Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
“That’s not something you tell me. That’s something you save for your Bro Meeting while you braid each other’s beards and discuss the citrus notes of your IPA.”
With visions of a Sunday kind of love dancing in my head, I switched up my approach again. Up to this point, I’d been open to saying yes, said yes when what I really meant was no. I had settled for mediocre in the looks, receding hairline, and height department, and let’s be honest, I was EXHAUSTED…and not in that sex haze, jello legs, stomach flip way. Just plain tired from the string of failures.
I had even been open to dating dads. Yep, true story. Within the age bracket I was looking in, around 28-39, the single dad was a common appearance and I swiped right on a few. There’s a reason I never went on a single date with a single dad. We’d message back and forth for a time, he’d have to break the convo to go put his sweet kids to bed, I grew respect in the active dad role for a stranger, but the reality was, regardless of how much I love children and how good I am with them, my heart wasn’t in it. Perhaps it was my profession as Superwondercatwoman (household manager/nanny) that had me feeling burnt out before I could even ask what ages his kids were. Yes, multiple children was a thing-one dad even had three adopted children and was divorced and I won’t lie, that’s A LOT of baggage, regardless of the cute packaging it comes in. The truth was, the idea of a man having already given it a full go with another woman, was hard to wrap my head around. At 31, I still had the hope that I could find a clean slate man…the kind who was living his life while the right woman came along. One who, like me, loved children, but wasn’t 110% sure he wanted his own (no ticking ovary clocks here). With dad bods off the menu, I continued racking up some other stats.
Ghosting, amirite? It is literally the shittiest. Where do these people go? Do they die mid-sentence? Like, “Oh, so sorry Jack* that my question about your weekend plans put too much pressure on you and you had to jump into a river instead of answer me.” (RIP Jack*) If you’re reading this and you’re a chronic ghoster, please stop reading, find a therapist, and learn how not to be a dick, thank you so much. This goes for any gender, people. Don’t do it. It’s so dehumanizing. One of the biggest, most important lessons that dating thus far had brought home for me, was kindness counts. Even when you are SO not into it and you know it’s not going anywhere past the Old Fashioned you miserably leave on the table, yep, that happened. Remember Dex* ? Me too. I mostly remember leaving my drink behind. Be kind always. Realize that you both made an effort to get dressed, to tie your shoes, maybe you even washed your hair (not me probably, I’m pretty active in the dry shampoo movement), but you showed the hell up…just be nice. Friends don’t let friends ghost, mmmk?
Beyond the mysterious Houdini acts of a limited few, I was starting to earn my stripes with more than a couple of men who just didn’t show up in person the way they presented themselves online. This is a risk you take…a six photo limit where they are strategically cropped can only show a lady so much. Enter Treehouse Matthew*, a beautiful green-eyed, brilliantly full head of hair, human who was seemingly sexy mostly in the way he used words. I feel like those of you that have been following me for a while here, know where this is going. Not even joking, I sparked with this guy through messaging on Bumble and I was totally into it. He was sweet, thoughtful, wrote intentional responses and asked intriguing questions. Early on in our matching, we’d created a dance with one another that excited me. We seemed to be authentically interested and really into learning each other and the steps. It was so refreshing to me…like literally coming up for air. I even told him something along those lines. We messaged then took it to text for about two weeks before it finally worked for us to meet. By the time the date was in my calendar, I felt like there was only a small percentage of disappointment possible for our date and I was feeling pretty confident this could be worth putting pants on for. Life can be cruel, dear ones. Just keeping it real.
