Monday, May 19, 2014

Dating Post #3: Barry White and Sadie Hawkins

Congratulations, you've succeeded at a legitimate method of obtaining someone's contact information.  Now you're ready to ask them on a date.

OMG it's SO terrifying.

Why is asking for a date so scary?  Maybe it's because we have these dysfunctional language translation devices in our brains that work something like this:

Seriously, guys, I'm a PowerPoint ninja.

I will say this once:  if you want dating to stop being something that freaks you out, you need to get the heck out of this mindset.  When dating (or anything) becomes a big deal, it becomes stressful.  Therefore, to make dating not stressful, you need to make dating not a big deal.  How is this done?

First, Date Often.  I knew a couple of guys at church who made a point to go on a date every week.  I actually went on a date with each of them, and when they asked me out, I wasn't thinking, holy cow, he wants to marry me; I was thinking, cool, I am his date this week.  No pressure!

That leads me to my second point:  Your "Date" is a Person, and Not an Activity.  When a date is an activity, it says, "Hey baby, I've created an entire series of events solely around you."  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you're afraid of sending premature "I love you" vibes, there's a different approach.  When your date is a person, it says "I was going to this thing anyway, and I thought it would be nice to not go by myself."  Hence, you bring a Date.  And you get bonus points because your date now thinks that you're super thoughtful for inviting them to go to this activity with you.

Now, what if you're one of the 63% of my readers who are female?*  You're probably thinking, how does this apply to me? I can't ask a boy out because societal norms and traditional gender roles!  Sisters, it's 2014.  You can ask out a man, and really, unless you get all Glenn Close about it, you shouldn't worry about coming off as too "forward" or "aggressive."  If you're still nervous about unleashing your inner Sadie Hawkins, here are my secrets to asking a man for a date:
  1. Cultural Activities.  This goes back to the "your date is a person" philosophy.  Until you turn into one of those ridiculously wealthy old ladies who sits alone in her private box at the opera house every weekend (one day...sigh), you'll probably want to attend concerts/plays/ballets with another person, and nobody is going to think that's weird.  In Boston (or any other place with large university and arts scenes), it's really easy to find events that are inexpensive enough to buy two tickets.  Speaking of cheap things...
  2. Online Discounts!  I tell you, Groupon has revolutionized the art of girl dating.  You can find discounted dinners for two at pretty decent places, and if you want to be all sneaky and "cool" about it, you can just be like, "oh hey, I have this Groupon that's about to expire (in twelve weeks)...want to come to dinner with me?"  Plus, you've already bought the thing so there's none of that awkwardness about who pays.**  
I hope this has been at all helpful and supportive of my main thesis which is that dating is not this big scary difficult thing.  So go ask someone out this week.

Just maybe not like this.

*This is a made-up statistic.
**Although, frankly, if most women expect men to pay if the men do the inviting, shouldn't women pay if they're doing the inviting?  Again, it's 2014, ladies.  Loosen the purse strings.

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Jane Austen Moment

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Mormon woman will one day stumble into a scenario that resembles a Jane Austen novel with terrifying accuracy.

I've had some Emma Woodhouse moments; I've had a lot of Harriet Smith moments; but I've never had a Lizzie Bennet moment.  Until now.

Some months ago (the same day as my speed dating adventure actually) I was confronted by this guy whom, for the sake of the story, I'll call Mr. Bingley.*  Mr. Bingley was an acquaintance in the most literal sense of the word, and on this day, he spoke his second or third full sentence to me:  he asked if I would be interested in going on a date with his friend, whom I shall call Mr. Darcy.  I agreed to it because I'm a nice person and because, well, you never know, right?  I gave Bingley license to give Darcy my phone number.

A few weeks go by, no phone call, no text message, and I forgot about it.  That is, I forgot about it until this guy starts showing up to places I frequent, usually surrounded by at least one or two Carolines.  I finally put together what I am 99% sure happened:  Bingley gave Darcy my number, Darcy asked around and found out who I was, and then decided I was not worth the courtesy of a phone call.  Having lots of experience as a Harriet Smith, the blow to my vanity was minor and I quickly recovered; however, tonight I had the privilege of being "formally introduced" to this guy at a party.  It took all of my classiness not to call him out and be like, "oh, you're Bingley's friend, aka The One Who Never Called."
Fortunately, this very brief experience assures me that this Darcy is nobody that I could ever be prevailed upon to date, but even if he he had been remotely my type, his snobbery and blatant [word that Jane Austen probably never used]-iness is an immediate disqualifier.

