.

“Hey, it’s Stranger Lady from last night! Great news! I found Stranger Guy’s number!”

Without a moment’s hesitation, my friend texted Stranger Guy with a few cute lines and a couple of photos of herself.

What do you think? Should we create an app for this? 

Go-Jules-Go-Stranger-Danger-app

~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, PSAs

My (Big) Little Secret: Win Over Anyone You Want

I’m going to let you in on a (big) little secret.

I know how you can win over ANYONE YOU WANT.

Are you ready?

No… You’re not. You’re not ready. Stop. I see your face. You’re not ready. I’m not messing around.

Are. You. Ready?

Oh. Okay. Fine. You want my credentials:

  • Years 0 through 21: Unrequited Love
  • Years 21 to 31: White picket fence
  • Year 31.5: Divorce
  • Year 32: Rebound from Hell
  • Year 32.5: Rebound from Hell: Fully Reloaded
  • Year 33: 10 Dates in 10 Weeks
  • Year 33.5: (Elective?) Celibacy
  • Year 34: Well…but he’s so nice…
  • Year 35: (Elective?) Celibacy Reboot
  • Year 36: TBD

So.

Where were we?

Right.

Go Jules Go_My Big Little Secret Win Over Anyone_title graphic.png

Do you think it’s looks? Do you think it’s money? Do you think it’s who you know?

You’re wrong.

I’m not the funniest, smartest, richest, or most beautiful person you’ll ever meet.

Jules-Crazy-Eyes
I know. This is coming as a shock.

I’m not being modest. I’m being honest. If they paid me for cellulite and drunken snafus I wouldn’t even have to be writing this right now.

But look at Year 33.

See that? Ten dates in ten weeks. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s a thing I did. Me. A textbook introvert who would rather Tweet-watch a show with a group of strangers than have an actual conversation. I think MeetUp is a place where people go to avoid their families on not-real-holidays like Memorial Day. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself as I eat tortillas in front of the refrigerator wearing pajama pants held together by a safety pin that I may or may not have inherited from Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

And out of those ten dates? Eight of them asked for a second one.

Why?

Go-Jules-Go_Win-over-anyone-list.png

During this phase of, er, prolific dating, my hair changed. My weight changed. I think my job even changed. None of that mattered. No one cares. People only care HOW YOU MAKE THEM FEEL.

Except a few.

A few people who really love you.

And why am I telling you all of this?

Because no one asked me for a third date those few people who really love you need to include YOU.  I grew up feeling rejected (see: years 0-21), and now, I suppose, to prove a point, I can (kinda) get anyone to (sorta) like me anytime I want. And so can you.

But it doesn’t mean a thing.

And if you don’t love you?

Well. I do. So.

SUCK ON THAT.

(…See? I just got you to like me, didn’t I?)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, PSAs

Oh No He Did NOT (Just Ask For the Key to His Heart Back)

It was three days after Christmas, and he was finally back. Tim had been visiting his family down in Florida over the holidays, missing my momentous move to my new apartment.

Home sweet 'doodle home.
Home sweet ‘doodle home.

In 32 years, it was the first time I’d ever lived alone.

I spent the days leading up to Tim’s return getting both the apartment and myself ready: Tree decorated, curtains hung, hair cut, freshly laundered linens… I did everything short of bake cookies (though I almost did that, too). When Uncle Jesse started barking, I ran downstairs and flung open the door.

“Hi!” I exclaimed.

Tim seemed put off by the dog, who was clawing his way up Tim’s torso, but we finally managed a hug.

“I missed you!” I said.

“Yeah, me too,” he replied.

We’d been dating nearly 6 months. Tim was a quiet finance guy originally from Pennsylvania; I was a sarcastic project manager from Jersey. After my first epic online dating fail following my divorce, I wallowed for a month before accepting that the best way to get over a broken heart was to fall in love again.

I cautiously returned to eHarmony in June, and was once again matched with a 32-year-old tall, slender, blue-eyed, brown-haired conservative, but this time, he lived only 15 miles away instead of 3,000. Better yet, he was a runner, and given my recent affinity insanity, he caught my eye right away. It took a few weeks, but eventually Tim asked for my number and we made plans to meet in Manhattan, near his office, for a drink.

After each of our first few dates, he asked, “So, when can I see you again?”

My family and friends got a good vibe from his pictures, and once my sister met him on our third date, she approved. I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt, but I definitely liked him. He seemed intelligent, mature and kind, an interesting mix of shy and outgoing. Occasionally he dropped a funny line, although he couldn’t spell worth a lik likc lick.

