Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
“Just realized my childhood crush on Peter Pan explains a lot about the type of guys I’ve been dating…” -Me
With the girls flying free into the next week, I decided that the open minded approach needed some fine tuning. I no longer felt good about saying yes on a whim, it felt less fun and spontaneous and more anxiety ridden, even forced. I adjusted the sails a bit and kept swiping, messaging, and generally living my life. There were times when this whole online dating game felt like another job, literally so much time and energy can go into being active on these sites and apps…it gets exhausting.
I committed to dates and then if there was some better offer that came up with friends or family, I really just wanted to take my pants off and be home alone reading, or I was tired and just didn’t feel like attempting to charm a stranger, I would cancel. The standard script became, “I’m going to take a break from this whole dating thing for now. But it’s been nice getting to know you a bit and I truly wish you the best.” Or some variation of that. It was true. I was experiencing the inevitable vulnerability, meeting a bunch of duds, burn out and like I’ve said before, I’m not really into faking it. They all understood and wished me the best, I unmatched and moved on. Typically, the ones I pulled this with, were flailing anyway. It wasn’t going anywhere. I decided that regardless of a better offer, not wasting both our time just to follow through, wasn’t the way to play it. There are a lot of really nice guys out there who are handsome and seemingly charming, but sometimes when it’s not there in messaging, you just know it won’t be there over bourbon and bar nuts.
With my dating karma in the safe zone, I decided to keep messaging and see if anyone really sparked my interest. The real test was that if guys seemed to just want to be pen pals, I was out. Like, hi, what are you here for then? There ended up being SO many that just seemed interested in messaging back and forth as if we both had time for that in our already busy and important lives. I had no patience for it. But, I will admit, at this point, although my open minded approach to going on dates had been altered, I was getting more fascinated by the WHY in all this millennial dating business-I pen pal’d a bit for research, said yes to first dates for research…and here we are so it wasn’t in vain.
When I matched with Cal* I was digging his big brown eyes, that he owned his own business, and that he was about 6 years older than me. Let me just give you the spoiler alert now: just like my original belief in match.com translating to thinking that since it was a subscription and people were paying for it, that would likely make them take it all more seriously, a man who ticks an older age range box on his profile, literally means nothing. He’s not guaranteed to be looking for something serious, he’s not more emotionally mature or worldly, he’s just 38. That’s it. Cal* was cute-meh (ish), the brown eyes pretty much took the cake and he had a nice smile. When I found out that the business he owned was a CrossFit gym, I should have dropped my weights and done knee lifts for the hills right then and there…we all know what’s up with CrossFit-ers. ALL THEY WANT TO TALK ABOUT IS CROSSFIT. Reminder: research. When I asked Cal* what his favorite things to do in the city were, he answered by telling me he really doesn’t get out much and hasn’t been doing much socially in…wait for it…18 years. WHAT?! I mean, don’t get me wrong, introvert is the new orange or whatever, but what?! He did admit he had been sober for that time (we never got into why), but it was starting to feel to me like Cal* didn’t really know how to live outside of where his kettle bells sleep at night. I proceeded to ask him where he goes when he DOES get out and he told me his favorite places are his gym and Lululemon. Really?! I mean, I have a profound appreciation for yoga pants and athleisure, but sometimes a bro has to put down the carcinogenic filled protein shake and live some damn life! My pen pal days with Cal* proved that millennial men are in fact some of the most Basic of all the Bitches. I’m still in recovery, even a year later, from the pain in my head due to extreme eye rolling. Which is becoming borderline chronic, I’ll admit. I’m a little concerned. How much more can an intelligent, sometimes charming, woman take? (Let’s see shall we?)