I know what you're probably thinking:  Oh, but maybe he'll declare his undying love for you and save your sister from a huge scandal and then walk through a fountain in a thin white cotton shirt.  I scoff at that.  Apart from this very instance, I am no Lizzie Bennet, and I have much more sense than to fall for any Fitzwilliam Darcy, either real or metaphorical.

Mr. Knightley is much more my type.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dating Post #2: Call Me, Beep Me, If You Want to Reach Me.

This is the post in which I'm outing myself as one of those 'older' people who hates all technology.

Remember when you wanted to contact someone and the only way to do that would be to call them on the phone?  Then they invented pagers, but still, all that did was tell the person that they had to call you on the phone.  Same with answering machines:  "hey, this is so-and-so, call me back!"  But now, there's texting, emailing, G-chatting, Facebook messaging, and who knows what else.

All these forms of rapid communication are really confusing in all aspects, but since this is a series about dating, I'm just going to talk about how these things confuse the complete crap out of trying to get a date.

First of all, when did the process of obtaining someone's contact information get to be so terrifying?  Even I, dispenser of logical, rational, "just man up and do it" kind of advice, shrink at the idea of asking a man for his phone number.*  But really, is the intimidation of asking for a phone number greater than the sadness of wishing you were texting the person right now?  Furthermore, is it greater than the awkwardness of potentially having to explain how you got a number that you didn't ask for (I'm looking at you, all you ward-directory stalkers)?  

At least he's being proactive, right?
Now, let's assume that you have at your disposal all possible ways of contacting someone:  phone number, email address, instant messaging contact, Facebook friendship, etc.  How do you actually contact the person?  What are the implications of each form of media?  Let's take a look:

Phone Call:  If you pick up the phone, dial their number (that you asked them for, you brave warrior, you), and invite them do do something, just the two of you, it's unequivocally a date.  Sorry.  This is what society has come to.  (But if you are unequivocally asking them on a date, you really should call them.)

Text Message:  If you text someone, "hey, want to go to lunch this week?" it may or may not be a date.  It could just be lunch.  The probability of an invitation being a date (or being interpreted as such) increases the later the hour.  Also, if you text someone at midnight and invite them on "a walk," THIS WILL NOT BE INTERPRETED AS A PLATONIC MOVE.**

Email:  Unless you've established some serious email rapport with a person, asking them out via email is kind of stodgy and "official" seeming.  But it isn't without merit:  if the activity has lots of details or requires major planning, or if you're just asking out a person who likes paper trails, emailing could be the way to go.

Instant Messaging:  This says one of two things.  Either 1) "hey, I just saw you were online now, and I want to invite you to this totally casual thing," or 2) I HAVE BEEN WAITING AT MY COMPUTER FOR HOURS FOR YOU TO GET ONLINE SO I COULD ASK YOU OUT.  Interpretation rate is 50/50.  Good luck.

Facebook Wall:  Facebook wall posts (timeline posts? is that what it is now?) are for birthday wishes, links to dumb videos, and "What Hogan's Heroes Character are You" quiz results only.

Facebook Message:  Is it instant messaging?  Is it email?  Some sort of lab-grown hybrid and affront to nature?  I don't even know, and then you're just sitting there checking every five minutes to see whether they've seen it because you can because Mark Zuckerberg is a sadist, and oh gosh, they read it ten minutes ago and why haven't they responded yet and this is the worst day of my life.

I think I've covered all basic forms of social media (or at least the ones that I know how to use--see above re: I'm old), but I don't even know if I've scratched the surface for all of the socially-imposed "rules" and protocols.  For instance, do the implications change if it's a second, as opposed to a first, date?  Are the rules different depending on whether the woman or the man is doing the inviting?***  I'd like to hear from all of you in the comments to get your thoughts on this!

Until next time!


*By the way, my "go-to" line is, upon taking out my phone and scrolling through contacts, "Do I have your number?"  This says, "I just have so many numbers in my phone that I can't keep track, and I totally assume that we're already in the 'have each other's phone numbers' stage of our budding relationship."  It also says, "I just want to have your number on hand so I can contact you in the future at some pressure," rather than, "I am going to call you in 24 hours and text you every hour on the :15 until then!"  This line is not copyright protected in any way, so feel free to use it.  You're welcome
**For my non-Mormon readers (or maybe this has reached you guys as well), "go on a walk" is code for "undertake serious developments vis-à-vis our relationship."
***Don't worry, there'll be a post about women doing the inviting in the near future.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Relationship Post #1: Communication

After I started this series, I realized what I had to say fell into two categories:  1) the art and science of dating, and 2) once the dating works out well, how to have success in relationships.  This is a post in the latter category.  I'll start with a story:

This girl dated a guy once who told her that she was one of the "most reasonable" girls he had ever dated.  She took that as a compliment and wore the title like a badge of honor:  she wasn't some needy, whiny, high-maintenance nut, no sir!  She was Reasonable!