This may be the first F-bomb on my blog. Worth it.
Man, I hope I don’t have any typos in this post.

On our fifth date, Tim asked if we could see each other exclusively. I said yes.

In September, he called while I was lying on the bottom bunk of my temporary bed. I had finally sold my house and was staying with my parents while interviewing for jobs in the area. All of my stuff was in storage, my entire future up in the air; after a divorce and job lay-off, I longed for nothing more than stability.

“So there’s something I have to tell you,” he began, “And I don’t know why I didn’t just bring it up earlier when you asked me what I was doing next weekend…”

My stomach dropped. Oh, here it comes. I finally let my guard down and now he’s going to tell me he has a wife.

“I’m going to a bachelor party in Vegas next weekend. I was going to tell you earlier, but I forgot and then when you asked what I was doing, I don’t know why I didn’t just tell you, because now it looks really bad…”

“So I guess apple-picking is out,” I replied. Aside from having already made specific plans with me, his voice dripped with guilt.

eHarmony-Tim-Jules-apple-picking

I wanted him to continue being honest with me, so I accepted his apology and [pretended to] let it go. Two weeks later, I prepared for my first official marathon. Tim was going to come out to Long Island and stay overnight, cheering me on for the big event. A few days beforehand, he texted.

“I’m really sorry, but I forgot I have a wedding this weekend.”

I looked at my phone in disbelief.

“Are you serious? Whose wedding?”

“Don’t worry. Not mine ;),” he replied.

“I can’t believe this,” I wrote back. I made a mental list of all the times he’d bailed or rescheduled over the past two months. Like the night he was supposed to meet my parents for dinner. And forgot he had a basketball league outing. Every time, I reacted like The Perfect Girlfriend. Not this time.

Three days later, I finally agreed to talk to him on the phone. “This has been a pattern,” I explained calmly, my heart racing. “And if I can’t rely on you, we have nothing.”

“You’re right, Jules, I know. It’s inexcusable. I’m stressing myself out by not being organized. I just went through my calendar for the entire rest of the year.”

I liked the humble, mature way he dealt with the situation; it felt worthy of a second third fourth fifth chance, though most of my friends violently disagreed.

From then on, he was careful not to break plans with me. In October, he invited me to spend a long weekend out in Pennsylvania visiting his family.

eHarmony-Tim-family-puzzle
No, no, I helped. See the wine?

“Your brother is introducing me to everyone as your girlfriend,” I teased.

“I would consider you my girlfriend,” he replied. “How do you feel about that?”

“I feel good about that,” I said casually. Inwardly, I beamed.

“You two complement each other beautifully,” his mother whispered in my ear when we left four days later.

The Maverick to my Goose.
Adding some Risky Business to my Top Gun.

Later that month, Tim got drunk at a costume party and dropped the L-bomb. “I think about you all the time,” he slurred. “Don’t break up with me. Please don’t break up with me.”

“Aw, why would I break up with you?” I asked, trying to console him while that funny feeling tingled in my gut. He wouldn’t answer. I ignored it. He was wasted.

On Halloween, he gave me a card that read, “I’m so happy I get to spend my favorite holiday with one of my favorite people. Love, Tim.” I propped it next to my nightstand where I kept the flowers he would sometimes send me.

eHarmony-Tim-flowers
Flowers. Making bad things less bad since 1762.

Tim spent Thanksgiving with my family, and by December, we were dropping L-bombs stone cold sober. He bought me Book of Mormon tickets for Christmas, and we planned to run the Disney Marathon in January down in Florida.

A stranger insisted on taking this photo during Santacon 2014.
Santacon 2014.

When he showed up on December 28th at my new apartment, I was bursting with anticipation. It had been ten long days since we’d seen each other. One of the last texts he’d sent had been a series of hearts.

hearts-iPhone

I poured us both a drink and gave him the grand tour, asking all about his family Christmas trip. My life was finally coming together: New job, new digs, new relationship. We took a seat on the couch and I tried not to wonder why he was sitting so far away. He kept turning down offers for dinner while we made small talk.

“My eHarmony subscription expires soon,” I said, pulling out my laptop. “Look at the cute thing they sent.” I showed him the PDF storybook detailing our online romance. He leaned over my lap, smiling, asking questions.

Three hours later, I excused myself to use the bathroom, and when I returned, thinking we’d finally start making out, Tim was standing by my bedroom window.

“We need to talk,” he said.

