Blogging, Dating, PSAs

Why I’m Never Dating Again

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

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“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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Chipmunks Forever

Wall of Love

A few blocks from my suburban New Jersey apartment there’s an eye-catching display of hundreds of pink and purple hearts dangling from a fence.

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Each heart carries a message, and even though I’ve walked by it almost every day since I moved into my new tiny digs, I’ve never stopped to read them.

This past weekend, I decided to change all that.

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Quickly, I realized the Wall of Love was constructed in response to a certain president’s logical and compassionate desire to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

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Reading each of the hearts, I couldn’t help but think of a recent revelation. For most of my life I’ve considered success in love to mean having a perfect, romantic love. Single? Rocky marriage? Divorce? Dry spell? Unrequited love?

FAILURE.

But.

*record scratch*

That’s f*#%&@ bonkers!

Being lucky in love isn’t about partnering up with Prince Charming Harry (although you go, Meghan Markle) or never experiencing heartbreak. Being lucky in love isn’t about romantic love at all! It’s about an abundance of love, period.

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And guess what? We can all have that.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Chipmunks. I love you!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to Googling “Meghan Markle’s new hat collection.”

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

Blogging

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

sowrongWipe off your shoes and put your napkins in your laps, Chipmunks, because today we’re guests over at Renee Schuls-Jacobson’s blog!

Or I am, at least, and I hope you’ll join me over there to read my guest post, which is part of Renee’s #SoWrong (embarrassing stories) series.

This is a very personal story I’ve hoarded like a pile of nuts for winter, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally share it with you.

Here’s a sneak peek:

I was 18 years old when my life began.

One balmy summer day, after the Y2K dust finally settled, a young, auburn-haired woman walked into the local book store where I worked.  Jenn. The new hire. Nearly half a foot shorter than me, 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 recent patrons.

I rolled my eyes. I’d gotten the full-time job at the book store at 16, the same year I earned my GED. I was taking classes at the local community college, my sights set on screenwriting. Bullied for glasses, braces, a few spare chins and a penchant for white tights, I was eventually home schooled. I sometimes wondered if ‘old soul’ really meant ‘late bloomer.’

Click here to read more.

Thanks, Renee, for hosting, and I hope to see the rest of you over there! Hurry before I drink all the wine!

Marriage

Do You Want to Know My Secret?

No, no, not the secret to my flawless skin*, the secret to figuring out HOW TO KNOW (S)HE’S ‘THE ONE.’

If you can't think of anything nice to say... you probably don't want to rate this picture over at http://ratemyink.com

Yessss. Can you believe I’m dishing the truth?

Not here, of course. My life coaches, Zest and Zeal, have advised me to only blog about true love (Second Husband excluded) two times a year.

This week I snatched up an opportunity to divulge this juicy answer over on Tinkerbelle’s delightful blog, Laughter is Catching: The (Easy) Answer to Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Love.

I’ll keep this post short so you can head over to my guest post and show the Laughter is Catching crowd how much you adore me, with promises of more slap bracelet pics to come soon!

*MAC primer, MAC liquid foundation, Maybelline pressed powder, and a deal with the devil.

Animals, Just For Fun, Marriage

Lovey Dovey Sunday

I love love. Even as a teenager with braces, extra chins and a permanent seat at the ‘Geek Table,’ I couldn’t get enough of Valentine’s Day. While others lucky enough to have a valentine would grumble and groan about the commercial nature of the holiday, I couldn’t find a single reason not to embrace a day that celebrated love. Not just romantic love, but love for family and friends, too.

It’s far from February, but there are lots of lovey dovey vibes out there this weekend that were just too wonderful not to share with you sweet little chipmunks.

Deborah from The Monster in Your Closet put up a beautiful post about love yesterday.

There are so many things I love about The Byronic Man’s latest post – I’m sure you’ll understand as soon as you read it.

My cousin recently shared this fantastic video on YouTube (Fran & Marlo Cowan, married 62 years, playing an impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic):

And for some real guilty pleasure love, I discovered this weekend that Second Husband participated in a Funny or Die LOLCat skit (as the voice of Leopold in “Life of Leopold”). You can watch it here. …Sigh. Isn’t he so smart and funny and dreamy, even (especially?) with whiskers?