She was also an idiot.

Because she was so eager to be "reasonable," she hid her insecurities, she didn't speak up when things bothered her, and she didn't fight for things she wanted to fight for.  What she thought was this great, low-maintenance relationship was kind of an unhealthy, unhappy mess and a complete failure to communicate.

First of all, I want to make a few things clear:  speaking your mind, having insecurities, and wanting the things that you want don't make you "high-maintenance."  They make you human.  And anyone who thinks you're being "unreasonable" for having and voicing legitimate concerns about your relationship should probably go to Relationship Summer School.  They'll have plenty of free time to do so, on account of you dumping them.  A relationship where one partner feels that they have to hide or conform or be dishonest isn't a real relationship at all--one of you is unhappy and the other is happy with something that isn't real.

Now let's talk about communicating in relationships.  I'll start with a stupid graphic with arbitrary shapes and colors to illustrate the point I'm going to make.

My Power Point skillz are off the hizzy, yo.

Good relationship communication in relationships requires two things:  Trust and Compassion.  Let's talk about Trust first:  this can be interpreted a few different ways.  It can mean "I know I can tell you this thing and it won't change the way you feel about me or this relationship."  It can also mean "I trust you with this sensitive information about my life and know you won't tell anyone about it."  Regardless, communicating things, especially big relationship-y things, requires a lot of trust.

On the other end of the communication interaction is Compassion.  This means that when your partner tells you something big or voices some concern, you 1) remember that you love them, 2) don't immediately judge, laugh at, dismiss, or disparage them, and 3) listen to them and try to see where they're coming from.  Remember that their telling you this is a sign that they trust you.  Don't try to make them change their way of thinking or make them feel like their concerns are invalid.  Just listen.  Listen and love.

I'm not saying this is easy.  To a lot of people, it doesn't come naturally.  It certainly doesn't to me; I'm inherently shy and non-confrontational and a good chunk of my DNA sucks at communicating.  But it does come.

I unfortunately have nothing snarky or clever with which to end this post, which is weird for me because that's usually where I go right after being sentimental...probably why I suck at communication.  But good luck to you all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dating Post #1: The Mormon Meet Cute

Welcome to the first in my blog series about dating (as a Mormon)!

Being a single Mormon compared to being a single non-Mormon is frustrating, and not just for the more, ahem, obvious reasons.  I had this epiphany on the Green Line last week:

If you're not a Mormon, you could find love literally anywhere.  The gym, an elevator, a dog park?  A pub, even.  Any of these places could be the site of your meet cute with your future mate.  But if you're a Mormon (and not living in Utah)?  Church.  Should you be fortunate enough to meet the love of your life, it will probably happen at church.*  Let's think about that for a minute:  you spend three hours per week at church, four if you're a marathon mingler.  That means that you are spending the other 164 hours of your week NOT meeting the love of your life.  Doesn't this seem unproductive?  Especially when you're part of a culture that so heavily emphasizes active effort toward marriage?  I mean, what if the person you like isn't even there that week?  What if there just is no person that you like?  Kind of a bummer.

A meet cute.
This isn't all bad.  For one thing, it takes the pressure off during the rest of the week.  Last week, when I was on the Green Line, I had been rained on quite a bit and was looking rather tragic.  But I didn't care, despite the plethora of handsome men in suits sitting around me.  I was like, whatevs, not gonna date any of these guys anyway.

On the other hand, it can be dangerous.  There's the opportunity to put too much stock in the little things, like small talk.  For instance, if the lady you're crushing on asks "how's school going?" it doesn't mean she's invested in the details of your life; it just means that she remembered that you're in school.  Even the most benign of interactions can escalate to sure signs of attraction over the course of a week in the infatuated mind.