After fourteen plus days of flirting, exchanging messages about our perfect vision on how to spend a Sunday, whether we liked the beach or the mountains more, learning about his treehouse building career and time on that Animal Planet show, “Tree Masters,” discovering our similar tastes in music and film, passion for the outdoors, love of good company and good food, books, all the things; I felt like nothing could destroy my excitement about the prospect of this guy. I even decided to think it was totally adorable that he wanted to meet at a gaming place for our date, because honestly, who doesn’t want to be 10 again and play pinball and display some healthy competition playing Pac Man? I was totally in when the final plan he suggested was meeting at Sonic Boom in Ballard. Hello, parading through a dusty record store, while flirting with green eyes? I was so in. I’ll just use this moment to say when you feel absolutely elated for a first date after a lot of gut checks and low expectation feelings of the dates that have preceded it, the probability that you’ve put too many eggs in one basket are really f*cking high. It was a Saturday, early afternoon so I wore comfy clothes with a hint of sexy; which included some low heeled boots, my go to cardigan, over my black top with the lace that I don’t wear a bra with, and a beanie. I got there first, yes…we’re shocked again, and as I perused the rows of rock Gods and soul Goddesses, embracing the chill that came in with every opening of the shop door, I was borderline giddy. I had really vibed with this person through our messages and more intimate text exchange and I couldn’t wait to see his face and meet him in real-time. As I turned to get wrapped up in the cover art of a Miles Davis album, the door opened and I turned around and saw him walk in. My stomach flipped. Not in the heart sparkles, lady bugs way…
My tree man was short, stubby, and drinking a 7-Eleven Big Gulp Slurpee and basically looked like a prettier faced version of this kid that force kissed me under the rice bin table when we were 4 years old. Not to mention, with my low heel everyday boots and his checkered Van slip ons, we were standing green eyes to green eyes and there was zero sexy. Daycare trauma aside, I was bummed. All my mind kept screaming was, “He’s short. Another shorty. Not a shawty. A god damn shorty pants. Again. How?! Why me? Seriously?! But his eyes are so pretty. And he has fantastic hair! He is so good at words and seems passionate and wonderful.” Now, before you run off thinking that I’m a dick for judging a short man by his shoes (I said Vans, duh, I would never. Classic sneaks are my love language), remember that I was looking for a spark here. At least the kind that could translate from my text messaging with this guy into real-time and space. The moment he opened his mouth, our fate was sealed. Not only was his height not what I had expected (or hoped for), his voice was high-pitched and borderline squeaky (?) (Jury is still out there). I was so deeply jilted that I was wishing I had a Red Dye 43 7-Eleven Slurpee to drown my disappointment in, but all I had was vinyl to console me.
As we walked shoulder to shoulder through the aisles, discussing brilliant cover art, our favorite artists, albums, tracks, memories from childhood, things to do in our cities (he was from Tacoma), I couldn’t help but wonder what test I was being pulled through. How could I spark so deeply with someone verbally, (on the most basic level too because: millennials and texting still leaves much to be desired and discovered), and have it fizzle immediately upon meeting in person? I was so shook. Crushed even. Crushed by my crush. Although this was a first date for the history books in terms of place, activity, conversation, and kindness, I had to be honest with myself…and Matthew*. He made it even harder the next day when he sent me a follow-up text, “Good Morning Hallie! Hope your night was good!…I have definitely been thinking about you a ton. I don’t want to seem superficial, but I must tell you how gorgeous I think you are…It was such a pleasure to meet you and spend time getting to know you. I really hope I get to see you again sometime soon…” Ugh. Sweet, sweet, small man with the kind, gentle words. I gave it some time, gathered my thoughts, checked in with my gut and knew what I had to do. “Hi Matthew*! It was great to meet you yesterday. I need to be honest, in terms of dating, I’m looking for a spark and I didn’t feel it yesterday. I think you are a fantastic person. I really enjoyed getting to know you and I hope you’re having a relaxing Sunday!” He responded and thanked me for being upfront with him and said he kind of got that vibe from me. As my mind scanned back to the day before, I realized that when he walked in the door and I went to greet him as we were eye to eye, my face probably didn’t mask my disappointment as well as I’d hoped. Clearly it hadn’t negatively affected him because he was still confident enough to go for it post date. He told me to hit him up if I ever felt differently (a little weird), but it just wasn’t there. Lest we not forget, life can be cruel….but in my heart I knew, I was getting closer.