My mouth went dry. I crossed my fishnet-clad legs and hugged my arms over my tight pink sweater. The outfit was brand new.

“I know I’ve been distant lately,” he said, “and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…. Maybe I’m just not ready for a relationship. Things have gotten really serious… and… I just don’t think we’re right for each other.”

eHarmony-Tim-fishnets

I stood there in shock. He’d introduced me to his parents! We had plans! When he’d shown up at my front door that evening, he’d held a Christmas gift from his brother – a Disney gift certificate with a card that read, “Can’t wait to see you in two weeks!”

“I’m completely mortified,” I breathed, one hand on my chest, not even bothering to hide my tears.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m really sorry.”

“Well as much as I’d love make this even more awkward…” I said, gesturing towards the door. He wouldn’t leave. Did he want me to tell him it was okay? That I understood?

“Is there something I did? Someone else?” I asked eventually. If he wasn’t going to leave, maybe I could get some answers. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

“No, no, no,” he replied, seeming sincere. “You’re so great, that’s why this is so hard. I’m really sorry, Jules.”

After what might have been 5 minutes or 15, we stood by the front door. He placed my apartment key -the one I had just given him as a Christmas gift- on the counter. I nearly gasped; it felt like another one of his sucker punches. I stared at the key, wondering why he still wasn’t leaving.

“My key…?” he asked eventually, his eyes darting between me and the floor.

I lifted my hand to my forehead. “Oh, right…”

I found my purse and knelt down, rooting around until I hit the fancy little gray key fob that opened the doors to his building. I painstakingly pried it from my keyring while he watched.

“I’m really sorry,” he repeated, backing away.

I sunk down on the couch, feeling him hesitate, hovering over me. I vaguely heard the door close, my mind swimming and yet entirely still.

Did he come all the way here just to get his key back?

I guess these things aren't cheap.
I guess these things aren’t cheap.

Have you ever had to ask for your key back (or been asked to fork one over)? What’s the biggest item you’ve lost in a break-up (besides pride)?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Giveaway Junkie

GIVEAWAY WINNER: And The Most Miserable Bastard Is…

Wow. You know you’re an underachiever when a blog post writes itself, yet you’re still a week late in publishing it.

The-Happiness-AdvantageLast week Two weeks ago, I asked you to submit tales of run-ins with miserable bastards in an effort to win a copy of Shawn Achor’s “The Happiness Advantage,” a book about positive psychology (see what I did there? A little reverse psychology?).

I don’t know if I should say thank you or I’m sorry for your spectacular entries. You made my first eHarmony experience look like a fairy tale.

And thus, the winner of “The Happiness Advantage” is none other than…

Lorna from Lorna’s Voice!

Lorna
She’s going to use those stunning peepers to read this amazing book.

Lorna’s entry:

Okay. Here goes. The Reader’s Digest version of a blind date with a Miserable Bastard (MB) that ended up in a marriage proposal from hell.

The MB in question was a pompous ass lawyer. My friend set me up with him. I immediately began questioning my judgement in friends. During our first date all he could about was talk about:

1. himself
2. how much he hated the town we lived in (my home town, his new town)
3. his former girl friend who was of Nordic descent (I’ll call her Icelandic Dream Girl)

I thought it was a “one and done” kind of an evening, but he wanted to see me again for dinner, not just drinks, explaining that he only asked women out on first date for drinks because he didn’t want to waste his time and money for a whole “dinner thing” if the woman wasn’t his type. Charming, huh?

I accepted his dinner invitation. Why?

Because I was:
1. drinking heavily at the time
2. lonely
3. drinking heavily at the time
4. had low self-esteem
5. drinking heavily at the time
6. didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone

We dated for several months, during which time he berated me every chance he got, which was a lot. He even forced himself on me (like in rape) and blamed me for not liking it, which I apologized for due to (see above list).

After the rape thing, I kind of knew he wasn’t the MB for me. I tried to avoid him by making excuses not to see him. Clever MB must have figured out what I was up to. Icelandic Dream Girl must have pulled something similar.

In a moment of weakness (see above list), I agreed to go with him on an outside adventure. I’m not the outdoorsey type. He fancied himself an Olympian in canoeing. Out we went onto an angry lake in a yellow death trap. I sat on the floor of the canoe which was swamped due waves cresting over the sides, my hands were claws gripping the edges of the damn boat/likely casket. I thought his plan was to drown me. Imagine my surprise when he proposed marriage to me. I told him I had to think about it, wanting to be on terra firma when I told him to screw himself. Which I did.

The end.

Congratulations, Lorna! I’ll be in touch to award your prize. And a martini.

Any new run-ins with miserable bastards? Um, any plans for spring? Talk to me. I love you.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, PSAs, Wipe the Drool

eHopeful Part 4: Crash Landing

“I can’t believe that was you in those pictures,” Frank slurred from the passenger seat of my car. We were sitting outside of my parents’ house after a night of playing cards with my family, where drinks had been flowing.

He hesitated and then added, “I know this sounds bad, but I never would have dated you if you still looked like that.”

“I know,” I replied. Oh, you wouldn’t date a girl who was 120 pounds overweight? Knock me over with a freaking feather, Frank.

In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.
In hindsight, I perhaps jumped the gun here. Perhaps.

“I do love you, Jules,” he said next, and I burst into tears.

“I didn’t know what to do or think when you wrote it in the sand [last month when you visited me on base],” he continued. “It really surprised me.”

“I know, I know, it was too soon,” I blubbered. “I’m still afraid to say it out loud. I’m just really scared.”

Frank was a Navy pilot and newly divorced like me. We had met on eHarmony three months earlier, and despite a 3,000-mile gap between us, romance bloomed. (For the rest of the story, I give you: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.) He was smart, driven, handsome and creative, and showered me with attention and affection.

Also there were cool jets.
Also there were cool jets.

Meeting him felt like destiny, making sense of all of the winding, fragmented roads that had led me to that point.

I can't believe I don't own this sheet music,
I can’t believe I don’t own this sheet music.

In March, Frank and I met face-to-face for the first time in Seattle. It was sublime. Now, in late-April, he was on my turf: New Jersey.

This really happened.
This is an actual screen capture of the itinerary I made.

I had planned a jam-packed agenda for his visit, including trips to New York City and Philadelphia, and then a flight to Chicago for BaconFest 2014 to ring in my 32nd birthday.

Chyeah. It's a thing.
Chyeah. It’s a thing.

After my meltdown in the car outside of my parents’ house, we carried on as if nothing had changed.

During the 3-hour, traffic-filled drive to Philadelphia (Day 6 on the itinerary, in case you’re keeping track), Frank was chattier than usual. Maybe he was bored, riding shotgun instead of piloting my Hyundai Sonata. He suddenly started talking about his family and religion.

“I am bat-crap crazy,” he drawled, “and so is everyone I know, and you usually only hear about people like me on the news.”

[Editor’s Note: I may be paraphrasing.]

His Tennessee accent was strong, even after eight years in Washington state. I swallowed and kept my eyes on the road. Sure, we were very -very- different people, but after all, I didn’t want to date myself, did I?

eHarmony-Frank-Jules-Lady-and-the-Tramp
Although…

“This is fine,” I thought. “Maybe I could be the kind of girl he grew up with. Maybe I could drink the Kool-Aid.”

eHarmony-Frank-Kool-Aid

By the time Frank kissed me goodbye at the Chicago O’Hare Airport, I was spent (and sweating bacon grease). Eight days straight with someone you’ve only met once before would have been exhausting for anyone, but when you’re an introvert? Grueling.

When I got home, I still wasn’t sure how to feel. Something was definitely off, but so many things were on. For the next four weeks, I fretted over where we stood. Another nibble fell through on my house, which had now been on the market for over five months, and with no new job prospects on the horizon, I started babysitting. To make matters worse, Frank’s texts went from nonstop to frequent to sporadic.

“Going out with the guys tonight for drinks and then unknown fun,” he said one night in mid-May.

“Enjoy your mystery fun,” I wrote back, my heart sinking.

“I will,” he answered, and I imagined him cackling evilly, relishing in this torture, this test to see how far he could push me. I wanted it to work. I wasn’t ready for the alternative.

A week later, I woke up to an email entitled, “[No Subject]”. Frank had sent it after midnight Pacific Time.

“Jules, I hope you have enjoyed a fun and relaxing weekend with nice weather. There is no easy way to communicate what I need to communicate so I’m being straight to the point…” it began. It was a very nice letter.

Super nice.

So nice it almost covered up the fact that I got dumped.

Via email.

eHarmony-Frank-someecard

All right – your turn! Terrible break-up stories: GO!!! (You can even tell them in 4 parts if you want. I’ll bring the Ben & Jerry’s bacon Bloody Marys.)

I'm TELLING YOU. It's a thing.
I’m TELLING YOU. It’s a thing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~