This is the part of the blog post where I offer my sage advice.  How does one make the most of limited time in a closed population of potential love interests?  Well, first of all, be yourself.  It's fine if you want to be a cuter, more snappily-dressed, better smelling version of yourself, but be yourself.  It's bad enough someone only gets to talk to you for ten minutes every Sunday; the least you can do is give them the real you for those ten minutes.  Secondly, and I alluded to this above, but take things at face value.  Don't be all, OMG, he let me have the last cookie at Linger Longer; he totes is into me! and then spend the rest of the week Pinning furniture for your first apartment together.  Because you may never date him.  So enjoy your ten minutes talking to the cute boy, but realize that it is just ten minutes.

Finally, the most practical advice is this:  if you like the person and you're sad that you only get to see them on Sundays, pick up the phone and invite them to see you during the week!  Takes courage, but it's better than feeling unproductive, right?  Although this does have its own set of problems, but more on those later.

*Unless you're into the "flirt to convert" mentality, which I'm not, personally.  But if you're one of those types who is actually good at being a member missionary, my hat is off to you.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A New (Experimental) Label

You'll notice, if you pay attention to the labels in my blog posts, that this one has a new one:  Dating and Relationships.

You may not know this about me, but I am a teeming fountain of good advice and insight about matters of the heart,* and I feel that I would be doing the world a disservice by keeping it all to myself, so I've decided to do a very brief series of posts about dating, particularly as a Mormon, as that is the type of dating I actually know about.

So get ready.

*Or at the very least, a great deal of hilarious snark about matters of the heart.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reasons April Was Pretty Good

In chronological order...

4/2:  Good news first:  my sister, Gabi, who had been in and out of the hospital with orthopedic issues, finally got to go home from the hospital, and she hasn't been back since.  She seems to be healing nicely, despite the frustration that she doesn't get to go back to work until June.

4/11:  I threw one of my fancy dinner parties.  I roasted chickens, experimented with spring vegetables, and covered a cake (and my kitchen table) in delicious chocolate ganache.  The party part was great, too.  Everyone had a lot of fun and I was once again pleased with my hostessing abilities.

This is the chicken, raw of course,
but look at my symmetrical trussing abilities!
Photo: Orange bundt cake with chocolate ganache. Photo taken after I wiped the copious amounts of chocolate drippings off the table.
Cake covered in delicious ganache.
I definitely need to improve my food photography skills.
4/12:  The weather was so warm!  I ate French pastries on Newbury Street with my former visiting teacher and my current visiting teaching companion.  Afterwards I walked around Boston and got a fantastic deal on two pairs of shoes.

4/15:  I started taking self-defense classes.  We meet in the basement of a mental hospital, which is kind of creepy, but I'm learning a lot.  It's empowering, and also a really good workout.  

4/19-4/21:  Laura was in town to run the Boston Marathon!  We had lots of fun when she wasn't running 26.1 miles in just over three hours.  We shopped on Newbury St., ate delicious Thai food with my favorite engaged couple, and rocked matching-themed outfits at Stake Conference.  (I also attended Stake about that?)

Bird shirts and blue skirts.
4/22:  I took my histology exam and didn't cry.  Then I went to the gym, and then I went to self-defense class!  I patted myself on the back for having energy for all of those things.

4/24:  I went to see Legally Blonde:  the Musical at Berklee College of Music with my friend Jared.  I'm counting it as my April date, making me four for four with my date per month goal!  (I counted speed mingling as my March dates, and rightly so...that was exhausting.)

4/25:  I had nothing to do on this day and so I made green curry and got a pedicure.

4/26-4:27:  I sang with the Longfellow Park Men's Chorus in their premiere concert.  It was a fantastic concert, and it rekindled my excitement about choral music.

I stole this picture from Jan Marie's Facebook.  I hope she doesn't mind.
4/27:  I sang a solo, "How Firm a Foundation," in church and I didn't suck!  Normally I hate singing in church because I have a tendency to suck, but I didn't this time.

4/28:  I led journal club with a Forensic Anthropology article.  It was fun to remember that I am a forensic anthropologist sometimes.  It went well, and the fact that some people were absent from the discussion group didn't hurt one bit.

4/29:  A long day of studying was interrupted by a string instrument jam session with some cool medical students.  (It wasn't as impromptu as I'm making it sound:  a group of us are performing with violins and ukulele and guitar at an event on Monday, and we were rehearsing.  But still, so fun.)

4/30:  I sang "How Firm a Foundation" again at Institute Graduation, again without sucking.  Also the event was followed up by ice cream and mingling.

I'm sure there were lots of other good things in April that I'm forgetting to write about, but check it out:  this was a good month!  Here's hoping May is just as fun.

This never stops being funny.