Enter the always wears a hat in his profile photos and you can’t tell how tall he is (or isn’t) guy. He was handsome and had an easy to talk to demeanor in our message exchange so when he asked me to take it off the app to text and plan a date, I was game. Lessons to be learned here for those of you at home taking notes. Get ready. I’ve mentioned before that if a man is wearing a hat in all his photos and/or sunglasses, you’re bound to be disappointed. If he’s always in group photos, never standing, and/or isn’t listing (highlighting) his height, it’s not going to be good. I could never have known how important height would become to me without this online dating experience. Truly. I’m 5’3″ on a good day so I realize that referencing height and men that may appear “too short”, is a little ridiculous. I’m not walking any runways anytime soon over here, but I do love my heels and I do love a tall man. It offers a plethora of options both in and out of the bedroom (should I ever make it back into one, at the rate I was going, I wasn’t so sure). Also, it’s sort of a comfort thing, nuzzling under someone’s chin or on their chest is a lot more cozy than my nose going in someone’s eye…just sayin’. Kevin* wore a hat to the bar. I mean, so did I…it was sweater weather and a bad hair day and I’d grown to love myself enough to rock a damn beanie on dates and IDGAF. Kevin* wearing a hat was hiding something though. This becomes a point of some relationship PTSD for me since hair (or the receding of) was a serious point of vulnerability and insecurity for that one guy I dated off and on for far too long. Insecurity can’t be cured by anyone but the wearer, I knew this all too well. A woman cannot love that out of a man, trust.
El Borracho in Ballard was the spot and as my Lyft dropped me off, I felt invigorated. I was entering as a researcher, an observer of human life forms in local watering holes… hydrating themselves with tequila and bad decisions. I was putting myself out there, meeting new people, I was going on a date! I didn’t cancel! I am woman, hear me roar, etc., etc. “Why the f*ck does my leg itch?” Stepping off my mental high horse, I entered the bar and noticed Kevin*’s hat sitting at it. Well, I guess we know he’s not tall now. He looked like his photos, but the shocker was the height (or lack of), when he stayed seated to greet me. I’ll just tell you all now, this is never a good sign. Another tick against Kev*, tiny hands. With our country being governed by a tiny handed Cheeto puff, you can imagine the immediate trauma state this puts someone in. What can these hands do or not do? Dare I ask or even imagine? A woman has to think of the important things. I mean, I was putting myself out there to date and find someone worth hanging onto. A man who’s tall enough and who’s hands are big enough for the most basic level of throw down, become a must. Secret’s out: size actually does matter, just not always in the ways you think. The irony here is I have dainty hands myself, but the kicker is, I already know what they’re capable of doing so I don’t feel bad judging. Sorry, not sorry.
Sharing dating stories over chips and salsa and a strong Cadillac margarita, I learned that Kevin* wasn’t from Seattle. He was a transplant who loved the area and the fact that his family lived far away (also, not always a good sign). He was a manager for a construction company and stuck mostly to his portable office cube telling other (large, capable handed men) what to do all day.
Although I knew that past this particular Thursday night, was going nowhere fast with Kevin*, when he asked me if I wanted to go catch an open mic at a cool bar near his place, I decided to be game. Where I went wrong here was agreeing to let him drive us there. Literally up a main Ballard drag and closer to my residence (working girl salary + cheaper Lyft ride home = important), but he’d had at least three margaritas and upon exiting El Borracho, we established he was a small-ish man. He drove a work logo truck and did that whole play loud music, rev the engine, probably too buzzed on margs and testosterone to drive thing…suddenly I was forced back to high school and swoon, I did not. We made it to the bar though and I learned that it’s literally down the street from his apartment. Convenient, bro. He parked his truck in what I assumed was his usual spot. This is an imperative time to admit that upon entering 2017, I hadn’t been drinking much and had been dealing with some food and beverage sensitivities, resulting in achieving lightweight/cheap date status. I was buzzing off my one strong margarita which felt a little off to be honest. Hello, I’m Irish. Lightweight or not, it still takes me a bit to feel drunk. Regardless, I wasn’t ready to call it a night and music is always something I’m down for. Kevin* had to run up to his place for something and I opted to stay street side under a well lit area in the cold, because duh. I knew where this was heading for Tiny Hands, but for me, it was headed to a place that poured beer and had an amp. He was clearly a regular and knew some people there, I was a newbie which gave him something to show off a little bit and he took every chance he could to make sure people saw us. Feeling awkward while waiting for the next talent to grace the stage, I stumbled to the bathroom. Took my purse, left my drink. I was feeling really buzzed at this point and questioning it a bit. I texted my friend’s Cassie and Nicole while in the stall and told them each where I was, that I was fine, but feeling more drunk than I should be considering the lack of beverages, told them I was going to enjoy some music, switch to water and head home within the next half hour. I promised I’d text them both when I was safely home. Moment to shout out to my females who always keep a lookout, stay up a little later than they want to to make sure I’m home safe, set the standard for no less than 75% battery power before ANY date, and are always available to support late night, post date milkshake runs and cry laugh with me when I live to tell another story.
As I was washing my hands, that itch returned on my leg. Inner thigh to be exact and I was perplexed. Upon re-entering the stall to survey the situation, I dropped trou and started laughing out loud. A black lace thong was straight chilling on the inside of my skinny jeans, fresh out of the laundry, pre-date. Jokes for days. I didn’t care what Kevin* might have been thinking at this point with my bathroom break extending due to a static cling issue on my left thigh, but I hustled and tossed the clean panties in my purse and exited the ladies room. Sitting back at my stool perch, I set my 3/4 full Mac N’ Jacks to the side and asked the waitress for a glass of water. Kevin* asked why I wasn’t drinking my beer (what is it with these guys and judging my water consumption?!) and I said I was just super dehydrated and needed water. I didn’t really think he’d done anything to my drink(s), but the thought did cross my mind that’s always a possibility and considering how loopy I got after one margarita and like four sips of a microbrew, I couldn’t take it completely off the menu as a “could be”. I decided I was ready to call it a night. I told Kevin* it was a school night and I really needed to get home. He sort of hesitated, stalling a bit, trying to pick his moment to make the move to get me back to his place since we were so close to it. I told him I’d already requested my Lyft ride and he was about to pull up. Kevin* decided to put his agenda on hold long enough to walk me outside and wait with me while my ride came. Mid-conversation, I realized the car was up the street from us and told him I needed to go. The car sped off. Shit. I’ll admit, the country girl in me at that moment, was like f*ck it, I’ll tell Kevin* I’m catching a new ride and just bloody walk up to my place, I wanted out, but considering the borderline creep factor brewing, I decided requesting another Lyft driver was a better move.
Kevin* put his tiny hand on my back and told me that while I was requesting another ride, we could just walk towards his place. I was more on the “Well, it’ll be easier for the driver to find me if I stay in one place and remain where there’s traffic,” (and street lamps) train. Crowded neighborhood areas are a good place to be in such a situation because your Lyft driver will arrive shortly after you decide it’s more than time to bail. I could tell Kevin* was on a mission so as I saw my car roll up ahead of me on the street, I thanked him for taking the time to meet up, gave him a quick hug and literally ran up the street to the Red Prius waiting to take me home. That night I learned, that riding in cars with boys you just met who only wear hats and maybe put something in your drink to get you to go home with them never has to go in the “I’m being open minded” category. It just goes in the “no, thank you, never” one. The next day, Kevin* wrote me a “Hey girl, what’s up?” text and his 35 year old hat wearing self got his hive closed.
As I woke up the next morning, feeling the hint of a hangover that should never have been, I couldn’t help but feel lucky that the night before had ended with me in the power seat and an exit buddy, thank you Driver Paul, wherever you are…you’re the real MVP. Between Cal* and Kevin*, a mental list of “never trust a…” had started drafting itself in my head (and in my iPhone notes). Who the hell were theses guys? This is what I had to look forward to in dating? Was I being too nice? Too open? Swiping too charitably? Was I marketing myself wrong? Were my standards too high? Expectations so low at this point in my experience that I was becoming dissociated with my own wants and needs? What was wrong with me? I decided I was going to refine this list, based on my interactions with men I met in person and in cyber space, add a dash of healthy humor, a large dose of reality check, and march on.
The List //
- Never trust a man who acts above public transport…privilege kills, people.
- Never trust a man who’s had a beard since he could grow facial hair. What are you hiding bro? Sorry about your face.
- Never trust a man who says, he doesn’t really “get kids”. Ummm, excuse me sir, where do you think you started? Do you even human?
- Never trust a man who can’t drive a stick shift. Multitasking in the most basic of forms is crucial…like, what else can’t he do with his hands?
- Never trust a straight man who looks better in yoga pants than you. Need I explain? He’s probably gay. In which case, make him your new BFF and go to a spin class, honey.
TO BE CONTINUED…
As I compiled my list of what a woman should never trust a man on, I realized that the person I really needed to put more trust in, was myself. I know when shit feels off, I know when it’s never gonna happen, I know when I’m not into faking it, and I know as a strong, independent woman when it’s time to go. In a world where the grass seems to always be greener on the other side, I decided to start watering my own and trusting that in time, with enough love and self care, it wouldn’t only grow, it would start to thrive.
Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
*Name has been changed to protect identity of former date