When I matched with Josh*, I had just come off a bender of bad/awkward/excruciating/lame/frustrating/etc. dates and Bumble conversations. My burn out was REALLLL. I had walked away from a wonderful man who happened to lose all hope for me when we met in person, I had chatted with a man who in his defense, laid the disclaimer early on that he was very analytical, then proceeded to list by numbers how many concerts (100) he’d been to and how many poems he’d written (450). I went on a date with another shorty who had hiked the PCT and seemed funny enough, but while our matching nose rings were totes adorbs, the fact that he was upper 30s and still had no real direction in life made me feel like I was on point and let’s be real, I was still living a decently uncertain life. I messaged with a guy who said, “slowly, but Shirley…” Yep. That happened. The irony there was that I said how much grammar and spelling counts in my profile. He wasn’t referencing his grandma here or his drink of choice, so I unmatched…there wasn’t any other part of our short-lived conversation worth hanging onto anyway. I went on a date with a perfectly nice, but deeply introverted cyclist with a major ginger beard, but a balding head. It wasn’t in the stars for us, but I ended up finding a new bar to frequent. The Sexton, wasn’t where I fell in love, but it’s where I enjoy a good cocktail or an occasional Rainier tall boy. I also gained myself a virtual stalker for a short time. Touting himself to be a unicorn (red flag, securely locked in the brain bank), we flirted and chatted and he almost immediately took it off the app into text. Big mistake on my part for giving him the digits. We continued texting for a few days when he explained that he didn’t vote, he was out hunting that day, (hello, WA is an absentee ballot state), and some other things that made my stomach curdle and I had to tell him some truth. I explained that although I thought he was funny, I just didn’t see us matching on a lot of important life things and that I thought it was better if we moved on. He proceeded to demand answers via text, call me, left me a voicemail, called me again later, added me as a friend on Facebook…and MONTHS after blocking him and ignoring requests, I found that he’d followed me on my photography account on Instagram which is public. I blocked him there too, but had a residual case of the icks for a couple of weeks.
Josh* didn’t really have big shoes to fill at this point. He could set the bar. This worked in his favor…or should have. We matched on Bumble and my “you seem boring,” variation line was a success. We went balls deep into the witty banter right away and I was into it. He caught me on a weekend of self-care where not putting on pants Friday night-Sunday was on the to-do list, laying on my heating pad was survival, and watching old cult classics like “Fatal Attraction” happened. As I gave him a synopsis of the film, I also shared my own bunny story (I had one when I was 4 and she did not die of brutal boiling, but of natural causes), we joked that women are crazy, generally established that humor was our thing. I was in. He seemed to be able to keep up with my sarcasm and quick fire comments so I was immediately intrigued. We continued messaging through the weekend, communicated via GIF (I consistently won in that department as I’m what some may call, GIFted-I’m here all night). I was feeling refreshed. A smart, attractively bearded, witty guy who could keep up with me-sold. While I still rode the sober train through March, we chatted it up for a couple of weeks before we finally decided it was time to meet in person. This becomes a lesson to be hard learned. Honestly, chatting for that long, leaves a lot to be undesired and can create a lot of build up and inevitable disappointment following. The new rule became no more than a week of messaging back and forth before a real-time, in person date happened.
Oddfellow’s on Capitol Hill was the place I chose…he was commuting from BFE (Kirkland) and I was working until 7pm back then so it was a decent enough location for both of us…more in my favor. As we texted that day, I had mentioned to him that I was nervous our text talk wouldn’t translate with our pending in person conversation and that we’d just spent two weeks building it all up. He agreed he was nervous, but we both decided that the worst case scenario was we shared some laughs and moved on. Cool. I was still in. I mean, this guy had a GIF game, seemed authentically funny, he was outdoorsy, worked hard, was into me, referenced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other 90s classic throwbacks, and he was FUNNY. Gets me every time. I had also been so bold as to send him the link to this very blog so he could catch my mini series on Adulting which was terrifying, but empowering. He dug it. He offered comic relief to chill us both out when he asked if he could pick me up and while it came across so authentically sweet, I couldn’t pass up the chance to make him sweat and make fun of the fact that he offered to drive me to our first date. “I think I was still in the single digit 2000s when someone picked me up for a date. (That was adorable by the way).” He died a little, I cry laughed. Coming off some serious height misfortune, I put on my big girl panties and asked him how tall he was in advance. My heart and corneas couldn’t take another eye level attempt at romance. Being prepared for his 6’2″ stature and “winter beard” (honestly guys, wtf? Even when I’m not dating someone or getting laid, I still keep the shop tidy. Nothing wrong with a beard, but when it’s so untamed you have to categorize it, I worry…just sayin’)…I was nervous excited when I got to the bar first. I know…I KNOW. We’re continuing to be shocked here at my promptness. I was growing out my bangs at this time, still a little traumatized by The Director‘s obsession with them, and rocking that ninja warrior top knot. I had kept the fashion low-key with a white tee and skinny jeans and those 3 3/4 black booties…holler. I sat in a booth, reading on my Nook app and waited for him to come through. When he arrived, I got up and gave him a hug, we were off to a comfortable start. I won’t lie, I wished I was able to have a beverage fit for 21 and over adults, but I ordered a kombucha and got my carbonation on.
Despite some awkward silences and long pauses, we killed it. It was a great first date filled with adorable nervous laughter and sideways glances. The next day, we checked in and we were both into it. A second date would happen and I was feeling good. LITERALLY, the first second date since Seattle Chad*, relief rushed in like Niagara Falls, no lie. The witty banter was CONSTANT. Like, all damn day Josh* and I were sending it back and forth like it was our job. Giggling behind my iPhone screen became a norm, blushing from ear to ear was a thing, I was giddy talking to friends about this dude. When it was time to plan for the second date, we met in my hood. Bastille set the tone in the back bar and I was still sipping soda and citrus, but thrilled that this guy was getting me through the rest of my March Madness. Sometimes, we just need a healthy dose of humor and a decent distraction to get us through a period of our lives. Josh* seemed to be what I was looking for, even for a short time. As we finished up drinks at Bastille, we wandered to my favorite bar in Ballard, (Percy’s) for round two and that’s when the (apparently) inevitable disappointment came through…hard.
I’d be a fool not to admit that both Josh* and I seemed to peak more via iMessage than face to face. Towards the end of date number two, he said something in such a way that haunted me for weeks after and now, a year-ish later, breaks my heart a little. He and I were talking about our banter and what we’re looking for in a partner and out of online dating. As I self-assuredly gave him my wants and needs (mind you nothing ridiculous or out of reach), he said the words, “Yeah, see. That’s what I still don’t get. I don’t get why you’re even talking to me.” Bro. You pretty much just lost me there. Ouch. Don’t do that!!! That’s something you say at your next bromance meeting while sipping ginger beer and trading flannels for the month. DO NOT TELL THE WOMAN YOU’RE PURSUING THAT YOU DON’T KNOW WHY SHE EVEN LIKES YOU.
Looking back now, there was an energy shift in person that was challenging to sift through. Maybe we were both more confident behind the screen? Maybe because I wasn’t dating linearly at the time, I was unfocused in person at the other distractions I’d welcomed in. As we ended date number two, still intrigued by one another, Josh* still an adorable gentleman who offered me a ride home as I waited for my Lyft , I couldn’t help but wonder if we just needed more time…or perhaps after Josh* admitted his insecurity and deep self-deprecation, we lost it all. I wondered if maybe I should release some low hanging fruit I was chatting with on the app to focus a little more energy into him. Frenchman Dave* for instance who basically lured me in with his charm and wit and his doppelgänger of Gabriel Macht face in ginger form, who then let me know he was moving to San Francisco, #boybye. Or John* who lived in freaking Arlington because he had just gotten back from living in Australia and was saving to buy a house. We took it to text because AU, adventure, travel, wanderlust, he was cute, holler!…and then he added me on the book of face and pretty shortly thereafter ghosted out. Don’t worry, we’re still passively “friends” there…this becomes a thing…where I learn that men apparently want to connect with you and then still follow your life, but not actually be in your life. Or they forget you’re there because: algorithms. The questions I ask must translate to physics equations once I hit “send”. Whatever it is, I mostly spent time wishing they would join Jack* in the damn river. I decided to put some more effort into Josh*, regardless of his unwanted insecurity issues, but just as I made that decision, I matched with a talllll drink of water whose sweater game was on point, he seemed to have all his hair, looked good in hats, was into photography, he was good with the words, and spelled correctly. So as I grabbed a 6’4″ dose of kryptonite and headed into another weekend in Whistler with the ladies…things changed. Including my sobriety. Whole30 was over and I was ready to get a little more dooown.
I kept in touch with Josh* while I was week-ending away and slaying the slopes, but kept feeling a pull to the newbie. I realized quickly that I had gone fully from virgin in online dating, to popped cherry, blossoming into full-blown player of The Game. It was fun and refreshing, new…and I had two tall dudes in my sights, what could go wrong? I knew some of the rules, the rules did not know me, I made some up as I went along, my PR skills came in handy a lot, so did my smile (apparently), and I was starting to engage in a new dance. Some of the steps came naturally, some needed to be refined, but all in all, my head and heart were guiding me in a swing, tango, fox trot, hip-hop mash-up and it felt really good to have options. It felt really natural to be out there again, with men tall enough (and maybe, just maybe), man enough to lead me on the dance floor.
Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
*Name has been changed to protect former date
Check out the link for my co-hosting and dishing dirt on Voice of Vashon radio yesterday: